Keeping It Clean

flowers Every year these gorgeous little flowers bloom in the same spot.  All it takes is a little rain and they keep blooming until the weather gets hot and dry.  This year they started in January and lasted well into March.  After the rain the air is fresh,  the dust is washed off the leaves of the trees, and everything feels really clean. Continue reading

Springtime: Possibilities and Surprises

poppy

The bees are really happy that I sprinkled wildflower seeds over the dry earth in my yard last winter.  Nothing was growing after we stopped watering the grass that used to be there. Native wildflowers came up after the rains about a month ago and every day a new one blossoms.   Now that the avocado trees are almost finished blooming, the bees are all over my wildflowers, sometimes several of them on one flower!  You can still hear the high-pitched buzzing outside as they finish up the last of the avocado blooms.  This pretty pink poppy bloomed in the morning, but by evening the petals had blown away.

avocado tree: new growthI never get tired of seeing the precious new growth, bright red, appearing just before the trees bloom. The new leaves grow larger and turn from red to rust-color and finally to a deep, bold green as the older leaves fall on the ground.  These new leaves will shelter the baby avocados Continue reading

How Beautiful Was The Rain

rain-clouds

Every farmer watches the weather.   It’s often the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing at night.  Check the forecast.  Step outside and see how it feels.  Compare this month’s weather to last year.  Hope for rain.

Avocado farmers used to be able to count on heavy rains  during the winter months to provide water for the trees,  giving them a respite from the high water bills that come from irrigating the trees in the dry summer months.   The rains are needed to leach away the salts that have  built up in the soil.  The trees must get the nutrients they need without sucking up  those damaging salts, causing the leaves to turn brown on the tips,  and creating stress to the tree, affecting the ability to produce a good crop for next year.  When the rains come they wash off  the trees, rinse the top soil,  and renew the earth so that the trees have the best conditions for the bloom and setting fruit that will grow over the next year.

rain-collageRain changes everything!  Streams appear where the dirt is usually hard and dry.  Wild flower seeds sprout and a wonderland of vegetation transforms the browns into vivid greens, purples, pinks.  Farmers get a break from the routine, since it’s too wet to work.  A rainy day is day to rejoice!

avocado toast

Make yourself some avocado duckling toast and enjoy a second cup of coffee!

rain-collage-2Everything looks different when it’s raining. Avocado trees are usually irrigated with micro sprinklers near the base of the tree, so the leaves and buds don’t get wet unless it rains. The avocados look even prettier when there are beads of beautiful rain on them!

wild flowers with no sunThe spring flowers stay closed without the sun to coax them open.  Their colors are even more vivid in contrast with the gray skies.  Everything looks so clean and sparkling after the rain has washed the long-settled dust off!

snail

Snails take the opportunity to glide out of the layers of leaves under the avocado trees.

hawk

Even the hawks are happy to come out during the storm  to let the rain wash their feathers.

dead avocado trees

Sad, dead avocado groves whose owners have stopped irrigating due to the high cost of water perk up a little as the grasses underfoot turn green.  Ever optimistic, the root systems of those abandoned trees will even try to sprout leaves while the rain water in the soil  is available.

avocado flowers

Buds have been developing on the healthy trees for weeks, and now a few of the flowers pop open … the first of many to come!

new growthRosy red new growth is here!  The tiny red leaves will grow larger and gradually change into the deep dark green leaves that will shade the new baby avocados.  First the flowers need to bloom,  then bees need to pollinate the flowers, and then the tiny avocados will begin to appear.  Those little red leaves are getting started in anticipation of all those exciting events to come.

bloomsSucculents and Birds of Paradise bloom after the rain!   The more rain we have, the more wild flower seeds can germinate and bloom! snowWhen it’s raining here on the ranch, it is often snowing in the local mountains.  For a day or two after the storm we can see snow-capped peaks in the distance.

washed dirt

A sight like this one is  rare in dry, drought-stricken Southern California.  After two days of rain, it’s fun to see how the water changed the face of the earth’s surface, creating geological events on a small scale and leaving temporary works of art in the sand.  Eager seeds and native plants can’t wait to start greening and growing, even though the sun will soon dry them out.

after rainThe afternoon sun highlights the clouds over the ocean to our west, and we hope that more of those clouds will bring rain again tomorrow.

evening cloudsBlue skies are even more beautiful after a wonderful rain storm.  Wouldn’t it be great if  we could have more rain?

