This just in...
Rogue Chickens Sabotage Inspires Mystery Fruit Tree Sale.
Wanted: Food for Black Bacon, a Cazadero Hills Black Hog and her babies
Deal: Two Emus Available For Sale. $50.
Looking For Work: “Need some extra hands, er ... paws around the farm?”
Wanted: Three Leaves Foods CSK Wants your Uglies
The headlines at CropMobster.com offer a back fence view into the weird world of Sonoma County farms, where on an given day earnest farmers put out appeals for brewers mash and organic food waste, alerts for worm workshops and try to unload everything from surplus figs to emus.
A Craigslist for the ag set, CropMobster is where the farmer fed up with an obnoxious rooster can connect with the farmer who needs a rooster to service a flock of breeding hens. It’s a place where homely fruit unfit for the farmer’s market, can find someone to love it, or at least like it enough to can it, and where a perfectly good wheel of cheese too stinky for one woman’s kitchen can find a west county nonprofit very happy at its next meeting.
The sometimes urgent headlines telegraph the disappointments and the dreams and desperation of the farm life with a solid dose of humor.
“Hot Speed Dating Mixer for Local Farmers and Local Food Buyers” offers notification for a networking opportunity with panache.
“Hair Sheep Urgently needed to eat my fresh grass,” a Petaluma woman cries out, hedging her hopes for a free pair by saying she’d be open to goats or short-term rental.
For every sad alpaca and barn mouser in need of a home, there is a headline offering a happy ending, like the Terrace Community Garden that grows produce for The Healdsburg Food Bank. Day One: the alert goes out on CropMobster with their need for a tractor. Day Two: the appeal gets spread on “West Coast Live” radio at the SHED in Healdsburg. One hour later, a member of the radio audience calls in saying he won a new mower from a lottery at Garrett’s Ace Hardware and would donate the prize to the hunger relief garden.
“CropMobster works like “Doe-ray-me 1-2-3,” that poster declared in thanks.
Probe deeper and behind every headline is a story.
Here are a few.
ROGUE CHICKEN SABOTAGE INSPIRES MYSTERY FRUIT TREE SALE
It was disaster for Jeremy Watts when a flock of chickens laid waste to his first-year crop of young fruit trees in a single rampage.
Watts said he and his partners, hoping to start their own nursery, were allowed to use an old nursery space in the East Oakland hills in exchange for giving the owner some of their trees at the end of the year.
The fledgling nurserymen labeled every tree by type and variety with a stick label. They didn’t anticipate the owner’s chickens, who were living on the grounds, breaking free and causing trouble.
“They didn’t touch the trees, but they didn’t like our labeling system. They tore up every label except one or two,” Watts lamented.
That left them with 300 mystery trees, all bare root. They knew what kind of fruit tree it was, but not the variety, and buyers are picky about kind of pear or plum they want to plant.
THIS WEEK’S BLIND TASTING: Refreshing whites
TOP PICK: Husch, 2017 Mendocino Chenin Blanc, 12.6% alcohol, $13. ★★★★
Gorgeous aromas of stone fruit –– white peach and nectarine –– follow through on the palate. The Husch manages to be both lush yet nimble, buoyed by bright acidity. The finish is irresistible, a coupling of citrus and honeysuckle. It’s not only a steal for the price — it’s striking.
Smith-Madrone, 2015 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Riesling, 12.9%, $30. ★★★★: This complex riesling has layered notes of papaya, petrol and honeysuckle. It’s nice and dry, with bright acidity. Pitch-perfect balance. Impressive.
Dry Creek Vineyard, 2017 Clarksburg, Dry Chenin Blanc, 13%, $15. ★★★★: This chenin blanc is refreshing, crisp and dry. Lovely notes of orange blossom, mango and honeysuckle. This is bright and lively, with a range of flavors. Finishes crisp, with a breezy note of white peach. Well crafted.
Dutton Goldfield, 2017 Chileano Valley Vineyard, Petaluma Gap Riesling, 13.9%, $30. ★★★★: Rich notes of apricot, lemon curd and honey are kept in check with crisp acidity. Refreshing citrus notes of lemon and lime are in the mix. This is a delightful riesling.
Pieropan, 2016 Soave Classico, Italy, 12%, $18. ★★★1/2: A pretty white with a creamy texture, balanced with great minerality. Layered notes of peach, apple and nectarine. Bright finish. Lovely.