Thursday, October 30, 2008

Found a Farm, But . . .

We looked at the farm today and loved it. It was literally perfect for what we want to start doing: 8 acres, enough buildings to work with, room for grazing and gardening, and close (ish) to a thriving farmers market. We want to jump right on it but the owner seems unsure so we're in a waiting place again. It's hard when you want to do something so bad it hurts, and to be so close . . .

Guess if it's meant to be it will happen, but that isn't making the wait any easier. It needed a lot of work but that's exactly what we've been looking for and even wanting. We want to put our sweat and tears into a place and watch it become productive. Damn our blasted credit that prevents us from buying something right now.

It's all part of the dream, though. Working, waiting, for that land that we will someday call ours.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Little Funk

I've been in a rut lately. My job at the farm is over and I'm restless.

My dream/goal, or what I've been working on: freelance writing. I'm taking a creative writing course to "unblock" and it actually is helping, but I have such a difficult time motivating myself to work when I doubt that I will make any money. I know in my head that I can, but I don't trust myself. Call me self-destructive . . . I prefer artistic.

Anyway, it's also been really hard for me to not be outside as much. I'm such a free spirit that being stuck living in town is killing me when all I'm craving is the wide open spaces and room to stretch. I know it's coming but I can't bring myself to focus on the present.

We are going to look at a farm this weekend though. It's about an hour north and the owner is just looking for people to bring it back to a sustainable working farm. He's willing to make a deal on the rent depending on how much work we do on the place. It has a little over 8 acres and a ton of outbuildings so I'd like to see it. Who knows, it might be a good possibility. I just don't want to get stuck in this area though so I don't know how long we would be there, maybe a year or two.

I'm rambling. I get lonely here sometimes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Genetic Engineering to the Extreme

We're all familiar with genetically modified corn and soybeans. Well, how do you feel about a genetically engineered steak? Yep, the USDA is considering allowing genetic experiments on animals (they are taking public comment, by the way. More info here). Apparently it's their attempt to reduce diseases and increase nutrients (which is already the case with grass-fed animals, but whatever). Funny, nobody thinks about changing the production standards . . .

Anyway, it's not just for the food supply. They also want to use them for cancer research, organ transplants, and production of insulin for humans.

I thought the USDA was bass-ackwards before, but wow.

Oh yeah, and they won't require anything on the label stating that it's a genetically-modified cow, so you won't even know. Don't you feel better?

My thing is, nature is already "perfect" the way it is. We are the ones that interfere, screw it up, and then try to fix it so that we can feel superior. Why can't we just leave well enough alone sometimes?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Blog

Found an interesting blog about raw milk/the sustainable food movement. This guy is a journalist who writes in a well-informed and thought provoking manner, and the number of comments on his posts allows for good discussion. The Complete Patient

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why I am Against the NAIS

A few years ago the National Institute of Animal Agriculture initiated a draft plan to put a tracking device into every livestock animal in the country in order to, as they said, monitor and trace disease outbreaks. This is called the National Animal Identification System and has produced a storm of opposition from farmers and ranchers that feel their freedom and ability to operate their businesses would be infringed upon with the implementation of this system.

While I do stand with the small farmers on this, I have many other reasons as well for not approving of this idea. The main reason is this: it won't work. If their stated goal is to trace disease outbreaks, it will actually do very little to stop them. Sure, we'll know where our infected beef is coming from, but it's still infected. It does nothing to force producers to change their methods and grow a healthier product, it merely "finds" the disease. That makes me feel sooo much better. Not only that, but it won't operate fast enough to catch many of the diseases, so what's the point?

Perhaps they will punish the offending farm or ranch in some way, but I doubt it. I don't believe that will be the case because the initiators of the system has a membership list that includes several of the mega farms and ranches . . . and also two companies that manufacture livestock tracking devices. Interesting.

This system also punishes the small farmers practice organic or sustainable methods and produce the healthiest food for us. Not only will it be expensive for them to implement, but most of their animals spend their time outside, not in huge confinement settings where it will be easy to mark them all at once.

