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Wandering About in a Different Garden

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I have been away from my little backyard garden for several weeks. My able helpers, Farmer Kathy and Surrogate Farmer Lisa, have done an admirable job in my absence. I have been spoiled by the vistas, the farms and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in my recent travels. It all started with my niece’s wedding in Livermore California. The area has become a superb wine growing area boasting many wineries with great reputations. The link lists a number of good wineries in the area; http://sf.cityvoter.com/best/livermore-winery/wineries/the-bay-area

After the wedding and a little consulting work in Concord, CA, I was off to my home town of Bakersfield. Growing up in this area you take for granted to amazing variety of farming activities in the surrounding area. There are ten’s thousands of acres planted in citrus, 100’s of thousands of acres in cotton and hay. Latest reports have over 800,000 acres of almond orchards and over 100,000 acres of pistachios. In addition to the big crops carrots have emerged as a dominate crop with Kern County supplying the lion’s share around the world through two big operations, Grimway Farms and William H. Bolthouse…..look at the next package of baby carrots to see where they came from.

We spent a couple of days up in the Sierra’s at Huntington Lake  – the drive takes you through an amazing variety of crops. Expansive tracts of grapes, table grapes, wine grapes and grapes grown for raisins. Peaches and nectarines in huge orchards. Watermelon, cantaloupes, processing tomatoes, garlic, onions, beans, beets, potatoes, strawberries and in Wasco the rose growers there supply over 50% of the US supply of plants. What I want to share with you is the wonderful natural garden that is not planted in neat rows or in expansive irrigated fields, but scattered in diverse patterns creating stunning vistas accented with streams, waterfalls and lakes. The slideshow below is just a sample. Enjoy – TTFN

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Bishop

Lisa – Surrogate Farmer

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I am still out on the road trying to keep the bill collectors at bay and put some beans into the pantry with my consulting work. The one bright spot is that my wife, Farmer Kathy, has been able to join me for a visit here in Bakersfield California. I am now relying on a surrogate farm tender, my daughter Lisa. She keeps me posted on the conditions – rain, heat and humidity in my absence. I have to admit – I have been lonely for my wife’s company but I also miss my time spent in the garden. Hun, you are still number one! To help with garden longings I asked Lisa to send a few pictures of my backyard farm….
She used her iPhone to capture a few shots of my “babies” – the slideshow attached helps me feel a little better – Lisa – keep up the good work. Tell the babies that I will be home on Monday! Thanks Kiddo!
TTFN

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Bishop

Camarillo – Strawberries and Farmers Market

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My wife and I escaped the Bakersfield California heat for a couple of days and visited my daughter and grandkids, 2 of 3, in Camarillo. daughter Melissa took us out to a small roadside stand adjacent to the strawberry fields. As they were picking they would bring the boxes of berries up to the stand…..fresh!!!! Literally minutes from the field and the taste….as if they were dipped in sugar. We have never tasted such good berries. Many times growers go fo the biggest and brightest berries but without flavor. These were very good size but the finest flavor…wish mine at home were this good….close but not quite. In the slide show below is a visit to the farmers Market in Camarillo. My wife Kathy did some comparison tasting and the berries from the stand out on N Lewis R. at Las Posas in Camarillo are the best!

I wish that I had brought my good cameras….I had intended to bring my Nikon D200 and the Nikon J1 but forgot…More of that CRS stuff. So – I did the best I could with the iPhone!

Saturday in Camarillo – high of 68 F, high in Bakersfield when we arrived was 108 F! Oh well – it is a dry heat!

TTFN

Bishop

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Thanks Dad

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Kathryn(Kiwiparks) – I read your post this morning and became a little misty eyed. Thoughts of my Dad, who  passed away in 2001, came floooding back. He gave me my love for both the outdoors and of vegetable gardening. I have mentioned in previous posts my love of hand watering, apparently a genetic trait, standing in the garden, surveying the plants, enveloped in a calm and usualy quiet world, the sounds of water gently spashing across the plants and soil, the smell of damp earth and a visual of my Dad with the hose in one hand and a coffee mug of Carlo Rossi Heary Burgandy in the other….Yes, what a memory and what a long rambling complex sentence…that is how my brain works sometimes when the memories flood in….

