Sunday, December 29, 2013

Quotable Sunday 12/29/2013

The Farmers in San Francisco

In the seasons of raising flowers there are not too many days off where we can go many places.  However we like to make the trip to California at least one every other year to see Farmer Tony's family.  They live north of San Francisco in a suburb named Novato in Marin County. 

After a very gorgeous drive down to California, a lovely holiday of food, presents and family, we planned a trip into the city. That is what, San Francisco  is called, "the city"   The plans were to take the ferry from Larkspur to the city, see the Ferry Street Market, go to the Farmers' market there, go to the San Francisco Flower Market, have a lovely lunch at my sister-in-law's favorite restaurant and see the sights. But the plans didn't quite go the way we were hoping.  Here is the story with photos.
 Here we are leaving Larkspur on a beautiful sunny morning.  Meet Farmer Tony's younger sister Vicky.

Gliding past San Quentin prison and Alcatraz, former prison, the day is bright and my excitement is building. I love going to the city and with a new camera we are playing the part of tourists to the hilt.

Coming into the city, we snap a few gorgeous photos of the San Francisco Belle paddleboat and the Coit Tower in the distance.
The Ferry Street Market place, the docks and the beautiful city scape.

Excitedly we leave the ferry and head to the Farmers' market.....which we have been to before on a previous trip but for some reason we can not find this time.  After asking for information we set off to another locale where the market is.

 Bummer #1  Two booths do not make a market.  Turns out that the day after Christmas is not much of a market. Seems everyone is taking this day off.   Loads of tourists are milling around but there is nothing really to see.  So we are checking the phone for directions to the San Francisco Flower Market.  According to Vicky's phone it is walkable but a bit of a hike.  So still smiling, off we go.

Okay, it turns out that this walk is more a endless hike uphill, downhill and cross blocks that seem like miles. It is warm and we are getting tired but determined because I have seen photos of all the beautiful flowers and I so want to see it and share it with Vicky. 

So we walk and walk and walk...stop for a coffee and walk on.  What have I got us into I keep thinking.  But the payoff will be so worth it, gorgeous flowers everywhere.

Finally, the market appears but..... there is nothing there.  Bummer #2

According to the last vendor who was closing up, the market was technically closed the day after Christmas.  He said it was okay to wander around inside so we did, which only continued to bum me out more. A daunting hike to no flowers.
All the vendors I have heard about, followed and dreamed of seeing, were locked up and absent.  Crap, I am thinking, this day is not going as planned, can it get much worse.

So we make the looong hike back to the Ferry Street Market.  We encountered all kinds of people and all kinds of neighborhoods. But finally we were back at the water front, tired and hungry.
Bummer #3 It turns out that the restaurant that Vicky wanted to take us to, was also closed for the day after Christmas.  Three for three....strikeout.  Not the day I had planned.  
The Ferry Street Market turned out to be a lot of fun.  Lots of shops to poke through, lots of things to taste and lots of people having a good time.
So finally spending a bit of time in the bookstore and grabbing another coffee; it was time to take the ferry back home.  While the ride on the ferry took about 40 minutes to go to the city, the ride home took about 25 minutes.  Once we left the pier, we were really booking it on the water.  The wind was cold and the ferry was bouncing along but the sights of the city as we left were so magnificent. That was so fun!
 In the twilight of the evening, the city is gorgeous.  Despite the days' plans going awry, we had a good time.  Lesson learned.....come to California before Christmas and go to the city before the holiday. 
With the Golden Gate Bridge fading in the distance, and the sun setting at the end of a fun day,  San Francisco is wonderful place ....and  we vowed to return to the city when everything is open.

"The Bay Area is so beautiful, I hesitate to preach about heaven while I'm here. "
~Billy Graham

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Quotable Sunday 12/22/2013

Winter Solstice

You know when you are sledding down a hill, riding a bike or skiing down a slope; isn't amazing how fast you get to the bottom.  But when you head back up to the top of the hill, it seems so very slow and more difficult than the joy ride down.  The seasons are like that too.  It seems that we get to the shortest day of the year, Winter Solstice, in record time but it is a long, slow time to get to the longest day of the year in June. Maybe it is because of the time of year and the weather.  Here in the Willamette valley, many of the days in winter and early spring are gray, foggy and somewhat gloomy. Time seems to pass so very slowly as we wait for the first wonderful day of spring. Maybe, it is how little we see the sun or how cool and damp it feels.

Nature really doesn't care about this, it just goes about the business of rebirth.  It may not seem like there is anything going on out there in nature but there is.  Seeds, sprouts, shoots and  buds are all watching for the light, the signal, that special moment that tells them to grow.  It is happening out there all around us, no matter the weather.  So today we say  " Happy First Day of Spring!" Maybe not technically but definitely on the road to spring.  


