Thursday, November 06, 2008

Happy Halloween from Claire

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Flower Parts

Claire has this teacher that has labeled her as "behind" because I homeschooled her last year. I know she has a hard time with phonics and learning how to read. Kinda why I looked into a school. I was clear with that. She is having a hard time consistently understanding how sounds go together. One day she gets it, one day she cannot remember what "a" or "e" or some blend sounds like.

I felt a "professional" can help me teach her skills to "get" it consistently. Instead, I get that she is a "failure". That is Claire's term. I am constantly trying to come up with things to show her she is not a failure and that she is a smart girl, a beautiful girl and that all of the things about Claire are unique and special.

She is not stupid and I cannot say I did anything of a disservice to her. When I tried all I could with my resources, I enrolled her in school. Now that this has happened, I've found more resources and am getting results at home with her. The teacher prefers to send her home with assessments that have a failing mark and tell me that she is not capable of learning because I homeschooled her... Can it be that Claire does not hear the teacher, or understand her or get a certain accent? Can it be something about a student distracting her? I don't know, I am trying to keep a business and household together here, not there...

Claire is excellent in math and science though.

This is a scan of a drawing she did of the parts of a flower. The key is she did of the parts of a flower. Yah, she has two of them spelled wrong, but it comes out of a college text book that she and I found when she asked me what the stamen and other flower parts were called. Now,tell me she is dumb or behind? I don't get why she is able to do the work here and will not for the teacher there? The whole point of first, second and third grade is to seek improvement and completion of the basics of learning, not develop test anxiety.

I am dissapointed with this whole "school" process and I have no idea what to do. The thing is that if we leave, we are letting this teacher win too. She gets to keep the students that will succeed in her program. Woohoo. I am learning that 100% pass of tests has less to do with encouraging a full learning experience and more to do with pushing kids out of a program that does not fit into a mold. The irony is that she can and is still trying to blame it on me...

My instinct is to pull her out and homeschool again. Dave, to enroll her in the podunk local elementary school that caused a lot of the problems in the first place.

Monday, October 06, 2008

leaves are changing

...and blowing...

I had a wonderful time at Argyle Cheese Farmer in Argyle, NY this weekend. Made cheese with Val Bines as expert cheese technologist and "the girls". The words for the week were "flocculation" (a perennial cheese workshop favorite) and "quiescence".

We made a bid on a farm in Hebron. Apparently they feel that the markets are not dropping like the rest of the world. Confidence is nice. I wish it would spread through the rest of the world right now. Maybe our farm will sell then... A wet farm with nothing fancy for soils and a derelict barn (we were hoping to call home?)... They countered with double our offer. Our offer was not bad either. Funny, they actually want us to buy the whole deal, but it brings the farm back over $300,000. This farm acquisition project in this county is odd. In one farm they want a balloon payment in 5 years on a $350,000 farm. In one they up the price by $50,000 in the two weeks from our calling for an appointment to our coming to the showing, without a call. This was with a burn and bulldoze house project.. I hear it takes a year to find a perfect place in this county, but this is absurd.

I dislike the schools out here in central New York with a passion. They are condescending to parents and they offer nothing creative or encouraging to the children. The whole thing used to be about making it fun to learn, not giving a first grader test anxiety or expecting parents to do the brunt of the teaching. Why not homeschool again? I am so disappointed in a paid tuition school too. We pay taxes to a regional school for nothing and then a tuition for a system that is not any better, but in other ways.

It is an easy thing to get discouraged. There are a few of us out here who have worked hard to get people "into" the concept of buying local food. With the economy turning the way it did, and so fast... all of this work was for nothing. This cheap at all costs, almost determined to be poor mentality is too much to bear. I am so sad to see us leave,but Ineed to be around a group of people that appreciate good food made locally...

We also need to be near my mom and David's family. It often takes moving far away to appreciate where you come from, right?

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The word autumn always seems so solemn. Fall to flippant. It is natures way of easing us into the deep freeze. Fair enough. I just wish there were another word to describe how this time of year makes me feel.

Claire finally passed her spelling test! Woohoo. No to get her to consistently remember the kindergarten words so that the teacher believes me when I say she knows more than she lets on... So much for the easy life...

Dave and I found Claire talking to her chickens again. She brought down one of her play chairs and was sitting there with the one hen that survived the Belle attack. It was sweet and reminded us that Claire does have a sweet side to her. She is a good kid.

We are going to look at another round of properties in the Washington County area again. I need closure on all of this, but it is hard to look at farms. People want estate prices now. You cannot afford much of anything and expect to be a non-trustfund or other income farmer east of the Hudson river. I think that is what is making Dave and I the most anxious. We want to be in an area that is now estate agriculture. We knew that, but I think denial helped us cope until now.

Well, Claire is out of time out and I have to get back to help finish chores.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I know Marcia wants me to post something about Claire. Sorry. Today it is all about Patrick. I have to pick him up from Kelly Meats. He should be in little vacuum sealed packages, frozen, ready for the grill.

We raise our own meat on the farm. We name the animals and treat them well. They do have a purpose. He is a nice veal calf. Ayrshire cattle make a nice pink veal with a lovely flavored meat. I like them more than Holstein veal. This one was fattened on a brood cow. A kerry one, Maxine.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thoughts While Driving

My mom is going to be ok for now. At least the lymph is not cancerous. Only, she does have sarcoidosis. I am only scratching the surface of that condition. It is one more thing to research, to worry, to figure out. I just don't care for the lack of balance thing. I am terrified that she will go upstairs at work (granite stairs) and fall down or something. I am 3-4 hours away.

