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Posted 4/2/2011 9:33am by Stacey Roussel.

So this is National Farmworkers Awareness Week.  Did you know? 

It’s early Saturday morning, and my friends at Blue Heron posted a blog that caught my attention and got me thinking.  www.grist.org  Startling new report shines light on far labor conditions-By Tom Philpott

In the article he speaks from a bird’s eye view about cheap food prices and what they do to the people who produce them.  A good read and the whole report 76 pages are going to be downloaded; here is what I know from my experience. 

It cost real dollars to produce food.  I was an accountant before being a farmer.  My cost accounting professor drilled fixed vs. variable costing. 

Fixed costs are those that are independent of output, some examples -tractor, the barn, the driveway, a fence, a toilet.  These costs remain regardless of output.   Variable costs are those that increase or decrease with production-some examples seed, fertilizer, electricity, diesel, LABOR. 

Variable costs are those which are more easily manipulated in the short term.  Those that make a difference in the bottom line this month or even this year.  If you look at my short list of variable costs, you will see that farmers have very little wiggle room.  If you go short on seed or fertilizer, there is less product, so one of the very few places that can be manipulated is labor.  A creative farmer, and this is one who can survive in the current environment, has to really look at costs and find a work around. 

So---when you are shopping at the farmers market this morning, ask your producer how they manage labor costs.  Know that you are the lucky one with access to your grower because if you are shopping for produce in a big box store, the farmer and the people who work his fields are far from your shopping cart. 

The real question is where are my values?  What do I really care to spend my resources on?  Why should the food that nourishes my body  that allows my children to grow and prosper be cheap?  When I choose the cheaper product, what am I doing to the real people who produce it for me? 

We build culture every day with the choices we make; this is reality.  Living in a bargain/crap culture is not sustainable because we rely on what my friend, Clay, calls ghost slaves. 

I have a family and two small children, and I know very well the sacrifices that families have to make to make ends meet.  Life is a whole bunch of tradeoffs in the end.  Please think about what you are trading.  If we raise children that don’t care about the world around us, we fail our grandchildren. 

Know your farmer, know your food.  

Posted 3/23/2011 6:09am by Stacey Roussel.

Well, I am happy to say that the Almanac was close on with its prediction of rainfall for our region this month.  Next month, 7 inches are projected.  Let’s hope it does not all fall in one day! 

Jay and I were lucky enough to be in the same room as Joel Salatin a year or two ago.  We were at an organic grower’s conference, and I will never forget a comment he made.  “We all choose our own inconsistencies.”  Then there was something about a Snickers bar and lots of laughter. 

Living with principles can be challenging and downright hard.  I have to add to Joel’s comment and say we all choose those things on which we will not bend.  When faced with inconsistency, focusing on what is really important and being honest with who you are is key.  There is so much more that can be done because our world is really broken. 

Good news from this week includes:

  • a phone call from a friend who is making big changes in his life to live on his principles,
  • my college roommate is tweaking her passion to serve those around her better,
  • And a beautiful customer who drove her Smart car to pick up her veggies.  She tells us, “I feel like I am doing my part.”  Her car could fit in the back of my pickup, btw. 

Challenge for this week, is to do one more thing.  Not to take off my plate, but to add one more simple thing that will make the world a better place, and to pray for a slow steady rain.  – Farmer Stacey

Posted 2/24/2011 3:36pm by Stacey Roussel.

This week, we planted over 400 potatoes, the first round of tomatoes, carrots, radish, beets, turnips (sorry Deanna- just could not help myself).  We mulched the tomatoes, blanched the leeks, and burned the bermuda grass that is starting to show it's evil self.  It was and still is a very busy week. 

The chickens are happy with their new home; they have lots of bugs and grass to eat.  The apple trees we planted last week were covered with little pink flowers.  I am hoping for a little bit, stressing that little, of rain today.  Just enough to soak in those seeds and not enough to drown them.  The clouds have been building all day.  I am still waiting for those drops. 

While planting those potatoes there was much talk about suffering, hopefully, not because of the work.  The big question-Do we need suffering to realize happiness?  A purpose for suffering is difficult to realize when looking at a sick friend or child who is struggling.  Life is the sum of mystery, and all and everything is given.

I hope you guys like potatoes. 

 

Posted 2/18/2011 5:43pm by Stacey Roussel.

Way back in December of 2010 our chicken flock was disbatched to handle a field that was beyond a problem.  The rains of July 2010, as well as the dreaded cucumber beetle, really limited the amount of cultivation that could be done.  The field was abandonded to weeds and allowed to go fallow. 

This is what it looked like the day we moved chickens onto that piece of land.  First day of work on this field

We moved them Feburary 15th.  They did a wonderful job clearing the grass, eating bugs, and leaving behind their fertilizer.  This is what my field looked like Tuesday afternoon.

Field the last day of work

Yesterday, I disced this ground without a plow or a tiller.  Amazing. 

 

Posted 12/21/2010 9:41am by Stacey Roussel.

http://www.localharvest.org/blog/26999/ 

 

Thanksgiving…

Jay and I decided not to go to Louisiana this Thanksgiving.  Lots of reasons why, but I am happy for this choice.  We spent the time at home in very productive ways.  We finished all of the winter homes for our animals and spent real quality time with our family and some dear friends.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner sourced from our farm and a beautiful TX wine.

 

I am so happy to finish our animal shelters because we had our first frost this morning.  All of the basil is now gone, but the chickens, the goats, and the rabbits were happy.  We started the fence on the Dannhaus side of our property only to realize that we need a new drill bit for our auger.   There is always something – thus the name of our farm – All We Need can be taken two ways. 

 

Today we did horse judging in the morning, Santa pictures in the afternoon, feels like a holiday, rested and full.  Now is time for a fire and Thanksgiving leftovers. 

 

We are so thankful-thankful for our family and our farm, the stars in the night sky, our incredible vegetables, our animals (even big bad Ben), and the firewood that my father chopped all summer.  We are thankful for our customers and CSA members who support our family and for this holiday that allows us to reflect, even if just for a moment, about this beautiful life that we share. 

 

I would like to remember a Jessie Clare quote, “God is good, all the time”.

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