News From the Farm | February 18, 2019


More like Winter

It’s wet.  In the last week, we have seen nearly five inches of rainfall here in the Capay Valley.  That is almost one quarter of our annual recorded rain! On Thursday morning, Cache Creek crested at 11,000 cubic feet per second ripping through the floodplain.  I watched full-sized trees carried effortlessly down the river. Then, less than five hours later, the river retreated to 3,000 cf/s in an amazing display of our watershed in action. Friday left us snow-capped peaks to dazzle over. As the weather played cat and mouse, I watched in awe. Rainbows, warm sunny moments and cold torrential rain were blended seamlessly throughout the day.  As the sun returns this week, I watch the water slowly recede into the ground and I cannot help but sigh with relief. I know that on cold wet days like these, trees tap their roots down a little further. Buds on the trees take one more day to swell before they flower and fruit. Birds wait and rest one more day before spring brings the nest. The carrots shiver and sugar their flesh as they await the farmer’s hands.  And the farmer waits blissfully as the storm passes, eager to sow the new season’s crops.

We are nearing the end of lambing here at the farm. Seventy of our eighty ewes have carried and birthed one, two, or three baby lambs.  We get to watch as each ewe methodically and instinctually completes the giving of life. We observe the process, intervening only when there are signs of distress. It begins with the ewe isolating herself from the herd. Usually near a tree or shrub, protecting herself from the eyes of a potential predator, I suppose. The birth is rarely witnessed; naturally they wait until we leave the scene! Like a wave crashing on the beach, the lamb swooshes out of its mother. The ewe then frantically licks the face of her new lamb, making sure the airways are clean.  Nudging at her new lamb with her nose, the ewe softly mumbles a reassurance of its presence. Minutes later, that lamb finds its footing and within the hour, it is nursing vigorously.  Every year during lambing, I am reminded again of the millions of years of evolution that have perfected this process.

Elsewhere on the farm, my wife and I have been busy raising our newest addition to the herd. Oakley Orion Muller joined us on October 16 of last year. He was born at our home on the farm. We are very thankful to be so blessed with such a handsome, healthy baby. His gentle smile and peaceful presence have warmed our hearts this winter. His brother, Waylon, is waiting somewhat patiently, wanting him to grow up quickly so he has a partner to play and explore with. Waylon is also a great helper around the farm. He loves talking with our farm crew, telling grand stories, negotiating snack deals, fixing things in the office, and running away from me when I say it’s time to go. I know my two boys will share some sweet memories of growing up on the farm together, as I did (and still do!) with my siblings. Winter always lends us those extra hours in the day for time to spend with family, for which I am very grateful.

Everything shines emerald this time of the year. Life seems to be returning where wildfire charred the hills last summer. On the valley floor, our fields of cover crops have started to really take root. Muddy slippers cake our boots. Babies are bundled up tight. The early almond displays its blossom and bloom; such perfume wakes our noses. Spring is knocking on winter’s door, beckoning bees.  Gray blankets hide the sun for now and remind us of all the gains life makes in winter’s cold embrace.

–Rye Muller