Friday, July 31, 2020

Lilypalooza 2020 part II

For those who thought Lilypalooza at the Genuine Faux Farm was over - they are still a' bloomi'! 

Enjoy the flowers everyone!












Thursday, July 30, 2020

Available from GFF July 30

#1. Upcoming Schedule
#2. Crop and Poultry Report
#3. Spray Season
#4. New Blog Material
#5. New Delivery Method
#6. Egg Cartons
#7. 2020 Farm Credit Program
#8. Welcome to New Members
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Cedar Falls: Thursday July 30  5:00-5:30pm Jorgensen Plaza west parking lot
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New Delivery Method: Please maintain appropriate physical distancing.  We will place your order into a tray and put it on our table.  Once we step away, place your order in your bag/box you bring.  then set the tray in the 'dirty' pile next to the table.                                                  

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Available to members (order by 1PM Thursday!):
    eggs - $3.50/dozen (limit 2 doz - we will try to fill 1 doz for all orders first, unless you order for two families)
    beans $2/bag
    lettuce $2/head
    red beets $2/pound
    golden beets $2/pound
   zucchini $1 each
   summer squash $1 each
   garlic $2 head
   frozen broiler chicken $3.60/pound (avg 4-5 pounds)
   basil $1 bunch (about the size of our oregano bunches - perfect for a vase)
  
   -------------------------------------------------------------
THE GFF NEWS
   --------------------------------------------------------------
1. Upcoming Schedule
  • July 30 - Cedar Falls Delivery (Jorgensen Plaza)
  • August 5 - Waverly Delivery (St Andrew's and Yogi Life)
2. Crop & Poultry Report
The turkeys are now in their "home room" located in the Poultry Pavilion.  They have lots of space and we keep them in there for five or six days before letting them out to the adjacent pasture during the day.  This encourages them to identify with this room as 'home' so they are more willing to come inside for their protection at night. 

The young broilers are now out on pasture and are learning how to leave their portable buildings during the day and go back in at night.  Typically, we put their food and water in during the late afternoon to encourage this behavior.

The hens are still in the pasture by Crazy Maurice, the weeping willow and they love their dust baths under that tree.  The henlets are now going out to their pasture each day and coming back to their home room in the Poultry Pavilion each night.

We are starting to see some tomatoes and peppers and hope things will get going soon.  Melons are a few weeks out at this point.  We do have some carrots and more beets approaching harvest stage.  We are trying to figure out what to plant for the fall crops and how much of those crops we can do. 

3. Spray Season
It is still important that EVERYONE who witnesses off-target spray should report it to the Pesticide Bureau in Iowa.  Make note of the time, date and location as well as any additional details so you can report accurately.

We have already had one confrontation with respect to spray that was being applied within the 1 mile radius of our farm.  Tammy had the strength to pursue the matter at a time when Rob just couldn't find it in him to do much with it.  Well done Tammy! 

We are still looking at July 31 as the most dangerous day of the season at our farm.  It seems that a couple of farmer/sprayer combinations realize that if they spray late on a Friday we can't get much support from the Pesticide Bureau until the following week.

4. New blog material for you
5. New Delivery Method
The prior method of placing orders into the back of vehicles worked reasonably well and we attribute that to your willingness to work with us!  thank you!

We are, however, aware of some problems with the current system:
- we are using far more single use plastic than we want to be using and we want to go back to some of the re-use practices
- our available product list will become more complex as we get deeper into the season, which makes the current model a little more difficult to pull off

So, we return to asking you to bring a re-usable bag, box, etc to put your products in.  We will use chalk to provide guidance for physical distancing.  We will put your order in a yellow tray on the table(s) and you can then remove your order and place it in your bag/box.  Once done, we will ask you to place the used tray into a pile.  We will clean these on our return from the delivery for the next use. 

6. Egg Cartons
We will be willing to receive egg cartons from you starting this week.  We will put a green tray out for you to put used cartons in for re-use.  Please nest these cartons so they take less space.   We will not use any cartons we receive until they have been 'quarantined' for a period of time.  Research has shown that the Covid-19 virus does not live long on cardboard surfaces, but we'll be safe and re-use boxes by taking the ones that have been in our supply longest first.

7. 2020 Pre-Paid Farm Credit Program
We will run the system in $50 increments.  In other words, you can purchase a minimum of $50 of farm credit at a time.  We will cap the maximum amount of credit at $200 and you can refill your farm credits at any point.

Like the CSA program, this gives you the advantage of not having to pull out money at each delivery.  Instead, we will have a ledger with tracking for your current credit balance.  This also provides us with some working capital to start the season.  Also, like the CSA program, we will give participants better pricing and opportunities than those who might prefer to 'pay as they go.'

A major difference this year is that farm credits can be used for ANY farm product the Genuine Faux Farm offers.  If you buy farm credits, you can apply them to purchasing meat chickens, vegetables, eggs or any other thing we offer this year.