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One of my favorite photos of my Dad, circa 1967, he was about 41 at the time. We were quail hunting up in the Kern River area.

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I always carried a camera, this was with my Olympus Pen FT, half frame 35mm SLR. I saw dad sitting on this rock and shot this photo and then walked over for the one shown above. Thanks Dad!

The genetic link goes back even further, Charleston, Illinois – From my mother’s side, the Rennels family was a prominent and respected broom corn farmers. The Decker clan hailed out of Missouri, farmers tracing the farming lineage back into the very early 1700’s in the US, New York, Kentucky and lastly Missouri. Both Grandfathers, Rennels and Decker, left the tough life of farming behind in the 1920’s and moved to California. The oilfields were booming and both made good lives for their families from the oil industry. Roots do grow deep – I remmeber watching grandpa Rennels kill, scald and butcher some hogs around 1958 or 1959. I watched as he and grandma made sausage which we had with breakfast a few days later. Yum! Grandpa Decker kept chickens for both meat and eggs, grew tomatoes and had the best apricot tree and well as a few citrus trees. Grandma Decker attemted to teach me how to wring a chickens neck – I failed miserable in technique but was successful in the results.

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Great Grandma and Grandpa Decker in Licking Missouri. Date is a guess – 1940’s????

 

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Grandpa Decker -From farmer to the oilfields – early 1960’s

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Grandpa and Grandma Rennels – with my mom and the Aunts and Uncles. 1951 or 1952 time frame.

On the Other Side of The Hill From San Francisco

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I am over the hill this week from one of my fellow bloggers from Texas, http://kiwsparks.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/san-francisco-fabulous-as-always/#comment-6552

Kathryn is enjoying the sights and sounds of the San Francisco city…..the link above will show you what she is up to. I am over on the eastside of the Bay, over the hill from Oakland in Livermore. My niece, Karen was married last night at a beautiful winery, Rios Lovell Winery; rios-lovellwinery.com. It was warm for Livermore folks but for this Texas lad it was so nice. It made feel at home when a hen turkey strutted out from vineyards and played hide and seek with my niece’s son Will.

Will’s turkey on a trot.

The ceremony was brief and to the point! Eleven minutes and forty-two seconds! Plus or minus a little. It was Two young people exchanging vows they had written for each other and that made it very real and very special. A light breeze during the ceremony and then off to the picture-taking marathon!

Beautiful setting to exchange vows.

Across the street were vistas of vineyards and sun-kissed hills to the south and east. Livermore is gaining a great reputation for wines that has superceded its recognition as home to the national lab located here. The old downtown has been revitalized and made very pedestrian friendly. See wrongly posted beer blog by a techno dummy!

A look toward the south-east from the Rios Lovell winery.

TTFN

Bishop

Farmer Kathy

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In my line of work – the work that pays the bills – I am sometimes forced into that “make hay while the sun shines” mode….I am in the midst of one of those modes.  About 7 straight weeks of United Airlines seats and connections – I am still longing for Continental Airlines service because it disappeared at the merger – hotel beds, cardboard tomatoes,  Avis rental cars and an occasional bit tongue when dealing with my clients.

I am fortunate to have” Farmer Kathy” at home while I am away. Now, she does not necessarily have my level of passion for the garden but she seems to love me enough to take on most of the farmer duties. She waters, she pulls weeds – in this task she may exceed my attention to detail, thanks Hun – she gladly harvests the goodies….this morning( June 6th)  she told me about all of the blackberries she picked, many eaten on the spot – I was hoping some would make it to the freezer for my jam making efforts. She noted that the strawberry harvest is slowing down but the Sequoia plants in a bed near the back door are setting fruit! The tomatoes…. the slicing ones are overwhelming our needs and will need to be shared! Many of the cherry tomatoes succumb to the same fate many of the blackberries encounter…..immediate onsite consumption…..I can’t say as I blame her……..Farmer Bishop behaves in pretty much the same way.

A view of my garden taken about three weeks ago – just a reminder of what I am missing!

Coming up soon is a period of 8 0r 10 days when the Decker farmers will be on Holiday….Hopefully we can draft Lizzie and her young son Caleb who live just down thw street to swing by to harvest a little and apply a bit of water as needed. Daughter Lisa lives nearby and loves sliced cucumbers tossed with seasoned rice wine vinegar and sea salt…..I will see if I can trade some of her time for cucumbers!

