Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December Newsletter

December - You're Not Done Farming Yet?
Tammy and I start scheduling things that we normally can't get to during the growing season for late November into December.  Surely we will be able to get to those things by now - right?

It's December where I realize, yet again, that farming never shuts down completely.  Yes, there are cycles.  The pace is very different in December than it is in June.  But, how is it that we still make the mistake of assuming that things will be all under wraps by the time we get to the month of December?  It is true that there are only four CSA deliveries remaining in December.  It is also true that we have moved Eden to its spot for next year and all of the garlic for next season is in the ground.  Our first presentations of the 'off-season' were successful and are behind us as well.

On the other hand, we still need to mulch the garlic, there is still equipment to clean up and store and there is plenty of field work to do.  We would like to get the hen room mucked out soon and the turkey room still needs cleaning.  Plenty to do before we start on our Winter projects on the house.  So, no, we're not done farming for the year yet.

At least we're not frantically trying to open an access to this building this year - this was last year's project in December.

October Calendar of Events

  • December 1 - 2: Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario Annual Conference
  • December 5: Delivery 25 Waverly and Cedar Falls
  • December 7: PFI Cooperator's Meeting
  • December 19: Delivery 26 Waverly and Cedar Falls
It never fails.  One season ends and we have to start working on the next.  We have been keeping our current CSA members informed, but we feel like we should make sure everyone else is in the loop as well.

We are planning on offering CSA shares again in 2018.  We will begin promotion on January 15, 2018 - which is a departure from prior seasons.  We are hopeful that this will allow us the opportunity to finish this season before we start trying to juggle sign ups for next year.  The "promotion season" has just gotten too long for us and we needed to do something to bring it under control.

We felt some explanation would be appropriate:

First, we realize that many of our valued customers are in life situations that make it very difficult to make a commitment to something for the following year.  So much can happen between now and next Spring.  We have always understood that, but the idea of deposits and reservations was an attempt to reduce some of own uncertainties from year to year.  Our farm is mature enough that we can do a decent job of planning without the Fall sign up period - so we will take on some of the uncertainty in hopes that people reward us with future patronage as we offer it. 

We have found that trying to promote next year's CSA while still finishing the current year AND trying to promote turkeys, chickens, eggs AND fall season extensions seriously diluted our efforts for each.  We are also certain that we wear ourselves out in the recruitment effort that has ended up spanning the period from September to almost May.  If it stresses us out that much, we need to change.

And finally, we needed to take some time to reflect on where Tammy and I are at with respect to the Genuine Faux Farm and our lives.  Do we want to keep doing this?  Can we keep doing this?  Are there other opportunities we should look towards?  Well, it seems the answer is that we will keep doing this - making changes as we go through the planning processes for next season.

Do You Have Feedback For Us?
If you have been a customer or are a current customer OR you might be a future customer, we'd like to hear from you!  Let us know what you like about what we do and what you'd like us to improve on.  Your feedback helps us to become a better farm. 

Song of the Month
More Heart and Less Attack by NEEDTOBREATHE.  Just a reminder to myself that an angry and aggressive response is often the easy way out and perhaps the least likely to succeed.

Recipe of the Month
Just in time for the turnips that will show up in the last CSA shares in December!

Turnips (Young) Stewed in Butter
4 Servings

Take two pounds of young turnips; cut them into small squares or make them any shape that may be preferred; dissolve two ounces of fresh butter in a saucepan sufficiently large to hold the vegetables in a single layer; put in the turnips and simmer them very gently until they are tender, without being broken. A few minutes before they are finished cooking through, sprinkle a little salt and white pepper over them; put them in the center of a dish, and arrange fried or boiled cutlets neatly around them. Time: three quarters of an hour to stew turnips.

Picture of the Month
From our trip to Ontario - we give you this picture:

EFAO Conference in Ontario

Of course, Iowa weather decided to be nice while we were away.  Now that we're back...

Rob and Tammy attended the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario Annual Conference in Collingwood in late November to early December where Rob was an invited speaker.  The staff and membership of EFAO were kind, supportive and very interested in what Rob had to say about on-farm research and intercropping vegetables (two sessions).

While we were there, we were struck by both the similarities and differences of diversified farming in Ontario and Iowa.  One thing that remains the same is the fact that farmers who operate on smaller farms such as ours dedicate themselves to raising good food - and doing so in ways that try to work with, rather than against, the environment.  In Iowa and Ontario, there are issues with access to land and capital and there is tension between larger agribusiness components and these smaller farms.  And, just as is true in Iowa, each farm finds its way forward using a path that is unique to its assets and challenges - or they find no way forward at all.

But, behind it all is YOU - the people who support our farms.  We exist because of that support.  Without it, we would all go do some other thing - and perhaps we (you and the farmers) would all be lessened in some fashion.

Time to Have Pun
Courtesy of Jason Edgington.  You can only blame me for being the messenger this time:

Veteran Pillsbury spokesman Pop N. Fresh died Wednesday of a severe yeast infection. He was 71.

He was buried Friday in one of the biggest funerals in years. Dozens of celebrities turned out including Mrs. Butterworth, the California Raisins, Hungry Jack, Betty Crocker, and the Hostess Twinkies.

The graveside was piled high with flours, as longtime friend Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy, describing Fresh as a man who "never knew he was kneaded".

Fresh rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a smart cookie, and wasted much of his dough on half-baked schemes.

Still, even as a crusty old man, he was a roll model to millions. Fresh is survived by his second wife. They had two children, and one in the oven.

The funeral was at 3:50 for 20 minutes.

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