wildlife

Organic is More Than What You Eat

Driving around the Central San Joaquin Valley of California this time of year you see farms waking up from their winter slumber. Some apricot, nectarine, peach, plum, and almond trees are already in bloom.

Apricot Blossoms

Apricot Blossoms

This means the sound of spray rigs fills the air day and night. There is a window of time when the delicate blossoms that will one day turn into delicious fruits and nuts need protection from disease and insects. So, farmers and/or farm employees must apply the various precautionary chemicals or organic compounds so that the future crop will be productive and profitable.

This is also the time when you can see the difference between organic and conventional farming practices. Never fear, this is not intended to be one of those blogs bashing “those” farmers. This is simply an observation of what is happening this time of year here in California, long before there is anything edible on the trees.

The reader can take this information and, hopefully, add it to their pool of knowledge regarding the differences between conventional and organic farming practices.

Conventional Orchard

Conventional Orchard

One of the most obvious differences can be seen in the condition of the ground or soil.  Ask any organic farmer and they will tell you one of the most difficult challenges is weed control. Weeds use up water and can choke other plants by taking away their light or competing for nutrients from the soil. On the other hand, cover crops (the right kind of weeds) can actually add nutrients to the soil and can prevent the ground from drying out as quickly, thus saving water.

Weeds waiting to be flamed.

Stinging Nettle

Another problem with weeds is they can be skin irritants such as stinging nettle. Yet, nettle can also be harvested and dried to make tea that may have some health benefits.

In orchards with stone fruit, the weeds harbor beneficial insects that provide integrated predatory pest management (IPPM) in the summertime. That means good bugs eat bad bugs. They also provide cover for wildlife such as the California Quail that inhabit our farm. Quail are a favorite food of Red-tailed hawks and other birds of prey. So, we see them on the farm, too. Great Egrets have even taken a stroll in the orchards.

Taking a Stroll

Taking a Stroll

California Quail

California Quail

Regardless of whether organic fruits and nuts are proven more nutritional and safe for eating, organic farming practices have been proven to increase biodiversity on the farm and to enrich the soil so that it will continue to be productive in the long-run. So, organic is more than what you eat. Which orchard would you rather take a stroll in?

The Difference is Obvious

The Difference is Obvious

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Categories: agblog, Agchat, farming, organic farm, photos, Spring, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fall Changes More Than Trees

The Naylors

Dressed for Fall

Fall is the time of year when things slow down a bit on the farm.  Once the compost is applied and the last irrigation is finished, we have more time to relax.  Our favorite getaway is the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  We love to camp, hike, and fish surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation.  This was the first time in 3 years we had a chance to go camping together. Last fall Nori went camping with a friend from high school while Mike stayed home nursing his shoulder.  This September we’ve already been camping twice.

High Sierra Mountains

    Sierra Nevada Mountains

 

Near Florence Lake

The above photograph was taken by Nori on the winding drive to Florence Lake, CA. The water in the lake was the lowest we have ever seen it in the years we have been coming here which is since we were children. We decided to camp off the beaten path and away from the usual amenities.

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Our Campsite

We brought water from home for drinking and cooking and lugged water from a nearby stream for washing and cleaning up.  There are no campfires allowed this season due to the high fire danger.  The weather was perfect the first three days, but the smoke from the Rim Fire drifted in on the last couple days.

Ready for Fishing

Ready for Fishing

We both fly fish and the stream was teeming with hungry trout. Nori had the catch of the trip with a 12″ Brook Trout. Usually we catch and release, but we planned fish for dinner on the last night, so we kept a few for eating.

Brook Trout

Brook Trout

Mineral King

Our second camping excursion was to Mineral King in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. We had not been to this spot since we were first married. Once we arrived we wondered why we hadn’t made the 2 1/2 hour drive more often. We saw deer, bear, and Mike saw a Bobcat up-close near our campsite. The animals are not very afraid of humans because they are protected from hunting.  Mike said it was almost like a natural zoo.

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Cold Springs Nature Trail

Follow the Nose

Follow the Nose

Cold Springs Campsite

Cold Springs Campsite

Yes, farmers need to get away for RnR and to recharge their batteries, too. What are your favorite fall activities?

Categories: camping, Fall, fishing, nature, photos, travel, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Visitors to our Farm Slideshow

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