I wanted to install a webcam so I could watch my lovelies out in the garden on my trips away but have run out of time…I may not have been able to convince the CFO, also known as Farmer Kathy, also known as my wife – that the camera is a necessary expenditure. Hmmmmm, I have been known to buy some things without consultation in the past and slept on the couch as my wounds healed….. Could it be worth it is the question I need to ask????????

TTFN

Bishop

 

OOPS!!!!

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I apologize if you were expecting a gardening blog for my last post…..I decided to use the iPhone ap to post one to my Beer Brewing Blog… I guess I need to be a little more observant and pay attention to where my fat fingers land! I hope you enjoyed the post – I had fun gathering the information contained in the post but will do a better job segregating the two in the future.

The link to the intended blog location for those that may be interested;

http://bishopsbeerblog.com/

TTFN

Bishop

California Craft Beers- Snowshoe Brewery

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Sitting in First Street Alehouse in Livermore California sampling a couple of beers and getting my tri-tip fix!!!
First up was the Snowshoe Pale Ale. Snowshoe Brewing Company is in the town of Arnold in the Calaveras county area made famous by Mark Twain and the 1849 California gold rush. The beer had a nice hop aroma and just enough bitterness to let you know that the hops are there. It was a nice compliment to the tri-tip sandwich! The tri-tip was not as rare as I prefer but I still enjoyed every bite.
Next up was Snowshoe’s Grizzly Brown. A beautiful creamy tan colored head covered the brown ale. The flavor is creeping up toward the toasty roasty taste of a porter but just a ways short. Their website compared it to a Newcastle Brown – Newcastle is a bit on the puny side of the Grizzly but in the same broad category. I like this Grizzly better than the Newcastle.
As I sit here sipping this brown ale, and sip and savor is a must with this brew, I contemplate whether I should sample a Berkley California brew. The Pyramid Apricot Ale sounds interesting as does their Hefeweizen!
Nope, went with the Lost Coast Great White. I am concerned about the unnamed secret blend of Humboldt herbs!!!!! I hope I am not subject to random drug testing! Nice beer – my wife Kathy would love it- citrusy like a Blue Moon or Shocktop but a little more subtle flavor .

Through My Garden Gate

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One of my favorite additions to the garden in the past year was the “Garden Gate”! It was driven partially out of necessity….my son’s dog, Sierra prefers to dig up my vegetable rather than my wife’s flower beds, so keeping her out was a big concern! Secondly, and probably more pleasing to me, it is the sound of the hinges creaking & squeaking, the return spring stretching and that sound of the latch catching securing the gate. It has been reminded me of the gate sounds from pleasant times visiting my grandparents in Taft, California. The squeaky hinges on the gate going into the back of the yard where the chickens were kept are still vivid in my memories. The sounds of hinges and the sounds of a rusty pulley on the counterweight  used by grandpa to “automatically” close the wire and pipe door to the henhouse. The distinct clang of metal against metal as it rattled shut are still clear. The sounds transport me back into a simpler and quieter time, so distant from the clutter of our current times.

As I step through my gate those sounds of the gate singing closed behind me transport me into my into my own little world…..it’s alright, they like me here! Kidding aside, it is a bit like a refuge, a haven, a time capsule to the past and a decompression chamber. The sweet smell of damp earth, the gentle swaying of the plants on the wind and the subtle daily changes of the veggies drawing life from the garden soil and waiting to be harvested and passing  on the goodness to me and friends.

My cousin Sandi and her husband Jack are in the Houston area for some medical tests and treatments. Our schedules finally coincided so I picked them up and brought them up to our house north of downtown Houston and more importantly to share my garden with them. Sandi and Jack live in the Albuquerque area and have their own garden haven in their back yard. I was had so much fun sharing my garden with them….hearing their gardening stories along with mine. We all reveled in how much produce can come from such small but well-tended gardens.  So join me in my video clip below as I step into my sanctuary….it really isn’t a one way trip but there are times I wish the caress of the garden would never end. Trust me….I will and must come back…… and await my next trip back through my “Garden Gate”!

TTFN

Bishop

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