New farm at Rancho Buen Día!

Hi guys!  We have a new location this Sept 2014-July 2015 season.  We will be growing across the street from BajaMarket/Baja Tiles, right around the corner from La Esquina.  We will have a farm stand there all week long so you can pick something up after your morning latte or on your way home from town.  Annnd you’ll be able to see the farm right there as you buy your produce!  We are very excited.

We’ve also decided to change our name to make it a little easier for our foreign customers to remember.  I hope it makes finding our website and chatting about their favorite local farm a little bit easier for our less linguistically-gifted friends.  😉

So, update your subscriptions, and head over to ranchobuendia.wordpress.com to stay informed!!  We are looking forward to seeing all of you at the farm this year!

 

 

Roadrunner vs. snake

Carlos told me this story about roadrunners:

When a roadrunner comes across a sleeping snake, it begins to collect thorns from a particular cactus. These thorns actually have poison in them and little hooks making them terribly painful to pull out. {Leon stepped on three with one foot the other day. Horrible! That’s what inspired this memory}.

Now, the roadrunner will begin to assemble the thorns, quietly and carefully, in a circle around the sleeping serpent. It places one, then darts away to grab another, and places it, and darts, and on and on, until the vibora is completely surrounded.

Then the correcamino creeps up, and BAM pecks the snake on the head and sprints away to wait.

The snake, having been sound asleep, shoots up and looks around for his attacker, which causes him to hit the thorns. This pain only creates further confusion, and he continues to thrash about, getting more and more thorns.