I came home after getting notes home from teacher. You know I do not care for this lack of communication thing I get here in CNY. Kinda like this job where they said, "there is your desk, your files...good luck..." What does that mean? Are you trying to set me up for failure?

Basically Claire is having test anxiety and teacher anxiety and apparently she feels she can blame it on my homeschooling Claire. I am sorry, but the teacher had her change her hadwritting (that she was taught in nursery, pre-K and my K program). She gave her different words. She asked them to start spelling and basically offered no transition, no interaction with parents at this "Open house" where we are to sit and listen to her theories on education adn then watch another parent take over the situation. No follow through with us...

After paying $4000, this woman feels that with 8 kids in class, she does not have time for my daughter and that I am doing a disservice to my child by not letting her stay back in school! There are 21 kids in that class. Claire did her work for us. I did not get to talk to her. She told me her view point and that was final. I am not a happy person. I am a very unhappy person. I do not want this woman to ruin my daughter. Claire feels she "didn't win". How do I explain to Claire (for her to believe me) that it is ok and that it was not a race. She did not have to "win", only do her best.

I did not sleep. I have faint spells and I think I'm either allergic or getting a rash...

What to do with the cheese business this fall? I'm thinking just yoghurt and milk for pasteurized and raw milk for cheese. That or sell and move to civilization and start up in 2 years again.

Being dissapointed sucks.

I have to drive to MI for conference next weekend. 10 hours 22 minutes. I'll have time to sort out my thoughts I think... I wish I had my Gale dog. She would understand and come with me to listen. I miss that dog soooo much today. It is strange to miss her again. She has been gone for 4 years. Stinks to loose your soul mate.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

First Day of School!!!!!

Woohoo! Claire goes off to St. Mary's School today. She is excited. She will tell us later today if she still loves St. Mary's. The uniform makes her look way cute. She giggled and hugged me when I told her I wrote that.

Here she is!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

September Already

Yup, the leaves are changing. You don't need the fan on at night and Claire starts school tomorrow.

Dave had a conversation with the Manhattan boys yesterday. They wanted us to beg them to buy the farm. We don't need to. They wanted us to sell them a fully outfitted farm, fully staffed and all. They wanted the cheese plant, a CSA staff, logistics, etc. All for $295,000. Basically, after 2 post-visit phone calls, these guys are morons. Yup. Not as smart as they want to think they are. The failed the first rule of business.


Don't insult the seller and don't keep insisting that you know what you are doing. Also remember, we all deal cash in agriculture. It does not make a difference if you pay cash or not. We are still talking about depreciable expenses and we will still claim all of the money. We also use an attorney and we will be buying another piece of land. The biggest thing, we own the farm outright. We aren't selling because we own too much. We own all of this.

OK. What is this talk of buying and selling?

Well. It is not secret that Dave and I want to get a little closer to family. My mom is alone in MA and her health is not as great (for someone who is still 39years old). Ken and Marcia are too far for Claire to visit regularly and we want to be closer to them as well. It has been a hard year for us. There are responsibilities 4 hours away in one direction and we are here.

The thing is we don't HAVE to move. We do like this farm. We do have great customers and friends here. WE want someone who will continue what we are doing. I like to see completion (rather than closure) on this whole local food thing in central NY.

The farm has been cleaned up a lot. The house is starting to get all of the cosmetic stuff done to it. Structurally it is great now. The barn has had a lot done and will continue to get a lot done to it. The deal shipping milk to Hood has been fine. The cheese business does offer an on-farm income to me. It also stabilizes the milk price for the dairy. We have rented land that is next door (and one field 6 miles away). You can also buy that land if you want to.

One theory is to drop back to 8-12 cows seasonally. Make 6-7000# of raw aged cheese and do veg. for the rest of the acreage. You can make a very nice income that way. It is also a great lifestyle. Kinda like the model Orb Weaver has in VT. I really like that model. It is also quite a sustainable one, without working the person into the ground.

I don't know. I think one of the biggest reservations about these guys from Manhattan was not that they do not understand dairy farming, the dairy industry or any of that. It was that they only saw that you get money up front (probably $850) for a CSA and that the wetlands were a liability. A liability! They are an asset to the watershed. They also provide wetland habitat to wood ducks, wetland species of plants and are where you grow cedar. The CSA is also a relationship between community and farmer. They missed that. F&^$ hated the flies and the whole thing about the farm, constantly asking if Tom's half starved cows were "happy". They have no intentions of being a farmer. They missed the crucial thing about linking the consumer and food. They were just about the money. The irony is that they don't know how to make it farming. They don't want to farm. They don't care about the environment of their consumers getting the best food.