Want to sign up by mail?
Genuine Faux Farm
2345 150th Street
Tripoli, IA 50676
make checks to GFF or the Genuine Faux Farm

Want to use Paypal?
You may send cash to gff@genuinefauxfarm.com

We are accepting purchases of credits now and throughout the season.

8. Welcome!
If you are new to this email newsletter for the Genuine Faux Farm, we would like to welcome you.  If you are an 'old hand,' we want you to feel welcome too - but we were gently reminded that we need to introduce people a bit more to the system.

The basics are as follows:
  - we deliver once per week - alternating between Waverly and Cedar Falls locations.
  - Waverly is on Wednesdays
  - Cedar Falls is on Thursdays
  - anyone with farm credits can order from either location, you just have to arrange to get what you order.
  - to order, you only need to respond to this email - sent the day prior to the delivery.
  - a "gentle reminder" email is sent the day of the delivery.  This email confirms that we have received orders by listing those from whom we have received orders.
 - delivery instructions will be in this email each week.  Please pay attention as circumstances may require a change.

Be Well!
Rob & Tammy

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Inspector Checks In


In mid-May, the Inspector expressed a willingness to answer your questions and we put that out there for people who were interested in what he had to say.  In true feline form, the Inspector's schedule was more important than the farmer's schedule.  We got the answers when we got the answers.

However, before you make the mistake of thinking the Inspector is a lot like the Sandman, let us assure you that the Inspector is a very different cat (as all cats are).   For the most part, the Inspector is very friendly to humans and he does enjoy positive attention.  He is much more likely to have a longer conversation with the farmers and those conversations are not entirely about his opinion.

Instead of all this preamble, let's just get to the questions, shall we?

--------------------------------------------------------------------

to the Inspector (from other cats):   
How do we persuade our human to feed us whenever we wish?
The Inspector responds:
     First, I am a bit astonished that there are cats out there who feel it is necessary to convince their humans that food should be provided even prior to a request.  At the farm, we expect to have food available without asking - which is exactly how it should be.  Clearly, this is a problem that started with the earliest training sessions and it is likely to be difficult to change the bad habits.

   One suggestion that may work - catch yourself a fine rodent of unusual size.  Eat half of that rodent (your choice which half) and place the other half somewhere so the human will see it.  Once they encounter a half-eaten rodent, they will recognize that you know they must be having a difficult time acquiring food and that you are offering to provide your share.  Humans appear to be motivated by guilt or shame and rarely miss getting food to you for some time after that.
Shhh! Don't tell the Inspector that we featured one of his baby pictures!


Do you have a favorite farmer?  Which human obeys most of your directives?
the Inspector responds:
     I find that the human ego is quite fragile, so I make sure that I am very careful to give positive reinforcement to each farmer as they display need.  The Guy with the Red Hat seems to need consoling more often than Pretty Lady does, but once I give him some attention, he usually does exactly what I want (typically a really good skritch).  Pretty Lady is a bit more like a cat (a big complement, as far as I am concerned) and it is harder to predict what she is going to do next.


How do you keep your fur so white?

We tried to get Inspector to respond to this one while recording - please see the Youtube video for his 'answer.'


Indoor cats have small patches of sunshine in which to nap.  With all of the choices of sunshine patches outdoors, how do you find the best one for an afternoon nap?
the Inspector responds:
     Selecting the perfect napping spot is an important aspect of being a proper farm supervisor.  A respectable feline considers all kinds of factors.  Personally, I look at wind direction, air temperature, potential for precipitation, flying insect load, density of diving barn swallows and likelihood that the location will result in sufficient skritches from the humans.  Surface qualities are typically a secondary consideration, but I do like a nice straw bale when I can get it.


Are there any vegetable patches you avoid and why?
the Inspector responds:
     I'm not certain what you mean.... vegetable?

What IS the secret to the universe?
the Inspector responds:
     When the human asked me this question he said "some portion of 42" and then started laughing.  Whatever.  He gave me a good skritching when I asked for it, so I'll let him have his fun this time.  Let me suggest that if you do not know where to look for the secret to the universe, you should find yourself a proper place to take a good nap.  I'm sure it will come to you eventually.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Gentle Reminders

There are days when I need some gentle reminders.

It would be inaccurate to claim that taking a moment and looking at pictures I enjoy and writing something that reminds me of the good things in life is always enough for me to be happy and content.  Sometimes, on the days when these gentle reminders to myself (and perhaps others) are most needed, they are simply an effort to stop actively looking at how difficult, depressing and ugly things feel at a given moment.

It's ok if you're feeling down and not feeling like smiling.  It's ok if you don't want to pretend for everyone else that you're fine.  But, it is also important that you remember things that make it worth the effort to get through those down times.  It is important to keep that light at the end of the tunnel visible - even if it is just in the corner of your eye.


