Old growth, gnarly vines produce fruit which in turn results in prized wine, but seldom do we hear of old growth lavender. We have a small acreage of lavender that we decided not to replant, but we didn’t pull it either. Its short stems are good only for our still yet so short they are difficult to harvest. But the work is worth it! The distilled essence of those ancient plants is ebullience! It has all the tones of the earth it grew from and the resonances of the sun which blares hot in the afternoon. The earth there…Read more
Lavender and Memory: Evocative Pleasure!
Lavender is a paradox: the scent brings you into the immediacy of the senses, and this experience evokes memory. Lavender has provided an unexpected journey to my husband and me over these 20 years since we planted it.
Casey was still in high school when we first planted the 3500 tiny lavender plants. He and our friend Andy placed irrigation for the lavender and then weeded, over and over and over! Now Casey’s wife, our daughter-in-law Melissa, and their sons, Wesley and Sabien, help harvest and process the lavender that you receive.
Three great surprises in my life are my love…Read more
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.
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
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)
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
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!
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
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!
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 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
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