ravens

Lushness, Still, but Rapidly Drying

Gusty winds and cold nights faded quickly to calmer breeze and warmer days. Now, the grass bolts quickly and everything goes to bloom.  Lushness seems on the edge of fading, we don’t know how long the green will last. Already, the thinnest soils are turning tawny in the coastal facing prairies.

Freshly Tilled Soil

Fading Mud, To Dust

After the ground’s gushiness fades, the farmers work the ground. The fields are getting tilled. Cover crops are almost all gone, mowed and integrated into the soil. With the farm roads dry, in comes a compost delivery: fine organic crumbly brown piles getting distributed into some important places, including the orchards.

Gravenstein Apple Flowers

Orchard Blooming

Orchard blossoms burst forth. The earliest flowers are past, cherry petals falling like snow, the first fruit seems to be setting…same with the plums, prunes, and apricots. Now, the apple trees start blossoming. Our one old gravenstein apple tree, with the earliest apples to ripen, is aglow in full bloom. Other apple trees are coming along, a diversity of flower colors, shapes, and sizes. Meanwhile, the vines…

Two Dog Farm Chardonnay Grape Vines Springing from Dormancy

Wine!

Recently, our Two Dog Farm Wine endeavor has started returning deliciousness. The Bartles opened a bottle of their very own Chardonnay at a recent gathering and oh! the praise rang high! The promise of a larger harvest looms for this fall. The neatly pruned and tied vines are flushing leaves and flower clusters.

Elusive Wild Things

Scat is easier to see than the furries. Coyotes, bobcats, and weasels talking sh**, carefully placed to make inter- and intra-species statements, scatting. A small weasel spotted in the orchard, chicken owners worried. No bobcats for so long. Deer tracks but no deer. Skunk digging but no skunk.

Flies.

And now suddenly a hundred types of flies buzzing about. Flies on poop, flies on flowers, flies frolicking in pairs tumbling on the ground.  No face flies, yet, luckily. Clouds of midges, clouds of gnats. Different flies in the forest, different flies on the road.

Winged Friends

The purple martin colony returned from way down south. This is one of two colonies in Santa Cruz County. They have the most distinctive, amazing throaty deep chirps. Goodness, they make a lot of noise. Glad to be back, I guess.

And the stranger noises are coming from the ravens. Maw and Caw are greeting friends passing through with their cluck-clicking patterns, rolling upside down, dipping and turning playfully. Perhaps a bit of this greeting is the kids coming back to say hello. Just the pair, mostly, but then there are brief visitations. The pair stand watch in the freshly tilled fields looking for the lost or injured rodents for lunch.

Two flickers poke and explore something in the ground. The thrasher sings a most refined and eloquent soliloquy.

Flap flap flap! 40 band tailed pigeons wheel across the sky and settle back into the walnut trees. Catkin feasts! It is a good time for the flock, bigger than in recent years.

A Wild Phacelia from Roundabouts the Farm

Flowers

Walnut leaves unfurl with the droopy elongation of the catkins that survive by sheer number the feasting of the pigeons. Poppy displays wash orange across the south-facing slopes across Molino Creek and brighten the grassy balds along the highway. Whorled lupines poke up from the sea of grasses in patches around the farm.

The Harvest One Gwen avocado reminds us about the fruit that this portion of the harvest season will one day bring. One Gwen tree does not enough avocados make. Ironically, the fructification of Spring is the hungriest time of year. Pre seed. Pre fruit.

– also simultaneously published at Molino Creek Farm’s website

Wet Season’s Roaring Arrival

-from my weekly blog at Molino Creek Farm

The Landscape Color Deepened a Few Hues: rain soaked Molino Creek Farm, freshened and dust free

Roaring wind and driving rain sent everyone to shelter in their homes Sunday and Monday. The tips of thousands of tree branches now blanket the ground with fresh green mulch. More than five inches of rain wet the soil many feet down- it all soaked into the thirsty soil. But, water rushed down dirt roads moving dirt and gravel, flowing with eroding rivulets, dumping mud into ditches, carving through storm flung debris.

Everything is soaked – mosses and lichens hydrated and springing to life with winter’s fluffy dripping lushness. In the meadow patches around the farm, perennial poppies push up fresh blue-green ferny foliage. Storksbill germinates first with millions of tiny grass seedling spikes shortly behind. The first broad and bumpy primary leaflets of lupines flush from bare brown gopher thrown soil piles. Bunchgrasses push out a half inch of new green blades from the otherwise dry brown leaves from last spring’s growth. In the forest, thick oak leaf mulch is being quickly, hungrily devoured by furiously unfurling mushroom spawn. A month from now, with a bit more rain, we’ll have chanterelles.

Basket Weaver Wisdom

The weekend also delivered us ancient knowledge. Julia Parker and her family graced the farm with a workshop on the traditional basket weaving of the indigenous peoples of central California. Julia has long been demonstrating and teaching basket making in Yosemite Valley. 15 folks learned from 4 generations of her family with people gathered for a campout then retreating indoors when the rain started coming down. We made new friends and are already looking forward to Julia’s family returning when they can. Perhaps we will tend basketry plants as part of our production…a while back we had a troop coppicing willows for just such a purpose.

Apples and Such

The gala apples are gone (except for the precious remaining ones you might buy at the Food Bin!), now its onto Fujis. Sweet, crunchy Fuji apples with rainbow colors- traditional seasonal salad apples to sweeten the arugula greens. The tomatoes are melting fast from the rains- so, we’re all out there raking them up for the last of the seasons processing- they are still going to market, but you better get them fast! Our Persian limes are swelling and dark green, a good harvest promised for January. Drake’s avocado grafts are taking off with rapid growth, giving us Great Hope in recovering our burnt avocado orchard.

Drake Bialecki Made it Happen: avocado grafts on root sprouts from burned up trees

Wildlife, Including Nut-Eating Corvids

Farm ravens Maw and Caw forage widely across the farm, scavenging farm crops. Their rounds include swoops down the driveways and entry road to see who might have run over a black walnut. These they quickly pounce upon, vigorously pecking at the solidly ensconced nutmeat, so sweet and oily. Sometimes they find a half walnut and retreat to a fence post to work at prying out food.

As hoped, the deer herd has devoured all the wormy castoff apples. In doing so, they have pounded bare the invasive Cape Ivy where we dumped the fruit: weed control while disposing of pests – no wasted fruit there! Mostly, we see deer prints, not the deer themselves, who are mainly hiding somewhere.

The turkeys have also disappeared- not even any prints, anymore.

Bob Brunie has something against chipmunks. Also, his new farm chicken flock complained loudly about the storm. (Yes, we have no squirrels)