When the hole you are in gives you no hope, broaden your view and look outside that hole.
The picture above was taken after (yet another) rainstorm several years ago.  It was the first of several years that we got too much rain for us to perform our tasks as vegetable and poultry farmers with any degree of success.  I took this picture as the sun went down on this early July day.  It was the first time in some time that I had even put the camera in my hands because I was tired of taking pictures of puddles and failing crops.

We were considering calling a halt to our farming operation at the time.  While that might sound depressing and sad, our willingness to consider moving away from what we were doing actually allowed us to look outside the hole we were in.  We were still unhappy about how things were going.  But, we gave ourselves permission to look elsewhere - and found a glorious sunset on the farm.

I wonder how many of these I might have missed as I walked to and fro on the farm, looking at my feet as they sank into the mud? 

Enduring some discomfort can lead to rewards you would have missed if you only lived for comfort.
Everyone has their own threshold for struggle and stress.  And, I am guessing that most people routinely make decisions to not do things because it seems like 'too much trouble' to do them.  I agree that there is certainly a healthy balance between knowing when to say something is too much to do right now and pushing yourself to get out of the comfort zone to accomplish something that might have some reward.

I suspect, however, that most people say no to some discomfort far too often and they miss out on some wonderful things in the process.
 
Take the time to get a different perspective and you might also gain a new appreciation.
The trail really didn't look like much, and the waterfall was largely visible just off of the parking area.  In fact, most people seemed to think it was enough to get out of the vehicle, walk fifty feet, take a picture and leave.  A smaller percentage took the time to walk down to the base of the falls, which was certainly rewarding.  Even fewer took the path from the falls to the other side of the stream and back towards the bridge.  This is still one of my favorite short hikes from a trip we took to Oregon a few years ago.

Looking at things from new perspectives isn't always comfortable because it can shake your personal assumptions.  But, once you process what you have observed, you will walk away richer for the experience and more able to relate positively to a broader range of people and places.

Be silent.  Be patient.  And wait for the magic to happen.
Sometimes you can just feel the magic building.  But, when you are busy or your mind is on other things, it is too easy to just push past it and let it happen - but without your participation.  Sure, there are moments in time where this is necessary.  But, don't let it be necessary all of the time.  The next time you feel the magic building, give yourself permission to watch it unfold.

Iowa can have some pretty amazing sunsets.  If you are outside frequently, you begin to understand and recognize the signs that a beautiful sunset is on its way.  With chores to be done at the end of the day, it can be hard to justify stopping and just watching as the sun slips between the clouds and the horizon.  But, I have yet to regret it when I give myself permission to do so.

Keep setting new goals and creating new dreams.  Then make the time and create the energy to go get them.
Certainly we all have limitations on what we are able to do.  Maybe we don't have the resources or the physical ability to do some things.  Perhaps a new goal or dream might seem too modest to even call it a 'goal,' much less a 'dream.'   Don't let that stop you.  Do not let anyone judge you for how grand or how mundane these goals might be (including yourself).  If they give you purpose and they give you joy as you move towards them, they are good enough.


Learn and relearn how to appreciate and celebrate someone else's achievements without allowing them to taint your own (and vice versa)
Here's something I suspect most people have a problem doing.  Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil reference this concept in the Sympathy Vote when Taylor says, "There are three things in life that have any certainty.  One of the them is death.  One of them is taxes.  And the third is... professional jealousy!"

Summarized that way, it certainly seems pretty shallow, but I know it runs deeper than that.  If you spend your time comparing your own accomplishments with others, it has a tendency to allow yourself to either dwell on your shortcomings or to dwell on the shortcomings of others.  While it is not necessarily bad to identify problems, it is quite another to focus on them to the exclusion of all else.  Comparisons are useful for learning and improvement.  But, don't let the comparison prevent you from celebrating about has been done and what has been accomplished thus far.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Anniversary We Did Not Want

Today's Genuine Faux Farm blog post is actually a featured post for Pesticide Action Networks' Ground Truth blog.

Please go here to read it: the Anniversary We Did Not Want

If that blog moves you, sign up to support PAN and learn about what it going on in the world of pesticides.  I hope that we can all make some progress on this together.


Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Power Of "No"

I've been thinking - which is a dangerous pastime, as you all know.

You see, the spray planes are showing up everywhere now because it is the end of July - and that's what Iowa is at this time.  I don't think it is right.  But, it's what we've got.

Neither of us enjoys confrontation.  Neither of us wants to be a "bad neighbor."  We don't want to be unreasonable.  We don't want to hurt anyone or cause them to have troubles.

So, the easiest thing to do would be to go inside.  Close the windows and hide in the house until August 3 or so.






Today (Friday), I wanted to do just that.  There was a plane that was about 1/2 mile to our South that started spraying early afternoon.  We have two honey bee hives and the regulations are that spray within a mile is supposed to wait until after 6PM.  And, the winds were occasionally going over the maximum allowed wind speed.  Tammy, had the energy to make calls - something I rarely have the energy to do.  And she went about the process of trying to say "no, this isn't right."


