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It’s funny. On some level, I’ve been preparing for this current situation for more than 20 years. And I’m finding that, not surprisingly, its one thing to be intellectually prepared for people hoarding toilet paper. It’s another to weather the emotional fall out when people around you are frightened and you can’t even give them a hug.

Other than the persistent feeling of angst, watching small businesses (many of which are also friends) suffer, a fear of running out of chocolate, and the hypochondria of “is that a tickle in my throat” (news flash, so far its not), we’re fine. Heck, there’s still hot and cold running water and electricity to surf the internet. We’re MORE than fine. And we’re doing our best to facilitate old fashioned neighbor to neighbor communication and assistance. Reaching out to those near us. Working with a local church and sign maker to put up a bulletin board for actual physical notes from neighbors in need.

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Heads up. This is a LONG post. And if you are just here for cute animal pictures and recipes and aren’t interested in farming as a business, a pretty boring one. But this stuff IS important. If you make it through to the end, thanks for reading!

It’s funny how things just chug along in life, and then the collective unconsciousness bubbles up and you start hearing similar ideas from multiple directions.

Last year, I went to the Balancing Profitability and Access in Local Food Systems conference in Boise. During one of the talks, this graphic appeared on the screen.

It hit a chord with me, I photographed it from the Power Point screen, and tracked it down later. A friend with a masters in marketing taught me years ago that consumers choose to purchase for one of three reasons; price, quality or status. Competing with big box store prices is simply a race to the bottom (and how we ended up with things like Confined Animal Feeding Operations – CAFO’s – a disaster for the animals, the environment and our health). But just marketing to the tip of that preference pyramid isn’t enough either.

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I have an intern. A Whitman College intern. I have tried for several years to get this program to work for me without success, but this year, we finally managed to get all of the right pieces in place, and I HAVE AN INTERN. Squeeeee.

IMG_20190515_095007063_HDR

Nick is very fond of Charlie. Charlie is very fond of Nick. Charlie may just decide to go home with Nick in September. Here we’re planting onions, one of Nick’s first on-farm tasks in mid May.

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HeirloomExpo

National Heirloom Expo Squash Mountain – Baker Creek Seeds photo credit.

Most small farmers (though the USDA defines small farms as earning less than $250,000 a year, and classifies 91% of all US farms as small farms) get into farming because they want to sell direct to the end consumer. Growing products for farmers markets, providing CSA boxes (CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture) and stocking a farm stand is all about developing a personal relationship between the farmer and their local customer. About telling your own farm story. We small farmers, in general, have wholeheartedly rejected the large scale commodity model of farming that accounts for 85% of the value of crops grown in the United States. In many cases, we don’t come from a history of farming on a large scale. Read the rest of this entry »

Bullnose bell peppersSome time ago, on some Facebook group somewhere, the subject of organic certification of food came up. And someone chimed in with something along the lines of, “Organic certification is all big corporate BS anyway, and is meaningless. Don’t even bother.” Sigh. Got to love the negative Nellies who wait with self righteous anticipation for our impending doom. I did my best to educate the naysayer from a farmers perspective, but I’ve have been meaning to write a post about what organic certification really means ever since. My apologies up front. This post is LONG. Read the rest of this entry »

Ginko leaves in fall

Ginko. We love it because its the last remnant of an ancient plant line that has all but died out, but also because of the color and shape of the leaves in the fall.

Well, we’ve had a frost, though not a hard hard one (I still have a few late season paprika peppers hanging on that I blanketed with some agribon). The popcorn was finally harvested. The few winter squash I grew for us (we have a terrible squash bug issue here, so I don’t grow them for market anymore) are tucked away in the garage pantry. The sheep have been let into part of the garden to finish up the green tomatoes. Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_20180915_093135923watermarkI didn’t grow as many bell peppers this year as I have in the past. They don’t sell well for me at farmers market, no matter how I have them priced. A fact that utterly baffles me because I love them and they are super nutritious. We eat them fresh in humus and stuffed this time of year, and freeze extras for later and enjoy them all winter.

Did you know that: Read the rest of this entry »

JenHairAug2011

This is my hair in August 2011. Probably the longest it had been in years. There’s probably some off the shelf semi-permanent hair color in there. I can’t remember. The gray is starting to show just a touch.

When I learned to make soap, a whole world of natural DIY products opened up for me. If I can master the chemistry of making soap, what ELSE can I make? Lotion? Toothpaste? Natural Deodorant? Shower Gel? Sugar Scrubs? Lip Balm? The list was almost endless, and I’ve tried a LOT of things. Some of which I continue to make, and sell, and some of which I don’t.

One of the products I no longer make is a true soap shampoo bar. Why you may ask? Isn’t more natural always better? In this case, no. Read the rest of this entry »

Basket of farm fresh eggs

REAL farm fresh eggs.

Recently, a customer asked me, “Do I need to refrigerate your eggs”? This question comes up every once in a while on Facebook or in other places, so I thought I’d write up a more formal answer and my thoughts on this. You may have run across one of the many articles on this subject (just type in US vs European egg refrigeration), which are often slanted to give you the impression that “in the US, we’re doing it all wrong”, and then wondered, but what about local eggs? Read the rest of this entry »

Snow Farm Implement

First snow. When it all seemed charming.

Years ago, I took a summer biology class at the Mountain Research Station near Nederland Colorado. During the course of that wonderful week, there was a conversation with our instructor, in which she was talking about an old friend of hers, who used to do work at the station, and was now suffering from Alzheimer’s. She would go to visit him, and ask him questions about his past, to keep him engaged. At one point, she asked, “What’s your favorite season”. And his answer has always stuck with me, these 20+ years later. “WINTER, because it’s so dynamic!” I try to remember this, as I witness how snow transforms the landscape, softening edges, hushing the noise, insulating the world from all insults. Read the rest of this entry »

Jennifer Kleffner

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