Monday, September 29, 2008

Ron Paul and the Failed Bailout Vote

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dismal Headlines

When you look at recent headlines it almost seems like we're living in a dream. A bad dream.

A while back I cut my news sources down to mostly alternative sites like WorldNetDaily and Drudge Report because I got tired of looking at headlines about Brad and Angelina, or Madonna or Brittney. I could care less about their sordid lives. (Well Drudge does digress sometimes but, for the most part the headlines are less the fluff) Occasionally I'll look at Infowars but, I don't really care for Alex Jones style and all the grand standing. I listen to Radio Liberty just about everyday on my MP3 player.

I'd rather look at news that has direct implications on reality, things that can effect mine and the lives of those who I love.

It almost seems like our world has gone mad. We're involved in not one but, two no win wars and a new one could start at literally any moment, at least that's what we are led to believe. And what's with the renewed brinkmanship going on between the U.S. and Russia? The war in Georgia? Global power struggles with a nuclear hair trigger. Are these people insane or what?

America sets up
military outposts in former soviet nations, literally in Russia's back yard and so Russia sets up camp in our back yard. Indeed a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

And all the while our economy is at the beginning of cataclysmic change. Perhaps even a coming depression. But oh, the politicians call it a possible "recession" .

The article states,

"Bernanke's remarks about the risk of recession came in response to a question from Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who seemed eager to hear a strong rationale for lawmakers to act swiftly on the administration's unprecedented request. "The financial markets are in quite fragile condition and I think absent a plan they will get worse,"
Bernanke said.
Ominously, he added, "I believe if the credit markets are not functioning, that jobs will be lost, that our credit rate will rise, more houses will be foreclosed upon, GDP will contract, that the economy will just not be able to recover in a normal, healthy way."

GDP is a measure of growth, and a decline correlates with a recession. "

So where's all the hundreds of "billions" of dollars going to come from to bail out all these financial institutions? I thought the government was already in debt to the moon and back. Where are they going to get the money? Off the backs of you and me I reckon. Not just you and me but our children, our grand children and our great, great grand children. As I've admitted in the past I don't pretend to know about high finances but, something smells rotten in the hen house, with what's going on out there.

These are unprecedented times we're living in.

Until Next Time

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Good Old Fashion Sermon

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Farm Stand

We're happy to be selling sweet corn. Like I said before I've found I really like corn. I made this sign to put out at the road. It's simply a piece of 2" Styrofoam that we got in the garbage that I spray painted. It was kind of cool. The paint etched it's self into the Styrofoam almost an inch deep and made for a highly visible sign. I painted it with John Deere green spray paint. There's actually two different pieces here sandwiched back to back on our gate. The gate has a wheel on it so it is very convenient to wheel it in and out when were opened or closed. I hang sheets on the signs also when we're closed so no one gets confused as you can still see them when they're wheeled in.

This year we put both shelters together and moved them back a little farther from the road so we can see the stand better from the house. We decided to tend the stand most of the time rather than being strictly self serve like we did last year. I think we sell more when customers can interact with someone. Though when we get tired of sitting out there or have other things to do we simply put out the money box and put up a self serve sign. However we have to do a quick inventory first so we know what sold when we're not out there.

It's still a group effort even with the stand and are selling produce and other products from various other growers besides our own veggies.

Our goal is to make both the CSA and the road side stand a two pronged marketing tool for ourselves and area growers to sell products. And it's working quite well so far I must say.

Since we are still basically in the experimental stages here, there's been one hitch. Though we got it all spelled out in writing for the CSA shareholders through a signed contract we did not do the same with the growers. During our meetings in the early spring we weren't sure how to do the money distribution and what the expectations for everyone was. Some had different deals than others, for instance a couple families wanted shares so traded help in payment of the share. Others were getting paid outright. So the hitch was that one of the growers who didn't make all the meetings somehow missed out on what we were doing and that we still didn't have a good grasp on how and when to divvy it all up. When she saw that we were selling some of her left over produce at the stand she was greatly offended and thought we were double dipping on the profit. I say left over because often we get more veggies for the CSA shares than we can use and then the surplus is sold at the stand rather than be wasted or returned. We thought everyone was on board with that but, somehow she missed it. So next year we will be sure to get it in writing with a signed contract for the growers as well. Live and learn.
There's been some other bumps along the way as well but, they'll get ironed out and hopefully next year will be even better. Already we have 4 or 5 more folks who want to sign up for next season. And as far as I know most of this years folks are still on board too as we've been hearing lots of good reports. One lady told Kelli that if we don't do it for anyone one else but her, please keep doing it. Plus her and her husband are retiring soon and she said they would love to come here next year to help out with the gardening. Wow, now that's encouraging!

