Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Calle Campo de las Cabras?

The time has come...the Hendersons have found a new place to settle!  The ecoregion is the intersection between the Central Valley, Coast Ranges, and the Cascades, the area is northern California, the town is Redding, and the street is Campo Calle (which sounds a bit backwards/anglicized to me).  Anyway, we are moving to this Spanish ranch house in the hills west of town.  The area actually was part of an early Mexican Land Grant dating back to 1843 - Rancho Buena Ventura.  Land was granted to P.B. Reading by Mexican Governor Micheltorena and John Sutter, his alcalde.  Our place is located just west of Buenaventura Boulevard.  I would call the overall climate "northern Mediterranean" - hot summers, mild but somewhat frosty winters.  USDA and Sunset Zone 9.

As a serious farmer concerned about microclimates, this location of the property has much appeal to me.  It is in the "thermal belt" of west Redding which lies about 600-800 feet in elevation.  This zone is subject to light frosts for a few months in winter, allowing the cultivation of subtropical fruits, along with olives, grapes, figs, and all of the stone fruits and pomes.   We chose the lean soils and nighttime warmth of the hills rather than the better soils in the frosty valley bottoms.  There are established and fruit-bearing citrus trees on the property among other things.

It was a very tough decision to move, and we literally looked all over California before deciding.  The Redding area seems to make the most sense for us.  It is beautiful and affordable, and has abundant public land but also has affordable real estate.  For the first time ever, we will live in a great school district, and can be in the country but still very close to town and the things that towns tend to offer.  The property is covered with native vegetation, including oaks and gray pines, along with lots of other native plants of all shapes and sizes that will be fun to identify in the coming months.  Below you can see the lot and our long, long driveway (about 900 feet).  Plenty of space I reckon - 18.3 acres.  This should be goat heaven.

Working on the water issues here was a most appropriate precursor to my new job as Watershed Coordinator for Cal Fish and Game.  I will be looking after the rivers and streams in several of my favorite counties - Lassen, Shasta, Modoc, Tehama, and eastern Trinity.

It is hard to leave Goat Hollow and Bishop, but we are most grateful for the friends we have made and all we have learned about growing food in this climate.  

Stay tuned for updates and photos of the property as we explore (no, we did not even walk the entire property before buying it!)

posted by Brad

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bishop Farmer's Market - New Time and Location

The Bishop Farmer's Market is growing!  The market is scheduled to move to a larger and greener location beginning next week, Friday, August 12.  The market will also open earlier, at 5:00 PM  The new location is Church Street at Bishop City Hall. 

Please spread the word!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pop Goes the Garden!

We are growing about 5 kinds of broccoli, some heirlooms, some hybrid, even some broccoli raab.  Here we are inter-planting broccoli with spinach.  The spinach will soon be harvested and leave plenty of room for the broccoli to grow tall.
This is an interesting time of year.  The weather is hot one day, freezing the next.  Oh, and the wind!  But the little transplants and seedlings having taken a beating for some time, are finally growing.  Growing fast.  After staring at greens sitting there doing little over the winter I now notice a difference every day.  The plants have outgrown the aphids, mostly survived the wind, and with some help from me, have survived the frosts.

Today is June 1 and we just had a frost the morning of May 29.  Last year (our first gardening year here in Bishop) we very nearly lost all our unprotected peppers and tomatoes to a June frost.  So I know that we aren't out of the frozen boreal woods yet. 

We love our Quickhoop low tunnels!
Thank goodness for my Quickhoops and my extra sheets of Agribon row cover.  Amazing what a difference it makes. 
Onions don't care about the wind, cold, or heat!
We are working hard to get prepared for our sales season.  The Bishop Farmer's Market is set to open on June 17th, a Friday night.   We are also planning to move the Market downtown, and close off a portion of Academy Street to cars.  This should give people something fun to do after work, or before a movie.  This is nearly, but not completely, a done deal.  So check the newspaper, Blogging Bishop, Radio, and other means of local communication.  We plan to provide produce to Sierra Bounty this year, and are very excited to be a part of a CSA model.  Thanks Sara!

I'm really happy with our experimental winter growing over the last few months.  We are still harvesting lots of greens and onions planted back in October.  We will do the same, even more, in 2011.
Overwintered lettuce, planted in November 2010.  Yes, it can be done here in Bishop!

We are just a bit behind schedule with our solanaceae (peppers and tomatoes).  We had this little mouse issue (well, lots of little mice) in our greenhouse - they kept digging in the flats and eating the seeds and came back to finish off whatever seedlings came up.  We finally plugged all the holes and out plants are catching up fast.
California Wonder open pollinated peppers nearly ready to plant out

I am also growing out some native plants, mostly grasses, iris, asters, aspens, and other hydrophytes for the stream.   We had enough extra aspens to sell a few at the choo-choo swap meet.

