Due to having taken a new full time job last winter, and having to balance that with the farm pursuits, I have not had much time for updating this blog. Even the ‘in season’ page has been a little bit ‘behind’, so to speak. Sorry to anyone who might be reading this. Keep in mind – you can always get more timely updates on the Facebook page as it’s way easier for me to put short blurbs there.
The four corns we got from GRIN were able to produce a reasonable seed crop this year. For now we have limited seed from these varieties available for distribution. This is low cost or free for educational purposes or organizations with good intentions for the seed. For individuals, we would ask for an equal or greater number of good seeds in return later, or else a cash donation based on the number of seeds distributed to help cover our costs in growing, harvesting, and preparing the seed.
We received a hard freeze a few days ago that ended the growing season, so the only things available now are items out of storage. The chickens are getting older, and are molting besides, so there are not many eggs available right now. We will probably have to butcher some of the birds for stewing and replace them if we want to keep selling eggs… or we could just let them grow old, and not sell eggs anymore. Even egg sales – which are among our only items that regularly sell – are so variable they are impossible to predict. Sometimes we sell almost no eggs and end up with an entire fridge full, while sometimes we can hardly keep them in stock, so making a decision based on the sales is hard.
Our attempt to have a CSA for the 2015 season failed. Despite our willingness to proceed with only 3-5 signups, and having at least this many showing interest when it was initially discussed, the actual offering generated almost no interest. Only one physical signup form was requested, and this was never returned to us.
The 2015 growing season was also a disaster, and despite not thinking it possible, it was in fact even worse than the catastrophe of last year. The year was basically a repeat of the last one, only shifted forward to all be one month later. There was horrendous cold in February that killed several of our fruit trees outright (as opposed to being in January). There was flooding through the entire month of June that was hideously destructive (as opposed to last year’s May flooding). This was also followed by a drought. Many things we planted did not produce much to speak of; though things were off to a great start, weather did them in or stunted them so badly they could not recover.
As a result of all these things, 2015 was another year of great losses for us. We were definitely not able to recover even the seed/planting investment, much less anything for our time, fuel cost, etc. This is a dangerous thing considering our house is basically falling apart around us; we are in dire need of a new roof and other repairs we cannot afford.
Due to these facts, we have come to the difficult decision that it is no longer practical or wise to continue attempting to increase our plantings/numbers of items offered for sale. We have been consistently unable to move anything on a reliable basis, and 2015 was the worst year yet for sales, adding insult to the weather-related injury. For example, out of the first 7 days we had the sales shack open for the year, 4 of them were no-sale days (zero dollars and zero sales, for anywhere from 6-8 hours per day of work/watching/waiting). When combining the other 3 that did have sales, we sold only 73 dollars worth. Over the years I have tried Craigslist, Facebook, paper flyers, larger signs, but none of these have seemed to change anything. I did not even really have any orders via email/message this year, which has been a good part of my sales from previous years. Unfortunately, Furniture City Foods also no longer exists and no longer is a market for me. Biodome Project in town has bought some items, but they are limited as to what they can use/move and also they produce some of their own and don’t need mine.
Because of these poor outcomes, it has been decided that we are going to greatly scale back next year. We will be returning to primarily planting for ourselves and our own interests. We may have occasional items offered for sale, but nothing is going to be planted in as large of quantities. The bottom line is, because of the disappointing sales and outcomes, it’s become more of a chore/upsetting task/heartbreak to keep up with the enormous amount of farm work. Since I mostly do all of it myself, other than the plowing/planting, it’s just getting to be too much for me to handle on my own. I have tried to solicit help by bartering free vegetables or practical training in exchange, but even if people talk a big talk beforehand, it is extremely rare that anyone turns around and lifts a spade when it comes down to it. As it is I barely have any free time in the summer; I only went fishing once this year (in April actually, before the farm stuff really started), and I haven’t been hunting at all yet since I just finished with harvesting last week. I’ve had almost no time left for the other things I love, and all of the stress and hardship is turning farming into something I no longer enjoy. As a result, it’s time for re-evaluation, and a year of ‘doing less’ farm-wise is the only way I see to do that. If it turns out that I can figure something else out to increase sales, draw more interest, or get people to buy from me regularly, then I can increase the scale again later. For now, that’s just not the reality.
And no, though most people cannot understand why… I simply cannot do farmers’ markets.
I do not have ‘staff’ to cover for me, I cannot have a dedicated day off all the time,
nor can I manage all the logistics of market fees/insane insurance costs/having a ‘professional booth’ (banners, baskets, awnings, all that shit is expensive),
timing, managing picking, packing, setup etc. which all have to be done very early in the morning even though I worked until 10-11 PM the night before,
transportation of everything,
If anyone still wants a specialty crop grown for them, I am happy to do that, as I will basically grow anything. However, a contract would be required to be drawn up and signed in advance. I can no longer justify planting great amounts of things that just get fed to my chickens or composted. Similarly, if someone wants something specific, let me know and I will be sure to include it. I would grow it just for you.
Other than that… I’ll hopefully see you in better days.