Sunday, April 5, 2015

How A Blog Keeps GFF Healthy

Rob has been asked more than once why he maintains a blog for the farm.

Ok, ok.  Rob has asked himself more than once why he maintains a blog for the farm.  As far as we can remember, no one else has asked why we do this.  But, if you are looking at it from a business perspective, you probably can't ignore the amount of time and effort that goes into the components that make up a decent blog.  At least, we hope this is a decent blog.  I guess that's for you to say.

So, if everything is about returns on investment, then let's think about it for a bit.  What does this blog do for us?

1. It encourages us to look at our farm in ways others might see it.
Look at the picture below and tell us what you see?  What stands out for you?

What I see when I look at this is a great deal of effort to try and make an old building work for us.  Please note the metal box at the bottom right of the building.  We added an improved electrical service just prior to this picture.  If you look closely at the side that is facing to the picture's right, you might notice the new siding as well.  You might even notice the home made cold frame at the lower left.  Surely there are some plants in there when the picture was taken.

But, what really stands out in the picture?  The ugly door with the loose siding.

Well, that's true - it does stand out.  And I bet most of you discounted the metal box and its significance and you probably didn't give the new siding and attention either.

2. It provides us a forum to explain to others how WE see the farm.
In short, our blog gives us a chance to share what we see AND it encourages us to view it as others might see it without some guidance.  We appreciate the opportunity to show you what we see and what we hope to do.  This blog gives us a tool to do just that.

3. It's a reminder to us that we are progressing.
I think we are safe in saying that very few people want to keep reading a farm blog that is all gloom and doom.  And yet, our human tendency is to remember the single negative event in a day and dismiss ten positive things - leaving them floundering in the wake of that one negative thing.

We can barely believe that this roof went up in 2011.

While we do use the blog to share issues and problems we are having at the farm, we also use it to share successes and progress.  Sometimes, when we are very tired and feeling like we aren't getting anywhere, it does us great good to consider the positive aspects and share them with others. It's amazing how reframing events can improve our point of view.  And, an improved point of view makes it easier to deal with the problems.  And, if you that isn't enough return on investment for you, consider this:

Would you rather pick up your veggies, eggs and poultry from someone who appears to be content with who they are and what they are doing or from someone who is full of angst?  If you answered that you would prefer the angsty guy, I am sure I can find a way to help you if you want.  But, seriously, when we patronize a business, we want a positive experience.  And a positive experience is easier to get when the people providing the service are happy with who they are and with what they are doing.

4. It's all about the chance to teach and learn.
We both love to help others to learn.  And, one of our farm missions is to help others to learn how food is raised.  We want people to think harder about where their food comes from.  We want you to consider how our food decisions affect our environment, how it impacts or society and our economy.  We want people to see that growing food the way we do has numerous trade offs and that the decisions we make are not taken lightly.

And, while we are at it - we believe that the best way to learn is to set yourself in a position where you are responsible for helping others to learn.  There is a great deal of learning that comes from taking the time to maintain this blog.  And, if you've read our blog for sometime, you have seen some blog posts that are more technical than others.  These represent attempts on our part to learn with an audience.  Some of those blogs have actually helped us to reach a decision or two as it pertains to our farm.

5.  Reflection and remembrance help us to remember our focus.
I'm not entirely sure I need to say much more about this one.  But, maybe I should.  Work on the farm during the growing season can be all-consuming for us.  There are challenges every day and the to do list only grows, it does not shrink.  One of the first things to go would be taking moments in time to reflect and think about what is going on and how things are going with a balanced view.  After all, those darned carrots still aren't weeded!

But, that's the point.  If we aren't inclined to take the moment to reflect, then the personal value of each day is diminished.  And, if the value of each day we live is diminished by our unwillingness to process what has happened and seek out the good and the bad, then the value of our entire life is diminished.  Ok, so I've taken a turn to the philosophical here.  But, it is true.  The blog is a tool that allows us to re-balance and refocus.  Just as it is a tool to simply record what has happened on our farm so that we can reflect and refocus once again.

Hopefully, the result is that we build up our strength for the season so that we can pursue things that are important, such as growing good food for others and being as friendly to the environment as we can in the process.

And, before you discount the value of using this blog to reflect and re-frame how we feel about things.. please consider the picture below.

This beautiful picture was taken in July of 2010.  We had rains for most of June and early July.  Our fields were under water.  Plants were dead and dying.  Some of our CSA customers were very disappointed and unhappy with the amount and types of produce they were receiving from us.  We had just sunk a huge chunk of money into a new high tunnel building and a tractor but the poor growing season was putting the whole farm health picture into question.  We were tired, overwhelmed and depressed.  We wondered if we were just too stupid to figure out how to handle things.  We were one more bad day away from deciding to call 2010 our final season.  In short, this was possibly the lowest point in our career as farmers at GFF.

And we get a picture like that.

We might have just viewed it once if it was just for ourselves.  But, we shared it and others like it on our blog.  Our attitudes improved.  And so did the season.

Of course, part of it was the break in the weather pattern that allowed things to dry up.  But, if our attitudes didn't get this adjustment, we would not have been ready or able to take advantage of the change in the weather.

And now you know!  Have a good Easter everyone!

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