Friday, December 21, 2012

A Bonus Post for Christmas

Tammy and I have both worked at a number of places in various capacities during our lives.  Between the two of us, we have experience in retail, county government, academics, insurance, distance education, manufacturing, research and development, child protection, manual labor and...of course...farming.  I suspect we could insert a few more labels that would be appropriate in an effort to make our point.  Or maybe it would simply be a sad attempt to be impressive in some odd way.  But, we'll leave it at that list.

In any event, we've worked a number of places doing a number of things.  And, we experienced something today that neither of us remembers occuring in previous places of employment - we received a Christmas bonus.

Ok, we give a pass to the tips Rob received around Christmas when he delivered papers.  That was, in fact, a bonus and should qualify.  And, there were certainly nice things that happened in other places at other times, such as extra time off around the holidays.  So, we should not discount the valuable gift of time.  But, in some ways it is hard to accept that this gift is a bonus when it is scheduled in the calendar for all to whom it applies.  It becomes more of a schedule than a bonus.

To us, a bonus is an unexpected gift of appreciation for good, honest work done well.

It wasn't until we started the farm business that we got real bonuses!  A couple of years ago "Santa" bequeathed upon us some massages.  This was truly appreciated since both of us can get very achy during the growing season.  This year, we were greatly pleased to receive gift certificates to Rudy's in Cedar Falls.  Several people know we enjoy stopping there after the Cedar Falls CSA distributions on Thursdays.  They purchase a significant amount of local food (none from us, but that's ok - we don't have the volume to do that and the CSA) so we like to support them.

It was after we opened the envelope that we came to the revelation that we have now actually received bonuses for our work.  For instance, someone else simply tacked on extra money for their eggs - which was also deeply appreciated.  I wanted to argue and decline, but something told me it was better in this case to be grateful.  And, I am and hope that I conveyed that sufficiently as well.

We've received other kindnesses at other times of the year, and we are no less grateful.  But, the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas is when we try to focus more on gratitude, friendship and kindness.  Certainly things we should focus on all the time, but there is nothing wrong with the renewal of our dedication to these things at this time of year. 

And so we remember other bonuses, such as the slingshot to be used at GF7 festivals for launching bad tomatoes to the turkeys.  We always get a boost from persons who come volunteer when we need it most.  And, you cannot underestimate kind words that remind you that you shouldn't let your troubles (or that one unkind word that was spoken) dictate how you feel for the rest of the day.

A big thank you to all of the fine people who read this blog, it is good to know that some of what is written here means something to others.  "A crate full of grateful" to all who patronize and support our farm.   You are some of the best people we've ever had cause to know, it is a privilege.  And, to all of our friends and family who are good enough to accept us for who we are and who understand that we are more than just farmers, or academics, or laborers, or...pick your label... we love you.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter(?) Work

We have successfully reached December in 2012.  I'm sure many can relate to the feeling that has you wondering exactly *how* it can be December *already*.  But, here it is nonetheless.

Not too long ago, we asked for people to give us some feedback on what you would like to see on this blog.  We received a few requests, so we thought we'd take care of one in a roundabout way first.  Quentin - you wanted to know about our 'favorite' Winter chores - this one is for you!

It was the last day of the semester for Tammy.  While that means the last day of classes, it is far from the end of the term for her efforts.  What this often means for us is that Tammy runs long days in town.  Since the hours of daylight are short, it also results in Rob coming into town to do paperwork.  Oddly enough, by the time we get to the end of the season, doing paperwork actually sounds appealing rather than appalling.

Normal AM chores always include feeding and watering all of the critters on the farm.  Since there is no snow on the ground, we let the chickens out into their pasture.  We feed them out there to encourage them to leave their room.  We also give them scraps from the kitchen, which often include eggshells.  The eggshells help them with their calcium levels for shell development.  Water chores get more difficult in the Winter.  Something about the freezing point cause us to consider alternative approaches to delivering water to the birds in the Poultry Pavilion.  We did our best to run through the chores as quickly as possible this morning.

