April in Taos

This is the closest thing I have to an April shower photo. Taken at dusk it demonstrates how that lovely late sun can sometimes find a highly contrasting dark sky. It happens and always makes me want to run outside and take photos.

I was talking to my landlord this morning about the drought concerns of the area and he said that by watering as much as possible now, early, with the acequia he is hoping to insure at least one good early crop of his alfalfa. Generally alfalfa is mowed twice. He said that the trees in the orchard have the most need for water now, which they are getting, so they will fare OK.

Took this photo of Eric and his dog Buster this morning. Yes, it’s a Sunday again and two weeks since the previous (and first) acequia watering. One topic that Eric likes to go back to when talking “water” is the precious high mineral content and vitality of the acequia water. Obviously if you can use it for growing food it adds value to your produce. In our case I guess the fruit from the orchard is our “produce.” I know that the Talpa Gardens growers up on Morada have access to it for their garden. They are popular vendors at the Taos farm market, both Saturdays and Sundays.

Speaking of farms, I visited Squash Blossom farm on Este Es last week for the first time. Gael Minton was kind to show me around. She and her husband bought their two acres some time ago, when it was all grazing pasture. They have made themselves very comfortable and self-reliant there. They are a CSA farm and have earned a CNG (Certified Naturally Grown) certificate. At this early time of year the most spectacular thing to see was this mature Tom turkey. There were others, male and female that didn’t make the photo. The breed is native to New Mexico. I told Eric, the water man, about seeing these turkeys and he said that at one time they were endangered but have made a good enough recovery to be hunted legally again. I think Gael said she has been keeping them for 7 years now and is now considering switching to chickens, but admits she has loved the turkeys. I plan to return to Squash Blossom farm in a couple of months and take photos for a blog focused on just that.

The prize for most lovely early blossom in the orchard today goes to the pear trees. I was also able to photograph blooms from my favorite plums and the cherry tree which is fairly near my house (so I can keep an eye on the progress of that flashy and delicious early fruit). The apples are thinking about blooming but the apricots are holding back, perhaps wisely so? I realize there is always tension in an orchard this time of year, especially at our high elevation. One really cold night can end the hopes of an entire tree’s worth of fruit. This orchard has a lot of apple trees and a lot of varieties so one way or another there are always apples, but maybe not from your favorite tree.

This unnamed wild flowering shrub was attracting a lot of bees and made a nice contrast with the very blue sky we often see here at 7,200 feet. If the wind is fierce the dust will create a haze. I read that there is high danger of forest fires already in New Mexico. A little smoke will create haze as well.

The places where my friends and family members live, Southern California, the mountains of Idaho and the East Coast, have all had lots of moisture this winter. Not here, and that is not unusual in the Southwest. There will be a ritual blessing of the corn fields at the Taos Pueblo May 3. I’m planning to attend. Could be some prayers for rain also?

Last photo is a budding out cluster of apple blossoms…


August Splendor in Taos Farm Market

Seems everyone agrees dailias took the prize as queens of the market last Saturday. But flowers were abundant everywhere you looked, making for high splendor and a giddy feeling of joy. Even the vegetables looked brighter and were often displayed so beautifully you felt they were flowers too.

Case in point, this cascade of carrots. This came from a display on the far side as you enter the market run by two young men. They seem to be in the spirit of vegetables as the stuff of art. I can’t say I’ve asked, or know, where all these growers call home but I had a conversation with a young man who is farming in Las Trampas on an acreage that has asequia water. This is his first year there and he is planning to continue. Las Trampas is about 45 minutes from Taos on the High Road, and is famous for it’s beautiful adobe church built in the 1800s.

The photo above shows one of the two young men I liked for their artful displays of produce. Another place I’ve noticed farmers are from is Dixon, south of Taos down the 68, Dixon has a notably lower elevation which probably helps lengthen the growing season. I made a detour off 68 to see Dixon a couple of weeks ago for the first time. I was with some visiting sisters and we were making the loop around the High Road through Espanola and back up to Taos. I could see why people like it there. It felt sheltered and fertile and very quiet. Artists and farmers seem attracted to it.

No blog about the Taos Farm Market would be complete without mentioning Jeff and his partner, whose charm and reliability are only matched by their offerings. When I got there Saturday they had already sold all the tomatoes they brought, 32 pounds I think it was. They have a one-acre place where they live and garden intensively called Talpa Gardens. Their place is on the acequia and talking to Jeff I got the impression he knows how special his water is. They often sell out early so my advice is to be prudent and shop there first and “get it while you can.” Saturday I passed them by in my enthusiasm for taking photos and stopping for a short session with Bonnie, the palm reader. I later regretted my careless attitude. By the way, the reading with Bonnie was amazing! She’s there every Saturday. Take advantage.