We are still hare and will still keep producing food for sale. If it sells, it sells. If not. We are here and happy to make food. We also will not talk about honest people interested in being a part of the food shed in CNY and our farm on the blog if they are interested. These guys just missed the whole picture and it made me loose sleep because they don't care about the upstate farm economy, the environment or the crucial link between farmer and consumer. THey sell organic milk into NYC and only see it as a commodity and not getting their consumer a food product that they believe in. M*$$ though organic was a joke. That rotted dirt.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Biodiversity vs. Human Greed

Calf. Farmers Use Guns, Poisin to Safeguard Crops

By TRACIE CONE, Associated Press Writer
18 minutes ago

FRESNO, Calif. - Farmers in "America's Salad Bowl" are turning into hunters — stalking wild pigs, rabbits and deer — to keep E. coli and other harmful bacteria out of their fields.

It's part of an intense effort to prevent another disaster like the 2006 spinach contamination that killed three people, sickened 200 and cost the industry $80 million in lost sales.

The exact source of the contamination was never discovered, but scientists suspect that cattle, feral pigs, or other wildlife may have spread the E. coli by defecating near crops.

The pressure to safeguard crops comes from the companies that buy fresh greens. In response, some farmers are taking gun-safety classes to learn how to shoot animals that could carry the bacteria. Others are uprooting native trees and plants and erecting fences to make their land inhospitable to wildlife.

Spinach grower Bob Martin has even poisoned ponds with copper sulfate to kill frogs that might get caught in harvesting machinery or carry salmonella on their webbed feet.

Produce buyers "got us by the short hairs," said Martin, one of few growers who would talk publicly about how he is protecting his crop.

But some officials have questioned whether such drastic measures are necessary based on limited evidence.

"We're trying to talk now with the companies, buyers, retailers, wholesalers to bring things back into balance," said Scott Horsfall, executive director of the Leafy Greens Handlers Marketing Board, which oversees new farming standards drawn up after the 2006 E. coli contamination. "There's a real pressure out there on growers that goes beyond what the science justifies."

Concern over contamination is most pronounced in the Salinas River Valley, where valuable farmland and sensitive wildlife have coexisted for centuries. The lush valley, described in John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" and nicknamed "America's Salad Bowl," grows 60 percent of the nation's lettuce.

The nonprofit Resource Conservation District of Monterey County, which works with landowners to sustain wildlife habitat, surveyed 181 leafy greens growers who manage more than 140,000 acres. The survey showed that more than 30,000 acres had been affected by trapping, poisoning, fencing or removal of natural habitat.

The survey also indicated that 32 percent of respondents were convinced by corporate food-safety auditors to remove non-crop vegetation. More than 47 percent had been asked to "remove" wildlife, and 40.7 percent of those surveyed complied.

Growers, packers and shippers adopted new food-safety standards last year for farms, including a requirement that farmers establish 30-foot buffers between their fields and grazing land for cattle, which are known carriers of E. coli.

The standards acknowledged that wildlife could also carry the bacteria, but they had no requirement for buffers between wildlife habitat and fields.

"I think there's a little brinksmanship going on," said Hank Giclas of Western Growers, who was part of the committee who wrote the standards. He worries that processors are exceeding the rules to gain a sales advantage without good science.

Going beyond the guidelines "without going through a review process is something companies have the right to do, but it would be better if they'd go through the program," he said.

Smaller growers argue that stricter guidelines aren't warranted for farmers growing fresh bunched greens. They say the problem is primarily with cut greens that are bagged, which allows bacteria to multiply if temperatures rise.

Industry representatives defend their above-and-beyond restrictions.

Fresh Express, with 41 percent of the bagged greens market, demands a mile between farm fields and feedlots for cattle instead of the agreement's recommended 400 feet. The company also requires that a field intruded on by a wild pig be kept idle for two years.

Barbara Hines, a spokeswoman for Fresh Express, which processes 40 million pounds of salad each month, said the company's tighter regulations are "generally valued" by its retail customers, which include grocers such as Safeway, Vons and Harris-Teeter.

Earthbound Farms also exceeds regulations in many areas, especially in seed and water testing and its one-mile requirement between farms and feedlots. But the company views fencing and removal of natural habitat as a counterintuitive last resort.

Habitat is what animals want. "If you remove it, they will go into the field," said Will Daniels, Earthbound's vice president of quality, food safety and organic integrity.

Fresh Express has funded a $2 million study into methods of potential E. coli transmission. Results are due next month.

The Western Institute for Food Safety and Security is conducting a separate study funded by the federal government. It plans to analyze carcasses and anal swabs from 7,000 birds, wild pigs, cattle and other animals collected by state officials. Hunters are being asked to turn in deer colons for the research.

Officials are also collecting 13,000 soil, water and plant samples in the hope that the study will rule out wildlife as risks and ease buyers' fears.

"We have two extraordinary resources in this area: wildlife and our agricultural community," said Terry Palmassno, a senior wildlife biologist at the California Department of Fish and Game. "It's our position that you don't need to destroy one in order to save the other, and that's what we're working on doing."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

head ache

I refinished the floor in the livingroom/dining room. I painted the exterior doors to the house, some trim associated with the doors and a side porch off the cut&wrap room. I have a head ache. I am not sure if it is a chemical sensitivity issue related to the house projects, or because I am allergic to a mold that is at it's peak in Aug-September in the north east region of the states. Our Dr.'s office has a fairly unorganized lady now and not only is she taking her time to get Dave his prescriptions (you know the kind that you have to pick up and they want you to call in, but you are either too early or too late to call it in...). She kinda didn't tell me the truth about getting it signed off on and I am still in pain. I hope she has a head ache tomorrow. Actually for three days like me, so she can develop a more caring personality. I liked the staff there last year. Way more professional than this new lot.

