The Life of Riley, This Harvest Week

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This week we have a lot to harvest (pears, three different apple varieties, flowers, a few berries).  The Colonial Village will be in full swing this Saturday (9/18) with an added bonus:  veteran living historians, Allen and Kathy Hughes, on colonial cooking. (Follow the link to save on your tickets.)  The Packing Shed Barbecue will be open with live music as will the Hawk’s Head Tavern.  Sleepy Hollow has never sold out this early in the season. We’re opening up one more date (10/20/2021).  Get your tickets here. ( Farm Map ♦ Saturday Schedule)

Farm Life, Random Stuff


Most of these farms up here in Oak Glen are run something like small cities.  We have to run our own water, roads, power and sewage departments, except that we have no convenient taxing authority.  (No wise cracks, either, about federal “relief” in the face of Fauci’s Covid incompetence.)  This elevation up here, as well, makes for cycles of hot/dry/wet/cold that would challenge the maintenance department of a tall ship.  Paint peels.  Pipes freeze.  UV Filters start beeping.  Lightning circumvents the UPS power back-ups, causing old man Riley to age two years wondering if the field trip database has been backed up. Tractors knock over irrigation pipes.  Grandma and Grandpa’s home on the farm has been assailed by woodpeckers and we need to engage in an expensive re-siding project.  It never ends.  Whenever I get a phone call or a text, I wonder how much we have in our bank account.

Against this backdrop, last night, wandering down a dark hallway in our home, past midnight, I hear water running.  I look in the bathroom sink on my left.  Nothing.  I check the toilet.  Nothing.  Still, in the dark, undeniably, I hear water running.  I lean my head against the wall, to see if some pipe has burst.  I run around the other side of the house and look to see if the refrigerator ice-maker has gone off the reservation.  Nothing.  I get the super-power flashlight and head back to the source of the sound.  Beneath me, on the floor I see the source of my panic: it’s a doggy drinking fountain.  Mary purchased a gurgling freshener for Archie the Airdale’s water bowl.  He looks at me forlornly as though to say, “why do you worry so much, Jim?”

As I go back to bed, I believe I hear Archie whistling, and then singing, “here’s a little song I wrote..”

The Many Don Drapers of Riley’s Farm

I’ve debated, here, the value of souvenirs and mementos.  I’m  not sure why, when they are on display in a trinket shop, they have such a bad name.  I imagine it’s because souvenirs are something like dad endlessly taking pictures of the family on vacation.  Everyone finds it annoying when it’s happening, but decades later, when the family sees the images up on screen, set to some Kenny Loggins tune, they are reminded of that afternoon on the beach–and people start weeping.  That memory is suddenly one of the things you protect with your life.  You grab the scrapbook when the fire is raging all around you.  People tend to have the same feeling about even the one magnet they picked up on their trip to Madrid.  It reminds them of that laugh they had over one too many beers in the plaza.

Well, in my bid for the farm to be tearfully, joyfully remembered someday, I threw our Sleepy Hollow design out to the farm team for their consideration and my design got a big thumbs down.  Things I didn’t know:  women won’t buy a t-shirt with a face on it, (a photographed face) if it’s on the front of the shirt.  Who knew?  I walk the farm every day with my Johnny Cash Man-In-Black T-shirt.  Also, I guess all the art work these days is on the back of the shirt, not the front. A new trend, Gabriel tells me.  My compromise is this:  my logo on the coffee mugs.  The team’s logo on the T-shirts.  Team Brom or Team Ichabod.


Sleepy Hollow Coffee Mug


What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up, Johnny?

“An INFLUENCER,” says little Johnny.

Background:  I am only saying, and writing, what most of you normal, God-loving, country-loving people are thinking.  One of the things I’ve learned about my scrapes with the media is that they don’t have much of an audience anymore.  There’s a reason why Joe Rogen and Steven Crowder are watched with more intensity and interest than CNN.  A few years ago, when a local network television news station began tut-tutting about our First Amendment fight, I was a little depressed but then Mary reminded me, “no one watches local news anymore.”  She was right.  No one even called us about the segment.  No one even saw it.  A lot of my blog entries here have more reader comments than the Press Enterprise or the Orange County Register.  The local digital, print, and television media has become about as legitimate, and trusted, as a California election.

If you run a business, in other words, start telling your customers what you really think.  You probably have a much larger, and saner, audience than any of the woke house-fraus mouthing off in the neighborhood Patch or the Facebook community groups, and it’s almost guaranteed: you will have FAR more credibility than the average unpaid HuffPo or network news contributor.  And what’s more?  You will be serving your country.  Totalitarianism is achieved by small bands of violent weirdos.  (Think about the Bolsheviks and the Munich Brown Shirts).  Do NOT let the weirdos take over.  Speak up!

Now, of course, you will get stuff like this (below), but think about it this way.  If these violent weirdos HATE you, then you must be doing something very right and very necessary.

