Unsustainable

The eggs from our farm are the finest available in this community.  There are none better.  That’s just an honest fact.

Our hens forage freely so they get a natural diet.  We supplement their foraging with surplus from our garden (vegetables raised chemical-free) and with a completely GMO-free and soy-free feed. They are raised humanely and they live happy contented lives.  The eggs are nutritious, wholesome and, best of all, delicious.

Last week we gave away a refrigerator full of them.

Although we enjoy giving away the food we produce, we didn’t give them away because we’re generous.  We gave them away because we weren’t able to sell them.

Yesterday we drove to the other side of the county and paid hundreds of dollars for more feed. Perhaps as we feed it to our hens they’ll continue to lay the finest eggs available in our community, which folks won’t buy.  In that case we’ll continue giving them away.  Obviously that is not a sustainable economic model.

Meanwhile, I wonder how many thousands of dozens of factory-produced eggs are purchased in our community every week.

Obviously I’m a little frustrated by our tepid egg sales, but, to be fair, for lots of people our delivery schedule isn’t convenient.  The farmers’ market opens this Saturday and when that happens I expect we’ll start selling out again.

I hope so.  If our egg business continues to operate at a loss, we’ll stop it after this year.  We’ll just keep enough chickens to provide us with the eggs we eat and, as much as I hate the thought of it, we’ll get rid of the rest of them.  Then it will no longer be possible for folks in our community to buy eggs like ours anymore.  Instead of having 99.99 percent of the market, the industrial egg companies will have 100 percent of it.

Advertisements

People Think

After our farm tour, and as our Open House/Field Day was winding down, one of our supporters said to me, “When most people buy food in grocery stores they think it’s coming from places like this.  They have no idea.”

I can think of two reasons why people would falsely assume that their food is coming from a farm like ours.  One reason is that most of our country is only a generation or two removed from the farm.  Many people can recall what their grandparents’ farm was like.  They remember the carefully tended fields and animals.  Our collective memories of farms as wholesome and pleasant places haven’t been erased by the industrial reality.  The factory-farms that dominate the industrial agricultural system today didn’t exist back then, and those places aren’t giving any farm tours these days.  So we imagine our chicken, milk, eggs, meat and vegetables coming from places like this farm, when in reality they almost always come from places nothing like our farm.

The second reason is because industrial agriculture’s marketeers cultivate that false belief.  The next time you’re in a grocery store take a look at the packaging on the food.  Often the brand name will be something like “Pleasant Valley Farm” and will have the outline of a barn, a smiling cow or a happy chicken.  Of course a depiction of where that product actually originated wouldn’t be very appetizing and wouldn’t help sales. So they tap into our residual memories of farms in order to gain sales.

I’ve shared this video before, and of course I’m aware that it too is an ad intended to help persuade viewers to buy a product.  But it can be watched and appreciated without that in mind, and I think it conveys a powerful message.

Time For Summer Gardens

It’s warming up as we approach May.  The spring gardens are starting to produce, and now is the time we start prepping and planting our summer gardens.  Over the next few days we aim to plant beans, corn, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupes, okra, winter squash, peppers, eggplant and sunflowers.  We’ll also be starting our sweet potato slips.

Yesterday I got the party started by planting some green beans.

Beans garden prepped and ready for seed.

Beans garden prepped and ready for seed.

Seed in need of a home.

Seed in need of a home.

IMG_1861

IMG_1863

Gratuitous photo of cute kids

Gratuitous photo of cute kids

The list of things that need tending is now long and getting longer.  Basically we’ll be busy from daylight till dark until about the first of December.  As it should be.

 

Returning to the Goose

We just learned that we’ll be presenters at the Wild Goose Festival again this year.  We haven’t figured out specifically what we’re going to be talking about, but it will be generally on the subject of food ethics.

This year the festival is returning to Hot Springs, NC and will be the weekend of June 26-29.

I highly recommend this event.  Here’s my reflection on last year’s gathering:  Post-Goose.  And here’s John Thompson’s take: My First Wild Goose Festival.

