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Eating our Garbage

When my children were younger I wanted to share the cycle of life with them in a real way. I wanted them to be able to see, feel, experience how the circle of life really works. I purchased some worms, (red wigglers), and purchase a box that would allow earthworms to procreate, as well as eat all the garbage that we generated. We would put our shredded papers in the box, coffee grounds, and the filter, apple cores, banana peels, and various other food in our worm box. We had our worm box outside. I have read that some people keep their box in the home. NO! 

When my son was 18 months old, he would take all the daily refuse for the worms to the box. The box did not smell bad, since they eat the bacteria that generates the odor from the food. What does smell is the poo from the worms. Every couple of months we would have to clean out the box, and that wasn’t a fun job. We would separate what was the “black gold” from the garbage, and save the worms. We would then have another generation of worms, and we add the black gold into our garden. We grew some of the biggest pumkins on the block, and then when we were done with Halloween, the worms had their favorite food. Honestly, after having these creatures in our life all these years, I can tell you with confidence that they love mellons, pumkins, etc. 

To this day we still have a worm farm, and we still feed our worms. Some of them are from the same parents we started with more than 18 years ago. 

This is the newest edition, it has layers, after a few months, we take it apart and sort out the gold, and start all ove with new food. This system ensures nothing goes to waste. We dont like waste doing nothing, we want to make the most of it. 

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Harvest Season

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” William Blake

There’s something magical about harvest season when you live in wine country. It’s a current of electricity that runs through the everyone and everything. I always think of Dr. Seuss. Ya know those giant machines that come in to clean up after “It 1 and 2 and the kids? Well, there are grape. Picking machines driving on the roads at this time, and Dr Seuss is at the forefront of my thoughts…I kind of giggle like a child when they get in front of me. I can take it for a mile or so, but then I have to pass them, but not without waving like a deranged lunatic. It is just exciting!!

We don’t use machines to harvest our grapes, we have to hire people. My husband as well as our winemaker get out in the field and pick with all the other people working in our fields. Just this past week we have already processes several tons of grapes, and pressed them. So, the fermentation process is already starting for the 2017 wines. I believe the Merlot for this year has already been picked, destemed, and pressed. 

These were photos of the grapes before some of the fruit was dropped. We have to drop fruit so the healthiest grapes will get the most water, and the best sunshine. Depending on the variety, canopy may have to be cut back to get the right amount of sun, or less sun. We want to pick at just the right amount of Brix, which is the sugar content in the grapes, too high, and the wine is too sweet, you want just the right amount to make great wine.

 We try to maintain a sustainable vineyard, and keep the dropped fruit for compost. Once the grapes are pressed the must will be used for more compost to mix back into the soil and boost the soil with microbes that recondition the soil.  Our ducks are always in the vineyard taking care of the slugs, and soon we want to introduce babydoll sheep and chickens. The sheep will help with the grass and cover crops, and the chickens will take care of the insects in the vineyard. The chickens will also give us fantastic eggs to eat. It all makes for better wine every year. A wine that you can enjoy and feel good about drinking. We look forward to getting closer to becoming more biodynamic! 

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The Groves on 41

I met Jennifer when I first came down here to SLO county. She is one of the warmest most genuine people you will ever meet. Being around her, you just feel like you may be family. She and I have been telling each other how we were going to get together. In fact, we had to make plans a month in advance. We are business owners, and our days are filled with making our businesses stronger.

She and I finally got together. I went to the Groves on 41, and she showed me the property. The last time I was there, I was there for a party, and did not get a private tour. Jennifer took me around to the their vacation rental, wedding venue, and into the groves.

Being out in the groves was fun. It was super muddy that day, and she and I were talking as we were walking. She was educating me about olive trees, and things to look for in the grove. As she talked, and we walked, we also were picking off the fruit that was still on the trees. I felt as though I left with a whole new understanding about olive groves. We also agreed to carry their line in the tasting room.

Here are some of the photos from the day…

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Nutella

Over Valentines Day weekend I was in charge of Red Velvet Cupcakes for the Pleasant Valley wine Trail, since we are a part of the trail. Everyone had something they made and then paired with a wine. We paired our cupcakes with our Late Harvest Zinfandel. I heard nothing but good things, so I was very happy that it was warmly received.

I made 100 cupcakes on Friday night, and then another 100 on Saturday night. I used the recipe that was passed down from my Great Aunt Nelle. She was a great cook, and it was said in the family that she asked about the recipe one time when she was visited the Waldorf Hotel. I later learned that many southern women told the story about asking for the recipe from the Waldorf. She was a traveler, and was a fantastic cool. I never questioned the story!

