A personal post from Robin, from the February farm journal…… It is only the second week of February and we already have had three major winter storm events! This is perfect for office work. We set up our CSA sign ups using a program called Small Farm Central. It has gone very smoothly and we have quite a few new veggie lovers signed up. We can’t wait to start the new CSA. These customers are so passionate about eating healthy, cooking real food, and even the social implications of the local food system. Each and every one of these customers are precious and so interesting. We love to hear their stories. Some are cancer survivors, some have other serious health issues, some are gourmet cooks, some are hippies, some are yogis, some are cross fit buffs and Paleo enthusiasts, and all of them are very committed to eating their veggies, and are some of our favorite people. We love being the “common ground” for all healthy eating lifestyles!
There is a lot of anticipation February. Most of our seeds are ordered. At this point I have them all organized, my gardens mapped out and am just anxiously waiting to get them in the ground! There is a feeling of anxiety knowing that the CSA is going to start soon and yet we see it snow! I am trying to appease this anxiety by peeking under the tunnels and composting rows for planting at the end of the month. Soon!
One of the most important things we do indoors is keep accurate accounting. Every Sunday afternoon we enter all our receipts into Quickbooks and file them. We also are sure we have accurately recorded our truck mileage as well as take a look at what was sold to CSA, market, and restaurants. This keeps us on track and lets us know where to spend our energy. Sometimes farming is so multidimensional that it becomes a tornado of activity with very little examination of what is financially viable and what is just spinning. This is a tough but important part of the business that really needs to be a priority. Our 2013 tax information is already to the accountant and I have no anxiety at all about our record keeping. We have receipts and logs for everything. A tax problem is the death of many small businesses and even families. The extra work required to not have those types of problems is worth it. We also take time on Sunday afternoons to organize everything that needs to happen the next week and decide who will manage each task as well as when. This helps keep us and our paid help all on track and focused. Again, the tornado of work can make it easy to spin and not really do what needs to be done. Plan, prioritize, implement. Speaking of planning, prioritizing and implementing, our goal for 2012 was to pay off all debt, including the car, truck, house, and land. This was a huge challenge but WE DID IT! It was not without a lot of very hard work. Both Jay and I had full time jobs and worked the farm. We also lived simply and chose to live well below our means, not shop, drive our old cars and truck, and love it! The peace from being debt free is far greater than the momentary happiness “stuff” might bring. So our goal for 2014 is to live totally on our farm income. Jay left his job with Armstrong and is now working the farm full time. I still have my job, however we are living off farm income and saving all of my income to buy some more farm land. We are toying with the idea of purchasing land for a “teaching farm”. Ideally this would be a small farm with an inexpensive house on it. We are considering the feasibility of using this property as a place for a new young farmer to live and farm affordably and under our guidance. Whenever I work with farmers or go to agricultural meetings, I am struck by the fact that most growers are well past 40 years old. Where is the next generation? I think that there are several barriers to entry for these young farmers. The biggest barrier is the cost of available farmland; the second is having a way to get hands on experience in profitably managing a small farm. We haven’t figured out all the details yet but are working on how to make this happen. We want to actually implement this goal in 2015. Plan, Prioritize, Implement! -Robin
Hope you are enjoying the behind the scenes view of farm life. Next up, we will tell you what’s happening in March around the farm. Until then, we are taking names for the waiting list for Spring/Summer CSA, since it is already full! See this post if you need details for getting on the waiting list.
CSA Members and Atherton shoppers, you will be eating more veggies very soon!