I have done squat for processing. Yoghurt and that is it. I have to work on fluid milk and feta tomorrow.

I will only make the Skaneateles f. market this week. State Fair week and I am not sure if this is worth my time, but it will have to do. My head hurts...

The boys from the milk delivery business in NYC tried to say that I did not give them all of the information regarding the sale of the farm and business and that I insulted them. Kinda funny considering the listing that they found it on said everything they thought I did not tell them and they were the ones to say they did not know anything about a dairy farm and needed assistance and resources to do this project right. I just sent them the links to be able to get a feasibility project done, like they asked. He basically parroted Dave and I on their plans... I don't care at this point. We are making money here and they can buy it at our price or get a farm in St. Lawrence county... I'll be nice because I truely want someone to succeed, but I am not giving anything away that I do not have to because they did not read or listen to what I had to say. It is not my fault and I know as much as they do that this is all about Union Square and the other Greenmarkets and that is it.

Dave finally admitted that cheese has done it's part in providing an on-farm income to me like our business plan stated. It has played a significant role in the over all farm profitability. It takes a lot to get him to admit that what I do is a contribution to the greater whole. From what I hear, it is not uncommon for male farmers to have this idea that the support system that farm wives give them means little compared to what they do. It is a sad deal and for some women a lonely deal. I've logged in 90+ hours a week on a common work week just like him. I may not do all of the milking, but I was the one to do dishes, laundry, shopping for school, homeschool Claire, make yoghurt, do sales calls, ring the Dr, pharmacy, grain companies regarding chick starter, arranged to get rid of whey, fed us and all of the farm help and mascots that came about. I have also started, done or finished chores while he gets hay in. I also do all of the organic and inspection paperwork, accounting, and other things...

I have a head ache and I think it is mold.

Thoughts on a Better Food Policy and our Health

Ten points to better health
1. Know what you're eating. Find out where it comes from and what's in it. Think about what's in season now - what's ripe, not just fresh. A lot of these foods will turn out to be local.
2. Get cooking. And try making things from scratch. You'll save money and rediscover skills you forgot you had.
3. Plant something. It could be an herb pot on your kitchen counter or, if you have space at home, a small kitchen garden, or a communal plot in your neighborhood that you tend with family and friends. (The Victory Garden on Civic Center Plaza is a landscape of ideas, staffed by experts who can guide your hands to the soil.)
4. Pack a bag lunch.
5. Drink tap water. It's healthier for you, and it's free.
6. Learn about and celebrate the food traditions your family still possesses. These are like seeds, long stored and just waiting to be planted.
7. Invite someone to share a meal. Strengthen the bonds of friendship and community by cooking and eating together.
8. Learn about endangered foods and how we can bring them back to our tables.
9. Conserve, compost and recycle.
10. Vote with your fork.

Healthy Food and Agriculture Declaration, orchestrated by Roots of Change as a response to the farm bill

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Quark is a fresh lactic cheese. Consumed in quantities in Germany, Holland and eastern Europe. I normally drain it in brick hoops, but I tried to make 3 batches of cheese last Tuesday and had to hang the Quark. Made a consistency like cream cheese. Quite lovely actually, but a little thicker.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Green Hills Farmers Market

Here are some of the other vendors at Green Hills Farmers Market on S.Salina Street on Wednesdays 3-7 pm. I'm the one with cheese. I didn't take my own photo...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Argyle Cheese

Dave and Marge Randles have a relatively new cheese business in Argyle, NY. Marge refers to me as her "Cheese Coach." I prefer "Goddess" or "Consultant" or "Cheese Technical Advisor"... Basically, I showed her how to make some of the cheeses they make and offer help when emergencies come about. Marge has a great support system in place to help as well. It makes a difference.

You can find her, her sister and her husband at Troy Riverfront Market, Saratoga and Glens Falls F. Markets. She also has an expanded farm store (which will be open soon, until then use old store).

Woohoo, more cheese makers in NY.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I went to this workshop Hosted by NOFA NY, Lightning Tree Farm and Wild Hive Farm. I get rather obsessed with biodiversity in livestock, but equally important in biodiversity in crops. We had this opportunity at the end to view the various test plots of the heritage wheats, ancient wheats and re-looked at commercial varieties from Canada. The one Elizabeth Dyck from NOFA-NY got pumped about was the Emmer. This is a Mid-East variety that has some real possibilities for organic production. It is not so input driven like the commercial varieties we have today. It is also probably one of the oldest wheat strains. Really pretty in this test field of about 1/4 acres of Emmer.

Beck from Aunt Bee's farm as also at the workshop as was Matt Grove from Bagel Grove (baker). It was good to see others in Central NY interested in this project.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tim's Rooster

Tim is the same guy that bought Peppermint Patti. Some day he will get to milking his goats and making cheese. He does our AI work and preg checks our cattle. Quite good at what he does. Claire likes to get her balloon rooster from Tim when he is done. Claire also has a stuffed rabbit names Road Kill.

We do have a therapy fund for her. We think she is smart enough to get into college with scholarships...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Micro dairy concept

I think I like this Frank Kipe. I honestly don't know him well, but he is into the idea that a peron with 5 cows can make a living making and selling dairy products to their local community. I talked to him a bit yesterday about his filler, then mobile dairy system and basically about all of his ideas on this micro-dairy concept.

