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Best Job Ever

This stunning sunset made us feel like writing down just a few of our blessings:

  • we have no need for “hang in there” posters (the cat in the tree…) because all we have to do is look up and out. Whether we are in our office or our warehouse, we are surrounded by incredible, expansive views.
  • we don’t have to decorate our desks with pictures of some of our family members, because we pass them a hundred times a day, open a door for them, discuss an order, walk the fields, stress over rain or bring them back a burrito if we are out of the office.
  • what we are surrounded with is what we grow and the land we grow it on – how cool is that?
  • hard work makes us the good kind of tired.
  • we couldn’t be sedentary if we tried.
  • it allllllllways smells good here.

 

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Looking back towards our office

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Sunset from the office windows

 

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Harvest Time

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Harvesting our Santa Cruz Oregano

Although the word harvest probably makes most of us feel warm and cozy and start to dream about cider and sweaters; for some people in almost every part of the world, the word indicates one of the busiest, most important times of the year.

The noun “harvest” comes from the Old English word “hoerfest” meaning autumn, harvest-time or season of gathering crops.

All around the world, the work necessary to accomplish the harvest and the well deserved celebrations that follow the efforts are different in their own way, yet equally beautiful and gratifying.

The storytelling, dancing and music in Africa’s celebrations are religious in nature while in Ireland, bringing fruits of their harvest to trade or sell and drinking Poteen (made from potatoes) is how it’s done.  The Czech Republic makes wreaths for their celebration, the Obzinky, and places them on the heads of the girls, then on the landowners; after the celebration, the wreaths are put in a place of honor until the harvest the next year.  In Japan, the rice harvest is the main event, but no rice can be eaten until the celebration of the rice spirit is over.  The animals are the center of attention in Germany, draped in flowers and paraded down the streets with Oktoberfest to follow, and the Polish celebration sounds like quite a gamble – if the rooster doesn’t crow on top of the village girl’s head, a bleak winter is ahead. If it does, there will be good luck and a bright future.

Here at Creekside Farms, our harvest and celebration is much simpler; lots of hard work for the harvest of lavender, culinary herbs and flowers, then a gratifying smile or a high five or two.  Mutual respect for jobs well done.

AUTUMN

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,

With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,

Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,

And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!

Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,

Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand

Outstretched with benedictions o’er the land,

Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!

Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended

So long beneath the heaven’s o’er-hanging eaves;

Thy steps are by the farmer’s prayers attended;

Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;

And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,

Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!

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Relay For Life

One of the main reasons we participate in our local Relay For Life event is to remember.

As we approach our 2016 Relay For Life weekend on August 14th, we are determined to make this year even better than the last. Our team here at Creekside Farms is prepping and excited to participate as a whole. The friendly competition between teams makes the event colorful and spirited.

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Like this post, we are remembering last year’s event; being surrounded by friends and family and focusing on raising money for a cure for this devastating disease. But we also enjoy each other’s company. Talking, laughing, sharing stories, listening to music, sitting and reflecting…

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The longing for a reason, the drive for a why, the craving for a cure all keeps us walking and sharing the passion of our common goal.

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But mostly we remember those we have all lost. We light candles to keep the memory of them burning strong, warm and bright in our minds and hearts. We walk – each step their heartbeat, feeling their presence and hearing their voice. “Thank you’s” and “I love you’s” from there to here being whispered in the breeze all around us.

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It is the least we can do.

It is all we can do…keep fighting and keep our loved ones alive in our lives.

larry and branson

 

 

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Bbq’ing vs Grilling

You may wonder why this subject has anything to do with Creekside Farms.

Um.

Cuz we’re people too.

And we love summer and everything that goes with it.

Regardless of your favorite use of the terms, they both are a summer staple and the end justifies the means (and the labels, descriptions, etc).

I know I’ve been guilty of saying that I bbq’d when really I was grilling or I grilled when in truth I had bbq’d.

Guilty may be too strong a word…..

But I did some research and was fascinated!

What exactly is the difference between grilling and bbq’ing?

This is what I gathered:

Grilling:

Direct heat. Open lid. High heat seals the juices in. Quick. Best for high quality cuts of meat so that the meat doesn’t get tough and dry.

BBQ’ing:

Indirect heat. Closed lid. Lower heat, longer time. Can use lower quality meats and the “low and slow” method helps make the meat tender.  Infuses smoke (different “flavors” of wood is used).

This link has some great how-to’s and pictures that we found helpful and inspiring. Hope you do as well! http://www.marthastewart.com/274189/6-quick-tips-for-great-grilling?esrc=nwmsl052716&did=21960

Obviously, we are biased, but this wreath just screams “it’s time to BBQ/Grill, Whatever!”.

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Fresh rosemary, lavender and sage

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Having Company Over

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Isn’t there something about having company over that is energizing and exciting?

Besides the initial nervousness of making everything look “just so”,  being able to show people what we do on an every day basis and share the beauty that surrounds us is a blessing.

We were able to have just this experience (only with a bit more sweetness sprinkled in) when we had a school field trip here last Thursday.

We were greeted by 10 eager, shiny faces and questions like “what’s this?” “do these seeds fall out?” “is this lavender?” “can I smell it?” “why?” “can I touch it?”.

Allen was the tour guide; his expertise in all things farming making answering the questions a breeze and easily satisfying curious minds.  They started outside, walking down the paths and looking at the fields and rows of the various crops we are growing.

We are so lucky to have Teri’s photography skills right here on the premises!

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Next on the itinerary was heading inside where the magic happens using what we grow outside.

