Tuesday, February 23, 2010

(Farm) Book Reading

Terra Brockman, author of A Season on Henry's Farm and founder of The Land Connection is reading from her book Wednesday, 2/24 at the Chicago Downtown Farmstand Market.

She works on her brother's farm (that is Henry) in Central Illinois. They sell at the Evanston Farmer's Market.

The book is wonderful. I am savoring it - so I am not finished. Should be an interesting evening.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Comment to the USDA re genetically modified seeds!!

Did you know that the USDA is considering letting Monsanto patent its genetically modified alfalfa?

In its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), issued on December 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) claims that there is no evidence that consumers care about genetically modified (GM) alfalfa. Click here to learn more.

If you care about this issue - and how can you not - please comment. This is the basis of our food system! As Joel Salatin says, farmers are first and foremost, grass farmers.

Comment to the USDA here.

We can't undo this one. Once it is out there, there is no going back.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

2010 Goals

It might be helpful to have our 2010 goals laid out on the blog.

2010 is going to be our year of education and continuation of infrastructure improvement.

Here is the high level goals:
Farm - Attend MOSES Conference
Farm - Attend CRAFT workshops (the 2010 schedule hasn't been set yet)
Farm - Attend workshops at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
Farm - Spend several days during the season working on our new farm mentor's farm

Farm - Stabilize barn
Farm - Demo house interior down to studs
Farm - Work with an NRCS official to set conservation plan
Farm - Stabilize waterway area to control erosion
Farm - map different pasture areas, name them and have soil tests performed
Church - Complete prairie planting in the yard
Home Building - Drywall interior back stairway
Home Building - Turn 4th floor studio/office into a small apartment for Chicago weekend stays once we move - involves turning a utility sink area into a small kitchen and installing a shower

Other building - finish 2nd floor gut rehab (target date is 3/31/10) and painting of common areas in hopes of renting for 5/1
Other building - 3rd floor fix ups: new kitchen cabinets & counters, new sink, relocate water heater to basement and replumb up to 3rd floor. Remodel bath and add a shower. (The tenant that has lived there for 38 years has never had a shower in the apartment. He is pretty excited when Bill mentioned installing a shower - as you can imagine!)

Other - continue to clean out closets and storage areas in preparation for 2011 relocation to Wisc.

I think the key will be to just pick an area and plug away at it. The highest priority is the apartment at the other building, as we would clearly like to have the rental income again from it.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Farm plan

Sorry I've been absent. Things have gotten ahead of me.

We have our final farm classroom session on Thurs night. I can't believe we are through already. It has been one of the most enjoyable, rewarding, frightening, self-reflective exercises that I have ever done. It was made even better that Bll and I did it together.

We have learned a lot.

I think about things like branding, identifying my customer(s), setting my pricing, where/when/how/why to sell, my 'story' and all sorts of other things. It also removed my farm-business-rose-colored-glasses. I have a new appreciation of truly.how.hard it is to make a decent living as a small farmer.

And more than anything else - we have developed friendships with the other classmates and we now feel like we are part of a community of like-minded folks. That has been very important and fulfilling for me.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Feb 1st

I like February. It is gradually getting lighter around 5:00 every night. I can see the difference riding home on the train.

We haven't been to the farm in a couple weeks and it will be a couple more before we go again. The snow is mostly gone from Chicago - I wonder what it is like in Wisc.

I was asked if I would consider a new position at work today. I don't know any of the specifics, but one of the senior managers may be moving to a new department and we have worked well together so she asked if I would consider going with her. I said, "I'm always willing to listen to offers." It caught me by surprise. At this point, I am all about trying to leverage a position that would allow me to work from home (and by home I mean the farm). A work from the farm position would be ideal for a couple of years to allow us to get the farm and Bill's business up and running. We'll see what happens and what the position turns out to be. It is nice to be asked regardless.
I made some parsnips last night. Wow, why has that taken me so long? Washed, cut in half lengthwise and tossed with 1 T olive oil and 1 T butter and placed cut side down in 350 for 45 minutes. Definitely on my list to plant this year!