Erickson Ranch September 2013

     The heat of the summer tends to linger in the valley. September in our little expanse of northern California does not signify the beginning of cooler weather. Whether starting school or celebrating a last summer camping trip on Labor Day, the heat is our constant companion.

     The nice thing about our extended warm season is the amount of time we get to spend outdoors throughout the year. Farm stands, farmer's markets and the like stay open well into October and some even year round. Fruits and vegetables fresh from the earth don't disappear just because school's back in or summer is "over". New seasonal crops of fruits, vegetables and flowers begin to appear. September brings the start of pumpkin season, promising that eventually the heat will fade and fall will make it's appearance.

     Erickson Ranch is still in full swing in September, peppers and pumpkins are the show stoppers starting this month. Ray and Vicky host a variety of events throughout the year. There is always some type of entertainment, ranch exploration and they invite local vendors to come and set up shop for the day.  While the work is never done, there is a sense of mellowing around the ranch in September and I gather Ray and Vicky feel a sense of celebration is in order over the fruits of their labor. The events to come still mean a lot of work, but there's a great sense of joy and community that emanates during these final months of the ranch being open to the public.

     One of the first things I discovered about Ray over the year, was his passion for birds. I clearly remember the first day I met him and how he drove me around the ranch explaining all about the fruit trees and the history of the ranch. At one point we got out and continued exploring on foot. I recall him stopping and pointing across the top of the orchard at a large hill, covered in trees and brush that borders their property, and telling me to look at the white tail far... far... far off! Surprised I thought, 'how can he see a deer THAT far away?!?'  But the better and the right question was 'How can he see a HAWK that far away?!' Growing up on the ranch Ray developed an appreciation for the birds that lived on and migrated to the ranch each year. He can tell a bird by it's song, knows when and where specific birds will appear, knows their patterns and all about their lifecycle. They have special bird houses high up on poles at the ranch and they work with the Napa Solano Audubon Society to bring awareness to the public. Which is how I got the beautiful photo of the owl above .. there was also a hawk! Both injured and taken care of by awesome volunteers at the Audubon Society. Over the course of my visits I was lucky enough to see a melange of beautiful birds. To this day I notice each and every different bird that comes into my yard and crosses my path. My little boy has grown a love for birds as well, perhaps it's innate or perhaps I have eagerly pointed them out to him. Either way, it's fun to see his eyes dart to the sky, finger pointed high.

     It's amazing and humbling to see someone like Ray, so in tune with nature, working their land, appreciating all that it has to offer and making it their life's work and enjoying it to the fullest. With all the go-go-go of our busy lives, it's a breath of fresh air to witness. He demonstrates a great lesson in slowing down to enjoy the things we each have worked hard to have in our lives and to notice, appreciate and take care of the things that nature has bestowed upon us. 

To see previous months from my 2013 year long project click on the month: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly, August

Erickson Ranch April 2013


     April at Erickson Ranch brings on a proliferation of activity and blooms. Fields are tended to, vegetable crops are planted, garden crops begin to pop up and the apple trees begin to explode with their beautiful blooms. There is also a feeling of awakening on the ranch. A feeling that the land, the plants, the animals, the people all are stretching their arms, basking in the sun, taking a deep breath of fresh, warm air and preparing for the upcoming season of growth. And all the while the pretty purples of spring put on a show, from iris' to lilac to wisteria; it makes for a beautiful display to the start of the season! 

April 2014 has been an eventful one, so this particular post will be short but sweet. Hope you all are enjoying the spring! 

To see all months from my 2013 year long project click on the month: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptember


Erickson Ranch March 2013


     As spring arrives, Erickson Ranch bursts into bloom. Behind the scenes the planting, repairing and planning continue. I think this month the photo's must do the talking. I had so many dang photos of blooms, it was ridiculous... but clearly necessary, who can say no to pretty flowers?  I also thought I'd list a few interesting things I learned throughout this month, last year, below.

1. Chicken feathers are often used for fly fishing lures. 

2. Ladybugs are natural predators to aphids. So not only are they pretty, considered lucky and fun to spot in the garden, they help keep those pesky aphids from devouring crops. If you have a garden at home you can actually buy ladybugs and release them into your crop to help with keeping aphids at bay. If you already have aphids, you might see ladybugs flocking to your garden as they are naturally drawn to them. They might not eradicate all of your aphids but it can't hurt and they are sure fun to have in the garden.

3. Potatoes grow from cut up potato pieces. Yeah, mind blowing right? haha. It is one of many ways to grow potatoes, but simplicity at it's finest. The Erickson's get their delicious potatoes from some tried and true sources, but it'd be a fun experiment to take your favorite organic potato, cut it in half and plant it to see what pops up! You can look up specifics online. 

4. That all fruits begin with a flower, but not all flowers become a fruit. The cycle of a fruit bearing tree is fascinating. Not just for looks, a selection of the beautiful blooms turn into delicious fruits! I am looking forward to fruit and veggie (and flower) shopping at Erickson Ranch this year. I realized last year that I never truly had really delicious fruit until I had it straight from the source! It changed my whole perspective on fruit.

So there you have it, a few things I learned in the month of March! 

To see all months from my 2013 year long project click on the month: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptember

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