When you are in a position to say no to someone and they need to hear that "no", you should say no.

A case in point:


Iserved as an educator in more than one setting in the past.  When you are placed in front of a classroom or you are the facilitator for an online event, there is an implied responsibility to create a positive environment for all members of the class or group.  The instructor also has an obligation to only pass students forward to the next class (or graduation) if they have shown sufficient ability to do the tasks that completion of that course of study says they can do.  Sometimes, that means you have to tell someone "no" - even when it is difficult.

There was a student, by the name of "Joe" who had received a C- in each of the prior two required courses before entering my class.  "Joe" was frequently in the office, asking questions and easily eating up hour long blocks of my office hours.  "Joe" often appeared to not have a grasp of the programming language they were supposed to understand at least passably well.  "Joe" would interrupt other students in class with his own questions each session.  "Joe" wouldn't take a hint that I had five people in line behind him to speak with me.  "Joe" hounded other students in the class to see their programs.

I did draw the line when "Joe" tried to cut in front of people who were waiting to get help and I started to put time limits on his office visits.  Then "Joe" handed in a program that was clearly copied from a whole host of other students. 

Let's be clear here.  It was parts and pieces from several programs from several other students.  It still had their names and comments in it.  None of it was even placed in any order that could hope to be put into a semblance of a working program.  There was no recognition of even what parts of the program should go where.  So, I called him on it.

"Joe" got defensive and claimed that if I had better office hours he could get the help he needed and that this was my fault.  When that failed to move me, "Joe" tried to tell me that other students must have 'played a trick on him.'  So, I offered that he could code a simple program for me in the lab that he should have been able to do after the first prerequisite course.  He looked startled and then refused.  As it was, he had failed every in lab coding project thus far in the class.  To make a long story less long, "Joe" eventually took his complaint to the department chair.  Then, to the next level up.  Then to whomever else at the college he could register a complaint.  In other words, "Joe" was very good at finding all of the systems for which he could make a teacher feel threatened.

I stuck to my guns and I stuck to the failing grade.

I learned later that this person had received a "gift" C- from the professors for each of the prior classes in large part because they did not want to deal with the fall-out that would ensue if they gave a grade lower than that.  They passed the buck on to me, essentially (or whomever taught the next course in the sequence). In fact, this was not an uncommon practice to pass someone through who made enough noise because it was too hard to say 'no' to them.

Let me just say right here that I learned to understand why that is.  First hand.

But, before I get all self-righteous and point out how brave I was to stand-up and say 'no' to this person.  Look more carefully at the narrative.

I should have said "no" several times prior to the issue with grades.
I should have been stronger in protecting the other students in the class.  By failing to enforce some boundaries, other people who needed help did not receive it in a timely fashion.
Of course, I could defend myself by saying I had no history with this particular person and I was giving them the benefit of the doubt.  But, as soon as I observed them infringing on other learners, I should have called a halt to that action.

And, in future courses, I did do just that with other students who showed similar (but not nearly as drastic) tendencies to infringe on the learning processes of other students.

Did it get easier?
No.  But, at least it didn't really get harder to do.  And I saw positive results when I identified these problems and said 'no' early on.

Saying No to Chemical Trespass

So, does it get easier to say 'no' when pesticides are being applied in our area and we see that the winds are up, or the time is wrong, or we smell the chemicals?

No.  And it feels like it is getting harder.
I don't want to do this anymore.
I want to defend our farm from chemical trespass.  True.  But, I know there is a bigger game afoot too.  If I don't say 'no' how many other people will struggle because I let it pass?

At least Tammy was able to say 'no' today.  Thank you Tammy.  In fact, Tammy is usually the one who has the strength in the moment to do that sort of thing.  I usually address the bigger picture of 'no.'  I am the one who is trying to get more voices to say 'no' with us by writing or speaking.  I just have a harder time with the showdown in the moment of time it happens.

So, here I am.  Writing again.  Hoping to do my part in the needed "no."

It's time to say 'no' together.  Because if we don't, there will be consequences down the road that will be paid by people other than ourselves.  And that's not ok.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Sun-kissed


The sunflowers are starting to show off on the farm now.  They are so bold and proud, holding their heads up above everything else in the field.  Kind of like the tall kid in the back who never did get to sit in the front row because he would block everyone else's view of the movie.


Sunflowers make me think of people, past and present, who don't tend to put themselves out in front of others as if they were important.  And, yet, there they are, standing head and shoulders above everyone else simply because of who they are.  A person of integrity who comports themselves with calm, comforting dignity.


Sunflowers can be larger than life.  Their stems are tough and thick - seemingly indestructible.

Until they fall in a windstorm.  Or are beaten by hail.

It's at that moment I remember that those strong, resilient and quietly competent people are human too.  They can struggle and they can fall.  And it should be you and me who need to be ready to pick them up when they need it. 

photo by B Zenk July 2020

And maybe, just maybe, we'll have our turn to be the sunflower.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Some Recommended Reading

I know there are some people who actually read our blog nearly every day we put a post out there.  And, since April of this year - that's been nearly a daily thing.  We have only missed a couple of days since March 30.

