Last days of Summer

 

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The one thing we all have a limited amount of: Time.

As the days turn cool and the fleeting heat of Summer fades we turn to preserving those moments.  Here on the farm we are making salsa and tomato soup with our surplus of leftover tomatoes.  Our first attempt at curing olives ensues and we look for ways in which we can pickle beets, eggs and all the other bounty that we grew this year.

We had a great season and are looking forward to growing in the Fall and through the Winter.  Although we don’t know what our production will be like for the Winter there is a certain eagerness that comes from trying something new.  The beauty and the curse that come with living on the land is that nothing is ever a guarantee.  Perhaps this is the ultimate understanding that modern living has eluded from our society at large: there are no guarantees in life.  We live and die, and in the moments between we try to hold and preserve those precious memories.

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An eclectic mix of goods that we grew this year.

 

Farming is the ultimate source for lessons on life and I feel that I was fortunate enough to glean a few of those this year.  Here are a few lessons that I have come to understand in a whole new way.

  1. We reap what we sow: So literal and always true.  The work put into farming is always realized when it comes time to harvest.  I had the pleasure of experiencing both the positive and negative aspects of this and learned from both situations.  Take the time to learn the right way to do things, get your hands dirty and learn from your mistakes.
  2. You can’t always get what you want but you get what you need: Learn from what worked and what didn’t and make the necessary adjustments.  Sometimes we can get set on what we are doing that we don’t allow things to happen naturally.  Take cues from nature on what works and what doesn’t and apply it to your own life.  Just because we have an idea on what things are supposed to be does not always mean that’s the way they are.  Being open to change and letting go of control is much easier than trying to control and changing things.
  3. Focus: “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing” Stephen Covey.  A very simple quote yet so fundamental.  What is the main thing?  Well, that’s for you to define but without out it we tend to work on things that may be irrelevant to the cause.  We can climb a ladder as fast as we can but if it doesn’t go to where we want, then it will not matter the speed in which we climb it.  Staying focused this year has been a challenge but it is one that has taught me what is truly valuable in my life.
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Sometimes all you need is a hand.

Farming is not easy.  But it is in this unease that we find out who we are and what we are capable of.  We find that we are not the ones growing food but that food grows us.  Being a part of “where food comes from” gives a purpose far from a title, career or profession.  It is who we are, all of us. Struggling to grow as a farm we are reminded of all those that came before us who struggled to make a living from the land.  We are lucky.  We are privileged to grow food.  With that privilege we push forward into the unknown guided by the thought that, as we care for the land, the land will in return care for us.

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Finding the balance

I like lists.  It gives me great satisfaction in checking accomplished tasks off of a list.  Often times though, we can be extremely efficient but not effective.  This year I have learned the value of balance by having a lack of it in my life.

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Rheza Peppers.  Making a profit off peppers can be tough for a small farm.

I have always looked to work smarter and not harder but on a farm both are needed.  More often than not the latter takes precedence because it can feel as though you are accomplishing a lot when working hard.  I believe that in our culture working hard equates to accomplishing something.  Sometimes its better to do nothing and observe, but in an instant gratification world this can be frowned upon.

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Perpetual Spinach.  Grows great during the heat and long lasting in the Summer months.

As the years roll by I find great satisfaction in not accomplishing lots of things and instead focusing on cultivating a well balanced life.  This is easier said than done as most people know, but yet all the lessons of life can be found on the farm.  Time management can mean the difference between a well functioning business or one that is about to go under.  The lessons that nature teaches are all around us and sometimes stopping to be a part of that world can allow us to accomplish the most.

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Our friend, companion and the best farm dog anyone could ask for.

With the passing of our beloved farm dog Buster, many things have been put into perspective.  The time we have is short, the work we do will vanish and the things we love most are here for only a short while.  We don’t get to choose when loved ones will go, we only have the present to be with them.  It’s hard to balance life when there are so many things to accomplish, so much work to be done and so many places to go.  In the end, we will never get the time back no matter how hard we work or how much we accomplish.

Summer days

Summer days are here!  Between the heat and the wet that we have received this year I can tell you that it has been a heck of a first season to farm full time.  But you cant control the weather, you can only only control your reactions to it.

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Goji berries

Well, we are getting some Goji berries this season but not enough to bring to the markets this year.  Our plants have only been in the ground for a year but were moved mid season as we changed around some of annual beds to permanent ones.  This change was done for a couple reasons.  Primarily we wanted the garden closest to the house and under a very large Oak tree to be perennial beds with a focus on drought tolerance and beneficial attractants.

