My husband Bruce started harvesting his processing tomatoes. It’s a very busy time for us, as the tomatoes are harvested day and night, depending when the cannery needs them. Harvesting began as it usually does in July, but this year, our three-month harvest period will extend later into mid-October, because the wet spring conditions delayed planting. Then the weather went from wet to very hot. We had a 10-day heat wave in June, with temperatures peaking at 110 degrees. Now we’re entering another heat wave, with temperatures forecasted to exceed 100 degrees for the next 10 days.
But the really hot news is that tomatoes are part of the latest food trend: vegetable soups are being packaged as ready-to-drink beverages. Of course, Campbell’s Soup led the way with V8 juice, which is where the tomatoes pictured above will go. Drinking vegetables is no longer called juicing, it’s called “souping.” So drink your veggies!
My 12-year-old son John learned how to drive the backhoe this weekend–it should come in handy around the farm. My husband said John’s first job will be digging a hole someplace. I remember when John’s big brother Justin was 12 years old and learned to drive the backhoe. One day Justin saw me struggling with a shovel in my attempt to remove a whole bunch of cactus–a slow, thorny process. Pre-teen Justin drove the backhoe over and scooped out all the cactus in a matter of minutes. I’m thankful for mechanized agriculture and heavy equipment operators!
My husband Bruce, our son John, our daughter Rachel and I drove up in our rangeland to see how far away the Winters fire is from our property line. We drove past our flock of sheep and parked on the top of a hill, where we watched numerous Cal Fire airplanes and helicopters working to contain the fire. It appeared to be a couple miles southwest of our ranch. We are monitoring the situation, in case the wind shifts and the fire spreads our way. Bruce has a bulldozer ready in case he needs to make a firebreak.
There is a wildfire burning within sight of our southern property line. Apparently it started this afternoon along Highway 128 and Pleasants Valley Road southwest of Winters, and has been moving northward in the Coast Range Mountains. Our foothill property is in the foreground, and you can see the Cal Fire airplane dropping fire retardant on the northern edge of the fire. As of 7:30 p.m. (about the time this photo was taken) the fire had burned 1,000 acres and was 15 percent contained.
Here I am, next to the Malbec wine grapes in our Chapman Hill vineyard. These grapes are green right now, but they’ll eventually turn purple, and be used to make red wine. This particular variety will be hand-harvested in September. Cheers!
I’m going to begin blogging about my life as an American farmer’s wife. I intend to describe what it’s like to live on a working farm and ranch. Farmers represent only 1 percent of the U.S. population, but we feed people around the world. It’s a rewarding lifestyle and during the next 12 months, I hope to offer a glimpse of what our farm family deals with day in and day out, from my perspective.