A Day in the Woods

After a bit of a drive, Tehama FARMS Advanced was greeted with the fresh mountain air on a late spring morning and temperatures that didn’t even warrant a sweatshirt. Sierra Pacific Industries invited our group to attend the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference Inc. “In Woods Forest Harvest Demonstration Day”. This is a day where a group of industry supporters take the time to carve out of the forest a 1-mile trail for groups of students who are led by experts in logging to hike and stop at several stations to see the very impressive logging equipment at work as well as meet and network with a variety of industry professionals.

Once we had been properly fitted with fancy hard hats to ensure everyone was exercising supreme safety, we started off following our leader who was a Wildlife Biologist for Sierra Pacific Industries. As we wandered through the woods we heard from many different local volunteer programs such as The Backcountry Horsemen and Shasta County Search and Rescue and the different ways they work with our logging industry to accomplish different tasks. Not only did we meet volunteer units, we also met Jim Lepage from Lepage Company who’s focus is building and maintaining the logging roads. He spoke with the students about the career opportunities with heavy equipment and why their jobs are so important to the logging companies. Of course safety comes first, so without quality roads the big rig drivers driving heavy loads of logs could not safely get in and out of these deep woods locations, but also how roads that they can safely drive a moderate speed on will increase efficiency and the number of loads one trucker can make with logs in a day. Time = Money.

As we rounded the bend we could hear the loud sound of a saw and smell the fragrance of freshly cut wood. This began our walk into what truly happens in the forest during a harvest. First we learned the different ways there are to fall, or cut down, a tree. We heard from a 30 year wood cutter about the tools and manual labor that goes into cutting a tree by hand which he demonstrated on a HUGE pine tree right in front of us. It was amazing to see his skill, precision, and speed with his chainsaw as well as the ability to make the tree fall exactly where he wanted. He was able to fall and cut into logs roughly 50 trees a day and therefore is used to process the trees who’s trunks are too large in diameter for the heavy equipment that we watched but are able to do closer to 1500-2000 trees in a day. We then followed the process to the landing site that was set up where a harvester was delimbing and cutting trees into “logs” of appropriate length, then a feller-buncher was gathering and loading logs onto a truck to be hauled off the mountain and to a processing plant. It was such an amazing experience to see first hand these GIANT machines at work and meet the men who were behind the controls.

Thank you too all those who took part at the In Woods Demonstration Day and Sierra Pacific Industries for inviting us to take part. The students thoroughly enjoyed it and have a much greater understanding and appreciation for the logging industry as a whole. We hope to be apart of it in the future!

FARMS Advanced visits Chico State

FARMS Advanced| Tehama County | March 5, 2019

Location of Field Day
Chico, CA

Field Day Host
Sarah DeForest, College of Agriculture Director of External Relations

Participating Schools
Red Bluff High School
Orland High School
Mercy High School
Los Molinos High School

Theme
College Exploration, Integrated Pest Management

Summary of the Day:

The morning began with meeting Sarah DeForest, the director of external relations, at the Chico State Farm. There we began our networking and practiced our professional introductions. Sarah invited us on a tour where we visited each of their 4 animal units; dairy, beef, swine, sheep as well as saw how diverse they are with having 800 acres of orchards, row crops and garden plots with green houses.

At the dairy unit, we learned about there operation and how and why they transitioned from a conventional herd to the current organic herd they have which allows them to market “organic milk”. With the current milk market, and the college operating a small herd of 80 cows they are able to sell their milk for a higher price as organic as well as give their students a leg up in the industry by learning the practices that come with organic farming. We toured the milking parlor which can hold 6 cows at a time and is equipped with automatic grain feeders as well as RFID readers that record the data from each cow as they enter and are milked. Then we went out and saw all the calves that are bottle raised and will be used as replacement cows as they get older and are ready to join the milk string. Of course everyone loved them! We went on to see the swine unit which houses 30 sows with their largest market for the babies being project hogs for local 4-H and FFA kids. Next we saw the sheep unit where they raise Southdowns, Suffolk, and Hampshires all again which are bred and raised for market or breeding animal youth projects. Lastly we explored the beef unit where we learned about their past partnership with Sierra Nevada Brewery which demonstrated the importance of networking as well as saw their current production feed experiment and the technology associated with it.

After our fun with the livestock units, we joined a Plant Science 101 lab and were able to see hands on how a college laboratory goes. The students jumped right in and joined the lab groups which were testing the nitrogen levels in soil between two different test groups, one with an additive and one that was a control.

Lastly, we headed over to the main campus for a quick lunch in the dining hall, followed by a brief tour of campus. I can not thank Chico State enough for this opportunity to showcase the school to our FARMS Advanced students!

Sierra Cascade Logging Expo

FARMS Advanced | Tehama County | February 7, 2019

Location of Field Day
Anderson, CA

Participating High Schools
Red Bluff High School
Los Molinos High School
Orland High School
Mercy High School

Field Day Host
Sierra Cascade Logging Conference, Sierra Pacific Industries

Summary of the Day:

Tehama County FARMS Advanced was invited by Sierra Pacific Industries to visit the Sierra Cascade Logging Expo in Anderson, Ca and learn all about the diversity in the logging industry. Living in Tehama County, we daily see logging trucks traveling down the road and these FARMS Advanced students also visited Sierra Pacific Industries during their year in FARMS Leadership which is one of the largest logging companies in Northern California. However, students don’t always think of logging as part of agriculture, so this opportunity was very fitting and gave the students an up close look at the equipment, and companies that are involved in the daily operations of this very demanding and regulated industry.

