Beginning Gardening


Posted by Annie in gardening, Organic on April 3, 2013

Our government has been seeding the clouds, our sky looks like a checker board square until it all disappears as the clouds take over.  But instead of encouraging rain we’ve been getting hail and snow, we never know what to expect.

English: Jalapeno peppers growing in Summit, N...

Jalapeno peppers

I came home this afternoon to find my elderberry bush clippings were drooping.  I thought for sure they were going to die.  I didn’t know what to do, I know florist use 7-up but I didn’t have any.  I added apple cider vinegar to the water, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. They seemed to have perked right up.  Hopefully, they will be well enough for me to plant tomorrow.

I also plan to plant some jalapeno peppers, from some seed I saved from some organic peppers from the store.  I also bought some green bean seeds and some chives, which I will grow in pots near the house.  Chances are some of it won’t grow, because I don’t have a green thumb, but if I keep trying eventually something has to grow.  Right?

Green common beans on the plant.

Green common beans

I would like to grow more but without a greenhouse, it’s hard at 4,000 feet.  Last year they actually had raised garden spots, you could rent for $30.00 for the year.  Maybe I’ll try that?  I’ll try to find some information about it, the Chamber of Commerce should know.

These chickens are huge.  I can’t believe how fast they grow.  It’s a good thing I bought food in advance, they are really eating.  I let them run around the yard catching bugs, pecking at plants and fertilizing my lawn.  They are so cute.  I’ve got several males though, they are starting to fight a little bit. Fortunately, nothing major yet.  I hope it stays that way.

My cat is pregnant, she will be a year old May 5th, she almost made it.  After she has this litter, we’ll get her fixed.  She looks so funny, I hope she doesn’t have a large litter, but I won’t hold my breath.

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Day five: Chickens


Posted by Annie in Organic, Outdoors on March 2, 2013

Chickens in the yard.We’ve had the birds five days now.  We converted a dog pen we had lying around, into a chicken run, basically we wrapped the pen in chicken wire, including the top.  We’ve got owls living in a tree nearby, so we have to be careful.

I am amazed at how fast they have grown.  In just five days, they have more than doubled in size.  Their wings are getting feathers, some only have a little bit of fuzz left on them.  I love to watch them stretch out their legs and their wings, it’s a beautiful sight.

It’s been a job keeping the brooder clean and warm.  The temperatures vary so widely that I am constantly covering them up with blankets over the cage, and taking them off.  I’ve noticed the birds don’t need as much heat as they did when I first brought them home, that’s a good thing.

Chicken WatererYou should have seen them yesterday, when I moved them to the pen.  They were running around, playing, hopping over each other.  I sat and watched them for hours.  I swear they grew from the time I took them out, until I put them back in the brooder.  Amazing.

I hate having to put them in the brooder at night.  It’s not very big and they don’t have a ton of room.  They love it when I put them in the yard, they run and jump, playing with each other, you can just tell they are happy.  Soon, I’ll have the chicken run set up.

What is biosecurity?

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Free Olive Curing Demonstration


Posted by Annie in Activities, Outdoors on August 30, 2010

Olives are one of the oldest foods known to man and their one of the tastiest as well.  Their rich history surrounds California’s roots and goes back to biblical days.  However, these delicious fruits have to be cured prior to eating.

If you have ever tasted an olive right off the tree you know the intense bitter flavors will coat your palate for hours.  For many families around the globe curing olives at home as a family is still a time honored tradition (often a multigenerational annual event), but it’s not something that gets shared with mainstream America all that often. 

This is unfortunate as the demand for olives is clearly there.  All over the country the canned olive section at grocery stores is growing and olive products are dominating gourmet food shows. 

On September 18th, 2010
Chaffin Family Orchards
will be hosting an Olive Curing Demonstration at the Chico Grange
(2775 Old Nord Ave, Chico, California 95973),
but we will start off in the afternoon here at our farm
(606 Coal Canyon Rd, Oroville, Ca 95965)
at 1:00 p.m. with a tour of our 100 year old olive orchards.