Until Next Time

Thursday, September 04, 2008

11th Week CSA Share

* Corn on the cob
* Beets
* Carrots
* Onions
* Potatoes
* Green beans
* Summer squash variety
* Cucumbers
* Bag of salad greens
* Optional bag of Kale, Nero Tuscana Kale, Swiss Chard
* Bunch of radishes
* Tomato variety
* 1 Kung Pao Hot Pepper
* Crab apples
* Apples for baking
Today was the 11th week of giving out shares to our subscribers. We finally have sweet corn! Long anticipated. Paul the fellow who grew it for us said it is called Ambrosa. It's very sweet with small kernels. We had some the other night and was some of the best corn I've ever tasted. I even ate a couple of them raw and found it sweet and delicious. Last Saturday Paul brought over 22 dozen for the farm stand and we sold 18. We got $5 dollars for a bakers dozen (13). We paid Paul $3.50. A $1.50 profit per dozen. Then on labor day he brought another 20 doz. and we sold all of those plus two of the four dozen that didn't sell on Saturday. We sold over $200 worth of veggies on Monday thanks to Paul's corn. Another record for us.
This morning at 6 AM I went and helped Paul pick 28 dozen more for the CSA and what ever is left over we will try to sell at the stand tomorrow. I've come to the realization that I'm a corn guy. I like corn. We put in a small patch this year which is almost ripe now. First time we've ever tried corn here. I find that I just really like it. I liked watching it spout. Then watching as it grew little by little, inch by inch, until before long it was as tall as I am. Then it passed me up and towers over me. Not that it is giant by most standards. Maybe the tallest stalks are 7 1/2 feet high. But, I think it is pretty good for this region. We have a very short growing season for corn here. Next year I want to try a variety of field corn that I learned about from Northern Farmer called Painted Mountain. It is bred for short growing seasons and harsh environments. There is a spot on a south facing slope that I can perfectly picture planted in corn. Can't hardly wait.
This morning after we picked, Paul showed me his corn planter. It was kind of an antique looking thing. I might ask him if I can rent it next year to put in some Painted Mountain. Or if I can find a planter of my own I'll just buy one if I can afford it.
This summer season has been like a dream come true. I had all summer to be here almost 24 hrs a day to do exactly as I please. Now, I still had responsibilities of the trash business to deal with, doing the occasional clean up, maintenance on the truck, assisting our helper from time to time and so forth. But, for the most part I've been free to do what I want.
I could get real used to that. In fact it's a bit of shock to my system to go back to the grind stone and do something so repetitious as picking up garbage. I'm seriously considering putting the business up for sale. And if we could sell it, I'd put the money into the farm in order to make next years growing season even more successful.
We have a terrific opportunity to get three more green houses real cheap. They're not as nice as the two we now have. But, they are a great value nonetheless. The two we have now are considered portable green houses. The three we are getting are more permanent structures. It's going to be a pretty big production to dismantle and haul them here. I just hope we can get it done before the snow flies.
I never really thought I'd find as good a deal as we had with our originals, but our friend Marge was talking to a fellow at a landscape place and he told her about these three that he would sell real cheap. What a blessing. It'll be hard work getting them torn down and rebuilt but, the Lord has provided once again. He knows exactly what we need when we need it.
We had frost here already a couple weeks ago on August 24th. It is almost essential to be able to put crops under cover in order to extend the season. Last night we heard it was supposed to be 38 degrees. And when it gets that low it could very easily drop a little more and frost. So we went out late and covered the outside gardens. Turned out it was a false alarm, our thermometer was sitting at 44 degrees at 5:30 this morning.
In this climate with it's harsh growing conditions having the ability to protect the vegetables makes a big difference. We are actually getting ripe tomatoes on the vine. That's pretty much a first for us here. The norm for us until now has been to pick green tomatoes and bring them in the house to ripen.
We have alot to learn about growing in a green house. We've had mixed success so far. We'll have to analyze some of what we did in there. There's a learning curve with everything. That's why it's so important to start now. It takes time to get proficient at a thing.
After ten years of living here i am finally starting to feel confident that we can make it. To make our living from the land. It took that long. But, then again I'm a slow learner. Everyone is different.
We don't have the benefit of having been raised this way. We had to get back to basics. Those who have been raised this way have a huge advantage. There are so many subtle little things they understand that a city slicker hasn't a clue about. By living close to the land there is a wisdom bestowed that no book can teach. A child can pick up on those things without effort much like learning a language. A child doesn't have to take a class to learn how to talk. They just pick it up with a little coaching from their parents. It's the same with knowing how to live off the land. It's a whole language in itself.
Until Next Time

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back To The Grind Stone

Today was my first day back, since summer started, of doing the garbage route. Our driver R.W., is now done for the summer which is what we agreed upon in the beginning. At first we weren't even sure if we could afford him, with paying all the taxes, and unemployment insurance and all that but, we took a leap of faith and hired him anyway. As it turned out we managed to get by even with the extra expense and hassles of having to jump through all the hoops the government throws in your way.