Rain In Summer

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807-1882

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!

How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!

Across the window-pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

The sick man from his chamber looks
At the twisted brooks;
He can feel the cool
Breath of each little pool;
His fevered brain
Grows calm again,
And he breathes a blessing on the rain.

From the neighboring school
Come the boys,
With more than their wonted noise
And commotion;
And down the wet streets
Sail their mimic fleets,
Till the treacherous pool
Ingulfs them in its whirling
And turbulent ocean.

In the country, on every side,
Where far and wide,
Like a leopard’s tawny and spotted hide,
Stretches the plain,
To the dry grass and the drier grain
How welcome is the rain!

In the furrowed land
The toilsome and patient oxen stand;
Lifting the yoke encumbered head,
With their dilated nostrils spread,
They silently inhale
The clover-scented gale,
And the vapors that arise
From the well-watered and smoking soil.
For this rest in the furrow after toil
Their large and lustrous eyes
Seem to thank the Lord,
More than man’s spoken word.

Near at hand,
From under the sheltering trees,
The farmer sees
His pastures, and his fields of grain,
As they bend their tops
To the numberless beating drops
Of the incessant rain.
He counts it as no sin
That he sees therein
Only his own thrift and gain.

These, and far more than these,
The Poet sees!
He can behold
Aquarius old
Walking the fenceless fields of air;
And from each ample fold
Of the clouds about him rolled
Scattering everywhere
The showery rain,
As the farmer scatters his grain.

He can behold
Things manifold
That have not yet been wholly told,–
Have not been wholly sung nor said.
For his thought, that never stops,
Follows the water-drops
Down to the graves of the dead,
Down through chasms and gulfs profound,
To the dreary fountain-head
Of lakes and rivers under ground;
And sees them, when the rain is done,
On the bridge of colors seven
Climbing up once more to heaven,
Opposite the setting sun.

Thus the Seer,
With vision clear,
Sees forms appear and disappear,
In the perpetual round of strange,
Mysterious change
From birth to death, from death to birth,
From earth to heaven, from heaven to earth;
Till glimpses more sublime
Of things, unseen before,
Unto his wondering eyes reveal
The Universe, as an immeasurable wheel
Turning forevermore
In the rapid and rushing river of Time.

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers in February: Some Will Be Fruit!

ranchbluesky  Does this look like winter to you?  Sunny blue skies and warm daytime temperatures are not exactly what we hope for during the winter months.   Visitors from the cold, snowy states love our February beach weather, but we’re wishing for rain.  Farmers have no choice but to keep irrigating daily, knowing that the cost of water could eliminate any hope of making a good living this year.   With the warm weather, avocado trees are beginning an early bloom.

babyavocadotree

Even the youngest avocado trees think it’s time to bloom!  This baby tree was planted last summer, and already the flowers appearing. The fruit that sets with these flowers will not be ready to pick until 2015.

Avocados are not the only blooming trees and plants.  Today I took a walk around the ranch taking photos to share with you! Continue reading

Avocado Grove Tour in January: This is Winter?

old avocado groveMeet Leslie,  a long lost friend from Vermont who stopped by to see us with her husband last week as part of their road trip around the United States.  When we first reconnected through Facebook,  Leslie mentioned that someday she would love to take an avocado grove tour to see how avocados grow…and last weekend her wish came true!   Continue reading

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