“Flower farming with draft horses” is our new description here in Nevada. I expect if we should happen upon any other flower farmers farming with horses we will see them at our National Conference in Lancaster, PA in September. Horse farming and flower farming do remain relatively minor enterprises, at least in numbers. We’ve marked our calendars, so mark your calendar now as well and start making plans to attend.  September is a busy time for most all flower farmers, with or without horses, but we are planning well in advance to be able to leave our farm for a couple of days.  
    
Our team, Rudy and Sparky, are 4-year-old Belgians raised at Horsepower Organics in Halfway, Oregon. While I don’t necessarily think these two ‘grocery boys’, as we have come to call them given the amount of food they eat, are going to make us better farmers they are making us very happy farmers, and this is a good thing.  And speaking of happy, if you aren’t happy in the spring as a farmer then you are probably not happy at all.  This time of year is very difficult for me to pass up small baby animals and seed or plant displays at the local stores regardless of how much I might have back at the farm already!  
    
The West region has been newsworthy throughout the winter for our weather happenings. Here in Nevada we had the fourth largest snow storm on record right at the beginning of the New Year. This snow did not melt out until February, making for an unusual ground cover on the valley floors. We can always use the moisture and have been happy for it. However, further down south the rain just kept coming in Southern California. I have tried to reach some of our Southern California members to see how they fared but did not have luck reaching anyone.  So this means they are either out busy harvesting or trying to get back into production. I’ll look on the bright side as I know many of them grow under cover; they may not have been impacted too much.  
    
On February 5, I attended a one-day conference in the Sierra Foothills, in Northern California. The PLACERGrown group is very active in branding their products from their county, everything from free-range chicken to citrus.  There was a talk on flowers and there seems to be an interest in diversifying crops, especially from folks that are direct marketers. I hope we might see a few new members to the ASCFG from this area.  
    
I have been contacting members from the West Region to satisfy my curiosity and to learn the interesting stories about ASCFG members.  That is the great thing about being a Regional Director, getting to know the membership and we are an interesting bunch. Along those lines, I recently talked to Cindy Silvia of C.S.E. Flowers in Elk Grove, CA. Cindy and her husband Bill attended our Regional Meeting last year here in Dayton.   Cindy tells me she is a small grower, but we know how busy growing keeps everyone. She supplies local florists in her town and came to growing after sending bouquets from her garden to her husband’s place of work. She received many, many positive comments on her flowers and was encouraged to grow the flowers for sale.  She does not have any greenhouses but does manage to supply her florists year around with at least some product. She harvests curly willow all year by stripping the leaves once they have broke dormancy.  Cindy tells me that the florists appreciate having the fresh willow all year.  
    
Another new member and the only other Nevada member is Tracy McMillen with Fresh Elements in Las Vegas.  I talked to Misty Christmas, the P.R. director with the company, and she explained that the company has developed re-mineralization products and among these products are some for cut flowers. These products increase the life of cut flowers.  The company is just starting to market their products, so it is likely we may be hearing more about them in the future.  
    
As I wrap up this month’s column, I still do not have a date for a Regional Meeting but I am presently working on having one this fall at the U.C. Davis campus.  As soon as details are worked out, we will be sending out registrations.