Snickers is happy that it is spring.

These peppers and tomatillos are leggy and need to be re-potted and hardened off.  But I can almost taste the Salsa Verde now!

Eggplant seedlings under light and heat in the greenhouse.

Sorrell is sooo gooood.  And I haven't had any since we moved out of our last house.

My 2011 experiment is to raise a huge mess of celery.  I have amended the soil to the max (see the leaves), plus this is the wettest, richest soil in the yard.  I call this part of the garden "celery swamp".  Did you know that celery is a wetland plant?

The bean towers.  We grow two types of French filet beans.

Early beets are nearly ready.  That's miner's lettuce, a California native plant on the right.  There are good stands of miner's lettuce in the Alabama Hills, on the north sides of big boulders!  We have been eating miner's lettuce for months - it is very cold hardy.

Starting to look like a garden again.

Quickhoops in the yard. This is a clever, low tech way to make the most of our sunshine even when it is cold!

Our little greenhouse.  How wonderful it is - we even have electricity for heating mats and lights!

Onions, Rhubarb, Horseradish, and Arugula, oh my!

No time for this!
Anyway, after some time of having a mostly bare (or tented) garden, I think there is enough green to show off a little.  We are in full swing, and hope to see you soon at the Farmer's Market!  And Happy Spring!

posted by Brad

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Time To Order Chickens!


This year, we will be ordering baby chicks from Cackle Hatchery for ourselves, and we invite others to piggyback on our order. This hatchery carries most of the egg layers, meat chickens, and even rare breeds.  Chickens can be purchased “straight run” (ST.R) or sexed (M/F).  In theory, straight run chickens should be 50% male and 50% female.  Sexed chickens will be 90% accurate as to sex, in theory!  Purchasing chickens from the hatchery gives chicken farmers more choice about the breed, and helps to ensure that the chickens are healthy from the very start.

We plan to purchase chickens in mid-April 2011.  The chicks should arrive by the end of the month or in early May, depending on the hatch date. Goat Hollow Garden can take care of your chicks as long as necessary.

Here’s how it will work (i.e., Terms and Conditions):

Customers will pick out the breed, sex, and number of chickens desired.   Available breeds can be viewed at: 

Please note that Cackle Hatchery has a minimum order of five of any breed or sex.  Provide your order (form below) to Goat Hollow Garden along with cash or a check for the price of the chicks.  We will place your order on April 16 and will charge $1.00 per chick for accepting the shipment (“acceptance fee”) and making sure that they are all arrive healthy.  If not, we will work with the Hatchery to get replacement or a refund.

Please indicate if you are interested in trading some of your chicks for another breed.  If so, I will email a list of who may have chicks to trade.  If you live within the Bishop City Limits you may only keep four hens.  We will help you find a home for your extra chick if all five of yours survive, and none are roosters. 

It can be quite difficult to identify the breed until the chicks lose their  “down” and grow their first juvenile feathers.  Goat Hollow Garden can hold the chicks in a heated brooder for as long as necessary until they are identifiable and you are ready for them.  Please note that until the weather is thoroughly settled, young chicks require supplemental heat (90 degrees or more).   The older the chicks, the less heat they need.  We will charge $1.00 per chick per week for keeping them in the brooder (which is located in our living room!), feeding, watering and picking them up (so they will be tame).  

If you want to wait until the chicks are reasonably hardy and can survive outside without heat, we will put the chicks on pasture in our Chicken Tractor by week four, weather permitting.  We will heat the tractor at night.  Pasturing ensures the healthiest chicks ever!

When you pick up your chickens, we will apply the acceptance fee, the weekly care fee (if applicable) and shipping from the Hatchery (divided equally among all participants – baby chicks don’t weigh much and the more there are, the better the survival). 

Please note that as we are dealing with living things, we cannot be responsible for things out of our control, including: mis-sexing, death, or disease.  You may get a rooster – one way to minimize this chance is to buy one of the “sex link” breeds.  This means that the male and female chicks are different colors from birth – less chance of a mistake.

Regardless, we will do our best to make sure that our chicks and your chicks grow and stay healthy, warm, and safe!

Please send an email for an order form!

posted by Brad

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Life of the Stinker Goats

We have goats. They are adorable and sweet. But there is one problem.
They are stinkers. 

Preparing for take off! CHARGE!


Me so pretty

How you dare look at me
posted by Hannah

Friday, January 21, 2011

Goodbye Chunky Chick

My, isn't he handsome?
 Here is our sweetheart Chunky Chick. Sadly, we might need to get rid of him because we have neighbors that do not like roosters.
Yummy, this is good food!

Any worms down here?

Isn't this one of Chunky Chick's girlfriends?

Chunky Chick is our hero!
Posted by Hannah