The majority of our olives were planted originally by a group of UC Berkeley and UNR professors doing research on the Mission Olive.  Now considered an heirloom variety, California Mission Olives are listed on Slow Food’s Ark Of Taste as a threatened fruit that’s at risk of extinction.

The Mission Olive Preservation group is another organization that works tirelessly to restore old Mission olive groves at the California Missions where they were originally founded.  We have one of the largest and oldest Mission groves still in production for commercial sales. 

We’ll spend time walking under these old majestic giants and talking with a few olive experts about growing olives, farming organically, harvesting, olives for oil, etc. 

We’ll also be demonstrating how Chaffin Orchards has drastically cut their fuel and other inputs by utilizing livestock in the orchards.  The livestock provide desired impacts and produce more crops per acre. 

In the olives the sheep and cows can be used for mowing the orchard floor; the goats actually prune away suckers and lower branches as well as eat invasive weeds like poison oak, wild grape, Himalayan blackberry, and star thistle; then the chickens come in and eat downed fruit (harbors fruit fly larva), any other bugs or pests, and deposit their nitrogen rich manure under the trees.  Utilizing this method the farm uses about 85% less diesel than before having the livestock integrated into the orchards and we’ve been farming this way for about 10 years now. 

It also allows the farm to operate using organic farming methods, and it produces more crops per acre as the wool, meat, and eggs from the animals can all be marketed as well. 

Here’s a video demonstrating how the farm is able to accomplish all this.

We have 4 types of olives suitable for curing, Barouni, Manzanilla, Sevillano, and Mission, and we will discuss each variety and the nuances of each one.

Once we explore the history and intricacies of olives and the farm and then we’ll move over to the Chico Grange at 6:00 p.m. and put on a class for curing the olives yourself in your home kitchen without using any lye.  Lye is what the commercial olive canning industry as well as many home curers use to leach out the bitter flavors in the olives and to soften them. 

Lye is a toxic chemical that is used in many industrial applications and is the primary ingredient in most pour-in drain cleaners.  It’s a caustic substance that destroys most nutrients and can cause severe burns if it comes in contact with skin. 

Olives have been around for millennia as a staple food source in Mediterranean climates around the globe.  Some trees in the Middle East are literally thousands of years old. There are ways to cure without lye; they’ve just become somewhat forgotten in our modern fast food society. 

So we’re going to be hosting olive expert Don Landis to come demonstrate multiple old world natural curing methods that don’t use lye.  Don is a real renaissance man when it comes to olives.  He does everything meticulously, curing hundreds of pounds of delicious olives each year in his own home and then just giving it all away to friends and anyone interested in learning more. 

He loves to share his experiences and teach people about olives and he often consults with both novices and experts alike when they have curing questions.  As a natural public speaker and teacher, guests will go home feeling confident that they can cure olives at home and start their own family tradition.  At the end we’ll sample prepared olives from the multiple curing methods and enjoy some tapenade as well.

Here’s a video of Don at a recent event in
Sonoma doing what he loves best: talking olive


September 18th, 2010
FREE and open to the public

1:00 p.m. Tour of our 100 year old Mission Olive Orchards
at Chaffin Orchards hosted
by Kurt Albrecht (farm owner) and
Don Landis (606 Coal Canyon Rd, Oroville, Ca 95965)

6:00 p.m. Natural Olive Curing Class
We’ll go over to the Grange building in Chico
(2775 Old Nord Ave, Chico, California 95973)

Don Landis will be demonstrating old world olive curing techniques including dry salt cure, water cured, and the Greek style brine cure.  All cured without using lye.  Samples of the cured olives and tapenade will be available at the end of the demonstration.

Raw organically farmed olives for home curing will be available for purchase or to be sure we’ll have enough email to pre-order

Email to RSVP – its not required that people RSVP to attend but it would help us tremendously to be able to prepare enough samples if we knew how many people were coming especially since it’s a free event.

Chris Kerston
Chaffin Family Orchards
606 Coal Canyon Road,
Oroville, Ca 95965
530-533-1676 (Ranch Office)
530-370-6432 (Cell)


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