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Head Lettuce under shade cloth

Getting plants to germinate in the summer can be tricky.  Having a small farm can be very advantageous when it comes down to growing difficult crops or utilizing season extension.  Having a smaller area means I don’t need much in the way of shade cloth or I can utilize the land that is shady to grow on.  Since we live in a canyon near the river we have plenty of micro-climates and there is always somewhere that is shady on our land.

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Eggplant: Purple Long

 

This year we are narrowing down our crop focus based upon what is in demand, how well we can grow it and can we harvest it efficiently.  I’ve always enjoyed growing eggplant and love the hardiness of the plant as well as the purple blossoms.  I’m also a big fan of Eggplant Parmesan but when you are growing for market it can’t just be about what the farmer likes.

 

What’s in a name?

“You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while” – Cat Stevens

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So what’s with the name Son of Something?  The short answer is, it’s my last name.  From Spanish origin the name Hidalgo is broken down into “hijo de algo” which directly translates to son of something.  My Grandfather Pedro Hidalgo was a sheep shearer and worked in the orchards of California.  My Father worked in the orchards as a young man as well but became a train engineer after going to Vietnam.  I myself worked every job under the stars and never found anything as meaningful as farming.

“The first generation works their asses off, the second generation goes to college and the third goes to Cancun”  – George Carlin

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My Mother and Father gave me the ability to become whatever I wanted.  Although they themselves never went to college I had the opportunity to be the first in my family to graduate from college in 2016.  A late bloomer I was and also in finding my passion but I had a lot to live up to.  When I was younger my mother would give me a “thinking” cap to wear and I would stare at the clouds and dream.  She instilled my compassion and desire to dream big.  My father worked hard for what he has and came from meager beginnings.  Through him my hardworking ethic and drive was formed.

“…Be the change you wish to see in this world” – Mahatma Gandhi 

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Farming is no easy task and there is a reason farmers had so many kids.  I am lucky that I have so much support from my family to pursue a different kind of dream.  I would think that most parents want there kids to be lawyers, doctors and engineers.  I’m sure most parents also want their kids to be happy but what about the dreamers that want to make this world a better place?  In order to be that change we wish to see in this world we have to work harder, sacrifice more and care for one another.

“Family: Father and Mother I Love You” – what you learn as a child and come to truly appreciate as an adult.

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Mom and I crossing a bridge in the Grand Canyon.

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Some say I look like my dad…

 

 

A helping hand

“The best helping hand you can find is at the end of your own arm” – My Father

Son of Something Farm is an all hand powered farm with no tractor.  We don’t have the need for a tractor nor would we want to use one.  What makes us a sustainable farm is that we don’t rely on fossil fueled machinery to do the work for us.

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Permaculture design and biointensive techniques working in harmony.

Working with nature instead of against it, we use wheel barrows to move around our high quality compost to our permanent no-till beds.  We use appropriate technology to save time and labor making us highly efficient and extremely productive.  Utilizing hand tools and working smarter not harder allows use to bring the highest quality products directly to our customers.

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Hand tools and reclaimed materials make our farm sustainable and regenerative.

We believe our soil is the most important asset we have and treat it accordingly.  A tractor is a heavy piece of equipment that compacts the soil and hurts the microbiology.  By using a no till method and a patient approach we mimic nature to provide quality and not quantity.  Using animals to do the work on our farm creates a closed loop system that provides for the land and the people.

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Utilizing animals instead of fossil fueled machinery is way more fun and holistic.

Salad mixes

We offer three types of salad mixes, made up of tender young greens.  Our mixes are seasonal and grown to suit our foothill climate.  Our goal is to provide the freshest salad mixes, composed of highly nutritious greens and harvested at the optimal time for flavor.    


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Spring Mix:  Multiple varieties of lettuce are mixed together to provide taste, texture and loft.  Mustard greens and Red Russian kale are added to enhance nutritional variety and flavor.

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Spicy Mix:  Mustard Greens and Arugula make up the base of this peppery mix.  Baby Red Russian kale is added in smaller proportions for texture.

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Braising Mix:  Tatsoi is a key ingredient in this mix, for sauteing or stir frying.  Gourmet quality greens such as Spinach, Chard, Mustard and Arugula are included to round out this medley. 

Are we Organic?

I get this question a lot and for good reason.  Although it is important to have a certificate I feel it is more important to hold yourself to the highest standards.  While we are not certified at this moment we are on track if we wanted to become so later in the future.

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We use only organic and non-gmo seeds, use only fertilizers that are approved for organic production, and follow the same guidelines but forgo the certification.

Here’s why we choose not to certify.