Beautiful Black Granite

Our bakery windows were looking pretty ragged so we got a really good local painter/contractor to paint the front of the bakery and replace them with gleaming black granite.  When I was a kid, I always thought that granite was a junk rock, something you settled for when you couldn’t find gold or amethyst–but monolithic, tightly grained granite is both beautiful and reasonable rare.  Were I not a living historian and an all-around dilettante, and too absent-minded to use power-tools, I would be in the granite business.  LOVE the stuff..

I also replaced my computer keyboard for easily the 300th time, since 1984.  Most of them fall victim to too much taco-eating-while-computing.  This one has a super festive LED color display.  Life is getting better, folks.  Don’t let the social justice warriors screw it up.

Riley’s Farm Named Best Apple Orchard in California

Of course, until some woke Covid Pharisee starts complaining.  A few years ago, Reader’s Digest did the same thing and some David Hogg fan voided her bowels in woke consternation, complained, and suddenly the next farm over was the best in California.  My advice to just about everyone outside of Portland, Oregon:  Don’t be afraid of complainers.  You know that one couple you see at a dinner party where literally everyone in the room is thinking “how does that poor man live with that woman?”  That’s the profile of the average social justice consumer warrior.  Not even their mothers love them.  If you name a farm best in California, Reader’s Digested-For-You, then stick by your claim, dude.

I Know that My Redeemer Lives

I love the “Duke Street” version of this hymn and I was trying to teach myself the bass and soprano part, by patching the complete version to my headphones and singing against that into the microphone, then re-assembling it all in Premiere.  Mary, who is generally very supportive of any new obsession I have, suddenly began making unsolicited observations about how she knows her limitations.  Actually, whenever I start singing, people begin talking about knowing their limitations.  It’s uncanny.  Come up here and talk to me about it this Saturday, or, better yet, teach us how to sing on Sunday.


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This post was written by Jim Riley


  • Tom says:

    Always an enjoyable read Jim, keep up the good work. Don’t let the turkeys get you down.

  • Jeannette Grismer says:

    Always enjoy your pictures and opinions! Keep the faith and keep up the good work!

  • Rebecca E Kitchings says:

    I like your farm very much and have been out many times over the years and brought many people as well as recommended your place to many. I felt a lot more welcome before you began to bombard the world with your politics. I know this email won’t stop it because you are under the impression that your base likes it but your anger and hatred are not the vibe I’d want to feel as a patron. Staying folksy is good. Lashing out at those who have had family and friends die of Covid is not appreciated except for the Trumpers, a small population and getting smaller all the time. Please consider keeping your politics to yourself and just promote your lovely place of business.

    • Jim Riley says:

      Thanks for loving the farm and the place, but this attitude of yours (and a few others) is something like having a good friend you value for making you laugh. One day you notice that he’s got a big bruise on his face, but you don’t want to hear about that and you tell him as much. “Just make me laugh; don’t tell me about your problems.”

      When small business has been savaged by Covid policy and customers don’t want to hear about it, they shouldn’t be surprised when those businesses disappear.

      I’ve lost people to Covid. I would never make fun of people who lost relatives or friends. I WILL make ruthless fun of the policies that make the problem worse by masking up children, shutting down churches, and locking down the economy. Our parents and grandparents lost friends in wars and epidemics. They didn’t demand that life come to a halt.

  • Bl Huss says:

    As always, love your feisty comments, strength, and unabashed love of your farm. Gotta get up there soon for some pot pie!

  • Kris says:

    Thank you Mr. Jim Riley!
    Love reading your updates and commentaries.
    What a refreshment to my soul.,
    God bless you and the best apple orchard in CA!!
    I grew up on an apple farm in Mass., so I can say that with absolute assurance.

  • Denisa Rafalowski says:

    I love your honesty and plan on taking my grown daughter apple picking. Keep up your spirit and in life.

  • Sue Hart says:

    My family and I are big fans of your farm, and your opinions! Been coming to Riley’s for decades, now with the grandkids. Completely agree with everything-masks, loss of freedoms, etc. Unfortunately we have all decided to give up on California, are moving to Texas. Will have to find another farm for our pumpkin patch and apple-picking. Bless you and your family!

  • Rosie Horvath says:

    Hi, Jim! I thoroughly enjoyed this blog and the pictures are really beautiful. I miss you on FB but glad to see you occasionally on email. We pray for you and yours every day. So glad we got to visit last summer. Blessings!

  • Mairead Gillan says:

    In regards to shirts, yes, James, I as a woman prefer a design to be on the back of the shirt, and a small logo could go on the front over the heart. Also, v-necklines, are much more flattering on women. Just sayin’ …

    Love the black granite! 🙂

  • N Rau says:

    Like Sue above stated, we gave up on CA and live in OK, BUT we come back every Sept./Oct. to go apple picking at Riley’s with our grown children and granddaughter, who sadly won’t leave CA. We’ve been doing it since ‘98. We started a tradition five years ago to also do Sleepy Hollow. It was small that first time, maybe eight tables? It was perfect! We thought everyone found out about our discovery because it was always insanely crowded after that. I couldn’t even get tickets this year, but I’m going to try for one of your Thanksgiving or Christmas events. I fully support your boldness and spirit in standing up for your beliefs both in word and action. May God continue to bless you.

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