New Season at Our California Farmland

red winged blackbird
I’ve made two trips to our California farmland this year, the first in January and the second in April.  Weather in January was bizarre, with record warm temperatures and incredibly dry.  April was a relief, with green hills and normal spring temperatures.  The first set of pictures are from January, followed by April. DSCN0055 Fall sown pasture is shown above with good establishment by January 20th.  With very warm temperatures, this field was ready to graze in two months. DSCN0025 BN Ranch keeps working horses at Brentwood Creek Farm.  They help manage cattle in hill ground to the west. DSCN0039 In spite of a record drought, water is plentiful at Brentwood Creek Farm as it sits in the heart of the California Bay Delta.  Shown is one of the intake pumps from the levee.  Much of the irrigation water is put back into the Delta out of drainage canals. DSCN0061 Pete Swanson walks a pasture that is entering its second growing season at Brentwood Creek Farm.  Pete will bring lambs onto this field within a couple weeks. DSCN0072 A wheat field planted in December at Burns Farm is greening up nicely after being irrigated.  It is very unusual to irrigate wheat in the winter. IMG_6724 An alfalfa field is irrigated at Burns farm in January.  The plants are dormant, not dead, and dry conditions necessitated winter irrigation ahead of a flush of new growth. DSC00340 A field of wheat planted in December is incredibly vigorous by April 8th.  This is a beardless variety that will probably be harvested for hay. DSC00359 Thousands of lambs graze on pastures at Brentwood Creek Farm by early April.  We expect them to gain over half a pound per day on this forage.  Mt. Diablo is a dramatic presence in the background.  It is nice to see green hill sides. DSC00400 Relatively few asparagus shoots are coming up in April at Brentwood Creek Farm.  A series of cold rains suppressed yields, which was not too unwelcome as prices are low due to competition from Mexican imports.  We may not keep fields in asparagus much longer. DSC00414 The asparagus processing facility at Brentwood Creek Farm is running one of three available lines. DSC00441 Rudy Mussi checks the salinity levels at an irrigation intake at Burns Farm in April.  The levels were about 40% above seasonal normal.  Still alright to use, but something to watch as the season progresses. DSC00479 The same alfalfa field shown being irrigated in January is about ready for first cut in April. DSC00468 Frank Savage of Vitality Farms samples a forage brassica leaf at Burns Farm.  This field was planted in December on top of an old alfalfa field.  It is doing very well and will be grazed by sheep soon. DSC00458 A red-winged black bird alights across a pasture at Burns Farm in April.