Yes, that is pretty amazing.  But, for some folks, it can be pretty overwhelming!  One person told me they love the blog, but they just don't have the time to invest to catch up and others have implied something similar.

Well, I have GOOD NEWS for you!  The blog is not a story with a plot that requires sequential reading.  In fact, you can skip some blogs while you are at it.  We'll even make it simpler by giving you a "recommended reading" list of blog posts today.  Aren't we nice?

Recommended Posts
The editor and the writer for this blog got together and discussed which posts from April 2020 to the present should be put on this list.  It just so happens that the editor and the writer for this blog are the same person - so the discussion was pretty heated.  Here is what I/we came up with.

Still TOO many posts to choose from?  Look for the (** **) around a post.  That will be my recommended post if you only want to pick one from a section.

Do You Need a Laugh or Two?
Someone once told me I needed to write more humorous posts.  What they don't know is that the funny ones often take the most energy to write.  Why is that?  I don't know.  But, enjoy the ones that manage to sneak out and into the wild!



Are You Curious About the Farm?
The majority of our posts have something to do with the farm.  What did you expect?  It's our farm's blog!  But, there are blogs and then there are blogs.  We picked a group of them that we think are better written and might give you some flavor of the farm as it is this season.



Some of Our Best
If you don't want to laugh (or you think my writing isn't funny) and you don't care about the farm - how about we just put five of our best blogs since April right here for you?  Unlike the others, these are not based on my opinion alone.  The cats helped out.  And, some of you made comments or indicated that you thought they were pretty good.

Posts that Highlight How/What the Farmers Are Doing
We seem to get more post visits for items that give everyone a peek into how Tammy and I are doing.  So, I'll put a few of those here as well.

A Little Bit of Comfort Needed?
Try some of these posts.  Usually they aren't long and they typically are written as much to calm or console myself as they are to help others.  If you like them, great.  If not.. well, I tried.

Bigger Issues and Maybe a Few Thoughts
Every once in a while we dive into something that's a little deeper.  If you are in the mood for that sort of thing - here are some options for you!
Entirely Different
Here is a post I thought might be entertaining because it is different from the rest in that it takes a foray into history... postal history to be more precise.

Historically Imperfect

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Available from GFF July 22

Quick Overview (details lower in this email):
#1. Upcoming Schedule
#2. Crop and Poultry Report
#3. Pesticide Action Network Funding Match Results.
#4. Farmer Update
#5. Spray Season
#6. PFI Virtual Field Days at GFF
#7. New Blog Material
#8. New Delivery Method
#9. Egg Cartons
#10. 2020 Farm Credit Program
#11. Welcome to New Members


-------------------------------------------------------------
Waverly: Wednesday July 22  5:00-5:30pm St Andrew's Parking Lot
                                                 5:45-6:00pm Yogi Life Studio
--------------------------------------------------------------
New Delivery Method: Please maintain appropriate physical distancing.  We will place your order into a yellow tray and put it on our table.  Once we step away, place your order in your bag/box you bring.  then set the yellow tray in the 'dirty' pile next to the table.                                                  
-----------------------------------------------------------
Available to members (order by 1PM Wednesday!):
    eggs - $3.50/dozen (limit 2 doz - we will try to fill 1 doz for all orders first, unless you order for two families)
    beans $2/bag
    beets $2/pound (golden or striped can't remember which!)
   frozen broiler chicken $3.60/pound (avg 4-5 pounds)
   summer squash - $1 ea
   zucchini - $1 ea
   oregano - $1 bunch
   garlic - $2/head
    -------------------------------------------------------------
THE GFF NEWS
   --------------------------------------------------------------
1. Upcoming Schedule
  • July 22 - Waverly Delivery (St Andrew's and Yogi Life)
  • July 30 - Cedar Falls Delivery (Jorgensen Plaza)
  • August 5 - Waverly Delivery (St Andrew's and Yogi Life)
2. Crop & Poultry Report
While weeding in our southwest plot, we discovered some nice beets, which we intend to harvest tomorrow and make available to all interested.  I cannot remember if they are Golden or Chioggia beets, but I'll know it when I see them!  The basil is getting big enough to begin considering harvest.  The high tunnel tomatoes have green tomatoes on them, are trellised and are looking pretty good.  The honey bee hives have been very active lately and we've been noticing lots of fireflies/lightning bugs on the farm.  There was a monarch hatching this patch week as well and we have found a few more caterpillars on some milkweed.


We are preparing to move the turkeys to their room, which means they will soon roam their pasture area.  The process requires that we finish cleaning the room, fix the entrance and prepare the pasture by getting rid of some ragweed and setting up a fence.  We'll just keep plugging along and it will get done.  The second batch of broilers are also very close to ready to go out on pasture.  We hope they will follow soon after the turkeys get moved.  .