Walking into the largest forest products and construction equipment exposition in the west was very impressive and the students were greeted by Tommy 2×4 the mascot as well as some HUGE equipment. Throughout the day we explored all the different types of equipment that are used in the logging industry such as skidders, log loaders, and feller bunchers and were able to network with different operators as well as reps for the companies that manufacture the equipment.

“I was impressed at how expensive the equipment is and the amount of advanced technology they use for every job.” -Mary Pat Peterson, Mercy High School

Of course, at expo’s it’s not all business…the students also went through stations that included other aspects of the industry including a wildlife presentation, learning about sustainability of forests, how Cal Fire is involved and wildfire prevention, college students who were competing in different ax throwing contests, as well as watching a wood carver.

“It was very interesting being able to look inside the cockpit of the CalFire helicopter as well as being able to climb in where the firefighters would sit!” -Stephanie Mills, Red Bluff High School

Coleman Fish Hatchery

FARMS Advanced| Tehama County | January 10, 2019

Location of Field Day:
Anderson, CA

Field Day Host:
Coleman Fish Hatchery

Participating Partners:
Ron Stone, Laura Mahoney

Theme:
Integrated Pest Management and Aquaculture

Summary of the Day: “Spawning day”……say what?!

The importance of caring for our waterways in ways that will encourage our salmon and steelhead to be able to make the journey to the ocean and then return back to their birthplace would have truly appreciated Tehama County’s FARMS Advanced trip to Coleman Fish Hatchery.

Coleman Fish Hatchery is located right on Battle Creek which feeds directly into the Sacramento River. We had the pleasure of taking part in one of the most important processes that takes place to continue the cycle of life for our local salmon and steel-head, spawning day. What does that mean? It is when the employees at Coleman Fish Hatchery “spawn” or collect the eggs out of the female fish, fertilize them with sperm from the male fish and then send these eggs to their incubation tanks so they can grow and develop into little fish in the safety of the hatchery.

Laura Mahoney greeted us and immediately put us to work. FARMS Advanced student, Mary-Pat from Mercy High School went to the incubation building where she helped a hatchery employee receive the eggs, transfer them into incubation trays, disinfect them of any pathogens that may have been in the water or carried by the fish by using and iodine bath, and then put them into the flow of water where they will continue to develop.

Students, Gabe Harris from Los Molinos High and Jack Lazzaretto from Orland High went to the spawning building where they met staff from Coleman Fish Hatchery as well as staff that was collecting scales and livers for research for both the Federal Government and California State. They learned how to sex the steelhead and know if they are truly ready for spawning. It quickly became apparent why waterproof shoes and a change of clothes was recommended! Gabe and Jack became part of the team and played important roles in this spawning process.

Once the spawning was finished, we followed the researchers into their certified lab where we watched them process the livers and ovarian fluid that was collected.

Lastly, we were treated to a tour of their ozone plant. What is an ozone plant? Water entering the hatchery comes from Battle Creek and contains bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be harmful to fish. Before the water is used for fish culture it is filtered and treated with ozone to kill all the disease organisms. All water used in the process of raising these fish is treated by this process.

Tehama County Mosquito Abatement meets FARMS Advanced

FARMS Advanced| Tehama County | November 8, 2018

Location of Field Day
Red Bluff, CA

Field Day Host
Andrew Cox, Tehama County Mosquito Vector Control

Participating Schools
Red Bluff High School
Orland High School
Mercy High School
Los Molinos High School

Theme
Integrated Pest Management

Summary of the Day:
In 1917 Los Molinos, CA had an outbreak of malaria, people were sick and dying. The world had already experienced this scenario during the building of the Panama Canal where the French people that were working on the canal were dying in huge numbers. It was discovered that malaria was being transferred to people by being bit by an infected female mosquito that was a carrier. So in 1917, Northern California created a mosquito vector control to help control the population of mosquitoes and therefore help eradicate malaria..

In the beginning years, they would float oil on the surface of the water to suffocate the mosquito larvae. Since then, we have come so far with the development of new chemicals and methods of controlling this deadly pest. Currently, Tehama County Mosquito Control is built of a team of men who assess the problems in their region and treat accordingly. Depending on whether they are having an issue with adults or larvae they decide which practice is best; treating the water, or fogging for adults.

“There are over 200 species of mosquitoes and some can go dormant for years.” -Stephanie Mills, Red Bluff High School

Water treatment is the easiest method and will kill the larvae before ever maturing into adults. The best approach in water is introducing the Mosquito Fish into bodies of water. These little fish feed on the larvae, stay about the size of a guppy, and are close to 100% effective! The public can pick up these fish at our local office to use in livestock water troughs, ponds, or any other standing water. There are also a couple of chemicals labeled for use in water. One is BTI which kills them, the other is Methoprene which causes them to have reproduction issues.

“It is crazy that female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite!” ~Gabe Harris, Los Molinos High School

Fogging for adults is the second method of controlling the mosquito. This is a very labor intensive task, and during peak mosquito season the technicians often work 14-16 hour days to be able to service their region. The air has to be just right, and typically they do it very early mornings. Each technicians truck is outfitted with a drop machine (fogger) that puts out about 4oz of permethrin per acre and is effective in reducing the population of adult mosquitoes and even some flies.

Spending the day with Tehama County Vector Control was not only educational, but fun! The students enjoyed the time spent with our local technicians and learning about the services they offer. Thank you Mosquito Abatement for your time and knowledge!!