Seems like a sustainable concept and a viable concept for a community that is interested in keeping a farmer local. Apparently it costs about $12,000 plus a little for the equipment and is PMO (means meets federal regs). 100 people at $150 can buy and ship the equipment. Another small investment and the building goes around it... See where I am going? I think that this can be a sustainable community/farmer approach to supplying a local community with a local dairy product. All legal and on the up and up.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Consumers and food systems

Went to a conference/workshop yesterday. It was about the food system in NY. Interesting. Did get to identify some interesting people and watch the same old same old go though their steps.

The biggest thing that came out of it for me was a comment from a Veg cooperative representative during the "supply side" break out. He was at a meeting of suits for a supermarket in New England. Apparently it costs $12,000 on average to take one refridgerated tractor trailer from CA to the northeast! That was an eye opener.

Shayla did the Clinton Farmers Market for me. I have her write down questions and comments from customers so I can address them in a timely manner. She got a doosy this time...

"I use to love cheese. Cheese used to love me. Thien I had a heart attack and Doc said no more saturated fats. It was the hardest thing I'd given up since sex..." She signed it creepy old man 7/17/08.

You get a lot of things at markets. It is humbling to understand the disconnect between consumers and farmers at times. The above one was funny, but some should be a study of consumer education about where their food comes from.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Meet Shayla

Shayla is my intern/help for the summer. She is a local girl and learned about Camembert and Brie while in France for a learning immersion program at University. She just made her first batch of Camembert yesterday. She will be marketing for me at Clinton Farmer's Market on Thursday. She has been there for a few week and aside from me bothering her the last two weeks (not necessary), she has been there by herself.

I hope she keeps cheese making. We need more great cheesemakers with her wonderful drive and personality. We also love her smile!

This picture makes me remember that I really do need a new market tent.

Sissy the Chicken Keeping an Eye on Things

Baby Goats are Way Cute

Baby goats with Claire are out of Carmella. Born last night. The other two in the paddock are Phragmite's baby goats. She had them last week. Waaaaay cute. Claire wanted me to post their pictures.

Becoming a Slave to the Fresh Stuff

A friend and cheese maker refered to fresh cheeses (goat in her case) as cocaine for the cheese maker. It is terribly addictive to turn on the steam boiler (in my case), heat it, cool it, make it, sell it, deposit the cash... The reason why I make cheese becomes second.

We make fresh mozzarella (my first cheese), quark (my second), labneh, yoghurt in 3 flavours, feta (when I get around to it) and my ultimate high dunlop curd.

I made raw milk gouda in kilo sized hoops yesterday. I had to. Dave was not back from MA yet. He had to go. He and Claire. I had to show Shayla how to make Camembert. I had to milk cows and do chores. I had to walk dogs. I had to feed chickens and mind goats... Gouda was a soul filling cheese. I needed to make it.

I am now behind and need to catch up on fresh product. Oh yah, and now this milk. I need to do yoghurt and fresh cream top milk. Sucks to make great cheese sometimes. People want it and I have to make it!!

I hope the parts and bits to the cave come in soon so that I can go into recovery and make the aged stuff again. I can see my work for a while before it is sold. Number in the bank balance don't help the soul, the product carefully turning on the shelf, waxed, washed... I can see it, feel it, smell it, watch it grow into a full potential. Not make it and pack it in the coolers and take the money...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Rain rain go away come again when we are done with hay

I think I've come upon a new rhyme. First a drought. That makes pastures consider going dorment. Then rain. Rain when we are suppose to be getting our hay off. We only lost 5-6 passed on the Phillips lot south of the farm. Dave plans to try to cut some more off tomorrow. I hope it works.

Our neighbor to the north better not start mowing. There is always this guy in a farming/rural community that no matter what year or weather conditions, the instant they mow a certain field, or in this guys case, mow... there is sure to be rain.

Marcia not well again. Between rain and concern over her health, he is going in circles fast. I am just tired, but in a good way. Cheesing is going well. Shayla, my new help is awsome! As an employer I am starting to understand the importance of mistakes being my lack of communication. . She is a natural!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Market Updates and all

Green Hills and the Farmer's Market at Green Hills is picking up. I am seeing some of the same faces every week. We tried to stay an hour later, but only 1-2 customers were there for the last hour. I think we will petition to come home at 6pm. I also noted the happy conversations about people buying from Green Hills during the week when we are not there.

Tom's Natural Foods is also picking up. They are the only retail location where we will sell the 1/2 gal. fluid cream top milk. Reserve your jug with Bonnie or Tom. The milk is pasteurized to 145-148 degrees F. You can make any fresh cheeses, yoghurt or drink it. They also have most of our other cheeses.

Clinton Farmer's Market is a happy place. I have to admit it is one of my more favorite locations to market. It may be the Cannoli's that I can buy across from my stall, or the level of buying food locally education being better in that market area. A pleasant place to have conversations with customers.

Peter's Cornucopia is new to us and I have to do tastings to bring sales up. I am a little suprised that it did not pick up as fast, but I think I need to set aside some real time to do face time with customers. It has helped the Clinton people who frequent Tom's to learn more about what they are eating with positive results. I will talk to Peter about tastings tomorrow.