3. Pesticide Action Network Funding Match
We are so grateful for all of the support shown for the Pollinator Match for the Pesticide Action Network.  The matching funds provided by our farm and two other farms were met by mid-afternoon on the first day.  Absolutely amazing.  At last count, total donations had exceeded $1800 - not including the $900 in matching funds.  It is our understanding that several of you responded to our request that you join us in this match.  Thank you!

Even if you are not inclined to give or you just cannot give, we would still like to invite you to support PAN by signing up for alerts.  Among the things you will receive in emails will be the Iowa News (every four weeks), written by Rob.  Ok... that MIGHT be a disincentive... so ignore that one!  I will try to respect boundaries between farm business and PAN business by not flooding our farm emails with PAN stuff.  But, if you want to stay in touch with efforts to push useful legislation through Iowa, PAN is the place to go for your information!  Feel free to ask Rob if you have questions (and we'll stop pushing PAN for a while in our farm emails).

4. Farmer Update
The new distribution method is actually helping our attitudes in general.  Why?  Because it encourages us to have a little decent interaction with people we truly enjoy - YOU!  We still feel like we're doing what we can to keep everyone safe and healthy.  We hope the weather stays nice during distribution days to allow us to have these brief, but valuable, conversations.
 

Repairs and renovation of the farm house continue.  The next step is to put in mini-split air conditioning units in part of the house.  At this time, the entire farmhouse is cooled by a single window A/C unit.  We prefer to have the house open most of the time, but when it gets very hot and muggy, we need to cut the humidity and the edge off of the heat so we can sleep.  We keep telling ourselves that one of these days the house projects will settle down to a dull roar and it will feel less like we live in a constant upheaval.  For those who have worked to fix up an old house, you can probably relate!

5. Spray Season
We also have the normal farm stresses of trying to get it all done AND we are now entering insecticide and fungicide spray season.  We've barely exited herbicide season, so it feels like it has been ongoing.  The biggest difference is that the spray planes will soon be out in force.  You may tire of us mentioning it, but it is important that EVERYONE who witnesses off-target spray should report it to the Pesticide Bureau in Iowa.  Make note of the time, date and location as well as any additional details so you can report accurately.

6. PFI Virtual Field Days at GFF
Our farm continues to do what we can to learn new things and then spread our learning around as we are able.  This summer, we are featured in a series of three field days sponsored by Practical Farmers of Iowa.  The first was just this Monday.  The next two will be in August.  The event was recorded for anyone who has interest in cover crops on a vegetable farm.

7. New blog material for you
8. New Delivery Method
The prior method of placing orders into the back of vehicles worked reasonably well and we attribute that to your willingness to work with us!  thank you!

We are, however, aware of some problems with the current system:
- we are using far more single use plastic than we want to be using and we want to go back to some of the re-use practices
- our available product list will become more complex as we get deeper into the season, which makes the current model a little more difficult to pull off

So, we return to asking you to bring a re-usable bag, box, etc to put your products in.  We will use chalk to provide guidance for physical distancing.  We will put your order in a yellow tray on the table(s) and you can then remove your order and place it in your bag/box.  Once done, we will ask you to place the used tray into a pile.  We will clean these on our return from the delivery for the next use.  


9. Egg Cartons
We will be willing to receive egg cartons from you starting this week.  We will put a green tray out for you to put used cartons in for re-use.  Please nest these cartons so they take less space.   We will not use any cartons we receive until they have been 'quarantined' for a period of time.  Research has shown that the Covid-19 virus does not live long on cardboard surfaces, but we'll be safe and re-use boxes by taking the ones that have been in our supply longest first.

10. 2020 Pre-Paid Farm Credit Program
We will run the system in $50 increments.  In other words, you can purchase a minimum of $50 of farm credit at a time.  We will cap the maximum amount of credit at $200 and you can refill your farm credits at any point.

Like the CSA program, this gives you the advantage of not having to pull out money at each delivery.  Instead, we will have a ledger with tracking for your current credit balance.  This also provides us with some working capital to start the season.  Also, like the CSA program, we will give participants better pricing and opportunities than those who might prefer to 'pay as they go.'

A major difference this year is that farm credits can be used for ANY farm product the Genuine Faux Farm offers.  If you buy farm credits, you can apply them to purchasing meat chickens, vegetables, eggs or any other thing we offer this year.

We are accepting purchases of credits now and throughout the season.

11. Welcome!
If you are new to this email newsletter for the Genuine Faux Farm, we would like to welcome you.  If you are an 'old hand,' we want you to feel welcome too - but we were gently reminded that we need to introduce people a bit more to the system.

The basics are as follows:
  - we deliver once per week - alternating between Waverly and Cedar Falls locations.
  - Waverly is on Wednesdays
  - Cedar Falls is on Thursdays
  - anyone with farm credits can order from either location, you just have to arrange to get what you order.
  - to order, you only need to respond to this email - sent the day prior to the delivery.
  - a "gentle reminder" email is sent the day of the delivery.  This email confirms that we have received orders by listing those from whom we have received orders.
 - delivery instructions will be in this email each week.  Please pay attention as circumstances may require a change.

