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.....