This is exactly what the roadrunner wants, who is waiting, safely out of sight, for the poisonous thorns to finish the job. Eventually the snake exhausts himself and the roadrunner emerges from hiding to enjoy his carefully prepared feast.

~~~~~

What struck me about this story was the time it must have taken to have seen this all play out. I can just see young Carlos, hiding behind some desert shrub, watching all of this happen. How much more exciting than reading this in a book. He has total ownership of this piece of information about animal behavior–rather than taking the word of some guy in a nature documentary. This is a fact that he knows because he saw it himself.

Community and Bartering

Today we cut and washed many pounds of lettuce. Carlos harvests the lettuce and brings it to me buckets at a time, and I wash and pack it. I also get breaks to break up fights and feed the kids occasionally.

Peter is checking out the action.

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Here goes Phillip on his little car, in the background.

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See those lovely orange papayas behind the lettuce? My friend brought those over to trade for a big bag of salad. And before she came, another friend traded cheese she bought from some ranchers for salad and veggies.

I love that people aren’t afraid to offer up a bit of themselves. It takes confidence to realize that whatever product you put your heart into might be worth something to someone else. And how wonderful that I don’t have to go shopping for cheese or papayas tomorrow!

Stay at home mom

Carlos finally finished a construction project, leaving him free to work in the garden, leaving me free to do all the domestic stuff I used to hate doing.

When he was working construction, I had to hire a babysitter and work in the garden. At first, it seemed perfect. I was pursuing my passion for organic farming and building our business. My kids were being taken care of by their sweet half-sister, forming a loving relationship.

But having grimy floors and dirty dishes in the sink started to get me. When my husband got home from construction, hungry, all I could offer was a quesadilla before sending him out to the fields. When I got done with my long day, there was nothing to eat, so we ended up getting tacos, or super burros, or more quesadillas. We had to buy more and more disposable diapers because I hadn’t washed the cloth diapers.

Worst of all, many times I’d be washing the dishes and a child would arrive, whining, hungry, needing me. And because I had a giant to-do list that I wanted to finish before the babysitter arrived and I left for the garden, I’d be short with him. “Grrrr, what to do you WANT?! I’m busy, I need to finish this. Go outside, leave me alone. NO!” And I’d hoist him up, set him outside, and slam the door.

Poor babies.

So when he finished his project last Friday, I made a mental decision. I was going to be a stay at home mom and wife.

I started wearing skirts and dresses, everyday, even while mopping floors and hoeing weeds. I fashioned an apron out of an underused tablecloth. My new uniform felt totally disingenuous, but I was trying to send a clear signal, mostly to myself.

The strangest part is that dressing the part really made me act like the sweet, cheerful, industrious housewife I never wanted to be. I began asking my loved ones, in a singsong voice, if there was anything else I could get them.

When my babies approached me, needing something, I dropped whatever I was doing and tended to them. After their needs were filled, they would head back outside to play, and I could finish the task I had been doing, without the stress of whining children in the background.

The biggest change was that I didn’t feel rushed. I didn’t have to finish domestic stuff quickly so that I could get to the “real” garden work. And that made me a happier person, which means I wasn’t short with my family. Wearing a dress seemed to slow me down as well. It changed my movements and attitudes to be more gentle and less aggressive, which is a good thing when my primary work is taking care of my children and my husband.

I realized that I don’t hate domestic duties. They’re actually enjoyable, and the repetitiveness of washing dishes and hanging laundry, when I’m not rushed, is just another way of meditating.

It’s been one great week. However, Carlos has a meeting with potential clients today, so I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep up my housewife act. At least we’ve started a conversation about it, and I’ve learned about what it means to really be a housewife, and we will see where life takes us!

When moms get dirty

Farming is always out of our control, as much as we try to plan and prepare. For the home-gardener, I imagine it’s frustrating when something doesn’t germinate or when pests eat all your squash. For us, since our livelihood depends on our harvest, it is downright stressful when things don’t work out the way we want. I hate telling a customer, “no, sorry, we don’t have lettuce until next Tuesday”, because we didn’t plant enough a month ago (or what we did plant didn’t germinate well, or…)

Some days, I walk through the garden and all I see are problems, and I add to a never ending to-do list, hoping that maybe I can fix it. “Spray pest repellent on the cabbage, fertilize the eggplant, weed the lettuce, weed the rows, stake the tomatoes”.

But then I became a mom. And I discovered what it really feels like to be “out of control”. I think the only things less predictable than the weather are a toddler and his baby brothers.

Compared to being a mom, the garden feels like I kinda have it under control. For all the things that go wrong in the garden, there are some that go well. But here’s the thing: even when I do something right, I still get dirty. Weed a lettuce bed to perfection? I’m dirty. Plant a bunch of basil? Dirty. It comes with the territory. I’m supposed to get dirty.

So why do I treat motherhood differently? Why do I expect it to be clean, and quiet, and calm, and happy all the time? Why do I get frustrated by the dirt that comes with the territory? It’d be like planting a bed of lettuce, and then seeing my dirty hands and having a meltdown about it.

So I started looking at our day differently.

Motherhood Dirt
Losing my temper
Dirty dishes, dirty floor, dirty house
Behind on the laundry
Toddlers hitting babies
Babies hitting babies
Screaming, mine or child’s
Crying
Hungry people, crabby people

All of the above just means I need to wash my hands, metaphorically speaking. It doesn’t mean I’m a terrible mother, that I can’t do this, or that I have terrible children.

This morning, I was ready to throw in the towel by 7:30 am. And I thought, oh man, if I can’t even make it to 8 o’clock in the morning before getting fed up with my kids, maybe this was a mistake. But after I had my gardening epiphany, I began to recognize all the annoying stuff for what it is: motherhood dirt. It’s supposed to happen!

