Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Martha's Garden Date Farm

Four of us ladies from Antigua Street took the riding tour of the Martha's Garden Date Farm yesterday.
Martha's Garden is located 10 miles east of downtown Yuma, tucked away within the city limits but perched on the edge of town.
140 Acres of mature trees and 40 Acres of leased state land with new trees planted on it and miles and miles of plastic water lines and individual bubbler drip irragators make up this wonderful stand of Medjool Date Palms. The water is supplied from 5 natural wells on the property. I was amazed a the facts that were shared with us about the process and the product. All of the work from planting to pollenating to harvesting the dates is done by hand. They are for the most part an Organic Fruit, having no artificial fertilizers or chemicals used on them. Dates have more antioxidents than Blueberries or Pomegranites, but they are high in natural sugar and Carbohydrates. The resident rattle snakes are respected as they take care of the rodents and prairie dogs who chew the water lines and the roots of the trees.
There are male trees and female trees and each fruit stem is thinned and pollenated annually. This growing season is just beggining and won't get really busy until about May. They use sacks around the fruit when it starts to grow to protect it from birds and weather.
The farm employs about 80 people at the peak of harvest...and only the hearty survive that job, which is done in September and October during some of the hottest days of the year. The rinsing,sorting and processing takes place right there in the middle of the farm, and Dates can be frozen and refrozen with no ill effect.
They have a 300 Sq. ft. freezer. Their largest export customer is Australia, and they follow all legal and ethical procedures to export to them. The original tree starts came from Tripoli in the middle east and the only place in the U.S. that has the correct climate to grow these dates are this desert area and across the border of California in the Imperial Valley. During the riding tour it was interesting to learn a few facts about the farm ground that lines Hwy 95 Some of the prime farm ground in the area is family owned and rented out for lettuce, onions and other produce.
When it's available some of this prime ground would most likely sell for as much as $68,000 per acre! It was a beautiful afternoon and we topped off the informative tour with a Date Shake in their gift shop..... I also learned we have about two weeks til the snakes come out...and then KayCee's romps in the desert will cease.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just More Fun

Our skies continue to be alive with Marine Corp Air Craft.
Weather has been cool. We took a ride into California yesterday.
I'm looking for a California pin for my collection and once again bombed out.
We had lunch and stopped at a local museum just off the Interstate on the way back.

Have spent quite a bit of time with the friends on our street. There's been lots of shows and entertainment here every day and most nights.

We spotted this balloon going up on the way back home yesterday.
Today DH is golfing with 3 guys and I am going to the Date farm with 3 girls. When we get back we get to attend the 7 pm Oak Ridge Boys Show here at our Community Room.
They arrived early this morning and the place has been a bustling ever since. Not much news. We looked around outside the Museum of History in Granite, but it was late in the afternoon, so didn't stay and tour. We will do that another day.
The day is warming up, there's no wind and it should be a good day at the date farm!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yuma Marine Corp Air Station

We spent a few very interesting hours taking a tour of the Marine Corp Air Station this week. About three times a year during the winter months the Marines invite the public to tour their facility and look at their operations and equipment.
We drove through gate 8 and a couple miles down the road we came to a big parking lot where we waited for the next available tour bus. An absolutely beautiful morning, we were able to watch some jets taking off and landing. It was 9 a.m. and a few tour busses had already left for the tour, it appeared as if it was in full swing! They only offer the tours from 9 - 10:30 in the morning. Our tour guide was Lance Corporal - soon to be Corporal, Jakob Schulz from Chicago.
He works in PR for the Air Station, writes stories for the Station's paper, The Desert Warrior and he is being deployed to Afghanistan in March. Our driving tour took us past several sets of Barracks, the Physical Training facility, a couple of simulators that trains the marines for a vehicle roll over.
They looked like a carnival ride! We continued on past the Ceremonial field, where there was an actual Ceremony taking place, a changing of the guard or some such thing.
The drum and bugle corp, dressed in red were practicing also on another outside field.
The base reminds me of the Ft. Carson Army Post at Colorado Springs, a city within a city, they can operate fully without leaving the base for months at a time. They provide housing barracks for single soldiers, and houses for married soldiers and familys. Recreational Facilities and all of their training and equipment buildings. We arrived at the main Aviation building where we disembarked from the bus and were led through the doors and out onto the main tarmac.
On display there were several pieces of support equipment. A rescue helicopter, a Harrier Jet and it's pilot, a tiger jet an ambulance and several different weapons.

