Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Finding Money

Part of my day job is finding implementation money for farmers interested in improving soil & water on their farm. What does this mean? Well, a few things. For one it is understanding and playing politics. I never had desires to run for office and would probably have been shot or tortured years ago if I ever joined the diplomatic corps.

Typically, we try to write EPF (environmental protection fund) grants for specific projects in a particular watershed. We also try to learn the "point system" for the NRCS/FSA grant process. You know those parlour games/toys where you try to manover the metal ring through all of the bits and free it from the contraption? Well, that is trying to figure out what it is that these people (grant reviewers) are looking for. For economic development grants you could at least talk to the reviewer after you were turned down to see what they had in mind so that you could improve upon your first grant attempt.

Another way to find money for farmers in these watersheds is when another one drops out of the grant. Say for example they decided to retire or the milk prices were too low, or it took 3 years to get the money and they went ahead and installed the practice themselves...

Well, that is one of the "I have good news and I have bad news" conversations this week. I found you $XXX of money, but the grant closes in 2 weeks we have to have reciepts in dated 2/28 at the latest. I love challenges, but I hate having to do that to a farmer. This isn't how I want to run my business, how can I expect the person to run theirs that way too.

Almost too tired

Here it is the second day and I'm almost too tired to post today. I think I have Bronchitis. That whole coughing without it amounting to more than lack of breath and a sore throat. Two weeks into it. I hate Doctors. Not them as people, it is just that going to one is like admiting that you are broken or something.

I sent in my paperwork to sell cheese through Heritage Food USA. The questions weren't too deep. I was hoping for more of a probe into the philosophy behind the importance of local food systems and biodiversity of livestock agriculture. I guess I was suppose to tell them I feed no grain and that I was a Doctor until two years ago and then I turned to cows in some desire to cleans the world of HTST standardized milk or something. I just told them the truth about our farm and invited them to come and visit for themselves.

I like what they did for the rare turkeys. We sold them throug our farm stand before the Slow Food - Heritage Turkey project. Nice birds, great project they started. My neice Hannah liked to whistle or say something to them to get them to gobble. The colours were fabulous. We started them in February and March to finish in two size ranges for Thanksgiving. I loved the Slates. I also had Burbon Red and Jersey Buff birds. The Burbons and Slates were the lowest maintenence of the three. The Jersey Buff finished nicer though.

My favorite way to cook them was to stuff them with apples and quartered onions. My sister also had this way of preparing them with garlic pierced into the flesh and stuffed with ginger, garlic, green onions and some mushrooms. Wow!

I will be at Glynwood Center in the Hudson Valley to look into doing the Community Markets on Monday the 28th. Miriam Haas is the coordinator for that. Nice woman. I think that she is passionate about bringing good food into the metro-NYC area. I like people who are willing to look into what it takes not only to raise the food, but also the logistics of that process. I think she is one of the more realistic people in the Market Manager position that I have talked to. I look forward to selling product into "the city."

Well it is getting late and I still have to see what I can take for this "cold". Maybe I'll make some Cocky-Leeky soup tomorrow... Mmmm.

Monday, February 21, 2005

First Weblog

Well, it had to be done. I cannot get the Website done in a timely fashion. How else does one try to communicate in this day in age? Wow! My thoughts and digressions can actually get published and read by people at their own will!

Heamour Farm (pronounced A-moor) was my farm name. David's farm was Hilltown Dairy. We sold that place and bought the farm here in New York November 2002. Farming in New York isn't farming in Massachusetts. My boss disagees with me when I say this, but it is 15-20 years behind New England. Why I say that will come out over time.

Boss? Well, Dave and I own this place. We milk about 25-30 dairy cows. There are generally some sheep, goats, chickens, maybe a turkey or so. It is a business and it does make up a significant part of our farm income. I also do this "day job". Common thing with farm wives. Keeps food on the table and health insurance around. We like the health insurance. Couldn't afford it with 30 year low milk prices, so day job I had to get.

I work for the County Soil & Water Conservation District as the "Conservation Grazing Specialist." That means a lot of things. I'll go into that on another day. I'm too lazy to go on about that right now.

Cheese. That is my passion right now. We make fresh cheeses to sell right now. Was a whimp about the aged ones. Didn't have proper aging I use to tell people. Dave Brown at Cornell told me the other day that he could make my cheeses with his eyes closed. I think it was meant to put me in my place, but I can too. That is why I make them. Cash flow. That and I like Quark. Central New York has a serious deficit of good food and I decided to make some to sell to the people who appreciate good food.

I'm working on a Gouda and a couple of other cheeses. I have also learned how to make some of the bloomy rind ones and am intregued by some blues. The later will be made when I have my bread and butter aged cheese perfected. I love cheese and have to reined in when it comes to experimenting...

Conservation Breeding is another passion. We have Arapawa Island goats, Kerry and Ayrshire cattle. We've also had individuals of Milking Devon, Milking Shorthorn, San Clemente Island (goat) and the rare turkeys. I loved the turkey's but when Claire was born (April 2002), something had to give and the turkeys were them. Give us time and Claire some age and we will probably have them again too.

This is a start. I'm thrilled.