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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.

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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.

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A Closer Look

Life gets busy.

For all of us.

We are running, trying to keep up with what needs to be done, prioritize and do the right thing.

Maybe the saying about taking the time to “stop and smell the roses” is not meant to include just one of our five senses. Maybe if we stop long enough to bend down, put our noses up close to the flower, close enough to smell the scent that it makes (how crazy is THAT?!), it is our eyes that will be given a gift as well.

It is truly amazing when we actually notice the tiny details of the sights we get used to seeing on a daily basis. There are so many things we probably just don’t notice anymore – not through any purposeful disregard on our part, just because we are moving too fast.

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” ~ Arthur Conan Doyle

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These are dried Nigella pods and they have an adorable nickname…”love-in-the-mist”. They are originally from India, Egypt and Turkey. They don’t ever open, but are filled with tiny seeds and have been used to season food, repel insects from clothing and have been known to restore the sense of smell. Even if you look at a bunch of them all together you may miss the minute details. I love how the points perfectly come together to cause that ribbing on the sides and that little center, how the shades of burgundy vary and fade in between each point from dark to light.

 

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Lacy, frilly skirts on stems. That is all.

Statice – shown here in white, but is grown in so many amazing colors. Coral, peach, purple, yellow, pink…incredible.

Bravo, Nature!

 

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Um. Excuse me….. Wow.

Hello, little fireworks of the earth.

I was not even a teeny tiny bit shocked to find out that they really are called Firecracker (Gomphrena is the fancy name) Globes.

Look at those individual soft spikes with the minuscule yellowish buds!!

 

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Whiter than freshly fallen snow. Whiter than puffy clouds. The perfectly formed petals crown the yellow to brown puffy centers…they just kill me.

I need to lay on the floor for a minute.

Its name is Ammobium, but it has a nickname of Winged Everlasting which I like much better.

This is a reminder to me and hopefully to you not to miss the little things, as they are important as well. Here at Creekside Farms, we are fortunate to work with so many wonderful natural elements. We too need to be reminded to stop, smell and enjoy the amazing pieces of nature that surround us. Let’s not be too guilty of what T.S. Eliot was referring to in this line from “Choruses from the Rock”: “Where is the Life we have lost in living?”

 

 

 

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Sounds and Scenes of Spring

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With spring around the corner and “springing up” all around us, you can make a connection with Vivaldi’s Equinox soundtrack. We feel as though Vivaldi cornered the market on this soundtrack…it is the “Happy Birthday” to birthdays, it is Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” to weddings, it is the “Love Story” to every drunk, lovesick karaoke crooner.

It is pretty much the first music that we think of when thinking about spring, we dare to say.

There is something that we are not sure that everyone knows, however…Vivaldi wrote sonnets for each and every movement of his Four Seasons masterpiece; twelve altogether. Each movement in the four concerti (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter) has the following order of tempo: fast-slow-fast, with the text corresponding in feeling to each.

We have yet to listen and read these at the same time, but it is now on our list of things to do and we suggest that you do too! We have heard of times when conductors or directors have read these aloud to an audience before performing the movement.

You can click on each of these to hear the 3 movements of Vivaldi’s Spring Concerti and read along below:

1st Movement: Spring has come and joyfully the birds greet it with happy song, and the brooks, while the streams flow along with gentle murmur as the zephyrs blow. There come, shrouding the air with a black cloak, lighting and thunder chosen to herald [the storm]; then, when these are silent, the little birds return to their melodious incantations.

2nd Movement: And now, in the pleasant, flowery meadow, to the soft murmur of leaves and plants, the goatherd sleeps with his faithful dog at his side.

3rd Movement: To the festive sound of a pastoral bagpipe, nymphs and shepherds dance under their beloved roof, greeting the glittering arrival of the spring.

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if you look really, really closely, a blurry Scott is waving at us  🙂

It is also reported that Vivaldi was inspired by the landscape paintings of Marco Ricci. We would like to imagine that he would be just as inspired by one of the landscape scenes that we are lucky enough to be surrounded by on a daily basis.    IMG_3895.jpgIMG_3892.jpg

 

 

 

 

A Lickable Wreath

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That isn’t a typo. We are aware that lickable is not a “real” word (there is a red line underneath it as I type); but Mr. Urban is apparently way more accepting than Mr. Webster, so it is at least in some sort of dictionary.

But this color! It’s all slushy/lollipop/sorbet/raspberry frosting/sweet tarty!

Here is the more realistic but not less exciting description:

It is Heather. Calluna vulgaris. From the Greek ‘Kallune’ meaning to clean or brush (twigs of heather were used to make brooms) and ‘vulgaris’ from the Latin word for common. It is the most prolific and abundant plant in Scotland and the flowers are a staple in Swedish herbal medicine.

Just in case you were wondering.

But please put brooms, medicine and made-up words (but maybe not Scotland) out of your mind and look at another picture of this little (14 inch) piece of art, this time the pallet is mixed with fragrant sprigs of rosemary.

 

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And it smells wild and real on top of it.