Greenjeans Farm

  (Potter Valley, California)
A free radical farmers journey
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NO MO Football!

Best summer ever.  NO MO Football!  I have a man home for a couple of months  ( Schools OUT!) with lot’s of energy and our garden has never looked or produced better!   Best of all when I get home from grocery shopping on Thursday, there is someone here to bring the bags in and put it all away! 

I always moan and groan in the fall because of the football energy in our house  Practice every night  August till November almost and Saturdays and Sundays on the road!  And yes I will miss it, but I like the new stuff already!  10 years is enough.  Football is for watching on TV.  On Sundays, when you can call an early day and cook stuff.   Like football snacks!    

 
 

Death and Vegetables!

I woke up this morning and thought about death, and about how inevitable it is.  I thought about never laughing with my husband Jeff in the morning or talking to the dogs and cats, having that first cup of coffee, or brushing my teeth or washing my face again. I thought about our children and their unique personalities and humor and the love that surrounds our family like a force field.  I think I am fortunate to have so much in my life.  I’m sure our spirits will all go into another place when we die, but I am very happy in this place!

This scared me, so I started to cook!  Hey, when in doubt, live.  And when in life, eat!  I think that is behind this compulsion of mine to grow things.  What is more connected to life than food!  Maybe wine!  When you cook there is concentration, abandon, artistry, industry, creativity and in the end you get to eat it and it becomes a part of who you are!  How many other things in your life can you eat! 

 
 

The foxglove summer.

Foxglove summer and Amaranth fall. 

There is always something about fall that makes me think of passing.  I will never forget the foxgloves this spring and will never not equate them with my friend and the horror she has gone through and is still trying to push through.   The height of the harvest and the end of the bountiful season!  Mother nature was stingy this year.  Too much rain and not enough heat.  And now at the end mother nature  is passing on the things we have overlooked, the Amaranth and the Sun Flowers, and the Blanket flowers!  And bringing on some Brandywine tomatoes at least!  That makes a case for keeping the canned goods for two years!     The grape bins are out across the way, but I don’t hear any banging.  There are no machines going all night in the vineyard keeping me awake, yet!  It’s a so, so harvest and I am still grateful!  When I pass, I think I want to just be put on a brush pile and burned, worked back into the soil and work at keeping worms happy!  We’ve had a hard year but it was a growing one. 

 
 

Late Summer

  Late summer…

Hazy skies.  Pumpkins!  The peaches are done!  Tomatoes just coming on they are late this year, oh well, green tomato relish!  Cleaning out the pantry.  Friday night high school football, Potter Valley Bearcats! (Last night was WAY too late) and now tomorrow is the traditional opening day of the NFL!  Yep, we’re a football family.  Along with that, and probably why I am a fan, come “Football Snacks” Bruschetta, artichoke dip, salsa, hot wings, won ton, and Chilie Rellenos.  I listen from the kitchen while I cook and am usually canning or freezing something or another from the garden at the same time.  Thinking ahead to that winter day when this food is going to taste soooooo good!  

The geese have begun to fly over the valley, our geese never leave they just like to fly around, they act like they are doing something, but they never leave!  The Mourning Doves are settling in the big red plum tree, you can hear the grape bins rumbling in the vineyard yard.   Putting the garden away little by little as things die off, building up the soil, planting here and there for winter harvest.    This is truly a time to be savored.  Golden days. 

 
 

Hokey Smoke!

We’re busting out of the greenhouses this year!   I’ve run out of trays, thanks to my dear friend across the valley Barbara who keeps giving me her saved seeds!  We have more heirloom vegetables than ever and I’m busy trying to figure out how to mark them in the big garden so we really know who they are.  The ornamentals are coming on strong.  Gotta get stuff in the ground! 

We are kind of in experimental mode this year!  And it is WAY fun!  That’s the way I like it!  Jeff is still trying to deal with the rain and the cold and the soil but I am looking forward to that first fresh pea and potato salad with chives and sour cream dressing!   I am also looking forward to the unusual that you can’t find in the grocery that have the taste that you could have had 100 years ago!  Some of the great gourds from last year are turning into fairy houses with a little carving and paint!  We are doing a fairy garden at the bottom of the bottle tree!  Stay tuned for that one, I’m going to let the Morning Glory run its course there!  

I think it’s going to be a great year, and we are really ready for it!    We are going to take it as it comes, and if you wish, please give us your email address and we will let you know when things are ripe and ready!     

