Friday, December 31, 2010

End of 2010 and our Farm Christmas Tree

I wasn't going to put up a Christmas tree. Hazel's too young to understand it, and she and I went to visit her great-grandparents over Christmas anyway. But some time toward the beginning of the month, Ryan decided we needed a tree. So what do you think he did?
If you know him, you guessed it. He went out to the scrubby timber behind our house, and found us a gangly female cedar tree. I have to say, the minute I saw it I loved it. 
It's scrawny.
It's gangly.
It has about 2 ornaments per branch.
It was free.
And it's great. 
We may never spend $40 or even $25 on a Christmas tree again!

Just add this to that list of things that are kind of fun about owning 40 acres with scrubby unkempt timber in the middle of nowhere. Weeds become Christmas trees.

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Local, Organic food is too expensive...right?

Fair warning: I'm in the mood to rant again. I just saw one of the Iowa Minute commercials sponsored by Farm Bureau on the evening news about food pantries and the affordability of food. I really dislike those commercials. But anyway, it talks about people who are unemployed using food pantries more and how Iowan conventional farmers are growing cheaper food for the world. 
Putting that whole argument aside, I just wanted to say something about how the food this farm grows is so expensive. It's true, we know that we cost more than the grocery store. I also know that we calculate a reasonable profit margin without any labor rate. But here's the real point I'm trying to make: 

Local food can be available for barter. 

I know there are people using our local food pantry, and we donate our small eggs to our local pantry for those people. However, I think people who were willing to come barter with their local farmers for food would be surprised how flexible we are. If you're an out of work accountant, offer to help us with our books. If you're an unemployed welder, I'm sure we can find something for you to weld around here! Even just offering babysitting at the going rate in exchange for that value in product could probably be arranged. I know I am blessed to still have my in-town job and certainly hope that continues to be the case. And I'm grateful for our core customers, who understand why we charge what we charge for food. I just want to say sometimes the out-of-the-norm thinking can benefit everyone involved.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Maw, the Cows are Out

City people don't get calls like I get at work in the middle of the afternoon. When you live in a city, your husband calls you at work and says things like

"Can you pick up some milk on the way home?" or
"I think a light burnt out in the kitchen today" or even (if you're really lucky)
"What do you want for dinner tonight?"

But no, I live in the country. And my husband is full-time stay-at-home-dad as well as full-time farmer. I get calls like this.

"The truck died. I'm 3.5 hours away from you and have a full trailer full of just-processed frozen chickens." 

"I never did get around to chainsawing today because there are 3 fire trucks here from my unplanned prairie burn"

2008 Unplanned prairie burn

or this last Friday at 3:30 pm
"Everything got out. Cows and sheep, and I can't get them back in. I need more manpower!"

At that last one, echoing in my ears I heard with a nice hillbilly drawl, "Maw, the cows're out." 
This isn't our land, by the way. This is our neighbor's land. 
Did I mention it was freezing cold out? 

This is what they did to the portable netting when they got out:
They snapped the support post. Sigh. 

I keep thinking that after a few years, I won't get these phone calls at work anymore, but I'm beginning to think they are just part of the deal. 

I'm still glad he calls me when he needs help.