Lavender Harvest is Over. Now We Collect for Acorns to Oaks Program.

Lavender Harvest is over. Now We Collect for Acorns to Oaks Program.

Wesley, Sabien and I collect valley oak acorns from the oak savanna by our home for the Acorn to Oaks program in Napa County. School children will plant them in a program to re-oak the Napa Valley.

IMG_4255 3We collect perfect acorns, count them and put them in labeled bags. We note the number and kinds of acorns, and the date and place they were collected.

Both boys are astute at distinguishing black oak acorns from valley oak; valley oak from coastal oak. The bag in this photo…

Read more

Tall Grasses and Goat Trainers

Tall Grasses and Goat Trainers

by Melissa McLaughlin

I have been spending the early mornings and evenings pulling weeds in the lavender while the boys play various games throughout the large lavender plants.

I work my way up the rows, clearing out the tall grasses within the plants so that, when we harvest, the bouquets will be clean and grass-free. It feels like summer and the work has been pleasant. The boys run to pull the California Red Oats out of the aromatics, as they know that it is a favorite treat of the goats. They run down to the…

Read more

Lavender and the Ice Cube: Preparation for Life (and Birth)

Lavender and the Ice Cube: Preparation for Life (and Birth)

by Melissa McLaughlin

From the time I was pregnant with our first child, lavender has been a part of our “toolkit” for surviving and thriving through birth and parenthood. Over time I will share some of the ways we have used lavender as parents.

Our first experience with lavender and parenthood came at our Birth Education class about a month before the birth of our first son.

The childbirth educator led us through an exercise to demonstrate our ability to manage intense (perhaps painful) experiences….

Read more

Spring and Lavender

Spring and Lavender

Our son Casey, daughter-in-law Melissa, and grandsons Wesley and Sabien, join us on the ranch with the lavender and aromatic cultivation and marketing. They will be sharing their experiences over these next months as they weed, harvest, and distill to get the lavender to you!

Our Family

By Melissa McLaughlin

After a week of heavy rain which soaked the fields, the ground has finally dried up again, and we are finishing the final weeding of the Sophia lot of lavender. In Biodynamics, we carefully track which field crops come from for…

Read more

Ticks and Aromatics

Ticks and Aromatics

by Melissa McLaughlin

Winter is receding and Spring emerging. It means more time outdoors–time spent picking wildflower bouquets, time hiking in the fresh green of Spring. For the lavender, it is a time to weed all of the opportunistic weeds and grasses that have grown up under the freeze cloth, which means wading through fields of tall grasses.

It is also a time when tick nymphs emerge and are especially plentiful.

Because ticks are the carrier of numerous diseases, it is important to do all we can to protect ourselves…

Read more

New Eyes on the Ranch!

New Eyes on the Ranch!

Donald and I are delighted that our youngest son Casey, our daughter-in-law Melissa, and our grandsons Wesley and Sabien, are joining us on the ranch!  In the next months they will be  taking over the lavender and aromatic operations, bringing new insights, energies,  and projects. Melissa and Casey are particularly interested in nature-based education and bring that sensibility in working with groups of parents and their children. More on this soon!

For me, I am…

Read more

When did Farming become Political?

When did Farming become Political?

—When industries decided to redefine agriculture for financial reasons!  This is happening in many communities. When my husband and I visited his hometown of Plainfield, Illinois, he barely recognized the environment. The once small farm community with its rich topsoiled lands had been sold to developers, and housing tracks stretched as far as the eye could see. Chicago’s suburbs were on the march!

Our version in the Napa Valley is with the wine industry. In the 2010 Winery Definition Act, tasting rooms and event centers with visitation and “food pairings” to all hours of the night have become so-called “accessory uses” of agriculture,…

Read more

Change on the Ranch

Change on the Ranch

The meditation that I have been doing on Headspace these last days has been on Change. The concept is to allow space to not know, to tolerate uncertainty—mystery. In the meditation one is directed to witness shifts within the body and emotional self, realizing the connection. Focus is on the beginning and the end of an emotion while resting on the rise and fall of the breath within the body. Slowly one feels the rock of the inner witness.

Everything changes. That is true on our ranch as well. This year Donald and I are making big changes: we are living…

Read more

Lavender Bone Broth and Health

Years ago  Ramon told us that his grandfather in Mexico only drank broth, never the meat. “The broth will make you strong,” he said his grandfather told him. “The meat will weaken you.”

Of course, we Americans do pretty much the opposite, eating primarily what we would call the choice parts of the meat. Recently a once-vegetarian friend told me that she did not start feeling better until she started making and drinking bone broth.

Bone broth is coming into the public eye in a big way these days, at least in nutritional circles. It is being touted as an important way to support  healthy…

Read more

Crystallization Period and Spiritual Fruits

Crystallization Period and Spiritual Fruits

We are in the period of time that is called crystallization period, when the fallow earth is most receptive to the cosmic forces (January 15-February 15). The El Nino rains, which have already graced us with almost 8″ of rain this month, have brought inwardness and quiet for Donald and me— and yes, for the goats too, although they are not so enthused about the introverted time in the barn!  When we are quiet, perhaps we too, like the earth, are receiving messages from the cosmos. It is a spiritual practice that I find myself needing, even craving, one that I want to…

Read more