 
 

Happy New Year!

Happy 2011!

It’s hard to believe that nine years have come and gone since Greenjeans became Greenjeans!  Each year has presented its challenges, and victories both large and small.  We moved to this house and spent our first few weeks wading through waist high grass and tearing out ceilings.

We’ve met great neighbors and friends and enjoyed our customers! When we first broke ground, we couldn’t break it!  Then there were the years of building the soil and finding more water. All the while painting and planning and building and knocking out walls.  The year the guys from the football team stole our sign, and one of them brought it back to us.  The year the portable greenhouses blew into the neighbors field!  The year the green house collapsed on me.  The year we built the two new greenhouses!   Planting fruit trees waiting for that first sweet harvest.  Meeting the frogs and birds and creatures that call our house home.  Literally frogs in the bathroom!  Standing in the garden and looking up to see a flock of geese flying so low they make you want to duck!  Listening to the ducks telling jokes to each other.  As Jeff calls it “Quaking each other up!” .  Canning and freezing and canning some more!  It just keeps getting better.  And it doesn’t get any better than this. 

This year our CSA will once again be in full operation.  We’ll be offering vegetable starts in April and lot’s of ornamentals for your own gardens.  We expect a great year and hope that you will join us on the journey!

Toni

 

 

 
 

Eternal Optimism!

I promised to go with the ebb and flow this year and not feel pressured and not feel like it had to be done, but the weather is really testing my patience.

 

I don’t think I’ve seen a more cold or rainy May in my life! Even growing up in Tacoma Washington!  But this is Potter Valley CA, Farmer frustration! It’s time to plant tomatoes and cucumbers and melons.  They are saying LET ME OUT OF THIS GREEN HOUSE!!!  It’s in the low 40’s at night and I am not about to kill these beautiful babies. But I certainly do not want to drag around five gallon pots to plant in the ground and that is the way it seems to be going!

 

It’s 5 am and the sprinklers are grinding away in the vineyard across the way to protect the emerging fruit from frost.  I can see the headlights of our neighbor’s truck diligently driving along the rows.

 

So back to ebb and flow.  It’s a fact that we can’t control the weather, and some years are better than others.  How do we adapt?  Diversity!  It just might be a horrible year for tomatoes and a great year for peas! AND it might just be a bad year for weeds!
 
 

Gratitude

“We wake up in the morning - old hat, think nothing of it.  We might even grumble at the early hour, or the cold floor, or the rain.  But what a miracle that we have another day at hand!  We have another opportunity filled experience to embrace.  Where is our gratitude?  Start the day with gratitude, and feel that gratitude lift us above any seemingly annoying little non-issues to appreciate all that we have, and all that we are.”

 

  -Lissa Coffey

 

 

I have been practicing a couple of disciplines this new year, so far…..   I am not really great at discipline, as anyone who knows me knows!  Each morning I get up and the first thing I am trying to put in my mind is gratitude!  No negativity or worry.  Just what makes me happy to get up this morning?  What about today makes me grateful, gives me strength and makes today more special than yesterday?  It might be as simple as “It’s not still Monday!”  Or “I get to plant radishes!” Or I’m going to sing those Ipod songs in the car all day while I have to drive!   Or I found these fabulous Dinner plate Dahlias!  Cheap!   What ever it is, it is meant to cherish and enjoy!  Hell, I am the kind of person that can even enjoy dirty fingernails! And I love the smell of manure mixed with dirt!     

Today it was the rain!  How fresh everything smelled!  I could see the rain feeding the roses I planted on Saturday with the  stinky egg shells and coffee grounds I saved, and the buds swelling on the fruit trees in the waxing moon!  Also knowing because of the humidity I don’t have to water the green houses until day after tomorrow gave a welcome break.

And when it comes right down to it, we have soup made from our weekend  meat splurge and biscuits and butter and milk and left over key lime pie!  Life doesn’t get much better than this! 

Tommorrow it is the plants.  They are my real focus this year…..     

 

 
 

Taking a year off

I have had an epiphany.  We don’t have to grow food to feed other people! I have a great job. We do the farm because we use it, and we like to share. There is great joy in that!  My next year is dedicated to sharing with who I want to.  No currency involved.  

 

 

We do not have to offer ourselves up to the eyes of others.  My feelings are hurt from a bad review of our farm.  I could go on and on defending Greenjeans, but what would that accomplish?  We are who we are.  Killer garlic and basil and tomatoes and peas and melons and potatoes and herbs and just about everything you could ever think of eating.  