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The obstacle course of life

A local yoga teacher and really inspiring friend (because she lives her life on her terms, going for all of her dreams), just posted this on Facebook, and I loved it!

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( http://thedoghousediaries.com/5468 )
I know life throws crazy stuff at us, but to see it drawn in this form makes all that crazy look like a lot of fun!

This message comes at a good time in my life for me to receive it. I’ve been talking with my sister a lot these days about “loving my problems” because life is really just “one da*n thing after another”.

It certainly feels like that somedays {ok most days}. For example, I’ll be transplanting romaine, get about five plants in the ground, and then have to go and stop Leon from beating up on the twins. When I get there, I discover Leon has a poopy diaper. So, gross, now I have to go do that. Now that the twins are looking at me, they’ve decided they’re hungry, so I decide I better feed them. It’s always something.

And it gets really frustrating sometimes. Because the romaine really needs to get in the ground, and even though it’s quieter about its needs, it’s still weighing on my mind.

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I think I need to print that picture out and hang it on my fridge, to remind me to live life like the fun, challenging obstacle course that it is.

This lady’s ready for anything: plants, seeds, poop, hungry babies, chickens, goats. Give me everything you’ve got, Universe!

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Solitude

I’ve been feeling nostalgic for my college days. I remember walking to classes, passing by all those anonymous faces, seeing the trees change with the seasons. Walking to get to somewhere I had to be has a different feeling than the walks I go on now, which are purely for leisure. For me, I think I enjoy the walking more if it’s not the primary focus because the pressure to enjoy it is off. (Ok, I realize that’s a good problem to have.)

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I also remember the cafés. Hours and hours spent over books, sometimes reading, sometimes writing, sometimes calculating, usually accompanied by a sweet baked treat and a hot or cold coffee depending on the semester. Lots of time in cafés studying next to friends who had totally different classes than me, which meant we could only distract each other.

I remember being so busy. But compared to now, that time seems so leisurely. Now I have a todo list that will never be finished. There is no final exam that will wrap it all up. And it’s interesting how much solitude I had despite being surrounded by classmates, teammates, roommates, and friends. The solitude is what I’ve been missing most: time to just think. And we had Facebook, but we didn’t have mobile Facebook, so we didn’t have to post every thought as it happened. Maybe it’s time to delete my Facebook app for a while.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting time to catch up with myself, and you know what they say, “Be careful what you wish for”. Carlos got sick, really sick this weekend. He’s been lying down all day Saturday and Sunday. This is a man who doesn’t stop working because it’s Sunday, or even Christmas, so it’s really strange and sad to see him lying down during the day. So, poor Carlos, but I got a chance for solitude!

While he was laying around, I left him in charge of the kids and walked across the street to plant some eggplant in the dewy dawn hours on Sunday. And Saturday night, when everyone was in bed, I got to do some yoga. I can’t even remember the last time I did yoga, and I used to teach classes. So it was really great to get back in touch with that part of me.

I feel like I’m finally coming up for air, after the tidal wave of having three babies in 13 months (yeah, that’s not a typo). And it’s time for me to assimilate that college girl persona with who I am as a mom and wife.

Never count your chickens before they hatch

Well by this time in the season, no actually by about three months ago, we should have been harvesting rows and rows of cherry tomatoes, green beans, beets, and carrots. We aren’t. I’ve been avoiding writing this post because it means admitting our shortcomings to the world, damaging my identity as aprofessional grower. After three years of struggling, I’m ready to be an expert! Isn’t it time??

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Here we are planning in September, and today it looks pretty much the same, except for some hardy dessert weeds that thrive even in low moisture.

But I’m making peace with our errors. I have a whole list of excuses:
1. The irrigation canals are publicly owned and operated, and this farm is connected to a tube that doesn’t get water very often. We talked to those in charge and have permission to connect to another pipe. It will just take a bit of cash to buy the valve.
2. I was in my third trimester with twins through October, November, and December. I didn’t realize until now how much it slowed me down. It was way more exhausting than being pregnant with my first!
3. As of January 11th, I am the mother of 3 kids babies under 15 months old.
4. See number three.
5. Refer to number three.
6. Whiteflies! Basically we have two plots, and we started in the smaller one. We never got momentum in the first one because pests plagued us so much that we had to keep ripping sick crops out and starting again. We’ve been experimenting with grow cloth and neem spray to great success, so we may be ready to expand!

I’ve also made peace with who we are as farmers. We’re not hugely successful or as profitable as we’d like to be. I’m ambitious and I want to be the best at what I’m doing. But I’ve been remembering why I got into farming: to grow my own food. That’s it! I never set out to be a business, and yet I’ve been judging myself against that goal. I realized as we were making cheese that we are producing a lot of our own food.

I’ve admitted it. We’re still learning. We’ve got a long way to go, but we have to remember to enjoy the journey!

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Tell me about the last time you felt like a failure and how you overcame it.

DIY neem spray

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Here is our super easy and super-effective homemade insecticide recipe!

Gather your materials

Bucket
Neem seeds
Pepper
Chili powder
Garlic
Cinnamon

Blend with a splash of water.
Pour into your bucket and add water.

Ferment for a day or so.

Strain and spray on pest-sensitive crops. No need to spray willy-nilly. Just use it where it’s really needed, or you risk killing beneficials.

It’s best to spray in the morning or evening because the hot sun will break down the molecules, decreasing its efficacy.

We spray this often, like every day or so and have seen a huge improvement! Read our post on using grow cloth and soap sprays for more on our pest battles!