All Weather in One Day


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


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?


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.

Dripless Fog and Peace

Gazing out to the ocean from 900’ above it at Molino Creek Farm, I notice layers of fog. The high one is at farm height – just peeling back from the land, wisps still hanging in the sheltered canyon, shrouding tall redwood trees. It is white-silvery and seems light and airy. The lower fog layer is darker and heavier, streaked with patches of varying shades of gray. The layers seem still but are moving slowly. The lower, denser deck as normal marches southward. These foggy mornings are quiet and still, except for the occasional muffled purr of waves playing with the shore. The sets of quiet waves accentuate the peaceful silence between.

Foggy Shrouds Surround the Farm Frequently this July

The fog has kept the air cool despite the mostly cloudless skies above the farm’s fields. Even when the fog moves across the entire farm, it has been too light to precipitate. It seems odd that the fog can play so thickly around the tall trees and not make for under-tree precipitation. This might be the least wet foggy spell I’ve seen. If it would only drip…it would feel even better.

The view from our drive off the farm…Santa Cruz County’s Beautiful North Coast

Along the Coast

Out the main road and downhill to the ocean, the sun breaks through the shrouding fog and lights the ocean in bright patches. Flocks of turkeys roam the edges of the grasslands and kestrels harass the voles. The meadows have turned summer brown. The damp air smells sulphury and salty from the ocean’s seaweedy soup. An alert coyote lopes rapidly away through the close cow-cropped dry grass, glancing back at me, tail low, wary. I passed a mother and a cub fox similarly rushing for hiding; others report gray foxes on the road frequently.

Fruity Orchards

Wandering into the orchards, we encounter delicious orange-red cara cara navel oranges and unripe, but just getting tasty gala and gravenstein apples. We pick a few ripe limes and lemons as a new dark green, shiny-bumpy crop grows bigger. Downhill, the Swanton Pacific Ranch orchard is turning out a few ripe Lodi apples, a light gold-green and sweet-tart. Flocks of starlings, acorn woodpeckers, stellar and scrub jays are exacting their tithe from the fruit, but perhaps it saves us some thinning.

The apples are hanging so thickly that we can’t keep up with the propping. We lost a half tree last week when the branches pulled it apart. The big old pear also peeled off a major limb; same with an old apple tree. The birds stripped an entire tree of comice pears, saving any additional thinning; same with a couple of the Italian prune trees. Argh! The acorns are getting ripe, so maybe the woodpeckers and jays will be off for more nutritious long term food storage soon.

In the Surrounding Forest

Seeds hang thick on the native grasses along the forest paths. Woodland brome hangs pendulously with dense furry seeds. Blue wild rye’s dense upright spikes are often woven with spider webs, keeping the seeds on the stalks. I’m drawn to the striking orange stems of fine-leaved fescue with its delicate tiny seeds. The forest understory is still lush and green in the growing shade from fire-recovering redwoods.

Evening Sky

The sunset was gorgeously playing with fish scale high clouds, ushered in from a ‘passing monsoonal system’ (schwew! No summer lightning, please!). The sunsets are also being colored by very high smoke billowing forth from the big fire near Yosemite. No smoke smell – its not dipping that low around here (thankfully).

-from my weekly blog for Molino Creek Farm’s webpage and Facebook sites.