 

 

What I do know is the hours Jeff and I spend in the garden.  I know the hours Jeff and I spend at harvest.  I know the sweet peach and the fragrant melon and the basil from hell the tomato that is so sweet you just have to go OOOOOOOO.   The greenbeans and peas and dried beans that populate our soups in the winter and the sweet, sweet corn that works really well with cream and bacon and butter and sour cream. 

 

 

I’m thinking when you go to real food you go to real life.  I don’t have to share with people who are in cyberspace.  They will be there forever while I am working in my greenhouse.   

 

 
 

Remembering late summer….

September is almost gone, I am staring at a bushel basket of basil, a bushel basket of tomatoes, a bushel basket of beans, a bushel basket of crooked neck squash and thinking I would rather write tonight.  The wee hours of the morning are better spent on putting things up when it’s 100 degrees at 2pm.  It’s cool and quiet then, with nobody running in and out of the kitchen.  I have a reverence for food, and if I can’t give it my whole attention I would just as soon give it away or leave it out in the garden. 

 

My mother’s family was a German/ Irish bunch.  And my fathers family French / Norwegian!  At the Hellwig’s and Weller’s there was always cabbage, root vegetables, potatoes and roasts, good substantial meals.  At the Sorensen’s and DeSelle’s, you could bet on fresh fruit and cream and wonderful roasted things with delicate herbs.   I loved it all.  From the Raspberries and cream my Pa DeSelle used to feed me for breakfast, to the wilted cabbage and wonderful spice cookies Aunt Memo used to make us.  All my relatives were either directly from or one generation away from Europe.  AND I had an Italian Uncle Frank who was my best uncle!   They all came to the United States to make a life and they all ended up on the west coast! 

 

There was always someone cooking up a mess of beans.  There was always someone putting up a batch of jam or jelly.  There was ALWAYS someone trying to make me try yams in a way that would not make me throw up!

 

Then there were the neighbors, Hispanic, Eastern European, Texans!  As kids we used to run around to each others houses eating our way through the day, until the street lights came on and our mothers started calling us home.   Summer was always the best time for food.  In my book it beat out Thanksgiving!  Everybody had the same stuff on Thanksgiving! 

 

This time of year is really special to me.  I love to live in abundance and I love to cook.  As I am processing the food we bring in from the gardens I think about the days that the greenhouses felt so good and warm to work in.  I remember the seed I planted that grew that tomato!  The smell of dirt.  The neat little tags to remember what was in the flat.  Going out into the garden which is neat but not pretty by any means and finding wonderful surprises!  The perfect eggplant.  The huge tomato.  The volunteer tomatillas!  Thinking of those days this winter when I will be happy because I have the best tasting soup from my garden and a fresh loaf of onion cheese bread and a fire and a football game!  It doesn’t get any better than this!
 
 

To peel or not to peel

I don’t know how many people actually read I Village articles, but sometimes I do.  Today I ran across quirky kitchen things we learned from mom.  Lot’s of peeling and throwing salt type things.

 

Honestly, I think the best things I learned from my mom were substitutions.  She grew up in the depression and was a young wife during the second world war when there were wide spread food shortages.  She taught me how to make sour cream from canned milk, garlic powder and wine vinegar. (I actually prefer that in my stroganov).  Things to do with crème of tartar! How to make a substitute for unsweetened chocolate out of cocoa and make the best black pudding ever. How to make REAL dressing, and great sauces though my recipe and her’s are very different.  The main lesson being It doesn’t matter what you don’t have!     The entire thread of the article even though it was not really brought out, was never waste!  How totally true that is!  There is nothing about a single piece of food that can be considered waste.  Either it feeds you and your family or it feeds your animals or the birds, or your compost pile!  Waste is the plastic that wraps the plastic bags in the macaroni and cheese you are cooking out of that box.   

 

We never peel a vegetable here at Greenjeans  because there are lots of tasty nutrients in vegetable skins.   We are lucky to have enough to be able to cook things whole like carrots and turnips and potatoes to make wonderful broths for soup skin and all. 

 

Truth be told I like my veggies whole.  I grow and care for these things to give me their whole flavor.  If you wash any vegetable well, it can come to your table in all it’s glory.  Double truth be told I like to stand out in the field and eat them dirt and all.  I don’t mind a little dirt in my teeth for eating a great green bean or a piece of lettuce .  I am a great grazer.     

