May Notes from the Field

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From Riverdog Farm, courtesy of Capay Valley Farm Shop

Image courtesy of Riverdog Farm, Guinda, CA

May 7
Mild weather and sunshine has boosted crop growth in the field and in the greenhouses. Peppers and celeriac transplants arrived last night from Headstart Nursery in Gilroy that will go into the ground this week. It is warm enough during the day and at night that we don’t have to worry about the possibility of frost during the full moon in May. The May 2012 moon, described as a supermoon, was the biggest full moon of the year on Saturday May 5th because it reached its perigee – the closest point to Earth in the moon’s elliptical orbit. According to the biodynamic planting calendar, this week is time to plant beans. So hopefully, we’ll make some time for focusing on planting beans that usually coincides with planting corn too. The neighboring organic farms like to have a friendly competition to see who has the earliest ripening corn, preferably ready by the 4th of July. Sweet corn takes about 80 days to mature, so if we’re lucky, we’ll have some by mid- July – probably not first place this year but soon enough!

Image courtesy of Riverdog Farm, Guinda CA

May 14
Spring, and its mild weather with patchy clouds dotting the blue sky, is everywhere this week: we have about 30 newborn piglets, chicks following the mama hens in our farm yard, and chirping birds – robins, grosbeaks, redwing blackbirds, finches, sparrows, magpies, mourning doves, and hummingbirds flitting from tree to tree.
Next to our house in the middle of the farmyard are two giant trees – a black walnut and a very old pecan tree. Both trees provide ample shade in the summertime and plenty of nuts in the fall. Their leaves are fully emerged now that it is mid-May. Where the girthy trunk of the black walnut tree splits into the first two, thick main branches, there is an open space for critters to perch and play. Sometimes our cats take naps there; sometimes our yard chickens decide to fly to this spot to be broody for a moment; other times the tree sits quietly observing all the activity around it. The black walnut tree provides more than shade. It also entertains us as we’re eating meals with the parade of animals that come and go from the space between the big branches. It soothes us with its rootedness and majestic canopy. This black walnut tree has been here longer than anyone who now resides in the valley. We wonder how many creatures it has provided a home for and how many people it has fed. Who planted this tree and why did they plant it here? Who else before us appreciated the tree the way we do? Two long ropes hold a wooden board, the favorite swing in the tree that Cassidy’s friends, as teenagers, still compete for when they visit. Our daughter has spent many hours with those friends doing acrobats on the swing – how many people can they squeeze onto the seat, how high can they go, which tree branches can they touch when they swing from side-to-side and back-and-forth. Thanks to this tree positioned on the west side of our house, we stay cool in the middle of summer when the sun brings triple digit temperatures to the valley.


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