This has got to be my favourite photo of Sheila ever.  Read More


Believe it or not there are signs that the seasons are changing. Slowly – slowly. The icy muck tells us that the struggle between winter and summer has begun.  Read More


Yesterday was divided between long periods of sitting waiting as I flew impossibly through the sky and then short periods with long corridors of full out “excuse me!, coming through”! RUNNING. Read More



HUMAN HANDS or the lack thereof. Mechanisation has always been a part of the horticultural industry, not so much in the picking but definitely in the packing, and now that there are less migrant workers and the existing workforce is getting older  –  mechanisation is taking big steps to keep the industry of growing food alive and well.

Most of the big packhouses offer pretty good job packages.    This packhouse has free onsite health care for all employees and their families.  Plus a free cafeteria that serves food cooked on the premises.  College Scholarships, etc.  These growers are competing with each other to attract good workers.

Minimum wage is rising to 15 dollars in the next few years.

(I cannot name the packhouse as I actually don’t have their permission to do so). Bad Mama.

Still, this industry is struggling to find enough farm workers.

In fact with the rise of employment opportunities in Mexico plus the numerous other factors  (I don’t really want to get into the politics of it on my blog)  there are less people coming into the country to do these jobs. And (this confuses me) there is no rise of Americans to take the jobs vacated by the immigrant workers.


We have to be careful with this discussion because we are discussing the fate of fresh American food.

In this packhouse, on the presort machine, 26,000 fruit per minute are rushing past my camera. About a 450, 000 bags per day, the bags vary in weight up to 5 pounds.  of good mandarins are packed per day.  And every piece of fruit is handled with care by a machine with cups  and brushes designed to be as soft and gentle as a human hand.


And even though these packhouses are needing less people to run them due to the increase in mechanisation  (though god help us if the internet goes down).  And the expectation of the consumer is for perfect fruit and vegetables which only a machine can do perfectly. Still there are more workers needed – especially in California.  All these mandarins are picked by hand after all.

Crops get ploughed back into the ground every year because there is not enough labor to pick them.  This is a very real problem. Where is the labor force who was waiting in the wings hungry for the jobs immigrant workers have been doing. I read that over 3 million dollars in crops were lost last season due to the lack of pickers.


And where are the young people coming up to join this existing and legal labour force. Many of the women and men I talked to in this packhouse were older – they have worked here for years. The immigrant labor force is aging too.  Interesting.


As an interesting aside all the fruit that is not good enough for your table or for juicing is sent off to be turned into cattle feed.


Yesterday they were installing an extra wash to clean fruit affected by sooty mold.

Most washer water is cleaned and recycled on site to reduce waste.  Probably not from this section of brush bed though.

This family owned company also installed a huge solar power farm that feeds electricity to the packhouse.


ROT is written on this tower where all the last of the last of the fruit destined for the cows is poured into the truck.


We took a bag of mandarins home. Tasty.

I hope you have a lovely day.

There is not much to see in the suburbs so I will only pop in when I have something for you.  I go home to RAIN Tuesday.

Love cecilia

WEATHER on the farm.

Sunday 02/18 0% / 0 in
Partly cloudy. High 44F. Winds SSE at 10 to 20 mph.

Sunday Night 02/18 80% / 0.07 in
Partly cloudy skies early then becoming cloudy with periods of rain late. Low 37F. Winds S at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 80%.

WEATHER in the Central Valley.

63F as I write.




Right here in the middle of a Californian city. It has worse internet than we have in the country. 

Supposedly there is a technician coming tomorrow but this has been an ongoing problem. 

So I am not holding  my breath. Constructing posts using the app is not as fun as using my computer. Plus where is the sidebar? Sighed- bar. 

Interesting California things. The school my mini friend atttends is a closed campus. No parents allowed on the grounds. The school is surrounded in high stone walls and chain link gates. To enter or exit the children walk though Two tall chain link gates. With a gap – like an open air airlock in between.

 Each gate is operated by a warden who welcomes or says goodbye to each child. But no parents go through those gates. The children are delivered to the first gate by the teacher. And no child is released until her or his parent is present to sign the child out. 

If you are late or need to sign the child out early there is an office door in the wall. 

Smoking dope ( marijuana ) is legal  if you are 21 and over and in the privacy of your own home. I know this because I had to close  the windows in our lounge – the smoke coming from the neighbors windows was so strong I swear our mob of kids were getting high just watching  television. The house was full of it. 

The picture above was fixed after I loaded the one below as a trial- now I cannot work out how to remove my trial picture. 

Once I have posted this to you I will explore this WordPress app and see what’s what. I miss my clunky letter- less laptop keyboard. Hopefully the internet man can fix this today. 

I hope you have a lovely day . 

Love Celi.


The Farm South of Chicago: a high of 34F.

Fresno California: a high of 68F. 


To catch my flight to California from O’Hare airport this morning I had to come up to Chicago yesterday afternoon and stay the night. Before my dinner engagement, I went through the rabbit warren underground passageways then up to my favourite old watering hole on the seventh floor of the old Marshall Fields Department Store for a glass of wine.  Read More


A little sun and out they come.  Read More


Boo and the cats have an arrangement. They don’t run – he won’t chase them. But he still watches them very carefully in case someone wants to play.  Read More


While we were embracing (somewhat reluctantly) snowfall after snowfall over the last week or so I spent more time than usual in the kitchen.  I get hungry when I am stuck inside.  Read More


Black and White. But not by design. For days now we have been under this heavy lid of pale gray cloud. Under the threat of snow. Below freezing. A frozen solid white bread sandwich. Colour has fled our world.  Read More