 
 

The Freedom of AGE

It dawned on me the other day, I’m getting old!  It’s probably already dawned on me, but I’m getting so old, I probably forgot that it dawned on me!

I am in good physical shape and healthy.  I try to manage my vices, but thoroughly enjoy them!  I simply cannot imagine getting old and NOT enjoying it. I’m almost on the back side of the 50’s.  It’s easy to keep your body in shape and your muscles toned when you are a farmer.  And I truly like getting up at 3 or 4 and going to bed by 7 or 8.  My husband is full time farm and men always grow old gracefully, I have a day job so we can do this, but there is always something physical you can do here that stretches your body and your mind at the same time.

The problem is the FACE!!!!!  When you look in the mirror and try to stretch your face back toward your ears and you don’t have enough fingers to pull back all the places- that is a tell tale sign.  It makes me wish I would not have scoffed at sunscreen as a teen, or thought that baby oil would give me a great tan. I grew up in Washington State, but we were all still trying to “be California girls”.  Gallons of Noxema, which I don’t think they even sell anymore, and then Vaseline, ICCCCCCCCCK.   Trying to pull back all the places just makes you look like an alien, so plastic surgery is out.  Botox is not an option because I use my face to communicate!  I still keep looking for and spending money for that dewy fresh moisturizer that will take 10 to 20 years off my appearance, when I really think it comes down to olive oil.  I think about gaining 5 or 10 pounds, but wonder how I would get it from my butt to my face!   

I placate myself by telling myself that I have smile lines and they are a part of my personality.  True I do smile and laugh a lot, but sometimes I look at some of those lines and think, “I’ll tell people those are smile lines….”  In my heart I know that some of those lines are “worry” lines, and some of those lines are “putting up with things I hated lines”.   Spent way too much time doing that!    

The fun thing about all this, is I really do not care!  My face is like a fly I can swat at.  It bugs me I can’t look like my 24 year old daughter, but she is beautiful.  I couldn’t look like Christy Brinkley either!  It keeps coming back, but it’s not important enough for me to stop everything else in my life.    

There is nothing I hate about my life anymore and age has given me the ability to put “things” in perspective.   I am grateful for an almost grown family.  I am happy where I am in this place that grounds us and feeds us each day, not just our bodies, but our souls.  I’m madly in a love relationship for 20 years now, with a fabulous man who is my best friend and love of my life.  I can get up in the morning and NOT do my hair, and NOT wear makeup and go outside and feel good because it’s cool and damp and yesterday was so darn hot.  I can wear what ever I want, or what ever I don’t want.  You only have to spiff up for company, or work or if we’re going somewhere.     I am finally, the beautiful me, and I have wrinkles on my face!    

It’s almost like riding a bike for the first time, or driving your first car! 

You can bet I will be one of those little old ladies with no filters in the end.  Probably scaring children showing them how I can pull my face back with all my fingers!       

 
 

Happiness Isn't having what you want.....

“Happiness isn’t having what you want, but wanting what you have.”  This is our family motto.  These words are in a frame in my kitchen above my stove and have been since my children were toddlers reminding me and them to be happy every day for the people and things that bless and add to our lives. 

 

In the summer months it seems like I spend my days in the kitchen.  Cutting, Chopping, Canning, freezing, drying, sweating, more canning.  My husband Jeff harvests and drops baskets in the kitchen and putting it up is my responsibility.  There are times when I wilt to the floor when a new basket hits the door, but I have that farmer mentality; “do it now, it’s ripe, it’s at it’s peak, what else could I possibly do with a tomato, basil, corn, a cabbage?”  Later on in December and January I thank myself for doing something with that tomato, basil, corn, cabbage.  We make the best Marinara on the west coast!  And Jeff makes the best spaghetti ever!  And then he makes Chicken with the sauce!   And there is nothing like homemade red or green tomato catsup or relish. And then I have my friend Barbara call me to let me know that her sourdough starter is ready and she wants to share!  Good I’m doing spaghetti on Sunday!  Another neighbor has a bottle of wine, and another wants to do sausage! Another has Abolone that she wants to trade for beets!  (go figure)   I am famous for cherry and peach wine!  Tastes great on a January night in front of a fire!    These are the things your life is made of.  It’s the cookies at Christmas and the caramel apples at Halloween.  These are the things you take to your grave!   

