Compost and Drought

Compost and Drought This last week our compost arrived: all 60 tons of it for our 6 1/2 acres of grapes. We had it dumped at the end of the grape rows, and then tucked four sets of compost preps into it to help the soil integrate its forces. The compost itself smells a little… Read more »

Last Harvests of Season, Composting What’s Left

Last Harvests of Season, Composting What’s Left We are doing the last harvests of the season: yesterday, the rose geranium (and distillation), today the harvest of the Fuyu persimmons, which our son Jesse will include in First Light Farm Share boxes. He and his wife Lisa planted them some years ago and the trees are… Read more »

Is There a Biodynamic Lifestyle?

In a radio interview this last week, I was asked, “Are there ways for people who don’t want to be farmers to live biodynamic lives?” This question cuts to the chase. “Yes,” I replied, and suggested practical actions, like joining a Biodynamic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, in which you subscribe and get a box of… Read more »

Valerian and Frost

Burrrrrr!!!!! (Okay,  I know, some of you are much colder! But we Mediterranean climate people aren’t used to frost!)     When you need gloves to walk the goats in the morning, and when the grass sparkles at sunrise like stars, you seriously consider spraying Valerian on tender young plants, if you didn’t the evening… Read more »

Compost Cycle of Our Ranch

Dasher and Valley clean last leaves from chardonnay vines. White strips are pheromone strips to control European grapevine moth. Compost Cycle of Our Ranch I think of our goats as kinds of blenders: they mix up the food stuffs of the ranch, then release what isn’t digested to be composted and put back into building… Read more »

Recycling Olive Branches

Goat Waving Olive Branch (of which most is in her mouth)     Part of our goats’ diet includes prunings of olive trees, other brush, you name it!  This week they are busy at work on branches from three olive trees in our courtyard. There is a cyclical process here: the olive leaves nourish the… Read more »

Cows and Climate Change

Okay, these goats are trimming up the toyon, good for fire prevention, but it is important that they move on. Browsing goats need to be monitored so they do not deforest an area.   Research shows that wise grazing of cattle (and other animals, including goats!) improves fertility of the soil while also sequestering carbon,… Read more »

October: Vineyard Cleanup

Loading rejected hay into truck with blackberry brambles. October: Vineyard Cleanup October is one of our busiest months. We clean out the invasive Himalayan blackberries that have sprouted by the small pond and take them, along with the organic hay we bought two years ago—and our goats refused to eat—to the county composting facility. The… Read more »

Vineyard Visitor

Vineyard Visitor These foggy mornings the vultures wait in the trees until the sun burns off the fog. Then they raise their wings to dry. This vulture rests on a dead branch of a Valley Oak in the small pioneer cemetery in the middle of our ranch. I have heard vultures called Mother of the… Read more »

Planting Stinging Nettle: Biodynamic Preparation 504

Stinging nettle flourishes in the Irish cemetery of my ancestors. What does it mean that stinging nettle does not grow on our ranch? Obviously, our hot and dry Mediterranean climate does not invite nettle, but energetically, what are we missing? Rudolf Steiner said it is the one Biodynamic preparation plant (504) for which there is no substitute…. Read more »