19835 Gavilan Rd
Lake Mathews (Perris), CA 92570
The “good old days” invoke a feeling of nostalgia; a time when neighborhoods were extended families of the households living on the street. Who wouldn’t want to live in the good old days, when neighbors talked, knew each other, ate together, and looked after each others’ properties?
It wasn’t until last year that we discovered we’d been living among the most amazing neighbors and had no idea. Our family farm exists due to the kindness of those living closest to us. We are so grateful for the neighbors in our community and the ongoing support they provide our family and farm. While most of them will never read this, we want to say thank you again, publically. There is no way our little family farm would accomplish all it does without their generosity and support.
Every single neighbor on the street has given to make this the best year ever. We doubled in size thanks to the graciousness of 3 different neighbors contributing their land. With the added land came increased labor (lots of it!). Several neighbors have volunteered time and equipment repeatedly to get the job done.
Besides labor, several neighbors have assisted with our chickens. This year has been particularly tough due to coyote attacks. Thanks to the help of a neighbor, we were able to better protect our flock (and the flocks of the entire neighborhood). Additionally, the heat has been horrendous on the life expectancy of our birds these last couple of weeks. Several neighbors voluntarily came forward and helped us when they heard how we had been affected.
I could fill this little post with multiple examples of where those living closest to us, without being asked, called or showed up and provided help. This farm is truly community supported, and we are excited that it provides us an opportunity to support our community in return. Last year your support provided close to $3,000 for the volunteer groups who ran the farm. We are looking forward to an even more bountiful harvest this season.
If you are fortunate enough to meet one of our neighbors while visiting the farm, please shake their hand and let them know how much you appreciate their support. They are all far too humble to understand just how important they are to our success. In addition, as a courtesy to them, please remember to drive slowly when you are on their street (Pfeifer); it really helps keep the dust down.
Again, thank you neighbors!
Two acres feels like a massive area when you are responsible for plowing, disking, bedding, running water lines, planting seed, replanting seed, fencing, killing rodents, patching water lines, pulling weeds, erecting trellises, observing plant growth, adjusting water timers, monitoring insects, and harvesting. It’s like fighting a war with multiple fronts. You make progress on one front, only to find out you gave up area on another.
The day ends with exhaustion and the promise that tomorrow will have a new challenge. What will it be? Change in water prices, scorching heat with a dry breeze, a torrent of rain with howling wind, hail, birds eating the new growth, rabbits eating the young fruit, squirrels chewing the water lines, gophers eating the plants’ roots, insects devouring the fields, changes in zoning laws, or broken equipment? It really doesn’t matter, as a farmer you know every day brings a challenge slightly different from the day before. It’s as if some mystical force insures the process is continually challenged.
And yet, when the long days are over, there is a unique sense of fulfillment. The farmer watches in awe as the dry brown earth transforms to a lush, dense, green sea of plants. Then, as if by magic, the flowers appear, and shortly thereafter the fruit. Watching the ripening fruit invites a feeling of purpose. You scan the fields, and there is a sense of pride in what has been accomplished.
But then, what was accomplished? The farmer plants the seed, but does he make it sprout? Does he make the plants grow? The flowers appear? The bees pollinate? The fruit form? The more I watch the farm, the more I am aware of how little I control and just how grateful I am for the whole process.
Being fortunate enough to participate in this process year after year is humbling. Sure, the good farmer is aware of much of the science behind the process, but at the end of the day, we give thanks. At best we facilitated the process, or more accurately, we assisted in providing a successful environment for something we cannot control, yet depend on every day to sustain us.
Bee on Cantaloupe Blossom
The fields are blooming, and the bees are buzzing!!! If it wasn’t for these hard working pollinators, our labor would be in vain. I couldn’t imagine attempting to design a process to pollinate more efficiently than our local bee population.
We walk the fields twice a day, and you can hear them as they move flower to flower. In the corn field they buzz right over your head. There is not a blossom in the field that does not have at least one bee hard at work. We are grateful to our neighbors who raise the bees and bottle the honey they produce.
If you’d like to try some fresh, wildflower honey, let us know.