 

Some of the happiest moments come in the most odd times and carry you through your day if you open yourself up to the world around you.  It can be as simple as getting up before sunrise, grabbing a cup of coffee and listening to the frogs and crickets and then as the sun starts to come over the hills the birds and roosters and cow symphony.  A flash of a smile from a teenager that “used to be your baby”.  How rare!  Having a real baby wave at you in the grocery store, then turning down another aisle and having an old woman wave at you from the motorized cart and ask for some help grabbing some garlic! How could a life be better? 

 

All I’m saying is live in the moment you are in.  It is a whole lot better than regrets or what if’s.  No worries about what you want because it will happen if you live in your moment. 

 
 

My Kids I love them!

We have had three children graduate college this year.  It has played havoc with the CSA.   Both of our oldest boys graduated as Jurist Doctorates and my Daughter as an Ag Major, and we have a high school student who is well on his way to college.  They all have jobs and life is good.  The past three weeks in the middle of May which is my planting time has been a little nerve wracking on me the planter and organizer.  Lots of friends and parties and kegs of beer and graduations!  Do not get me wrong, I enjoy being a mother and I can party with the best of them.  But as I said before I am a planter and an organizer.  I planned my family.  3 years apart worked for me.  It didn’t work for them.  I like to think one can plan.   They all came to it in their own time and we have one more to go!   But to me it is like opening up a gift every day of the year to be able to talk to and love your kids.  My most fun times were when they were all 3 – 9 years old.  All of our children are way on the other side of that, and they are still totally fun   Each has a gift that is unique and a total surprise.  Each interaction means something.  If I could leave my kids with 10 to do’s in life I think this would be It. 

 

  1. Say your rosary each morning.  This is something fundamental that I know. 
  2. Laugh every day. The world is full of funny stuff.  Even if it is just your cat or dog, or you.  It’s a lot of fun to laugh. 
  3.  Love somebody alot, Sex is good!  A friend is better.  Know someone who loves you for all your warts and whiskers and loves you just the same. 
  4. Wake up early and enjoy the morning! Take your time getting to work, eat breakfast every day,  but be there on time!
  5. Never turn down a great cup of coffee, ever.
  6.  Shut up a lot, nobody really wants to know what you think. 
  7. Listen, and ask, you learn a lot more that way, if you engage people in what they know.
  8. Pay your bills on time.
  9. Don’t be afraid when the wind blows, sometimes an umbrella turned inside out can become a great pea trellis
  10. Don’t sit around at work if your work is done.  Go home and do something that is constructive to your life.  But work enough hours in the meantime to make your money’s worth. 

 

I am so proud of our children, they tend to exceed expectations always! 

 

I'm happy!

I finally got the rest of the garden in and we’re getting baby peas and new potatoes!  Pot roast for dinner, damn the hot!  I need some fatty meat and veggies!  Jeff put in a new screen door in the kitchen that slams and Squeaks! We have both decided that there can never be anything that really fits in this house and if it doesn’t squeak it isn’t worth it.   I absolutely love summer.  Flip flops, the river, the sun, eating, planting, eating, harvesting, eating, canning and freezing, eating! 

I have a bouquet of hot red sun flowers on the kitchen table with a bright yellow table runner,  and the freakin’ robins are eating my Rainer Cherries which are almost ready to pick!  A flock of geese flew like two feet over my head this morning!  They just went swoop, swoop, swoop.  No honking. Really spooky, it was like one giant bird!  They are getting better at flying in formation, Potter Valley geese are kind of retarded.   And I saw a bald eagle fishing the pond.   

There are times I just don’t care how funky this house is, you can’t keep a floor clean here and you have to dust and vacumm every day, and bugs crawl in and out – we found a potato bug in the bedroom today,, ugh, they look like little aliens! But otherwise it’s beautiful.  When it gets too hot we sit on the porch with the misters and the fountain going.  The lavender will start to bloom next week so it’s good the garden is done!   There is a climbing rose that grows up the crabapple that is in full bloom and honeysuckle and roses just make the air perfume!      

 When I think of my happiest times I think of my mom and dad drinking a beer on the porch after a hard day of yard work in Tacoma, dad in shorts with  his sandals with socks, brown ones with stripes at the top and his horned rimmed glasses (such the geek)!  Looking at Mount Rainier while it turned all pink and purple in the sunset.   And then I think of Memo’s  five foot back porch and the screen door and her yelling at me don’t slam the screen door, and stop jumping off the porch!  And then I would jump off the porch and cabbage wilting on the porch and running through laundry on the line because it smelled so good!   And that crazy folding stool thing in her kitchen!   

 
 
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