Saturday, May 7, 2011

My week in pictures

My son and I putting in new flower beds in front of the house. He loves digging in the dirt. I'm excited about the stone border my brother-in-law showed me how to build!

Helping move the cows across the road... and back a few days later. It was a lot of fun- moving the cows is invigorating!

Taking care of "baby cow". She's doing very well. Joel recommended we put a few eggs in each bottle to help prevent diarrhea (often a problem with bottle babies)- this worked like a charm! Baby Cow is currently in the corral with a mother cow who's calf died a few days ago- hopefully this mother will accept Baby Cow and we will no longer have to bottle feed her!

Admiring the egg-mobile from my kitchen window.

Happy layers following happy cows over the hills

Kitty-kitty nursing her 4 kittens

I went to the farmer's market for the first time last night as a vendor! This is the Polyface & Friends table where I sold my handcrafted soap, lip balm, and laundry detergent.

We also had our first processing day of the season on Thursday, which went well! Honestly, it's not a bad job at all- it's so lovely being outdoors, enjoying the breeze, and spending time with family and friends while you work. I look forward to doing it again!

This afternoon I'll be making a few batches of soap and washing eggs. I love farm life.
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Marketing: Never apologize for your price

Never Ever Apologize for your Price!

I don't know if I would classify this as Rule #1 in marketing, but it is extremely close the top of my list. This is one of my biggest pet peeves when I'm training for marketing.  A customer will say, "Your food is too expensive. I can't afford that." and the sales person responds with, "Oh, okay, I'm sorry." Then they will hesitantly add, "...but it's better quality."

Are you kidding me? Quality is everything! You get what you pay for. If you buy my food, think of all the places where you won't have to spend that money - Doctor's offices, supporting the animal concentration camps (CAFO's), soil amendments because of depleted top soils, pesticides, antibiotics, and the list goes on.

At Polyface, we set price to cover our overhead expenses - including labor, processing and packaging. There is no need to apologize for wanting to make a decent living. We are not talking about gouging the customer, we are talking about making a decent living. Do not use my words against me here. (smile) However, to those who set their prices astronomically high, I have this to say: It's a free country, nobody is forcing you to buy it. And certainly not many people will.

To better explain my point, I'll draw from Joel - this is an excerpt listing Model Polyface Patrons from one of our newsletters.Characteristics of a Model Polyface Patron (#8 of 8):

Wealthy farmers.  Yes, we thought that would get your attention.  At Polyface, we want wealthy patrons.  We like folks who have enough money in their checking accounts to pay for groceries.  We like folks who own computers.  We like folks who have a cooler.  Model Polyface patrons also want farmers to be wealthy.   At least to make a good living.  The stereotypical redneck hillbilly D-student farmer relegates stewardship of our food system, soil, air, and water to the nitwits of society.  We can never change the food system until the best and brightest find romance and reward in this foundational agrarian vocation.  And anyone who thinks farmers don’t deserve to live as well as any urban upper middle class family disrespects the very essence of their dinner and the landscape their children will inherit.  At Polyface, we go to great lengths to be frugal, to be efficient, and to be economical.  But we do not apologize for the self-respect and personal pride in due compensation for a job well done.  And model Polyface patrons envision a day when their farmers can drive cars like their patrons. ~Joel Salatin

Your turn:
Do you think we are being egotistical when we say to never apologize for price?
From the post last week, does your price make a difference to the clientele you are targeting?

Food Buyers: 
What price is too high? 
Where do you draw the line? 
How much does quality play a part in what you will pay for something?  

Questions? Let's talk.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

An Indian Recipe with a Twist

When I was young, my grandmother taught me how to cook Indian cuisine. I remember chopping lots and lots of onions and using rice, tomatoes, and fun spices to make the delicious dishes. Since living on my own, I have attempted to make her yummy meals. My grandmother never uses recipes, so I experiment and change little things. Here is a recipe for a dish that I made for supper last night. It's based on my grandmother's Indian cooking, but I've changed a few things to make it my own. This recipe uses simple household ingredients and is pretty simple to throw together. I like to make it at lunchtime and let simmer all afternoon, so when I come in from work, a warm meal is ready.

2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. curry
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 LBS. hot italian sausage (I like to cut up the Polyface 4 oz. hot italian links into 1" pieces)
1 1/2 cups cooked beans (I used red kidney beans)
1 LBS. 12 oz. diced tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter in saucepan.
Saute onion, garlic, and spices.
Add the sausage and cook until well done.
Add tomatoes and beans and let simmer.
Serve over warm, cooked rice.

I remember that moment I decided to leave my hometown, Ohio. It was spring and it rained everyday for 2 weeks. I was teaching inner city school and I felt depressed. Where oh where do the sunshine go? Grey skies and pouring rain filled my world. My older sister phoned that day from Venice, California  and kept bragging about her long walks on the beach and the endless sunshine that filled her days. I nearly wept. She had me. Something in me said, "you gotta go to the coast." 
And so I did. I left Ohio for sunny southern California. If California teaches you anything at all, and it has a lot to offer, it teaches you to appreciate rain. 
Fast forward 20 years and I'm living in the seasons again. Rain rain rain. I want to catch it, store it, save it, bless it, bathe in it, drink it. I know it sounds dramatic but yesterday on my drive to pick up our raw milk share the country roads, the shimmering green leaves, the wicked river rapids, made me feel like I was cruising through the rainforest. In California it's common to go at least 8 months without a drop of liquid from the sky. At first I loved it. Constant sunshine made for easy days. I'm certain this is where I developed a passion for the outdoors. But through the years I forgot what loud passionate thunderstorms felt like. The intensity of fast rolling clouds and sudden weather patterns shifting in a flash. I missed seeing green!  Now, I'm living the precious experience of a mix of seasons, a nice flux of change, consistent diversity, something I live for.

You can see from our temporary collapsed bridge that we cannot move the cows across the river today. At least not until we get a boat to haul their water buggy, minerals, baking soda and fence gear. A woman in the neighborhood stopped by a few months back and told me she got married on that old swinging bridge. Her father, Carl previous caretaker, used to ride his ATV across it! The first time I stepped on that old wobbly old  bridge was when Michael and I came out with Joel to see Buxton Farm for the first time. Whoa! Talk about a quick learning curve. The old tomboy came out in me and I followed Joel's footsteps with a shaky heart! Felt like I was holding on for dear life. Now as it hangs on its hinges, and the rain keeps coming and the river keeps rising and the turtles in our pond mate, and the frogs keep singing, I sleep soundly. Our garden needs no well water. The earth in her beauty soaks up the moisture and everywhere I look I see endless fertility. It feels good to be home. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wedding Feast

Oh what fun it was to cater the wedding meal for one of our 2010 interns this weekend! We served a rip-roarin' southern feast, if I do say so myself. Here are a few shots from the preparation that went into it:

Washing salad greens
Spiced pecans
BBQ sauces
Cornbread (baking by weight!)
Prepping the sweet tea
Endless inspiration
The mighty pig roaster
- Food by Dan Solberg of Pork & Spoon Catering -

What is your favorite southern-style dish?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Discussions for The Dirty Life (Question #5 and 6)

We are discussing The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball. Please join us!

Question #5
One of the biggest adjustments Kristin has to make when moving to Essex Farm is learning to live with the absence of instant gratification. She finds that a farmer must continuously put forth effort in order to reap benefits. How does Kristin respond to this new kind of work?
How does her definition of "satisfaction" change?
Would you be able to accommodate a similar change? 

Question #6
The Dirty Life is segmented into seasons. 
What are the underlying issues that take place within each season and how do they relate to the year in full?

Further discussions:
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