Pumpkin Blossom Full of Bees
Zucchini…zucchini…zucchini! If you have your own vegetable garden or live near someone who does, you probably find yourself with a lifetime supply of zucchini. Unfortunately, the supply will spoil long before it is consumed.
What to do with it? Sure, it makes great bread and an excellent door stop, but we’d like to share a recipe we discovered. Farmer J loves fried zucchini from the local hamburger joints and Greek restaurants. However, it never fries up as good at home. Besides, Farmer J is overdue for a physical and would prefer not to hear the doctor complain about his diet.
Here is a recipe the entire family loves (the kids request it twice a week). Vary the amount of chili-powder to increase/decrease the potency to your liking.
Ingredients: 2 Zucchinis; 1 Egg White; ¼ cup Flour; 3 TBS Cornmeal; ½ tsp Salt; ½ tsp Garlic-powder; ½ tsp Chili-powder; ½ tsp Pepper
Before you run to Home Depot to buy lumber and chicken wire for your coop, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you’d like to have backyard chickens, confirm with your city/county/HOA that they are allowed in your zoning. In most situations, a chicken or two will go unnoticed. Roosters on the other hand will announce their arrival all morning and night.
Chickens will eat anything, which sometimes includes your garden and prized flower bed. In a large backyard, a chicken or two should not do too much damage. However, you may want to screen off those plants you do not want the chickens snacking on. Earlier this month our flock decided they wanted to eat our entire boysenberry patch which they had not touched for the previous five months!
Chickens are creatures of habit. They must be trained from the beginning that the coop is their home for eating, drinking, sleeping, and laying. If they decide to roost somewhere else, like the patio furniture, you will be left with a large mess. We recommend locking them in their coop each night, for their protection, and yours.
Use caution and common sense with chickens and children. As a general rule chickens are gentle. However, most hens will protest when you collect their eggs. This may be alarming to a young child. Also, chickens (like all animals) can carry disease and bacteria. Chickens spend the day scratching along the ground. They step in everything, including their own waste. Anyone handling chickens should wash thoroughly afterwards and change their clothes. Although chickens have distinct personalities, we do not recommend keeping them as pets or allowing them inside the home. Feel free to name them and enjoy them, but they do best when left to roam the backyard, not held, petted, or walked on a leash.
If you’d like assistance with your backyard chickens, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We’ve kept a large flock of free range chickens for several years and would like to save you a little time and frustration from what we have learned. A couple of backyard chickens will definitely benefit your family by providing fresh eggs, reduce insects, contribute to soil improvements, and reduce the amount of waste your family sends to the landfill.
Once set up, the birds require minimum maintenance. We recommend setting up a small coop with nesting boxes. Once the birds are laying in the boxes, they can be let out each morning and will return at sunset. This will keep them safe from predators at night and insure you do not have to go on an egg hunt every day.
Depending on your yard and the amount of table scraps, 1 bag of chicken feed will last 3-12 months. Allowing the birds free range of the backyard (daily or at least several times a week) insures you receive all the benefits of backyard chickens. It reduces your feed costs, insect population, and your coop maintenance.
Research has shown that free range/backyard chicken eggs often have a better nutritional make up then commercially produced eggs. All chicken eggs have similar caloric, cholesterol, and protein content. However, backyard chicken eggs tend to have a higher quantity and a more diverse set of micronutrients. This is because backyard chickens usually consume a broader diet when compared to commercially raised chickens.
If you have any questions on setting up your backyard chickens, feel free to write. Or if you need some fresh eggs, let us know.
As families look for ways to reduce costs and go green, we humbly recommend the backyard chicken. The simple addition of a couple backyard chickens would make a beneficial contribution to every home across the country. They are the ultimate green machines, with low maintenance and a high return.
Then there is the manure. Composted chicken waste is great for gardens and lawns. It will provide nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for your plants. It is a great soil amendment providing organic matter and increases the water holding capacity of the soil.
Then there is the chicken’s diet. Our backyards are often home to insects we’d prefer not to have around. Thankfully, chickens consider these insects tasty treats: centipedes, millipedes, caterpillars, snails, slugs, flies, roaches, potato bugs, earwigs, sal bugs, grass hoppers, and termites. They don’t stop there; they also enjoy small mice, lizards, and baby snakes. This is just their moving diet; they also love plants, especially the new green growth. In most yards this means they will eat weeds, some grass, brush, and flowering plants.
