Bales of Summer

If I were to ever daydream about an "image" of myself as a farmer (which I NEVER would do, of course) it would most likely include hay. Tossing a bale on to a truck, out in the field mowing a great crop, feeding a bale to some critters. My whole perception of and reality of farming is tied intricately to hay. Thinking about it, cutting it, drying it, watching the weather for it, the equipment for it, feeding it, the feeling of getting a bunch "put up", and yes.... rolling in it. It is just an absolutely essential aspect of my life and our brand of farming.

Notice the clover blossom in the upper left....summer

I have been especially mindful of that lately as I start to fret about the never ending question. "Will we make it through the winter with what we have.... ???? I can say with certainty that we will not, I have known that since the day we started feeding hay... but I can't help myself.

Maybe we will make it. My math could be wrong. We could get green grass in late April. Maybe what we have will just , just, just, just, be enough?

It is not all romance, let me tell you. There is a good deal of stress that goes along with hay making... True Story: I know a farmer in Vermont, awesome guy, a real throw back. He is our source for our dark faced sheep, the Clun Forests. He talks about this awesome pocket watch he has, you know the one, on a chain and it slips out of the pocket each time he needs to know the time. A beautiful piece of machinery. A gift. Well, he started to notice that each year around haying time his watch stopped working.. he took it in... nothing wrong with it... "Come to find out" the intense changes in his body's "electric charge" around the haying stress and anxiety would STOP his watch. Now that is stress.

See what I mean?

Anyway, the whole point of this post was to describe the little moments you get deep in the winter. The moments when you crack open a beautiful bale of hay and you can literally smell summer... the air, the grass, the fields... its like right there. Amazing to be in touch with that in late February.

What an Egg Can Communicate

We had our first 100 egg day here today. The first time we collected over 100 eggs in a day. 103 to be exact. We will eventually expect about 130 or so a day for the next 6 months. This is great news in that it will provide a steady income through the season and will help us stay afloat until the fall sales of meat get completed.

Eggs are not a big money maker, you can cover your costs and make a little profit after going through the 2 year cycle. You spend a lot up front to feed them in the first 6 months before laying begins, you try as well to keep the lights on and make sure they produce as much as possible during the winter months. What is great about eggs, I have found, is the connection most people have to them. Eggs have a place in most people's diets and, beyond that, they have a place in our culture that is also noteworthy.

People can relate to eggs, and to me they are an amazing communicator of quality and health. I wrote a earlier of the 99 cent eggs at Walgreens. Part of this reflection was about scale and quality, about how a small producer can compete with those able to sell an egg for a little over 8 cents. What I have found though, and it was not clear in that post, is that increasingly people are willing to admit that not all eggs are the same. That is one of the biggest battles still out there in food marketplace, to convince people that some eggs are better than others, some peppers are better than others, etc. Not just better in taste, better food.... more nutrition, more mineral, more power for your body.

I think most people will willingly admit that some pizza is better than others, some apple pie is better than others, etc. The human factor is worshipped here, the ability of one vs. another in the kitchen. While the ingredients are a level playing field, it is the skill of the cook in the kitchen that makes a big difference. For example, my Aunt Lib made (hands down) the best blueberry (pronounced "bluebry") pie EVER.  Maybe there is some recognition of the quality of the ingredients, but for the most part its a matter of cooking skill.

What I have seen with the almighty egg is the ability is has to communicate the primacy of methods. I have seen that for many it is a stretch to imagine one egg really differing from another. Shell, yoke, white... and egg is an egg man. When people do see the difference, when they taste the difference, it is such a great opening for conversation about the power of pasture farming.


Your Egg on Grass... color, texture, "body"

A chicken can not hide the care she receives. She only has what she is fed and surrounded with to make her eggs. She will make an egg, in most cases, regardless. What she can tell us is that it matters what she is fed, how she is housed, what is under her feet each and every day. Given the right conditions, she will produce a masterpiece of health, nutrition, and beauty each time. We need to keep spreading this message as it is just as important for the cow, the sheep, the pig, and the vegetables. I think it was Michael Pollen in one of his books who said: "you are what you eat eats"...  love that.