My Great Aunt used to make Red Velvet Cake for my dad every year on his birthday. It was his favorite cake. She also would make a mayonnaise cake that was so delicious. Although, I remember that she didn’t like to say the name around me, it made me sick to think of mayonnaise being used to bake a cake. When we would love something that she made, she would give an index card with the recipe to my mom. We would cherish those recipe cards. There was a special wooded box that we kept them.

Never the less, here is the recipe for the cake…

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ pounds canned beets, drained and pureed
  • 1 tablespoon red food color
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (I make my own by adding vinegar, and waiting for 10 minutes, 
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start preheating your oven to 375, drain and puree your beets. If you don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, I never do…Add one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to your cup of milk.

Meanwhile, add your dry ingredients together, add you eggs, beets, food coloring, vanilla, vinegar, olive oil and finally, the buttermilk. Mix until all the ingredients are wet.

Add the paper cupcake holders to the cupcake pans, fill up the cupcake papers about 1/2 full. This will make about 18 cupcakes. They will take about 25 minutes to bake.

While your cupcakes are baking, you can make the frosting…

8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)

1 Stick of butter (softened)

4 cups of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Blend your ingredients together to make the frosting. I used a pastry bag for the first time last week when I made these for Valentines day. I had to end up asking my husband to take the pastry bag away from me, since mine didn’t look good. His looked lovely!

Now, if you want to add the Nutella, it does taste delicious, but it is time consuming. We took a melon baller, and scooped out the center. After each one was done, we then added the frosting. Like I mentioned earlier, my frosting job was a little frightening, so I had my husband make them look pretty.

 

 

 

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Goat Photo Bombs

With all this crazy, wonderful rain, we have to move the goats to the stalls. This is also the time of the year when most of the females are looking VERY pregnant. They love hearing me walk near the stalls in the morning, because that means one thing…FOOD!

Nothing ever goes to waste around here. After we have had the apples for a weekend, we take them back to the farm. The miniature donkeys and the goats enjoy the apple treat. I usually have to hold on to the apple to get them to get the apple started. After a few bites, they are good to go on those apples.

Anything that is not good to give to the goats, or miniature donkeys goes to the worm farm or the compost pile. We are trying to make our vineyard as sustainable as possible, as well as our farm.

Without further delay, here are photos of the crazy goats…

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Backyard Fun

Gardening with your children is a special time in their lives. We studied plants, animals, art, and science outdoors. When my sone was 18 months old we invested in a vermicomposter. We got the plastic bin, and a couple of days later we got our worms. Red wigglers, then we added  newspaper, that we had shredded. The newspaper was wet, and then we added apple cores, and coffee grounds.

We have had the vermicomposter all these years to show the children they don’t have to throw everything in the trash, there is a better way to dispose of our garbage, and it will  go back to the earth. These same products that we bought at the store, will help bring life to our new plants.

We used our “black gold”, the material that had been digested by the worms, for the plants. We planted pumpkins, tomatoes, basil, lavender, rosemary, beans, strawberries,  peas, and marigolds. We planted our seeds, watered them, and the kids would draw and paint pictures of their growth.

We had an animal that was eating our strawberries, so we looked up the footprints of the animals to try to identify what animal was coming into the yard and devouring our berries. We also did science experiments outside as often as we could. We would research where the ants were coming from, and how much water it took for the ants to start carrying the eggs to the surface. Where did the ants want to take their eggs? What kind of tiny insects are on the leaves?

We also purchased ladybugs and released them in the yard. Counted how many stayed, and for how long. We also purchased praying mantis, and then would track them too.

I also allowed the children to take their own photographs. Even when they were very young they loved to take photos and show me what they discovered. What is in your back yard?

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Injuries on the Farm

 

Within a few weeks we had three injuries. Our miniature donkey, Ellie, got horned by one of the goats. A horn went through her temple. We called out Dr. Steve, and when he came out the first time, I could not catch Ellie. She ran all over the pasture. I even took carrots out to her, but she was too smart. Dr. Steve has given her shots before, so getting near her with him at the farm was a no go.

Dr. Steve finally told me…Kimberly, I have another appointment. I’ll swing back by around three. I finally caught her, and put her in one of the stables. He came back, gave her a shot, and cleaned, and added a paste to her wound.

The next week Salem escaped the stall where he and his brother live. He gashed his chin open, so Sabrina had to take him to the vet. Dr. Steve only takes care of “horns and hooves”, so she drove Salem to the vet to get stitches. He had to wear a cone for a week.

The very next day, Gucci went to doggie day spa. They discovered a growth on her hind leg. I picked her up from the spa that even and took her to the emergency vet hospital. She was in a cone for three days. One of the days she acted as “winery dog” for the day.

Everyone is on the mend, and doing much better!