hail

All Weather in One Day

Vibrancy

Bare twigs are erupting from buds into clusters of flowers and whorls of spring green leaves. It is bud break. Unfurling walnut leaves are the subtlest green whereas apple leaves emerge more deliciously bright. Even evergreen coast live oaks have a flush of new spring leaves – some pinker, some shiny olive green. The really stunning eye-hurting green though is from the grasslands, which haven’t been this bright due to years of drought. The last two years, the grasslands greened by December only to brown again by March. This year, the amplitude of green keeps ramping up each week and today was so shimmeringly brilliant as to in contrast dull the sky’s pure blue.

Molino Creek Farm’s Vibrant Green Returns After a Long Drought

All Weather in One Day

Sun, clouds, rain, sleet, wind, hail. We recently had a few days with everything possible in a day’s weather. The most striking part was the pea + sized hail, which pelleted the landscape, wave after wave for a long, long time…wide large storm stalling across the North Coast. The hail bruised miles of freshly emerged poison oak leaves, releasing its distinct pungent, acrid, sweet scent that soon blanketed the land, seeping through car vents and into homes.

Poison oak is emerging – an amazing color

Forest Fall

For months, we’ve had storm after storm, but only more recently have we had truly ghastly wind storms. The latest storm dwarfed the prior. Giant trees toppled, shredding through the canopy sending branches flying far. Just across Molino Creek canyon, a half-acre of trees all pitched sideways at once, roots pitched, baring the slope like a landslide. Where we had just spent a hundred hours cleaning fallen limbs to buffer from wildfire…there is now another big project to tackle once again. The entire forest is so thickly strewn with 6” + branches, it is a wonder that any branches or trees remain; it is very difficult to walk anywhere in the forest even along the trail we used to walk to the creek.

An Entire Grove of Trees Pitched Over in Windstorm

Wildlife

When the weather clears, pent up bird song erupts. The birds are singing their spring songs. Song sparrow and house finch melodious jabbering dominates the sound scape, and the whole farm is enveloped in near frenzied mating song. Calling from nooks above the farm and echoing from the canyon walls: turkey gobbling. In the meadows just below the farm, there are huge groups of turkeys with a fair number of showy, strutting toms.

Raptors are calling, as well. The eerie screech of a barn owl reminds us that they are still around: bone-filled pellets stack up below the redwoods at the water tanks complex. In the recent profound breezes, the farm kestrel hovered and dove, over and over, little need to flap. The wind seemed to agitate the red tailed hawk into frequent screaming as it darted between tree tops.

Farm partners have been mowing the cover crop- the fields dried out fast enough with the wind so tractoring was possible. I wanted to follow to gather the scent of fresh-mown grass and also found a juvenile California red-legged frog hopping across the shortened sward.

There are only 2 barn swallows just yet and those two males wheel and swerve in constant play. How soon will their kin arrive, their mates?

Flowers

The first sky lupines blossomed on the farm this week, tailing the first poppies by a few weeks. Bush lupines started blooming as well along with scarlet paintbrush and blue-eyed grass.

First flowering lupine among the Stipa pulchra, purple needlgrass

The scent across the farm comes from a series of blossoming plums, the first over a month ago but more blooming each week. Plum scent contains the highest of sweet notes and just a little low musk to add a bit of interest. The first cherry blooms also erupted this week, but more cherry blossoms are soon in store.

Quickening Farm Pulse

The greenhouse is stacked with young farm plants – Two Dog Farm’s seedlings are itching to get planted soon. Meanwhile, the fields are nearly already mowed, well in advance of nesting birds this year. Soon, the tilling will begin as it has in the brussels sprouts fields along the coast. This Spring, the plow contends with a huge hole that opened up in our lower field. That hole seems as close to a mini active sinkhole as anything we’ve seen:  it is 3’ across and that deep, an odd crater that suggests a both a drain and the spigot for the artesian lake that we got twice this year.

The orchardistas must now hurry: three weeks and we’ll need to irrigate again. The soil quickly dries as the trees leaf out and the cover crop rockets skyward. The pruning is nearly done but young trees need propping! So much to do…

-shared here from my usual posts at Molino Creek Farm’s webpage.