  1. It is an added cost to a small scale farm which operates on very thin margins.  We would be forced to absorb the cost or to pass it on to our customers.
  2. I would rather someone know where there food comes from as opposed to buying something just because it is certified.  The idea behind connecting with your local farmer is all about building a relationship.  Understanding why and how they produce there goods.
  3. The certificate is not enough in our opinion to make farming what we want to see and that is sustainable which is different than organic.  Organic can still mean mono-cropping and large scale agriculture.  We want to see our small scale farming system replicated to feed communities and ultimately the world.  That means small scale quality production, accountability and sustainability.

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Looking back in history it was not all that long ago that every farmer was organic.  The history of agriculture is a fascinating one and deserves attention as to how we have arrived at growing food in an industrial model.  I recommend a book called “Harvest for Hope” by Jane Goodall and “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond.  Goodall’s book highlights the consequences that our diets have on the planet.  Diamond’s book explains the impact that guns, germs and steel had in the advancement of certain cultures.  Both these books shine light onto the history of agriculture and how it has molded our world.

IMG_9872So…While we are not certified organic by any governmental agency we only use products that are certified for organic production.  Here is what we use on our farm:

  1. Compost:  This is incorporated into the top 2″ of our soil yearly to increase organic matter.  We utilize spent mushroom compost which was used for growing mushrooms but has been depleted of some of its nutrients.
  2. Nutri-Rich pellets:  A slow release fertilizer that we utilize for most of our crops.  It is incorporated at the same time as the compost.
  3. Amendments based upon our soil analysis: Gypsum, CalPhos and Oystershell. These are typical amendments for the Sierra Nevada foothills.
  4. Liquid Fish: I will use this as an inital fertilizer when I transplant or fertigate (fertilizing and irrigating at the same time) my heavy feeders like tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.
  5. Liquid Kelp: I’ll use liquid kelp in conjusction with the liquid fish for an added boost of microbial activity.
  6. Compost Tea: I brew my own compost tea made from homemade compost.  I’ll spray my fruit trees and most of my long term annual plants like tomatoes along with seedling starts.  I don’t use it on short term crops like greens or spray it when a plant has started to set fruit.

Everyday is Earth Day on the farm

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” 

 ~ Newtons third law


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The lawn is gone.

What starts out as a passion can quickly become an obsession.  Farming has become that obsession, which is rooted in the desire to help my fellow human and our planet at the same time.  I truly believe that the way we acquire our food is the root of all problems and the ultimate source for solutions.

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A wet season calls for row covers.

Working to create a sustainable farm, that works with nature, has opened my eyes to the way I interact with our world.  In our modern environment, man dictates what happens when and how. When working on a small farm, mother nature will let you know when and how to do things right, if you listen.

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God’s country

The more we observe how Mother nature works and mimic those lessons, the more we can create systems that benefit our everyday interactions with nature.  On our farm, Mother nature is the ultimate boss.  We listen to her everyday – in how we farm, what we grow and how we plant.

First Farmers Market of 2017

The first Farmers Market at the Nevada County Certified Growers Market was wonderful.  Live music, the sun was shinning and there were lots of folks excited to be out enjoying the local goods.  For our first market we had artichokes, early garlic, pea shoots and sunflower shoots.  We appreciate all who stopped by to say hello and welcome us to our new market.

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First farmers market of the 2017 season.  Not much but we will have more soon.

The farming season has been a slow start with all the rain and clouds.  We are excited to have some crops coming on soon and we will have salad mix and arugula available at this next market Saturday the 22nd.

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Tomatoes (Brandywine, Oxheart, Sungold, Sweetie and San Marzano) inter-planted with lettuce.

This spring we are looking forward to having more artichokes, pea shoots, sunflower shoots, spring mix and arugula.  Red Russian Kale and spinach are coming soon.  Also, the tomatoes are in the greenhouse and our nursery greenhouse, built from reclaimed materials, has tons of starts waiting to go into the ground.

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An old carport and some unused windows help to make our Nursery greenhouse. 

 

Farmers market & Farm stand

Finally getting ready to offload some of this years harvest!  Wow are there a lot of things to do in the coming few days.  I wont bore you with the details but I’ve been working till 10 pm and getting up around 5 am.  Its odd how when you love to do something you just don’t care how tired you are you still find a way to get things done.

I will be at the LOP farmers market this Tuesday from 3 pm till 7 pm and hopefully there till the end of the season.  I’m looking into another local market on Thursdays and will keep you posted.  Setting up a farm stand at the house so feel free to come by and pick up some veggies and tour the farm on Fridays.

Lake of the Pines Farmers Market

Time: 3-7 PM

Location: Lower Marina Parking Lot Near Tennis Court 3 & 4

Dates: Every Tuesday from June 7th – September 27th

Farm Stand

Time: 3-7 PM

Location: 10567 Gautier drive Auburn 95602

Dates: Till it gets dark and cold out (sometime in December)