We see these helicopters flying over our park all the time and the jets are always practicing formations, take offs and landings right over the middle of town. Yes they are noisy, and that day we learned that we now have a bigger F35C jet here and it's even more noisy....but it's a good noisy because they are learning to keep us safe. It's awesome to be able to watch them every day and was fantastic to be able to see them up close.
The Military Police unit were there with their dogs that they use for search and subduing criminals. One had actually been deployed overseas. These demonstrations were awesome, and I would never want to be taken down by those dogs. They hit really hard. Several interesting facts about the base.
The 214 Blacksheep Squadron that is based there was depicted in the movie "Top Gun." The 211 Avengers, a Marine Attack Squadron earned the nickname of "Wake" due to its heroic defense of the Wake Island(Japan) in December 1941. Tiger jets are used as decoys for the bigger performance jets.
The smaller camo jet that folks climbed on was a tiger jet. The pilot of the Harrier jet told some pretty incredible stories of his experiences and I could have listened to him for a lot longer. There is only 6 bolts that hold the wings on a Harrier Jet.That makes loading and assembling quicker and easier. The one big Airstrip here is 3 miles long. It makes Yuma third in line to receive a shuttle landing if Florida and California doesn't work. The next time that the gates will be open is March 26th for the annual Air Show, and I will be at that for sure. Lots of people parked across 32street and were taking advantage of a great photo opportunity that day....I'm sure they got some awesome pictures. I didn't even take my big camera, thinking they wouldn't allow pics...so these were taken with my phone. Next time I will know better and will get good ones!The skies are alive again today, and just as I am writing this, two great big copters circled over head. I couldn't even get my camera out quick enough, but I'm sure I'll get more opportunities.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentines Day

We had a very laid back V Day yesterday....it started out with a gift. I gave my husband a coffee in the morning with all our friends on the patio.
I made two pans of Cinnamon Rolls the night before and baked them in the morning. So we had a visit on the patio and enjoyed the morning sun. DH went for a bike ride with a neighbor and the neighbor had a wreck and fell off his bike!

After 15 miles they made it back safely and we sat on the patio again. Everybody must have liked it so much, they came back for Happy Hour and that was my day! That's the laid back version of life at the Palms....or a day in the life of MsKay...oh yeah, I almost forgot.a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ahSqmheyYwo/TVqSoc7A2NI/AAAAAAAADJ0/Ba2uhMYmCwc/s1600/DSCN3122.JPG">
I did 3 loads of laundry. This morning we are off and running and about to leave to take a tour of the Marine Corp Air Station. They give tours once a month. Hopefully I'll have some thing interesting to share from that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yuma's Agriculture

The harvest of the latest crop here is winding up. I am fascinated about the process of getting the crops out of the fields here. There are several different varieties of lettuce....broccoli.....cauliflower, cabbage and carrots.
Groves of orange, lemon and tangelo trees line the street that runs through Yuma, and covers the land to the south. There are date farms.....and cotton is another large crop produced in the area. We have a great selection of fresh produce.
The semis full of cases of lettuce and cauliflower come and go from the 9 different cooling plants in this area.
We are blessed with lots of roadside farm stands to get our produce and we even have a stand here in the resort. The workers in the fields are basically of Mexican Nationality. They are bussed in daily in white school busses and the have a traier behind their bus with two portable bathrooms.
They pick and sort the produce and load it with a conveyor belt to the bins that are taken to the packaging plants.

The workers are allowed to do business here before they are bussed back across the border at night. Basically the fields are cleaned and planted right back to back.
The main irrigation used is a flooding technique, and they have lots of irrigation ditches but we have seen some sprinkler systems too. Fertilizer is applied with smaller applicators.
I suppose because of the super sandy soil and the super hot summer temps they can grow crops year round here, I just know I like this area because it has lots more green fields and green trees then the desert valley south of Phoenix and reminds me of home on the plains.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Block Party on Antigua Street

This crew doesn't really need an excuse to gather, and most days there's a group of chairs sitting in front of one motorhome or another right here in the middle of the block.
They either coffee or have Happy Hour and try to solve the problems of the world. Well, this time it was a couple's 41 Wedding Anniversary and the guys got together an organized a formal "Block Party/BarBQue" in their honor! So far this week both has been sick with the flu, and we were holding our breaths that they would make it, and they both did.
We had lots of wind yesterday, so the other breath holding was for a nice day! It was, and it all came together very nicely. DH collected a little money from all..then he and Jim went to Sams and got supplies. They made the marinade and started the Beer/Pepper/Onion Brats soaking yesterday.
I put the cole slaw together this morning and the rest just fell into place. Turned out to be a very good meal, and a good time was had by all...
we had Marita's Sirius Boom Box - Led Zepplins "Immigrant Song" - while The Marine Corp Air Station provided us with a 4 copter Fly over while we sat out and enjoyed the afternoon.
I think we ended up with 45 people and one staff from the resort came and joined in. While this park is made up largely of Canadians...we were represented by Missouri, Montana, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota today.

DH is having a blast here.