The 2010 spring and early summer at McFadden Ranch were unusually cool, and as a result, very enjoyable. During the 2009-2010 rainy season we received a total of 17 wonderful inches of rain, finally leaching the soil of accumulated salts from evaporated irrigation water. However, the cooler weather also adversely affected portions of our organic crop production and harvest. Boysenberries were hit particularly hard, resulting in less than half of last year's production. In addition, tomatoes and corn planted in the early spring were extremely slow to mature.
One overwhelming benefit of the wet and gentle weather was the phenomenal success experienced by our local bird population in raising their young. Adult House Finches, Lesser American Gold Finches, California Towhees, Spotted Towhees, Scrub Jays, Hooded Orioles, House Wrens and many other species all seemed to have fledglings in tow, with the youngsters begging non-stop for food that they did not want to make the effort to pick up for themselves (sound familiar?). The McFadden Ranch also enjoyed the addition of several baby geese and a brood of new chickens to the resident Ranch population.
Now fall has arrived and seasonal changes are again taking place. Pumpkins are on display, ornamental gourds decorate our walkways, and the leaves on the mulberry trees are just beginning to turn. Night-time temperatures have dropped to the low 40's and special fall harvests are taking shape. This is the time of year when persimmons turn bright orange, when pomegranates yield their ruby red juice, and when aromatic pink guavas are ready to pick. All of these luscious fruits provide us with the base for wonderful holiday delights in the form of their own jams and jellies. Have you ever tried pomegranate jelly on your turkey?
With winter knocking on our door we watch as the Ranch goes into a period of rest and renewal. Months before the first spring planting, each future garden row is hand turned with rich organic nutrients from our own goat pen, and each rain shower helps the soil to gradually absorb the much needed enrichment. In the chicken pens the hens now lay fewer eggs as the sunlight wanes, and we do not add artificial light to stimulate their production or to interfere with the natural process. They need their time of rest and rejuvenation, as do many small business owners.
It is during this time that we reflect and ponder the upcoming choices before us. As an example of choices, in our production we use old-fashioned jars that are American-made. The jars cost more than jars produced overseas but we have a firm conviction to pack our products in the same type of jars that our parents and grandparents used, while also supporting American-made products and American jobs. It is through these choices, combined with out goal of providing education on organic production, that we demonstrate our heritage by growing our own ingredients and by canning small batches of delicious jams, jellies, chutneys, and by hand.
A family's heritage and the family's desire to follow time-honored principles and convictions do not always "dove-tail" with increasingly strict governmental regulations, fees, and license requirements. Therefore, we respectfully request your response to a few insightful questions concerning your own convictions and shopping requirements. Does it matter to you where the materials in your products come from? Do you read the "country of origin" labels when shopping? Are you aware when you are and are not buying products that are made in this country?
Please let us know your thoughts regarding these matters. You can post them at our McFadden Ranch Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/McFadden-Ranch/136314514167, or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you and learning about your thoughts and concerns.