Hamilton Farmer's Market... My cheeses can be found at Aunt Bee's stall. Not this weekend as she is going to be at a Family Reunion and I desperately need to make more cheeses. I am FLYING through inventory and need to make cheese this weekend. Made a lovely batch of Dunlop on Easter (sold at Green Hills today). I still have my loyal customer base.

I will talk about some of the other market areas tomorrow. I think my "off switch" came on. I am tremendously tired. Will get Clinton ready in a.m. Shayla will do the market and I will make yoghurt. Funny thing is that I am borrowing a bread proofer that another local dairy who is not in business used to make sheep yoghurt.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What are these hoops?

A fellow in Central NY bought a storage container full of these hoops. From Queensboro plant a number of years ago. He'd like to know what they are. There is this collar that slips up and it appears that there are these pins that hold the collar in place? The lid and bottom are removable and I am not sure if they push the collar down while pressing or if the followers are missing. Really neet hoop.

Any ideas?

IH 706 For Sale

Dave is selling his beloved 706. Nice tractor. $4900.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Claire wanted me to post this photo. It is staged. She IS feeding a calf. She poses for photographs now. Nothing candid anymore... Wait a minute, I do have a candid shot...

This is her getting milk out of the reciever jar to feed that calf. She was mad I took a picture of her back side. Couldn't pose there! She loves her calves.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Getting To Big To Fast?

Are there suppose to be two "oo's" in "to" up above? My grammer is slipping as fast as my ability to spell. Can this be lack of sleep?

Yes. I made yoghurt until 1:20 a.m. the other day and until a customer rang, did not even know that some did not set well! The Labneh curd set, assume the rest did and put in cooler. One cooler did have ice blocks in it before so the temp must have dropped too fast. Crud. Tasted good, I just drank some being a cheap yankee, but I am trying to present our business as better quality than the other guy.

I think I expanded too fast and if it had not been for Shayla, I would be in bigger doodoo than I am now. I was smart enough to say, easy now for people interested in becomming new accounts. I need to keep up with who I am selling to now before I expand.

I am also selling aged wheels faster than I am making them. Took a forced day off today to remember who Dave and Claire were. Not bad people. Glad I live with them... Got energy efficient bulbs to replace the rest of the conventional ones. Bought groceries. Cleaned floor in house. Got shelving to replace reach in cooler I needed to fix (and used as a shelving unit).

All in all, we will be fine. I just need to make sure that I hunt down any other plain yoghurts that were cultured milk and replace. That and give extra cheese. I want them happy. I love my products and am frustrated that I sold an inferior product. Will always make right, but...

Monday, June 23, 2008

1/2 gal cream top milk

Remember Hilltown Dairy? Well, we are bottling milk on a small scale again. Only the creamline, which we have to call Cream Top because there is another dairy that trade marked creamline. Oh well, same wonderful milk.

We sell it in the farm store on our farm and at Tom's Natural Foods in Clinton. For Clinton, we ask that you order it ahead of time. They have limited cooler space and would prefer people to order the milk to be dropped off on Thursdays just before the Clinton Farmers Market.

$3 for organic milk in 1/2 gal. jugs at the farm. Tom's does have a minor mark up. $4.25. Regardless, it is still less than conventional UHT orgo milk in the store.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Off to the movies

Dave's first movie was Marry Poppins in the old Clavin Theater in Northampton. Mine was Benji in the old theater in Amherst. Claire's first was Kung fu Panda at the Hamilton Theater. She was SOOOOOOOOOO excited. Dave and I took her to Joe and Vinny;s for lunch and then a movie. The date cost us about $50, but the smile from Claire was worth it. We enjoyed the day off the farm.


I believe in aliases. Abel also goes by:
Abel Hound
Abel the Hound and
Brown Dog

There are some other names generally associated with his bad breath, "woofing up the cows" or teasing Joe that should not be repeated in public.

This is a photo of Abel in his other role as co-piolet in a road trip to MA to take Erin (sister) and family to Logan Airport to fly to Atlanta, GA. He was a bit shy about the camera.

Big Boy Toys

Dave and Claire and working on the draingage system for the manure room. Smelly job, but with the rain, needed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spending Money

Well, the rapairs to the boiler system are paid, now I can pay the rest of the initial system...and someone wanted to know who should work on designing and installing theirs... Let me just say, I don't think many are able to understand creamery needs. You need to understand creamery needs and then educate the handiest boiler guy near you. That our you will get hosed. Even the ones who say they know what they are doing are sketchy. Get the flow diagrams from the vat designer and builder and understand how A LOT of different people are installing their systems. Be SIMPLE. The more bells and whistles, the more toasted you will become when bad things happen.

The best farm refrigeration and 'bout any farm broken thing guy is Dick Barnes. He has a permanent parking spot here. Spending lots on him lately. Next is the small finish cooler (the one that melted the holiday cheeses last year). I will then take the florist cooler out and give it to Tim (Poplar Hedge) for aging his goat cheeses. This will also make the farmstand cooler which will keep my cave at a more sustainable (aka not toasting my newly installed compressor etc) system.

Press today and some more ad spots will let more people know about us. We should be in enough places now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Monday, June 09, 2008

Great Way to Learn Abour Low Carbon Eating

This is a great link to learn about eating a low carbon meal. Interesting.