The AM was spent in town, trying to complete promotional preparations for Saturday's Harvest Market.  We needed to proof and print CSA brochures for 2013 as well as a few new photos for our display board.  Then there is the matter of sending reminder emails and posting reminders on the web.   This is all easier in town, where the internet connection speed can be measured in moments rather than the number of cookies a person can eat during the time it takes to send one email.  The happy side-effect of this plan was that Tammy and I got to have lunch together.  Love it when a plan comes together.

The afternoon was spent (by Rob) on the farm.  Temps were reasonable, it wasn't too windy, but there was no sun.  The first task was to plant the remaining batch of bushes we purchased from K&K Gardens in Hawkeye.  We want to provide ourselves with a bit more buffer protection on the edges of our property and this is a first step.  And then, since we do have that Harvest Market coming up, I picked spinach and leeks.

In the PM we needed to locate all of our farmers' market materials, clean the leaks, clean and bag the spinach and do the chores (put birds away, etc etc).  Happily, we were done at a reasonable time.


Harvest Market!  It starts at 8:30am, so we need to leave the farm no later than 7:30.  Of course, we must do the chores *and* we need to load up the truck.  Today's loading is not nearly as complex as it can be during the regular season of the market.  We will be indoors and tables will be provided.  So, we don't need to load tables or our pop up tent.  On the other hand, we want to bring more promotional materials that won't work at an outside venue.  We managed to pack up about 120 pounds of potatoes, over a dozen pie pumpkins, 2 coolers full of spinach, 2 coolers full of eggs, some garlic and bundled leeks into the truck.  Once there, we had to unload and set up.  Of course, we had to be there through the market, clean up after, reload the truck, go home and unload the truck again.  But, most of that goes without saying....even if I did just say it.

The afternoon was spent doing more outdoor work, which consisted mainly of trying to prepare for the coming (?) snow and cold.  We do things like moving the portable poultry shelters, bringing in waterers, rolling up drip tape etc etc.  We've seen what the Winter can do to things:

So, we try to get everything put away as well as we are able.  The difficulty comes with the expansion of tools and reduction in sheltered areas.  We usually figure it out though.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Sandman Has Spoken

We brought a picture of Sandman, the kitten to the recent Harvest Market in Waverly and encouraged people to submit ideas for a caption (or as one person said a "cat-tion") for this picture.

We encourage everyone to respond here or on Facebook with additional ideas.  You may also voice an opinion as to your favorite captions thus far.

Let's see if we can use the Sandman as a cat-alyst for some good clean fun!

  • If I were bigger than you, I would eat you.
  • Is that a fire engine or the new red truck I've heard you purchased?
  • Don't you think it is a little early?  I was planning on sleeping in!
  • More like community supported cat-iculture...
  • Brussel sprouts?  You want me to eat Brussels sprouts?!?
  • Oy! I wish I could get this Pink Panther them song out of my head!!
  • Is that tomato for me?
  • The kind of organic food I like is NOT green and does not grow in the ground!  Mousies!
And a few more we've thought of:
  • That stunt with the alarm clock was NOT appreciated.
  • Sing "It's a Small World" just one more time and you'll feel my wrath.
  • I'm never good for the day until I've had my morning catnip.
  • How may times do I have to remind you?  I am NOT your cat, you are MY human.
  • Ahem.  You tied your shoestrings again...
I, the Sandman, have spoken!

Friday, December 7, 2012

December Newsletter

Genuine Faux Farm December Newsletter
We are trying to get into the habit of providing a monthly newsletter during the first week of each month.  We send a version of this post out to those who have opted into our email lists OR who are current CSA members.  We provide short descriptions and links so you may choose what you want to read.  We will attempt to put the most important news bits at the top in their entirety.

Waverly Harvest Market
Saturday, December 8
Civic Center, 200 1st St NE, Waverly , IA
Winter farmers' market inside the Civic Center Building in Waverly, Iowa.  Come support your local growers including GFF! We will have pumpkins, potatoes, spinach and eggs - perhaps we'll find something else to bring? Sign up for 2013 CSA. Participate in a caption contest. Too much fun to ignore!

