Weirdly enough, it’s March and this is my first blog post of the year. I mean, things do slow down around the farm in the winter, but it’s not like nothing happens! But it feels like time to look back at all the things we accomplished last year, and to think a bit about what we’ll be doing new, differently, and perhaps even more of this year. Big things, little things… so, here we go: eleven exciting things from 2011!
1. We’re now Registered Organic!!! This was a big deal for us, as it’s a three-year-plus process to complete organic registration, with lots of paperwork and record-keeping, not to mention the challenge of switching over to completely organic methods of production. Fortunately, the days when organic fruit was expected to be ugly or wormy are long past, and we were able to find organic pest-control methods that work splendidly for us. The chickens figure into it too, digging up and eating the codling moth larvae under the trees, and we’re all happy to know that our orchard is free of pesticides. Organic management is certainly pricier and more time-consuming — the old spray cost around $30 per season, while the new organic codling-moth-specific virus costs us a whopping $400 — but it’s worthwhile to us to do this right, and we haven’t raised our prices. Healthy, wholesome, delicious food shouldn’t be a luxury, and I’m so happy that our Great Organic Experiment is a success!
2. We made four kinds of olives, cyser and mead, yogurt, corned beef, lacto-fermented ginger ale, sauerkraut, and kimchee, as well as the usuals — wine, jam, bread, dried fruit… I love learning these kinds of traditional skills and adding to our preserving/home-brewing/making repertoire. On this year’s to-do list: sourdough, sausages and/or prosciutto, and more fermentation! (Gotta keep my new crock collection occupied!) Some of those recipes can be found here.
3. We all got fairly obsessed by mushroom-hunting, and we’re happily, confidently identifying and eating several kinds of local wild mushrooms! And they are soooooooo good.
4. Tom ran and finished the Western States 100 Mile endurance run — his second time! It’s a truly bizarre and awe-inspiring event… words fail to describe what it’s like to watch 400 runners charge out of the gate (at the sound of a REAL shotgun!) and head toward the mountains of Squaw Valley, determined not to stop until they reach Auburn, 100.2 miles down the trail. Click here to see the video Mikail made of the start.
5. Phyllis joined the PlacerGrown board as a representative for Orchards. This is an organization that has given us so much help and support over the years, and we’re grateful for all they do for our local farming and food community.
6. I became a certified Master Gardener! I’ve wanted to do this for years and years, so when the opportunity came up this year, I decided to finally take it on. I’m so happy to be working on the school garden at Rock Creek Elementary with some truly wonderful new MG friends.
7. Our pears, apples, and honey made appearances at SPD, Newcastle Produce, Palms Mediterranean Market, Latitudes Restaurant, Tsuda’s Cafe and Bakery, The Flour Garden, Hospitality House, Auburn Interfaith Food Closet, and several local events, as well as at three farmer’s markets!
8. We upgraded our irrigation system to a modern, efficient one — take a peek at the process here!
9. We had some fantastic guests on our monthly radio program, The Homestead Radio Hour — we talked about everything from planting an orchard to raising chickens and bees to composting. Check out the archive here (and don’t miss the January episode with Joel Salatin and Michael Ableman!)
10. This was the first year that we raised chicks from our own birds’ eggs — Mr. D and his kindergartners did a splendid job hatching (and naming) Lellow, Baby Bee, Dartha, and Primces Buttercup!
11. Oh, and the ducks! Hee hee!
Here’s to a very happy, healthy, and delicious 2012 for all!