Be Well!
Rob & Tammy

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Low Cloud Cover

One of the advantages, if you can call it that, of having a phone that also has a camera is that you can capture a moment in time without having to go out of your way to find the camera.   Sadly, the quality of pictures are inferior.  But, it still means that I was able to record a couple of moments on the farm that would otherwise have been missed.

The mist rises late on a May day
I admit that I fought moving from the old flip phone for some time, just as we delayed moving from a land line.  It is not that I don't appreciate what a person CAN do with a "smart" phone.  It is more that I do not appreciate some of the things these phones seem to encourage people to do (and not do).

But, this blog post is not just a rant about phones.

So, what IS this blog about, you ask?
That's a great question!  And, when I started the blog I was not entirely sure where it was going to go, but I knew the root of it would have something to do with the pictures I discovered on my phone.  That, in turn, made me think about phones (as you just saw).  I rapidly moved past that to consider the 'why.'  Why do I tend to adopt new technologies slower than many people?  This might seem especially odd given my education in Computer Science.

Here comes another squall line!
Sometimes I see new technologies as something akin to the storm that is approaching in the photos above and below.  You see them rapidly approaching from the horizon and they look pretty impressive at the outset.  Before you know that, they're on you and the weather they bring is not always all that beneficial to you.  Sometimes, the promised rain is barely more than a drop or two.  Other times, the damage caused by the storm is far greater than any promise there was for a beneficial rain.

Technology can be a lot like that.  Gee, this new technology is going to take the world by storm!  Nope, never mind... Or, that sure looks impressive.  Just think of all the good it will do!  Nope, never mind...


A friend of mine in college, who also happened to be someone I had great respect for, told me that they regretted taking a class on the analytical study of music.  Why?  It was because they felt it actually was reducing their appreciation of music as a whole because they were, perhaps, getting into the music so deeply that it was difficult to merely listen without starting to deconstruct what was there.

In a similar fashion, my studies in computing made me very aware of all that goes into technology.  Because of those studies, I tend to deconstruct new technologies and immediate look for unintended consequences that might follow or ways people are likely to misuse something once it is developed.  I am also fully aware that many 'new tech' items are simply vaporware - unable to deliver on the promise.  As a result, I am not likely to rush towards new tools and I often hold them away from myself until it is required that I use them or I am convinced that their use would truly be beneficial.   Happily for me, my training also makes it a bit easier for me to adapt and properly use the technology once I decide I must use it.

The technologies that seem to find their way into my toolbox are often more like the mist that you see developing in the first two photos.  They have slowly permeated our world until we can't seem to escape their presence - even if we wanted to.  

Monday, July 20, 2020

It Has Begun

Spray plane over our farm in 2012
The pattern for recent years on the farm is well known to us.
Dry in April, but too early to do much.
Wet in May, but you expect that and work around it.
June sets records for wet, herbicides are applied in the wind and the gnats are awful.
July gets drier.  The gnats aren't so bad anymore.  We start to remember why we like farming.

Then we head towards the end of July and....

Everything in Iowa has to get coated with insecticides and fungicides.

It doesn't seem at all fair.  We finally start to feel like we can make some progress.  Do some good things.
And the countryside begins to feel like we are in an old WW II movie with planes and helicopters swooping and diving over the corn and soybean fields.

Thus far, no one near us has done their late July application, but we know it will come soon enough.  We know it because a helicopter flew just over our house and treetops a couple of days ago. 

Apparently some of the fliers think it is funny to buzz our farm.

Well, we don't think it's funny.  And, we'll leave it at that.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Redefining Productive

The realization is finally hitting home.  I have to accept that a productive week for me is not the same as it once was. The days of the Very Ambitious Plan - at least as they were at the point I wrote the VAP blog - are over.  We have now entered the period of our lives where we have the Varying Amounts of Ambition Plan (VAAP).

the garlic came in this past week!
Garlic Harvest 2020
The new normal for us at the farm was very clearly outlined during our 2020 garlic harvest process and results.  We knew Sophie enjoyed garlic harvest, so Tammy asked if she (and any of her siblings) wanted to participate in the harvest (in a proper, physically distanced and safe way).  As a result, we had help from Max and Sophie with the harvest, bundling and hanging and Victoria came out and helped us harvest AND clean containers.  Their help was greatly appreciated and the work went well - thank you to all!

But, the differences from prior years were pretty obvious.
1. This was only the third time this year we had outside help working on the farm.
2. I was not involved in the garlic harvest at all.  It was all Tammy, Victoria, Max and Sophie.

Well, ok.  I did help with some clean-up and put away once our helpers left.  But, that's about it.