A home with a couple backyard chickens will see a dramatic decrease in what is sent to the landfill. Chickens will eat ALL table scraps and leftovers. Overripe fruit and vegetables should not be thrown away but offered to the chickens. They will also eat most cuttings, rinds, seeds, peels, and skins to the fruits and vegetables we enjoy. The only thing we do not give chickens is rotten food and leftover desserts. (They don’t need the sugar anymore than we do.) And yes, they even eat leftover chicken, turkey, and beef. Give the chickens the egg shells too. They are a beneficial source of calcium for the birds and soil.
If you have any questions on what type of chicken makes a great backyard chicken, just write. We’d be happy to share from our experiences and provide you a chicken or two.
The best part of summer is the 3-4 weeks in which the vine ripened boysenberries are ready for harvest. There is nothing like sun ripened fruit from the vine; one taste spoils you for life.
The number of friends and family that visit repeatedly during berry season lets us know just how popular our boysenberries are. We’ve learned farm help is easy to find when the help can wander over to the berry vines to snack every couple of minutes.
We spent the winter transplanting 40 boysenberry plants to the back acre in anticipation of summer. It looks like the hard work paid off as most of the plants are showing new growth as we head into spring.
Our pick your own berry season will be a few short weeks in June/July, but check back in May for specific dates. These berries are a real treat and have been shared by our family for more than 50 years.
Our fresh pumpkin baking experiment has concluded. Our taste testers are demanding another round of testing, but we believe they are simply addicted to the free pumpkin pie we’ve been providing for the last six weeks. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.
While there are many methods for preparing fresh pumpkin, we chose to bake the pumpkin. In order to compare pumpkin to pumpkin, we prepared the same pie recipe each time, testing a different pumpkin variety. We then allowed our testers to sample the different pies and provide feedback. Many of the pies were double and triple tested by our volunteers.
Casper – makes a pie with great texture and flavor. The leftover seeds are large and thick, excellent for roasting. We noticed many recipes specifically call for the Casper pumpkin.
Cinderella – pumpkin is beautiful for decorating, but is not the greatest for pie. We tested this pumpkin several times, and each time it made a pie with a curdled, oily texture. The flavor was great, and the texture never once slowed the kids from devouring their slice of pie. We suggest using this pumpkin in non-pie recipes.
Fairy Tale – was the first pumpkin we tested, and it is still a favorite for both texture and flavor. If you like a custardy pumpkin pie, this is your pumpkin!
Jarrahdale – may be indistinguishable from the Fairy Tale. It too makes a custardy pie with great flavor and texture. It also has large thick seeds which are excellent for roasting. Do not be alarmed; although the skin is slate blue, the flesh is a deep orange.
Small Sugar – produces a sweet pie with a traditional texture, just like the name implies.
Winter Luxury – has a great flavor with a hint of caramel. If you want a traditional pie taste and texture, this is it.
Yellow of Paris – produced the smoothest pumpkin pie we have ever tasted. Due to the high water content, we suggest boiling some of the water out of your puree before baking. This will also intensify the pumpkin’s flavor.
We strongly suggest you run your own experiment, and Farmer J will happily participate in the sampling!
Have left over pumpkin and not sure what to do? Pureed pumpkin can be frozen, while fresh pumpkin can be cubed and canned: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_04/pumpkin_winter_squash.html#tbl2
Besides a fun, family experience, our farm set a goal to give back to its community. Thanks to you, here is what was accomplished in our first year: over $2800 was given to our volunteer groups, pumpkins were provided for more than 100 families who couldn’t afford them, and private educational tours were enjoyed by more than 300 students.
Again, without you, we never would have been able to do this, so thank you. In addition, there is a small army of people who gave and gave and gave in order to make this a reality. Without the time and resources they provided, the farm would have never worked:
Monte & Marlis
|La Sierra AWANA Club
Corona High (APUSH)
Global Expeditions- BIOLA Team
Venture Crew 54
New Life Church
Road Runner Farm