Adapted from a great site “Modern Farmer” you might want to correspond via http://modernfarmer.com/2016/11/foods-at-first-thanksgiving-meal/

The history of turkey domestication goes back 2,000 plus years to an archaeological site in Guatemala, probably a ceremony, sacrifice or feast.

Picture this. The first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, where the Mayflower’s provisions yielded little that might resemble a feast, let enough to feed the 50 or so Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag who attended. William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth colony, wrote that deer (or venison) was a centerpiece of that 1621 meal. Wild turkey as well as ducks, geese, swans, and small birds were probably part of the main fare on that first harvest holiday. Other local food of the day included seafood and shellfish, corn, probably multicolored, hard ground and stewed into porridge. Additional vegetables included potatoes, winter squash (hubbard, acorn, butternut), Jerusalem artichokes, beans and berries. Since their supplies were depleted by the time of their arrival, the feast would be void of pumpkin pie.

Turkeys originated in Mexico, turn different colors depending on mood or breeding season, and the “snood” above the beak is what attracts female turkeys, the larger the better.

We don’t see turkey eggs at the market because it makes more economical sense to market the bird not the not-so-plentiful production of eggs (at $3-3.50 apiece).

Their name came from a mistaken identity early on by settlers who thought they were guinea fowl from Turkey. But it would be too weird to change the name to “Mexico”.

They are called Guajolotes in Mexico, and sometimes, because of a somewhat ignorant populace, I’ve heard, they become elected officials.


Digging the Dirt with UCCE Master Gardeners

I recently had the pleasure of attending Secrets of the Soil, a workshop, http://mgeldorado.ucanr.edu/Secrets_of_Soil/         with the likes of:

Chuck Ingels, Farm and Horticulture Advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Sacramento County since 1996 and overseer of the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center.
His topic:            Physical Characteristics of Soil, Plant Roots and the Rhizosphere

Amanda Hodson, Ph.D in Entomology and U.C. Davis Project Scientist.
Her topic:           Soil Food Web, Defining Healthy Soil

 Rei Scampavia, doctorial candidate at UC Davis, researches nest site selection in bee species. https://diadasia.wordpress.com/. Her topic:  Ecosystem Services and Ground Nesting Bees

Their presentations are available on the .edu link above, as well as these presentations:

What is IPM?                   http://www2.ipm.ucanr.edu/WhatIsIPM/
Beneficial Predatores   http://ipm.ucanr.edu/QT/beneficialpredatorscard.html

Agricultural and Natural Resources   http://ipm.ucanr.edu/index.html

Also check out the .edu link above for resourceful links such as:


Yes, I am very impressed, inspired and encouraged with my re-acquaintance with Master Gardeners of El Dorado County. The workshop was more than terrific – I even came home with a worm composting bin for red wigglers!  The link below gives you step by step directions.  redwigglerwormcomposter







I got lots of my questions answered, and not all of them agreed with what else I’ve heard. Which gives credence to the words of Chuck Ingels when he tries to answer questions from the gardening community. “It depends,” he says. It depends on too many variables given the complexity of the world beneath, above, and around the soil.   There are millions of species, thousands of studies, and way too many possibilities for any given situation. I guess that’s why they offer so many classes. Hats off to Master Gardeners!


New Destinations in Old Newtown, CA.

The Davies Family Inn is also known as
ShadowRidge Ranch
3700 Fort Jim Rd.
Placerville, CA 95667jimlindaweddingpix
Proprietors: Jim Davies and Linda Hopkins Davies

The setting for this story could be a Hollywood movie fade-in on a thriving mining community southeast of Placerville, CA in the early 1850’s. It was called “Newtown”. You can vividly imagine the noisy rousting about of the miners in and about the saloons and boardwalks crowded with all manner of local folks trying to go about their business amid barking dogs, horses, carriages and stagecoaches coming and going. The Wells Fargo Concord Stage Coach was the grandest of all, carrying the gold to Sacramento

Newtown is where the party of Mormons, on their way to Salt Lake after moving through Placerville (Old Hangtown), built a corral for their stock to fatten up for the long trip. Besides, they found enough gold in a ravine near Weber Creek to make their stop worthwhile. They named the area Pleasant Valley. Another town grew nearby called Dog Town. In 1849, five of those men returned and by 1852 the miners secured construction of ditches from the north and south forks of Weber Creek and from the North Fork of the Cosumnes River.woman-washing-gold-river-13623411old-town-3026565