It is always fun

I should file as a non-profit this year. I'm spending money so fast that it is hard to keep up with it. Cave is not cooling well. Florist cooler has a hard time working at temps lower than 45 degrees F when it is 120 degrees F in the shop.

Maxine had a heifer. Woohoo. She also had a bull. Not so woohoo. Bull was also dead by the time we could get it out. We caught her a little after noon and brought her to the barn. The calf was dead (probably a while) and blocking the canal. All Dave felt were feet. It was a lot to get the calf around and pull it out. The heifer is fine.

Erin is not officially in GA. A lot to clean up at Mom's.

Marcia is not so good. Still in Cooley Dickenson. Probably until Thursday now. They are working on helping her with pain and some other bits. It is interesting how Dr.'s have a hard time dealing with pain management.

Shirley (Dave's aunt) was up. We like visiting with her. Got to see her yesterday after they went to church.

Hotter than heck out. Steam rising from the ground. Finally got some decent rain. At least a breeze was coming through the valley.

Had visitors out to the farm today. Will talk more about that later. Have to fly...

German Farmers are Doing the Right Thing, Can U.S. Farmers do the Same?

Next Shortage: Ice Cream?
Supplies in Germany could melt away if dairy farmers continue their protest against low milk prices. Milk and cream are getting scarce

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

To write letter to Steven Chadwicks

Write to this fellow. Help in efforts to save to Arapawa Goat from extinction.

Chadwick's address is:

No Give from Government (NZ) on Arapawa Goats

Gordon Copeland
Press Release For Immediate Release
Thursday 29th May 2008
No Give from Government on Arapawa Goats
Independent MP Gordon Copeland today expressed his deep disappointed that the Minister of Conservation has, once again, ruled out the possibility of the Arapawa goat herd being allowed to remain on conservation land. He was responding to a letter received this week from Minister, Steve Chadwick.

"This letter does not follow through on the tenor of the discussions which I held with the Minister on 9 April 2008," said Mr Copeland.

"At that stage the Minister indicated her willingness to work with the Minister of Agriculture Jim Anderton, who has a portfolio responsibility for rare breeds, with a view of developing a 'whole of Government'solution to the ongoing national and international controversy concerning the preservation of this unique breed of beautiful goats."

"The inflexibility now displayed by the Minister is simply incomprehensible. It is possible that the Arapawa goats have descended directly from a breeding pair left on the island by Captain James Cook.

They are therefore a beautiful part of New Zealand's natural history."In these circumstances I am baffled at the intransitence which has been shown by the Department of Conservation around this issue. Indeed I believe their attitude is actually contrary to the Conservation Act itself which defines 'conservation' as 'the preservation and protection of natural and historic resources for the purpose of maintaining their intrinsic values, providing for their appreciation and recreational enjoyment by the public, and safe guarding the options of future generations. ' ".

"They seem to disregard entirely the reality that this breed of goats is a natural and historic resource worthy of protecting and safe guarding for future generations. I find this attitude both arrogant and ignorant in the extreme.

"It is also deeply disappointing that the Minister has chosen to convey her decision to me in such blunt terms just eight days after the death of Betty Rowe who devoted some 30 years of her life to providing a sanctuary for these goats.

The simple fact of the matter is that there is plenty of room within the DoC estate on Arapawa Island both to safe guard this breed of goats for future generations and to preserve the biodiversity of the regenerating flora which, in any event, is completely fenced off from the grazing area of the goats."


Gordon Copeland
Independent MP

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Accounts

We are seasonal dairy farmers and cheese makers. Until we develop enough of a cave inventory, we are stuck with the need to wait until much of our herd has freshened and cheeses are aged. Often this means that money only comes the second half of the year. It is getting better, but sometimes it gets rough. That is why I do educational programs and consulting. Kinda makes the bridge between marketing seasons.

I am hoping that I can eliminate much of that extra non-farm producing income in 2009. I love watching others grow into cheese making, but I also want our business to become what it can be. The goal is to be at 10,000# cheese in 2010.

Every May/June begins the sales calls season. I start to ring old accounts and tell them of my availability of product. With last years umpfs (basically health problems in family since 2006) I am very grateful when I get orders. We make an excellent product, so it does sell itself to a great extent, but I do have to work hard to get a couple accounts back. My fault and I will remedy this shortly.

For the last few years, I have had a 95% reorder every year. This is pretty darn good. Two accounts on my website are not doing cheese this year, Cheese Shop at Wine Sense and Comistibles. I picked up four new accounts so far, so that is good. We have also tried a new approach towards Hamilton hoping that those people would come to the farm. A few things have made for creative challenges that I will have to overcome. I like a challenge.

So far, we will have product:

  • At the Farm Store on Center Road in Madison (look for sign)

  • Tom's Natural Foods in Clinton

  • Peter's Cornucopia in New Hartford

  • Deansboro Superette in Deansboro

  • Syracuse Real Food in Syracuse

  • Green Hills in Syracuse

  • Circa in Cazenovia

  • Clinton Farmer's Market in Clinton

After I come back from MA to get Erin and family to airport I will be working on following through on other accounts. If any ideas come to mind, I'd like a shout.

Looks good. Now I have to make a decision on an intern by tomorrow.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Growing Up

This is the sculpture Claire made me for my birthday. She wants to be a sculptor when she grows up. Best present to date!

