Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tires smelling like lavender? You've got to be kidding, right?

Not at all. Apparently, Kumho Tires has come out with a lavender tire that can be smelled inside and out of the car. They've found a way to imbed the rubber with heat resistant scented oils - this can't be REAL essential oils.... I've been seeing mentions about this product for over a year, but it hasn't seemed to take hold of the public's imagination or desire as far as I can tell. But, I'm not in the tire business so I really don't know.

Here's the article on it in the online Arizona Daily Star

Kumho Tires ECSTA DX tire is described on the company's site. It's amusing, really, the company's site is done with typically male design - hard edges, lots of black, and tons of description about the performance of the tire. It just doesn't go with an aromatherapy product... I have to wonder who they are marketing to? It can't be women - not that we don't like solid facts about tires, but if you're trying to add a floral aspect to a product wouldn't you put a picture of flowers somewhere in there?

What do you think? I'm really curious about how this will play out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WIND - it's in our name and this weekend we saw why. All of the Puget Sound region had wind from a fierce storm that barreled in from the Pacific. Our farm saw winds that reached 70 mph at 7:30 on Monday morning. That's high, but we can expect to see that probably three or four more times this winter. It's scary here when that happens, the windows bend in, the gutters rattle, and the exhaust fan from the stove makes the most horrible clattering noise. The nursery pots get overturned, and two lavender plants got blown out of their pots completely.

I like to think our plants are very strong by the time they are purchased for people's gardens! They've had to go through a lot to survive, no pampered greenhouse plants here, that's for sure.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The harvest season is winding down. We still have some Super lavender left, it's not done blooming. The sunflowers are going nuts, though! We planted three acres of them to hold the dirt down in our new field.

It looks like I'll be getting a life back so I can write in the blog. This farming life is very intensive, but I've never been happier. We are a small lavender farm with a BIG view and some great gardens - this all takes a huge amount of work. We are also intimately tied into our community, which involves volunteering with various organizations including the uniquely Whidbey sort of thing - Lighthouse Environmental Programs. Then, last January, I went and said yes to being the president of the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce. It's a real stretch for a farming type to be president of such an organization, especially when anything at all is expected during harvest season, which for lavender lasts three months. What was I thinking?

It looks like we'll be getting our jams and jellies into a relatively small grocery chain. I'm really excited about that - it's a large step for our product line to grow beyond the farm.

The distilling with the copper still has been, simply, just fabulous. It helps people see how essential oils are made, and I get to create some fine hand-crafted oils that smell amazingly good right away. Our farm is still small enough that we can distill with 100% copper and that makes a huge difference. The quantity is small, so we sell it mostly to our own customers and use it in our own products and can't consider wholesaling much of it.

Our new gardens with pond and gazebo have been a hit this year. Though the pond has evaporated much more than I had planned. We are looking forward to the rainy season so it can fill up again. We created it to catch the rain water that falls on our roofs and driveway in order to use the water for watering our nursery stock. It has been a lesson in more forces of nature while we watch first the wind and then the sun suck up the water. We expect the pond to fill this winter. It didn't last year due to last construction. Even though this summer was wetter than normal, the water still left us. We do have lots of fish (goldfish and coy), though, that have grown and now we are seeing tiny new ones, so they are doing very well.

Friday, June 15, 2007

In addition to the fabulous changes in our landscape we also are working on our essential oils.

Right now we are now bottling up our own essential oil that was distilled last year. We take truck loads of flowers over to a neighbor's still and I work like a mad-scientist to get it distilled. It's fun, smells wonderful, and then we bottle it up and store it for a year to age - like fine wine. Now it's ready to bottle and we have a limited amount (remember we are a very small lavender farm). We have it in 10 ml. bottles for $6.75. If you want it in bigger bottles, watch our site for availability.

To let you know what's coming soon: This year we got our own fairly small Alembric Hand Hammered Copper Still and have been practicing on some left over dried lavender. Oh, my gosh! This is wonderful oil and fresh hydrosol that is really different than any oil distilled in bigger, non-copper stills. We are not yet bottling it up, it doesn't have to age as much, but we want to be sure of what we're doing with this new version our our oil

Monday, March 05, 2007

This is the season for plant jitters. Most people are getting a whiff of spring in the air and starting to think about planting in the garden. For us nursery types, it's a different story - we've been thinking about your planting for a long time, and hoping that our customers will want what we've grown. This time of year I get jittery.....

Maybe, I ordered too many lavenders! And other plants! We have a TON of little plants some of which have been transplanted and the others are waiting to be done. We have very little room left to put them. Fortunately, we have so much planting to be done to recover from the pond construction that many of the plants will be absorbed into the property. But the pond itself now has plants lining the shelves that have water on them.

We're so used to dealing with drought-tolerant plants that having bog plants is like being on a different planet. I don't know how to deal with plants that like wet feet. I'm sure I'll learn, though, and I'm looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, to put my jitters to rest I want to tell you, that if you're around Whidbey Island and looking for lavenders and herbs, then we're the place for you. Check out the varieties we've got!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Was Baskin Robbins peaking into our freezer? Last year we had several flavors of ice cream for sale at our shop - Vanilla lavender, blackberry lavender, and caramel cheesecake lavender. Folks loved 'em - came way out here just for an ice cream fix.