Of course my first day back would have to be the day after a holiday. It's always heavy after one of those. First off, because of all the get togethers people have, cook outs and so forth, and secondly it's one extra days worth of trash built up. Makes a big difference and adds to the work load for the day by having lots more garbage to pick up.

R.W. our summer helper, set a hard act to follow. The kid was fast, flat out fast, did the routes in record times. Even with the heavy summer loads. Before, when our friend Michael was helping I thought we couldn't do it any faster. I thought with me driving and him jumping out it couldn't be done any quicker. I was proven wrong with R.W. You'd never guess it by looking at him since he seems a little on the skinny side. He might be thin but, he's certainly wirey. Far stronger and athletic than he appears. And quite the driver.

I knew there was no way I could compete with the times he was posting but, I wasn't prepared for being almost two hours slower. Of course today was tough and probably even for him I would have gone out to help in the other truck, which I did do a number of times when he was working.

Our little packer truck was maxed out today. When it gets like that you have to do alot of what I call of "cramming and jamming". Cramming and jamming is tough work. Hard on your body, because you run out of space and have to physically squeeze the bags in and most of the times the bags are such that they just plain don't want to be squeezed. They rip open or won't stay put and you repeat the step over and over until it stays in and you somehow by shear will power get the door to shut. It's physically and mentally exhausting to wrestle with garbage for hours on end. Plus you have to deal with, trying best you can, of keeping all those unpleasant sights and smells off of you and your person. Especially when the nasty stuff is just millimeters from being smack dab in your face. You kind of squint your eyes, hold your breath and definitely keep your mouth shut. Usually the first thing I do when I'm done for the day is take a long hot shower.

One thing I could have done without during the last hour of the route today was the fact that we forgot to put a new customer on the route sheet. He came over a week or so ago and signed up, even paid through the end of the year. It was nice dealing with him it was all cut and dried and he was more than willing to pay up front. Those are the kind of customers we like. Good payers are greatly appreciated after having so many that you just about have to write the check out for them in order to get any money. We get burned too many times because of that. Give them the benefit of the doubt and the next thing you know they skip town owing you a chunk of change. Alot of hard work for nothing. So when you find someone like this guy you're glad to sign them on.

Well, with all the farm stuff going on here, somehow, and I can't believe we did it, we forgot to put him on the route sheet.

Of course, it was later in the day from when I indicated we'd be by and then he saw me drive right on past without even slowing down. He called the house and talked to Kelli and was rather perturbed that I didn't stop. Kind of acted like he was going to drop us. So I stopped where I was on the route and ran back to his place. Apparently he'd been waiting for me to get there because he wanted to make sure he packaged everything correctly and his wife had some plants she wanted to give Kelli and was irritated from waiting so long. After I loaded up his garbage he had to add a jab and said, "are you going to remember us next week?" I indicated yes we would and that he was now written in on the route sheet. I thanked him for calling us.

But, it wasn't really something I needed to add to my day that was already taxing me to my limit. And it was probably one of the warmest days we've had this year. Over worked and over heated so little things like that can undermine your confidence. So I started thinking "man, he's going to be one of those kinds of customers, always watching the clock and if your 15 minutes late they're calling on the phone". We have a number of those. Old folks who have nothing better to do than watch for the garbage man and if he's late they worry they've been forgotten. And some of those are so particular that if your EARLY they complain as well. Because they just barely got their trash out and what if he'd come by and they didn't get it out yet. Oh my! Horror of horrors....... Good grief, get a life! So we've got ourselves another particular senior citizen with nothing better to do. But, at least he's a good payer. That'll go a long way. Hopefully he'll stay with us long enough to realize that we really are reliable. We actually pride ourselves in that because some of the other haulers even the big companies aren't very reliable. We hear it alot from people who switch to us.

Days like this I'm tempted to become a hermit. Forget all the hard work and dealing with difficult people. And there are more difficult people in the vicinity than I care to admit. I confess that the thought of becoming a hermit is sometimes more than just a passing idle whim. Mind you, it's not something I consciously ponder though. It just kind of comes on, without any thought at all. Kind of like an urge or a feeling.

Well, not to worry, I highly doubt it would ever come to that,,,, just cashing it all in and heading for the hills, just me and a back pack, a warm sleeping bag, a good rifle, a few packages of seeds and maybe even a good dog. Oops, there I go again!

Until Next Time