Greentree Naturals First Day of Summer 2008 Newsletter
Diane kissing the goat
2008 will be a year that we all remember and refer to for many years to come. Everyone will be saying: "Remember the winter of 2008?" It started snowing in January and didn't stop until sometime in March. We still had snow in the gardens until the middle of April. This is definitely the latest we have been able to start up our spring garden duties in the 20+ years that we have lived here. The photo is of Diane kissing the goat. "Kiss the goat" is a new expression we are using these days for dealing with life's challenges, as in "you might as well just kiss the goat...."
The amount of snow was a challenge to everyone in our community. There was a state of emergency and the National Guard came in at one point to help shovel off the roofs of schools and buildings. At one point, we could no longer see out of the windows on the north side of the house. It went from "Oh boy, it's snowing! Isn't it beautiful?" to "Oh my God, it's snowing…when will it ever stop?" It seemed like every Tuesday, there would be a new blizzard blowing through. The snow was so deep that you could easily step over the six foot fence to the goats with snow shoes on.
I made note of this Tuesday snow phenomenon because I taught a course on Sustainable Small Acreage Farming and Ranching on Tuesday nights starting in January. Amazingly, this hardy bunch of people managed to make all but one of the twelve week courses, which I cancelled due to the fact that we received three foot of snow in one stormy night, my snow blower died, and the snow shovel broke. We were only truly snow-bound for three days and were "rescued" by friends and neighbors. Teaching this course for University of Idaho was quite an experience and it looks like I will be teaching it again for this fall. This photo is a group picture taken on graduation day in May at our farm. We had a potluck lunch, and everyone brought their families. There were 21+ children under the age of ten here. The goats hid and we didn't see two of the cats for days.
In early April, I presented a Small Farm Marketing session at the 2008 National Women in Agriculture Educators Conference in Oklahoma City. This is where I grew up, so it was a real honor to return for such an event. I enjoyed the cuisine of the Okies and ate catfish, okra, hushpuppies and grits for a number of meals. It was lovely to spend time with friends and the few family members remaining there. I visited the graves of my mother and father in the middle of a storm that turned into a tornado, which somehow made the trip as perfect as it could be.
Since there was snow on the ground in April, we decided to take on the much needed task of painting the house. We got two sides of the house painted when the snow melted off and we had to switch gears to garden work. The house is now five different colors and we don't have time to finish the project. The garden is always priority. I determined that the solution to this multi-colored house is to leave the ladder up so we are reminded of the task at hand and it at least looks like we are working on it! We will finish this chore a little at a time.
We had 36 first and second graders come out and plant pumpkins on the farm (see the Pumpkin Project page for more information).
The children will return to harvest pumpkins in the fall. We planted a large pumpkin patch this year and will open it up to let the community come and harvest pumpkins for a set price per pumpkin. We have calls every year of folks wanting some place to bring their kids to harvest pumpkins; so finally, we will do it this year.
The crops are pretty much planted, although we are still working on a new strawberry bed and adding a few more potato rows. Most things are weeks behind the usual, but catching up fast. Like I always tell my organic gardening students, you are ready to grow a garden in north Idaho when you plan for the hottest, coldest, wettest, driest weather in recorded history. I would guess that this will hold true to farming anywhere. The weather is changing, no denying that. All we can do is adapt to the changes and keep focused on always doing the best that we can every day. We will not be hosting our Sunday Afternoon Decadent Tea because our chef broke her wrist and is not available for the event.
We are going to open up an on-farm stand on July 11th. We will be open every Wednesday and Friday from 3:00 to 6:00pm and see how it goes. Our goal is to connect with the hundreds of neighbors that live around us that do not go into town for the farmers market. This also gives us the option to still attend the Saturday farmers market in Sandpoint. If we could sell everything from the farm, through our CSA, restaurants and the farm stand, this would be fantastic! I have been selling at the farmers market for 18 years now and wouldn't mind something different. We shall see how things progress.
Our 2008 summer
Summertime is a blur of activities and time goes by so fast. We realize that this choice of being organic farmers was not an easy road to travel. We are both in our late 50's, have every penny we every made tied up in the farm, and can only look to the future with a continued passion for what we do. We will persevere for as long as we can physically do this work. We are in the process of putting up the 30 X 100' greenhouse that was gifted to us a couple of years ago so we can expand the season and variety of crops. As time goes by, we hope to do more educational projects on the farm to teach others how to do what we do. That's about it for our updates from Greentree Naturals. Visit the CSA part of our website for CSA newsletters and recipes!
All the best,