Saturday, March 21, 2015

National Ag Day Bus Tour

In honor of National Ag Day, our Glenn County Farm Bureau hosted our 2nd Annual Bus Tour of Glenn County Agriculture. I'm so happy we got to share real farm stories with our local consumers. Here are a few pictures to share.

We started at Burreson's Blueberries. Dennis Burreson shared with us the history of the settlement of his place and all the work that went into growing blueberries in Glenn County. The moral of the story - they are hard to grow here.

Blueberries are delicious for bids too. In order to reduce crop loss from bird damage, Dennis bring is a falconer and 12 Falcons to protect his crop for 5 weeks. While it costs around $1000 a day for the falconer, it saves close to $5000 per day in lost blueberries. 
If you buy blueberries from Costco during the last week of May, chances are they came from this ranch right here in Orland.

The next stop was Walnut Avenue Ranch.
Need some sweet treats for Easter? Come here! They make almost everyt
hing in house! The prices were very reasonable too! You can even buy online -
They make chocolates and lots of nut brittles a by hand. 
If this was a smell-o-vision blog, you would be so hungry for brittle right now. It smelled amazing! 

The last tour stop was the Schager Dairy owned by Mike and Pat Schager. As a neat side note, my Grandfather and Pat's father were friends growing up in Willows, CA. :)

Mike and Pat milk about 500 cows. It might be hard to believe but that is small dairy. Mike estimated that to really be economically viable they would need to have 2,500 cows.
The cows live in a freestall barn which means the cows choose where to eat and sleep inside the barn. The floor is cement but the cows actual enjoy bedded mattresses. 
The milk truck visits once per day to empty this milk tank. Both Mike and Pat work full time on the dairy, every day. Much of Pat's work is paperwork. She has to provide a tremendous amount of reporting on water quality and nutrient management in addition to normal business paperwork and tracking the health of their herd. 
The cows come in twice per day for milking. Their dairy is unique in that they have three breeds - Jerseys, Holsteins and Brown Swiss. 

We had a great day touring! If you want to join us next time, call the office and order your tickets early. You can also check out the tours offered by Tehama County Farm Bureau and Butte County Farm Bureau.

Monday, March 16, 2015

National Ag Week

Today marks the start of National Ag Week. A great time to celebrate agriculture across the US.
Here are a few facts to share:
  • In California alone we have over 76,000 farms. Most of these are family owned farms.
  • California produces over 400 different crops. We have by far the greatest crop diversity of any US state.
  • Over half of all the US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown in California. You're welcome the rest of the country. ;)
  • The top crop in California is milk. I think our cows truly do enjoy the weather here.
  • California produces over 90% of the US Artichokes, Strawberries, Almonds, Garlic, Tomatoes and Olives.
So thank a farmer today!! Agriculture is vital to our dinner tables and our economy!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Affordable Vacations- Cruising

We just got back from a great vacation on a Cruise! We started cruising in 2010 and have really enjoyed the three cruises we have done. We have only cruised with Carnival so far and their loyalty program and great rates keep us coming back.

We have only cruised out of California ports and only to Mexico so far. For us these have made the most sense for best use of our time and money. We hope to eventually cruise to Alaska, the Bahamas and Caribbean.

These are the biggest four reasons why we love to cruise:

1. Affordable - Cruises are hands down one of the most affordable vacations, especially if you live near a port. I'll go into this more in a future post to show you what we spend on ours. Like any vacation, they can be as expensive as you make them too but there are some great ways to keep it very affordable.
For me, the affordability factor means I can really relax. I don't fret about if we spent too much at X. This is a big deal for me and I think helps me truly get my brain into relax mode.

2. Practically All-Inclusive - The cruise rate includes standard meals on board and basic drinks such as tea and coffee. Alcohol and soda are not included and you can choose a fancier meal for an extra charge. We have always found the included food to be good (hello lobster night) and have never purchased the upgraded meals. Room service is even included. We typically order coffee to our room and head out for the actual meal.
The cruise price also includes a good variety of entertainment. Typically there are nightly Vegas-style shows and comedy shows. There are also game-show type events and many activities happening on the ship. Mini golf, pools and hot tubs are also included on most ships. The ship we were just on had a "waterworks" area for kids with three very nice slides.

3. Floating Hotel/Resort - Some people use the ship like the floating hotel that it is and venture out at all the ports. Instead of moving hotels every day, the hotel moves for you. The time that you need to be back on ship is very firm, but most people don't have trouble with it.
We prefer to use the ship as a floating resort and stay on the ship most of the time. We love laying out and enjoying all the included amenities. It works out very well either way.

4. Limited phones - This is my husband's favorite part. Since you are in international ports and international waters there is limited cell phone use. We put our phones on airplane mode or turn them off when we set sail and don't even bother with the expensive international cell plans. The ship has a phone should there be an emergency and our loved once can call the ship should they need to. This allows us to literally unplug for the cruise.

We love to cruise and I'm looking forward to sharing more about our experiences in upcoming posts!

Friday, January 23, 2015

What goes into selling at the farmer's market?

Selling food at the farmer's market is a ton of work. We did a guest post at the Food Journal to share. Check it out and learn why we may not be going back to the farmer's market.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Motivation Monday from MLK

MLK quote

Happy Monday all! 

Some days I feel like I am crawling and others I am running but the important part is the forward motion. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pruning Fruit Trees

January is a great time of year to prune your fruit trees. Don't be afraid to prune! Your trees will thank you! My favorite resource for fruit tree advice is Dave Wilson Nursery's You Tube Channel. They have fantastic videos on pruning, grafting, and much more. Go visit them at:

My husband doing some winter pruning

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A California Winter Garden

If you live in a climate that allows it and have never had a winter garden - you are missing out!
A winter garden in California is so simple and such an easy way to get some fresh produce in the winter. We have a cool enough winter without much frost.

3 young broccoli plants - volunteers from last year
We have grown broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and lettuce. Lettuce and broccoli have been the most successful for us. Both are super easy. You can usually find broccoli starts at the local hardware store (or you could start them by seed but we have better luck with starts) and lettuce seed is equally easy to find. We like to purchase the salad bowl seed packs that include a mix of varieties.

All we do is plant them, maybe fertilize them, cover them if a deep frost is coming (we have only done this twice ever) and harvest. :) Unless it gets super dry like the last year or so, we don't even water them. Sometimes I forget we even have them.

Healthy broccoli plants
For best results get your starts in the ground October 1st. Lettuce can be sown later and sown again mid winter for many, many harvests. Don't plant too much lettuce as you can't preserve it well. And don't be afraid to thin your lettuce early and thin heavily. We forgot to plant lettuce this year so no photos.

How about you - do you have a winter garden?