Everyone had the opportunity to stand at one of our work tables and use bunches of herbs to make custom bouquets that they secured with some raffia ribbon. Thank you, Rodolfo, for the beautiful set up!

It was a pleasure having such good company over.

p.s. This class was a deviation from our usual business group and garden club tours. If your group would like to come see us, just give us a call! A lot of times we are in the field, working in production or inspecting wreaths before they are shipped out, so a week or two notice is best in order to make sure someone is available to show you around. Also, if you wanted to pick up a wreath when you visit, be sure to order online beforehand to make sure it is ready for you to pick up (choose local pickup in the shipping options). All of our wreaths are made to order. If you need help in deciding or placing your order, just give us a jingle and we would be more than happy to walk you through it.

http://www.creeksidefarms.com – (831) 674-1234

 

 

 

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Beginning and Endings

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Beginnings and Endings

There is no better way to describe our past week here at Creekside Farms than new beginnings and bittersweet endings.

Our family has participated for over 7 years in our local Salinas Valley Fair in King City. This year brought in an all time high attendance of 38,000 people and a record breaking 1.86 million dollars for the Junior Livestock Auction. The generosity and support of our small community is truly remarkable and we are so proud to be a part of it.

Allen and Teri Umbarger experienced their final fair as direct participants, as their youngest son Bryce is graduating from high school this year and is off to UC Davis in the fall. Bryce received 3 best of shows for his photography entries. Teri is an avid photographer, so this apple didn’t fall very far.

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One of Bryce’s best of show entries

Their oldest son, Branson, is attending Holy Names University where he is majoring in Business and playing baseball. He is back for the summer, working at the farm with a long list of tasks, we are so happy to have his help and brawn.

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This “selfie” that Bryce took with his pig, Patricia, has become a local favorite (I mean – look at those smiles!!!) and is being entered in bigger fair competitions – it is priceless.

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Bryce and Patricia

Aaron Umbarger volunteers every year for an exhausting but satisfying 4 days, working the swine barns, coaching kids, corralling run away pigs and spending time with his children, Matt, Kady and Sam. Matt is a junior in high school and will have one more fair to participate as a FFA member and a member of the Junior Fair Board. His pig, Mary Porkers, weighed in at 250 lbs proving that those twice a day feedings, walks and pen cleaning did the trick. Matt also won a Best of Show for his table that he made in Advanced Ag Mechanics.

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R-Matt, L-Bryce

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Matt’s Best of Show project

 

Kady and Sam have not yet made the foray into the livestock portion of the fair, but love the atmosphere and the time spent with the annual reunion of friends. We look forward to sharing their pictures with you next year when they attend as participants.

Stacey and Tim who live in San Diego were unable to sneak away and attend the fair. They stayed back with their two sons, Ian (14) and Gavin (10) who spent their week filled with baseball games. Their daughter Fiona although only 8, is a seasoned traveler often flying by herself to join her cousins. She made the trek to cheer them on and enjoy the fair.

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R-Ian, M-Fiona, R-Gavin

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L-Fiona, M-Kady, R-Lucas

Scott Umbarger and his children, Adam, Logan and Lucas had a full, fun fair. Logan’s pig, Speckles, received a group 1 in his market class and 7th in his weight class. His self-portrait entry won best of show! Adam is a freshman at Palma High School and is busy playing baseball but enjoyed coming to the fair and watching his siblings. Lucas, who just turned 9, will participate next year and was busy watching and learning the ropes.

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Adam

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Logan and Speckles

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Logan’s self portrait 

This little new beginning is making all of us sigh and cuddle. She is so precious. Lily is learning all about life here on the farm, running through the lavender, greeting everyone and taking very long naps.

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Lily

We are the best kind of tired you could possibly be; celebrating endings and beginnings.

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Frozen In Time Behind The Scenes

As with most things, what we experience when we receive a finished product or what we see in simply looking at something on the surface rarely shows what happens behind the scenes. The work, the moving parts and the zillions of steps that it often takes to get things done in order to arrive at a desired result are not necessarily immediately obvious.

Take sculpting for instance…At the beginning, the statue David was a block of nothingness; a chunk of earth. No shape, no hint, no form or template, no instructions marked out in dotted lines…this means that the sculptor had to know what was going to be, as Michelangelo  (Renaissance artist and final creator of David) did; claiming that “freeing the human form hidden inside the block” was his job.  From the roughing out, the refining and the final stages, the steps and the painstaking work are exhaustingly phenomenal in results of the finished product.

With this in mind (although we had nothing to do with the integral design of these – they are just one of nature’s masterpieces), we thought it would be fun to go behind the scenes of what it takes to get the gorgeous roses pictured below looking like they do and staying this beautiful for a long time.

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Allen:

“Flowers are cut with the stems left long and soaked in buckets of water for about 2-3 days. When they are ready to go into the freeze dryer we cut most of the stem off, leaving about one inch.

The machine is prepped by setting the machine’s temperature to -80 degrees Fahrenheit. Once that temperature has been achieved, the buds are placed evenly on racks and put into the machine.

Click here for a very scientific explanation of the freeze drying process.

After the vacuum starts its job of removing moisture, the temperature is increased a little each day for about three weeks. The machine has to be defrosted every few days as the ice builds up from the moisture that is being taken out of the roses.

After about three weeks when there is no more ice build up the roses are ready to be taken out.

The trays are then removed and the roses are put into airtight containers to store until we need to use them.”

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Maybe now when you receive a wreath with stunning, freeze dried roses nestled in fresh leaves, you’ll know a little bit of what happens behind the scenes here at Creekside Farms and a few of the steps it took to have them there, sitting pretty and frozen in time.