I just found out that Baskin Robbins has come out with a blueberry, lavender, and chocolate ice cream. It sounds DIVINE! Unfortunately, they don't have any stores less than 1 1/2 hours away - so... anyone out there that tries it, will you let me know what it's like?

Meanwhile, stayed tuned to our shop - more flavors are planned for this year. We're not Baskin Robbins, it's hard to get out here but worth it.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I'm in one of the hottest art capitals in the country - Chicago. The art community here is very strong, galleries everywhere. And for me, a friend who I've known since I was 11 years of age who teaches are at a local university.

Do you know how many products are packaged nicely and labeled "lavender" in downtown Chicago (or any other city) that don't have a drop of real lavender essential oil? No? Neither do I. However the fragrance industry is awash with mixtures of artificial scents combined with natural ones. There probably isn't enough lavender essential oil in the world to provide all the producers with enough to go around, so I guess we shouldn't complain. I wonder if people who have allergy problems to scents are reacting more to artificial oils or to true essential oils. Anyone know?

Did you know that lavender oil is an ingredient in varnishes that artists use on their paintings?

"It can be used as a medium to give body to the color as well as a certain amount of bite, which improves adhesion to the lower layers. It can have the effect of either increasing or decreasing dry time, depending upon the other ingredients it is mixed with. If pure, it also works as a diluent, and was widely used in the middle ages. It Dries more slowly than Turpentine, allowing the artist to work wet in wet."

People use lavender oil in overglazing when making painted ceramic tiles. It seems to be used as a drying retardant.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

SIGNS! On Monday the Island County Commissioners voted to approve a signage program much needed in our area. In Washington we have a state Highway Motorists Information Signage Program wherein businesses and recreation/tourist places can apply for signs to be placed on those signboard that have "Gas" or "Food" or "Tourist" kinds of things. It's not easy to qualify, but once a business does a sign gets put up. Well, it does IF the business is right on the road that is off the highway. Any more turns and "follow through signage" is needed.

In Island County we now have a provision to apply for that follow through signage. Yahoo! That means that Agritourism oriented farms can now be found. That means that other small home-based businesses that qualify for the state sign system can be found. In a rural area, where even knowing an address doesn't mean that a place can be found because the roads wind around and are sometimes not well marked.

Over the last two years we've been putting up sandwich board signs at the intersections and they do make a difference - the only trouble is that they are illegal. So, we don't do that anymore. If counties want to help small farms survive and if we realize that part of small farms (that are near urban areas) need to rely on agritourism signage is a key component.

Do farmers blog less than others? I'm looking at my series of blog entries and realize they are very intermittent. I have a cousin who writes in her blog at least once a day. When I get up the first thing I do is look out the window to see what the weather is doing and decide what I can do outside. In the winter, it's often inside work because we don't work out in the field when it's too wet or snowy. On Whidbey Island we don't have much snow, but every once in a while we do and this year has had quite a lot (for us). Coming from southern New England and having lived in Denver for many years, it doesn't compare. This is a banana belt compared to those places.

Even when I'm inside, though, I'm consumed with the tasks I've put off in order to do the work outside. So, there is precious little time to write in a blog, much less think of something remotely interesting to write about.

Today will be different, though, because I'm visiting my son who lives in a city far away and I have the luxury to kick back, gaze out the window and think up something that might be interesting.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The weather! It's January and constantly like this - windy, spotty rain or more, chilly.... It's hard to get out to finish the pruning. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we can also transplant. It's actually a good time to do it, as long as the weather is above freezing. The ground is very juicy and the temperatures are cool enough that the plants are dormant. The only problem is getting up the gumption to go out and do it.

Lt Rain

Humidity: 82 %
Wind Speed:ESE 21 G 26 MPH
Barometer:30.31 in (1026.70 mb)
Dewpoint:32°F (0°C)
Wind Chill:26°F (-3°C)
Visibility:0.00 Miles

I just hired another Coupeville teen - now we have two 14 year olds working here. I like to think of kids as my "other" crop. This last summer we graduated three that had been with me for several years - one had been here since she was 14. It was a proud moment as well as being rather poignant - to go to their graduation and cheer them on their way to college. Meanwhile, Spencer, the new kid at the farm, has been doing very well. Yesterday he dug out the dirt and grass from the fence around the vegetable garden so we can replace the fencing. It's old enough now that the voles and rabbits can just chew through it and get into the garden to eat OUR food. Spencer said he didn't mind it at all, was listening to music as he worked. I think iPods and other portable players are such a gift - it makes working so much more pleasant!

Each year we have a holiday party and the three new college kids (who have left Lavender Wind Farm to go on with their lives) came, one with her boyfriend, and they were happy. Each one was growing in her own direction, and because they are still freshmen, that direction is still rather fuzzy.

This year we got our first company sweat shirts.

This year we have lots of new stuff planned for the upcoming season. And this winter we are taking care of lots of background paperwork. This is usually a chore I avoid, but to avoid being outside in this weather.....