This first draft of the plan called for every animal to be registered, even a family horse. Worse, when the animals are transported (trail rides??) the movement must be recorded beforehand.

Granted, due to all the opposition the founders of this movement decided that it won't be mandatory at the federal level, techinically. But instead of trying to "catch" diseases, why can't we just begin enforcing more humane growing methods to prevent an outbreak from the start? Oh yeah, because that's not profitable. It's sad when our health is a secondary thought to the all-consuming pull of money.

Good article on it: The Truth About the Animal ID Plan

Monday, October 13, 2008

Changing Seasons, Growing Dreams

Fall is definitely here now, and I'm so excited about it. I missed the colors and crispness in the air during the years I spent in California. And I love the changes that it brings to farming too . . . the days get shorter, the work (very gradually) a little easier. I've learned a lot the past four months -- not just about farming, but about myself.

I feel like I am really becoming who I've wanted to be. I've found my heart and my passions and the balance that I had always wondered about the existence of. Life at home is great, to be sure, but inside I have peace. It brings a sense of self to truly know what your loves are and to be actually doing something about them.

My loves: farming and writing. Interests: making money through business and real estate. What I want to do with my life: Invest, raise our kids on a small farm, and write.

As far as to what we are doing about them, we are working with my parents and some realtors right now about getting started in some rental properties in this area. For the time being we will be partnering with my parents until we all get pretty well set up; it's their retirement and our future, so it works well for everyone involved.

For farming, I have realized that I don't want a full-time operation dedicated to supporting us financially (that's what the investing will be for). What I want is a place for us to do what we want with the land, produce our own food, and teach our kids about the importance of work. A small customer base to offset some of the costs is fine, but I want to be able to provide some of our family members and close friends with good, homegrown food. Right now I can only imagine how satisfying that will be, but I'm looking forward to it in the not so distant future.

And writing, well, I've actually been starting on some freelancing. Slow going of course, especially until I get myself used to it again, but I consider it another way to explore myself and hopefully still contribute to our income when the baby gets here. Kenny has been so encouraging and I love him more all the time, because he knows who I am before I do and helps me to realize it. I'm also going to be taking a writing class either this month or next, so that will help me out too.

The baby, yes, the baby. I'm starting to get really excited about February. I'll admit my trepidition and fear for the first few months, but just having her (?) part of me and feeling her develop has . . . changed me inside. I don't know how you can love someone you haven't met yet, but it's amazing. I feel older, like I'm learning about some secret to life that really isn't a secret at all but requires the experience . . . I don't know if that makes sense at all but I feel more complete.

Honestly, we are just really blessed right now.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Finding That Dream Property

A little "toy" of mine that I play with when I get into my "I want to move now" mode, Land and Farm is a great way to find just about any rural property you want. The advanced search allows you to narrow your search as much as the type of property; ie, organic farm, vegetable farm, horse farm, etc. You can look by proximity to zip code or leave it open to the whole country -- either way, there are thousands of properties on there. They even have auctions posted if you're interested.

And yes, I found my dream place . . .

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Chloe Plant

Now that's good gardening! I grew a Jack Russell!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Optimisitic View of Agriculture's Future

According to the FFA (Future Farmers of America) website, membership is the highest it's been in over thirty years. Interestingly enough, the decreasing number of people living on farms during the 80s and 90s hasn't affected the rise in students that see a future in agriculture; 77% of them don't even live on farms.

Surprising to a lot of city folk: agriculture makes up 17% of the nation's jobs. One of FFA's goals is to have 10,000 agricultural education programs in place nationwide by the year 2015.

It's not just the FFA, either. An article in World Magazine comments on increasing interest in "locavores" (people committed to eating locally). The number of farmer's markets around the country is growing, as well as food co-ops and CSAs.

There's also a large trend towards young people starting farms, most of them with little or no agricultural background. Perhaps we as a country are finding a better way to provide, a way that sustains the earth and provides us with a liveable income.