Tags >> farms
Aug 22
2010

Remembering "The Farm"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in women , resources , lifestyle , Ideas , history , Health , Green , food , farms , families , community , children , business , agriculture , activism

Bruce Robinson

Communal living was a idealistic experiment for some back when the counter-culture was in full flower, and The Farm, a pioneering outpost in rural Tennessee, mostly managed to live up to those ideals.

The earliest origins of The Farm can be traced back to San Francisco at the end of the 1960s, recalls Robert Tepper, in a group that coalesced around a San Francisco State professor named Stephen Gaskin.

That memorable caravan, as seen in this photograph (© Book Publishing Company), was also the basis for the  poster promoting the gathering of former Farm residents in Santa Rosa on Saturday.  It’s natural that such an event would happen here, Tepper adds, since the North Bay was once home to so many of the founding Farmers.

Today, The Farm (seen below from the air) hosts a much smaller population, says Linda Rake, but it remains a hub of sustainable activity.

From the founding group of around 300, the population of The Farm quickly grew, in part, Linda Speel recalls, due to their open door policy toward visitors, particularly expectant couples.

It took a few years for the community to attain economic equilibrium, but Linda Rake notes that they soon began to marshal what resources they had to reach out and assist when natural disasters struck elsewhere in the hemisphere, through an organization they named Plenty.

 

 

Jul 27
2010

Red Sonoma

Posted by Bruce Robinson in unions , Sonoma County , research , politics , lifestyle , immigration , Ideas , history , farms , events , California

Bruce Robinson

Liberal Sonoma County was once a hotbed of anti-communist fervor, as well as home to a series of utopian communities, all of which is on display at the Sonoma County Museum.

When taking a longer historical view, Eric Stanley, exhibitions and collections curator for the Sonoma County Museum, says the term “communism” should be understood to be used much more generally than in contemporary political discourse.

The exhibit, Red Sonoma: Communism and Radical Politics in Sonoma County, is housed in a single small room at the side of the main exhibit area, and continues through September 26. 

It was developed as a companion show to the museums’ current main show of contemporary art from Cuba. Stanley says public reaction to it has been mostly, but not entirely, positive.

 

 

Jul 15
2010

Cattle Brands of the North Bay

Posted by Bruce Robinson in speaker , Sonoma County , research , Marin , law enforcement , history , farms , author , animals , agriculture

Bruce Robinson

Branding cattle may evoke images of the old west a century ago, but it’s a still-active part of agriculture in the North Bay, with a lengthy history here, too.

Just as they were a century again, brands are used today to identify the legal owners of not just cattle, but horses, mules, burros, sheep and swine.

 

Ernie Ongaro (right) grew up on his family’s ranch along San Anselmo Creek, and began helping with the livestock branding at the age of 10. These days, he lives and raises beef cattle southwest of Sebastopol. Over the years he’s seen many familiar local brands go inactive (but his book includes both active and inactive brands from Marin and Sonoma counties). He’s also seen the shady practice of “overbranding” employed all the way into the present day.

 

You can see an array of sample brands below.

Jul 02
2010

Bat Lady Remembered

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , trees , toxic , nonprofit orgs , farms , environment , chemicals , California , animals , agriculture

Bruce Robinson

More than 50 years ago, Patricia Winters got her first bat, and promptly fell in love with it. As an advocate for the small nocturnal flying mammals, she was known throughout the North Bay and beyond as the Bat Lady. She died of cancer at age 70 recently, but shared her enthusiasm and knowledge in an early North Bay Report from January 2006. This is a repeat of that report.

How does someone become “the Bat Lady”?  In her case, recalls Patricia Winters, it started almost half a century ago.

Bats are moderately common in North America, but far more prevalent in the tropics, where they play an essential role in propagating fruits and other crops.

 

This is a Mexican free-tailed bat in flight, one of the more common species in northern California. Because of their echolocation sounds, bats actually make a lot of noise as they fly at night, but those sounds are at pitches to high for human hearing.You can listen to the echo-location sounds of a Mexican free-tailed bat, transposed into the rage of human hearing, in this audio clip.

For contrast's sake, here is the sound of what Patricia Winters calls a microwave popcorn echo. This bat send out its sounds between a gap in ins front teeth, so that the echo will no reverberate inside its mouth.

 

The Statewide Integrated Pest Management program at UC Davis offers this online resource to guide homeowners in dealing with bats generally and  on their property.

 

Pallid bat with fresh-caught grasshopper.


There are places where thousands of bats live together in caves or underground, and emerge in great clouds as the day turns dark. Here's a video of such an emergence.

 

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