 

Life Here Among Us

Our Open House is today.  Just as I did last year, I’m worried that no one will come.  Last year we ended up having a nice turnout.  Hopefully we will this year as well.

This morning I just want to urge folks to go check out Linda’s (Shoreacres) fine post Sleepers, Awake.

You should read the whole thing, but here’s the beautiful ending:

Gabriel García Márquez , author of the incomparable One Hundred Years of Solitude, has left us an answer fully as magical as Andersen’s fairy tales, just as realistic as Jesus’s understanding of humanity. In the days before his death, Márquez wrote a letter to the world. Near the end, he said:

Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old. Today could be the last time to see your loved ones, which is why you mustn’t wait; do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives. I am sure you will be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them their last wish.
Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them and love them. Love them and treat them well; take your time to tell them “I am sorry,” “forgive me, “please,” “thank you,” and all those loving words you know.

Márquez’s words ring true. In the midst of all the apparent death which surrounds us — rigid, insensate and stuporous as it is — we still have the power, by our own actions, to reveal it as temporary sleep.

“I am not dead, I am only sleeping,” says Anderson.

“I would awake while others sleep,” says Marquez.

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise,” sings out the Easter proclamation. “The seal of the grave is broken, and the morning of a new creation breaks forth out of night.”

Reach out with your actions. Reach out with your words. Take the hand of the one next to you, whether stranger or friend. There is life here among us, waiting to be lived. It’s time for the sleepers to awake.

The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer

I am done with apologies. If contrariness is my
inheritance and destiny, so be it. If it is my mission
to go in at exits and come out at entrances, so be it.
I have planted by the stars in defiance of the experts,
and tilled somewhat by incantation and by singing,
and reaped, as I knew, by luck and Heaven’s favor,
in spite of the best advice. If I have been caught
so often laughing at funerals, that was because
I knew the dead were already slipping away,
preparing a comeback, and can I help it?
And if at weddings I have gritted and gnashed
my teeth, it was because I knew where the bridegroom
had sunk his manhood, and knew it would not
be resurrected by a piece of cake. ‘Dance,’ they told me,
and I stood still, and while they stood
quiet in line at the gate of the Kingdom, I danced.
‘Pray,’ they said, and I laughed, covering myself
in the earth’s brightnesses, and then stole off gray
into the midst of a revel, and prayed like an orphan.
When they said, ‘I know my Redeemer liveth,’
I told them, ‘He’s dead.’ And when they told me
‘God is dead,’ I answered, ‘He goes fishing every day
in the Kentucky River. I see Him often.’
When they asked me would I like to contribute
I said no, and when they had collected
more than they needed, I gave them as much as I had.
When they asked me to join them I wouldn’t,
and then went off by myself and did more
than they would have asked. ‘Well, then,’ they said
‘go and organize the International Brotherhood
of Contraries,’ and I said, ‘Did you finish killing
everybody who was against peace?’ So be it.
Going against men, I have heard at times a deep harmony
thrumming in the mixture, and when they ask me what
I say I don’t know. It is not the only or the easiest
way to come to the truth. It is one way.

Wendell Berry

You can hear him read it here:  http://www.onbeing.org/program/poetry-creatures/feature/contrariness-mad-farmer/277

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible

Last week we saw Charles Eisenstein speak at UNC-Chapel Hill on the subject of his latest book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.

He argues that we are living in a time between stories.  By “story” he means the overriding narrative that shapes how our culture conditions us to view and relate to the world. The “old story” is a story of separation, control and dominance.  The “new story” is a story of inter-being.  Whereas the old story is a narrative of competition and protection of self-interest, in the new story we are the totality of our relationships with everything else.  Recognition of the web of interrelatedness reveals, for example, that any act that hurts something in the world, hurts each of us as well in some way.  Likewise any act of compassion, generosity or forgiveness disrupts and subverts the old story of control, separation and domination.

I’m not doing justice to the fascinating talk, which went for a couple of hours.  If the subject sounds interesting, here’s a short TED talk I recommend.