It was too great a secret to be kept. Population of miners exploded. A sawmill was built in Pleasant Valley, and Newtown was born, first with a store, then a hotel, butcher shop, post office, brewery, billiard saloons, drinking establishments and miners’ cabins. Newtown was filled and kept growing. The population was 99% male. It is said that one diversion for those gold panners tired of the saloon or the streambed would be to watch Dr. Snow’s wife hang her laundry.gold-ore-wagon-bodie-ghost-town-4842648

The Davies Family Inn is at Shadowridge Ranch, the original homestead of the Raffetto family who owned a couple of stores in Newtown or Sunny Italy, as the Italians liked to call it. There they sold produce and goods that they raised and made on the ranch, to the gold miners.* In January 1872 came the worst storm on record, followed by a severe earthquake. In May the village of Hanks Exchange, just a few miles to the west, burned and then, a few months later, Newtown was struck.

On Oct. 12, 1872 a fire started in the Newtown brewery and rapidly spread to the remainder of the town. The inhabitants bravely fought the fire that would leave many of them penniless, but were unable to stop its spread. Soon nearly every building in this prosperous town became nothing but a pile of ashes. Small portions of the town were rebuilt, but many of the residents moved elsewhere.

After only 20 years, Newtown, a town that once had more citizens than Placerville, became only a shadow of its once prosperous youth.

*Read John Gardella Reminiscences of Old Newtown http://home.earthlink.net/~cquasne/newtown.htm – – B

Martin T. Smith authors a delightful account of Henry Hooker’s time in this area:

In 1919, Charles and Matilda (Tilly) Carpenter purchased the ShadowRidge Ranch for a staggering $2,000, which took them years to pay off! Some of the buildings were destroyed by fire, so Charles began rebuilding them. Using timber from the ranch, each log was felled by hand, skidded with a team of horses, hewn by hand, winched into position and chinked with local clay. Charles then traveled by horse and wagon to San Francisco where he salvaged doors, windows and flooring from the 1915 Panama Exposition World’s Fair. Most are still intact and can be seen today in the cabins.

Since there was little money for decorating, Tilly set about planting her famous flower gardens. By the mid 1920’s her garden had become so large and colorful, people from all over the county would travel the old dusty road just to glimpse the magnificent waves of colors, shapes, and fragrances. Today the gardens have been carefully restored, many of the flowering plants returning year after year from the original gardens.flowers-aboundentrance

lodgecozyoriginalhouse2customcraftedbridgeToday, ShadowRidge Ranch sports friendly meadowgardenhospitality to BnB visitors, wedding parties, corporate events, and celebrations of all kinds. Jim Davies is the Chef in residence and his wife Linda is more than an adept event planner and hostess. The grounds, gardens, and every aspect of the lodge and accommodations are so thoughtfully and meticulously cared for you would think a maintenance behindcarriagehousecrew is operating full time.

Backroads Barn
Proprietor: Reneé Hargrove barnstorage renee2 barnfoundation soup-to-nuts perfectaccessory

Adjacent to ShadowRidge Ranch/Davies Family Inn, the Backroads Barn shares the property’s rustic setting. It is a charming destination for visitors looking for vintage, antique, repurposed and quality handcrafted goods. It has become a popular destination to be considered along the way to El Dorado wineries, farms, ranches, shops and restaurants.

Reneé explains that Dave Thomson and some key ‘pickers’ have built a unique and specialized vintage inventory for the Backroads Barn.  Dave is known for his water features, which add a calm and cooling essence to the already appealing scenery. Many local artisans’ wares are featured in the shop’s center, as well as in the adjacent storage barn. Reneé makes an effort to showcase artisans’ work along with “keeping it local” and American-made. Backroads Barn also sells architectural salvage, like reclaimed wood, hardware, and old doors so their customers can create lifestyle pieces for themselves or for resale.

The painted wooden barn quilt was one of the first installed in 2015 after El Dorado County Farm Trails Association’s ‘Quilt Trail Project’ began. Each barn quilt has special meaning to each host location so The Davies Family Inn wanted to honor the lore of the homestead and onsite cabins.

Visit Backroads Barn Friday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. unless there is a Wednesday Special Event Sale.
https://www.facebook.com/backroadsbarn and http://www.sierranevadageotourism.org.