Following Our Blog
Following our blog just got easier for you.  You can opt to receive emails (no more than once per day) that will let you know when we've posted something new there.  Look at the top of the right sidebar and you will see a place where you can do this.  We have also made it easy to use an RSS feed of your choice (look on the right sidebar). 

Do you Need a Little Humor?

Well, here is a lot of humor.  We took the time to do a quick look through some of our more light-hearted posts and come up with some award winning lines for 2012.  And, while we were at it, we did the same for 2011, 2010 AND 2009.  Why?  Because we needed a laugh and we are willing to share.

2012 - The Best Medicine
  " when you ask a raccoon "Number 1 or number 2?"  It will usually say, "Both." "

2011 - The Best Medicine
"Broom Bird Rules.  We thought about making some up, but decided everything involved with it would be a fowl."

2010 - The Best Medicine
"If Humpty Dumpty wanted to sit on a wall - he should have done it in January, in the Midwest. "

2009 - The Best Medicine
"Squish - ya, that's a squash. There is a summer squish, pumpkin squish, butternut squish and rotten squish that goes 'squish' when it's squashed."

Just Veg-ging Out
The seed catalogs are arriving, so it is time to learn about our picks for 2012 Veg Varieties on the farm.
Gerry Chamberlin was kind enough to share her leek cleaning techniques with us, thank you Gerry!

Photo Shoot
Are you more interested in pictures?  They are certainly worth a thousand (or maybe 500 words).  We have two offerings for you in this newsletter.

  1. Some select pictures from 2012 in chronological order
  2. But, better yet - our BEST pictures for 2012.  Warning - the winner for the year is bound to make you smile!
  3. Or, if you want a single pictures with some writing to go with it - try some bleeding heart flowers.
  4. Or maybe you like the periodic postal history thing Rob writes?
But Seriously
There are some things on the blog that take a more serious approach.  A recent Denver Post story (Colorado) about a young lady's perspective on growing and selling local got me to thinking.  And some recent questions about why we selected the CSA/Farm Share model over farmers' market led to ruminate for a while as well.

Monday, December 3, 2012

 Winter Farmers' Market
Saturday, December 8
Civic Center, 200 1st St NE, Waverly , IA

Winter farmers' market inside the Civic Center Building in Waverly, Iowa.  Come support your local growers including GFF! We will have pumpkins, potatoes, spinach and eggs - perhaps we'll find something else to bring? Sign up for 2013 CSA. Participate in a caption contest. Too much fun to ignore!

Speaking of the CSA:

Have you considered these options as Christmas gifts?

- we will have organic cotton canvas bags with our logos at the market.
- purchase a share for someone you love!  This could be a particularly good gift for those who don't want more knick knacks or dust collectors.

We hope to see you this coming Saturday.

Rob & Tammy

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Best Medicine 2009


Again, our investigative reporting came up empty. Since the flowers we saw were mum(s), we walked past them and requested an audience with Kevin the Red (our Bourbon Red turkey):

From Going Out With A... - September 29


...what you thought was the sound of a bird chattering away was just its knees knocking together

From You Know It's Cold When - January 16

Squish - ya, that's a squash. There is a summer squish, pumpkin squish, butternut squish and rotten squish that goes 'squish' when it's squashed.

From Genuine Faux Farm Vocab - September 4

"Look, our only guarantee is that you will get what you deserve. Clearly, you are receiving sufficient recompense. Have a nice day."

From Getting What You Deserve - January 4


If she offers to share again, I think I'll still decline.

From Brown Bagging It - March 28

There is no way you can be wetter - even if you submerged yourself in a pool. You could wring a few gallons out of your underpants if you had to.

From Why'd You Call Me A Drip - August 19

2:20 AM - blinking is fading into distance. quick check - no presents under tree. drat.

From  Not Rudolph - December 17

How can I be a macho farmer if I protect my arms? This is a very important point and should not be ignored.

From  Road Map to Zucchini - July 29