Once again, lots of Queen Anne's Lace at the farm
Adjusting Farm Productivity Expectations
Over the past fifteen, or so, years, we would have all hands involved in the garlic harvest.  Typically, we would have three workers in addition to the two of us pulling in somewhere from 3000-3500 heads of garlic.  The process would include pulling, counting, bundling and hanging them all up so they could cure.  This year, we had a smaller crop (just over 2000 head) as we had planned.

hosta flowers
Having other people on the farm to help with the work simply high-lighted how different everything is for us now.  You see, in Summers past, we normally had people working with us on the farm four to six days of the week.  If you don't think the presence of workers have an impact on how motivated we were to keep moving with our farm work, then you need to reconsider.  It was important to me, especially, that I be out and visible while others were working for us.  Even if I wasn't right there working on the same job, I felt that I needed to provide an example and be available.  I never wanted anyone to think I would ask them to do anything I wouldn't do.  And, there were numerous things I took upon myself because I didn't feel I should ask anyone else to do it.

In other words, the farm and the farm tasks took over and other things were picked up as we were able to do them.  It meant that we made a great deal of progress on a whole host of farm things.  There was, of course, always more to do and it always felt like we could never catch up.

But, the sheer volume of tasks we could check off of our lists was amazing.  And, if you added the daily chore lists and other little things we didn't bother putting on those lists?   Sometimes even I was impressed.

Now here we are in 2020.  We have from 70 to 80 person hours of labor per week missing from our resources when you consider that we have no workers for the farm this year.  Then you can subtract 32 hours a week of my own labor hours.  It's clear that we need to continue to adjust our expectations as we run out of time to do what we think we need to do.

Recognizing Other Productivity

Both Tammy and I have been far more productive on other fronts than we have been on the farm this year so far.  This is not to say that we are not working on the farm.  We certainly are.  We just need to remember what working on the farm meant even just one year ago.  That is the standard we still use to compare this years work productivity - and it is not a fair comparison.

Not fair.  But, it's the only comparison we've got right now.

As a result, I think we're both deeply disappointed in how far behind we are and how little it seems we have accomplished.

We are deeply disappointed even though we are both very aware that Tammy's work as an educator for Wartburg College is taking much more of her time and energy than it has in past Summers.  We are still upset by our lack of farm achievement despite the fact that Rob has been successful in adapting to his new job with the Pesticide Action Network.

So, we are trying very hard to recognize the new kinds of productivity that are part of the landscape at the Genuine Faux Farm.  This includes a great deal more reading, researching and writing on my part.  Perhaps if we both do a better job of giving ourselves credit for the things we are accomplishing, we might feel less like our ambitions have been highly variable this year.

But, this is hard.  We didn't get some crops planted that we fully intended on planting this season.  This is, in my mind, an out and out failure on my part.  Sure.  Sure.  There were weather issues and other things that made it difficult.  But, I simply didn't find a way to do it, like I have every other season.  And, I have yet to give enough weight to accomplishments of other sorts to balance the failures in farm tasks that were, frankly, inevitable when we decided not to find farm workers for the season and when we decided I would take this PAN job. 

Redefining Productive
If you were to read every blog post we have ever written for this blog and be asked to boil the content down into some common themes, I think one such theme would be the struggle with defining success in challenging situations.  It is no secret that Tammy and I set high bars for ourselves.  It is no secret that we are both capable.  It is no secret that we both fail to reach our own standards frequently.

Part of the battle is learning to identify what goals are attainable and to adjust when situations change.  My personal battle right now is to give fair value to accomplishments that have nothing to do with our potato crop... or the necessary repairs on a high tunnel.... or the conditions of our fields.


In the past two weeks I have published two articles for the Pesticide Action Network that have been well received.  One focused on the value and the plight of pollinators.  The other is a response to the proposed de-regulation of a new Genetically Engineered (GE) corn seed.  I also produced the Iowa Newsletter for PAN this past week.  I need to remind myself that these pieces require more research and fact checking than anything I write for this blog because I am not only speaking for myself there.  It doesn't fly to just take a bunch of pictures of flowers and throw them together and call it a blog post - though I still see value in that - just look at yesterday's post on our blog!

I was involved in our pollinator match fund drive campaign as well.  A campaign that has done quite well thus far.  And, yes, there is still time to donate, even though we have met our matching funds amount!

The real accomplishment, with this new job, has been for me to become a useful part of an effective team.  It's something that is difficult for me to measure.  It's not the same as looking at your year to date harvest numbers for green beans.  It is far more nebulous than looking at the records and seeing you have delivered 600 CSA shares over a period of a few months.

And yes, Tammy has an equally impressive set of accomplishments for the past couple of weeks.  But, like me, many of them don't have an immediately identifiable tangible result that we can point to.  I can tell you, however, that she has done some amazing things and I am proud of her.

And, that, my friends, is why we are working at redefining what productivity is at the Genuine Faux Farm.  We are doing it because what we are accomplishing is different than it was, not less than it was.