The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Quotable Sunday 12/15/2013

A Snow Event!

We live in Oregon, where the old standard joke is: " it rains nine months of the year there!"  Not quite true but some seasons it does feel like that.  We don't get regular snow like many growers so we designed our hoophouse system to protect for the rain with a bit of protection on the beds in the form of Agribon frost blankets.  Every few years we do get an EVENT that makes us all go crazy for fear of snow, driving in snow, freezing temperatures, round the clock newscasts and frozen pipes.  We don't usually get too worked up by the EVENT except for heavy wet snow collapsing our hoophouses and the freezing temperatures for our baby flower plants that went in to the ground in October. This year was an EVENT for us!
We had a snow event which really wasn't too bad, about 6 inches of snow fell. It wasn't the heavy wet variety either and so it wasn't a great deal to remove from the hoophouses.  But the temperatures were really cold and we didn't want the snow frozen on to the plastic.
Dressed in a multitude of layers and armed with a rope pulley system of snow removal plus squeegees, we set out to remove the snow.  In the distance we could hear the neighbor kids having a blast playing in the snow while we worked removing it and all the while it kept snowing.
In my case, I was pulling more snow down on me but I was at least warm but needed ski goggles.  The rope pulley system didn't work and we will need to come up with something for next time.  When we build a couple more hoophouses we will need to be faster with removal.
The squeegee ended up working best but we need a bigger head on the end of our telescoping poles.

Finally everything was cleaned of the snow, we checked all the baby plants to see that they were covered.
                                                           Anemones wrapped up in a couple of blankets.
                                               Ranunculus under a couple of blankets.
We settled in for about 10 days of very very cold temperatures. Nights were in the single digits, one close to zero, the days temperatures in the teens.  We have never tried to grow anemones and ranunculus at these cold of temperatures.  The blankets were buying us a few degrees but we were hoping that the ground in the hoophouses was dry and wouldn't freeze up and killed the babies.  We couldn't remove the blankets to let the light in and so we waited and waited, afraid to look and see the damage.
                      The sun would try and shine and things tried to thaw but mostly just froze up.
Finally the sun came out and the rain came and everything started to melt away. The covers on the beds could be removed and the damage assessed.
Anemones came through like troopers although those ten days will delay them.  So hoping for nicer January temperatures to speed these babies up for blooms on Valentine's Day. Fingers crossed!!
Ranunculus looks a little more ragged but still alive. Some of the outer leaves may be damaged but the crowns still look good. Yay!
The snapdragons and the glads took a beating.  But they were just tests to see if we could get late glads and early snaps.  More snaps are growing in the greenhouse.
                              One busted outdoor pipe, oops forgot that one when winterizing.
   A little snow remained along side the hoophouses for a day or so and then the EVENT was over.  Just hoping that is the last EVENT for this next growing season.  Probably not so but it is nice to think positive thoughts. 

There's one good thing about snow, it makes your lawn look as nice as your neighbor's.  ~Clyde Moore

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Quotable Sunday 12/01/2013

What Are We Reading?

 The weather is cold , the days grow shorter, and the outside work slows down a speck.  So finally there is time to spend with our books.  We should be reading all year around but face it, there are only so many hours in a day and  there is always a ton of work that needs to be done; so reading takes a back seat in the bus of things to do.  But as the days slow down, the guilt of spending a few hours reading just doesn't seem so bad and frankly we are still reading for the business, so win/win.  Here is some of the books on our shelf.

We have been buying gardening books for a very long time and there are so many great books we have read.  Being flower farmers, the books that deal with growing flowers have been read over and over.

These are the design books that I have so far.... Each have been perused completely and sit by my chair for convenient research and inspiration.

 These are the books we have read or are reading currently.  So many things we can discover about growing flowers and veggies.

These are the books that Farmer Tony has read. He is currently reading a lot of books on Kindle, mostly about improving the health and tilth of the soil.

These are the current books I am reading.  I need more information on starting seeds more successfully, we are working on propagation and I am learning to become a better photographer.  I too, am reading a few short books on Kindle about successfully using social media (ie: blogs, twitter, facebook, etc) to enhance our business.  There are many books on our wish list for Christmas also so keeping our finger crossed for more goodies. You can find these books at your local independent bookstores or garden centers or check out our library of  books on Amazon using the links on this page.

So use the winter's slow and cold days to catch up on your reading.  In just a week or two we go back to seeding for the 2014 season.  Time to get on the treadmill and do some walking.  Oh, that is another topic for another day.   

"The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination."
— Elizabeth Hardwick
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