This is Claire after a shower the other night. She came down stairs in a pair of jeans. It is the first time in history that my little baby girl put on "big girl" pants that did not include sweats or tight like yoga pants (toddler ware) on her own initiative and liked the "look". She then proceeded to ask if she was a teenager yet. I told her she had at least 30 years!

"Belle the Rooster" is looking on. She is the rat terrier we rescued last year from Rat Bone Rescue. Pretty dog. Getting better in her manners. She and Claire and getting pretty darn close. That was the plan. I'm glad Belle is finally agreeing with us and enjoying Claire.


My Birthday started with rain. Generally that would put someone off, but we need rain. It made me dream of hay and potatoes. You know, those things that involve rain...

I also woke up with a cold. Becky rang though to say she'd be late, so that made the morning better. I rolled over and took an extra 20 minutes of sleep.

The Farmer's Market is still slow. Way slower than last year. I'm not tasting in the market. I tried a different strategy. That is not working, so I decided to do the whole dairy CSA thing. Put a piece in the Mid York about it. Our Meat CSA went over very well in MA. We make a great product. Should make things convenient and introduce people to more of our products.

I am in at Clinton Farmer's Market. That will be nice. Also will have product at Tom's in Clinton and Peter's in New Hartford. Starting at Green Hills next week and expanding product at Syracuse Real Food.

Dave, Claire and I went up to see Lawreance and his new baler. Dave was trying to help him get the knotter working. I forked hay into the pick up teeth while they worked on it. Got it to kinda work. Need to get some more rust off another part. Looks like it may work pretty good.

Got to see a handsome milking Devon bull calf. Looks like he will be a powerful ox.

Have Lawrence's mug and post cards for his CafePress site. It promotes the milking Devon breed. I like to support things like that. Also Old Goat Salsa's and Sauces. Will work on other products from local artists and farmers. Ginger's Hot Sauces and jams/jellies are a favorite as well.

House work and press realeased for tomorrow's agenda.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Directions to our Farm

Donations to Arapawa Trust

The Arapawa Wildlife Trust is in need of donations. This will help preserve the goats, sheep and pigs (and any other wildlife on the island). They can take any currency.

Permanent address for those wanting to donate will be
C/- Mitch & I at:
Arapawa Wildlife Trust
C/- "Aotea"Private
414East BayPicton
7250 New Zealand

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The World According to Monsanto

"The World According to Monsanto"
On March 11 a new documentary was aired on French television (ARTE – French-German cultural tv channel) by French journalist and film maker Marie-Monique Robin, The World According to Monsanto - A documentary that Americans won’t ever see. The gigantic biotech corporation Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years.

You should also see...
"Patent for a Pig"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Some US Farms Outsourced to Mexico

Some US farms outsourced to Mexico
Associated Press Writer
AP - Tuesday, May 27
IRAPUATO, Mexico -
Antonio Martinez used to pay smugglers thousands ofdollars each year to sneak him into the United States to manage farmcrews. Now, the work comes to him. Supervising lettuce pickers in central Mexico, Martinez earns just half of the $1,100 a week he made in the U.S. But the job has its advantages, including working without fear of immigration raids. Martinez, now a legal employee of U.S.-owned VegPacker de Mexico, is exactly the kind of worker more American farm companies are seeking. Many have moved their fields to Mexico, where they can find qualified people, often with U.S. experience, who can't be deported." Because I never moved my family to the U.S., I was always alone there," said Martinez, 45, who could never get a work permit, even after 16 years in agriculture in California and Arizona. "When I got the opportunity to be close to my family, doing similar work, I didn't even have to think about it."American companies now farm more than 45,000 acres of land in three Mexican states, employing about 11,000 people, a 2007 survey by the U.S. farm group Western Growers shows. There were no earlier studies to document how much the acreage has grown. But U.S. direct investment in Mexican agriculture, which includes both American companies moving their operations to Mexico and setting up Mexican partnerships, has swelled sevenfold to $60 millionsince 2000, Mexico's Economy Department told The Associated Press. Major corporations such as Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Bunge have invested across Latin America for decades, particularly in countries like Brazil, where agribusiness is booming. Some small farmers have cultivated parts of Mexico for much longer, seeking to secure year-round supplies of fruits and vegetables, while taking advantage of cheap labor and proximity to the U.S. But the latest move south has been fueled by something new, farmers say: a way to continue to deliver cheap, fresh farm goods amid the current U.S. political standoff over an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, the majority from Mexico. Recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids have targeted major agricultural producers, including Del Monte Fresh Produce in Portland,Oregon, and several large packing plants across the nation _ scaring away immigrants and persuading many agricultural employers to clean up their hiring practices." Employers can't find legal workers to replace this huge number of illegal workers," said James Holt, an agricultural labor economist and independent consultant based in Washington. "Their only option is to go where the workers are." Many of the growers, once based in California's Salinas Valley, are also heading south to escape high land prices and water shortages. Mexico is closer to eastern U.S. markets than California, they say. Shipping times to Atlanta are a day shorter from Mexico's central Guanajuato state. Not everyone in Mexico has welcomed U.S. companies. Mexican farmers complain that they have driven up land rental prices. Many local growers worry they can't compete against big, foreign firms, said Felipe Sanchez, president of a farmers group in Guanajuato state." How can a ranch that farms 70 acres compete with a company that cameto farm 10,000 acres?" Sanchez said. " We'll become laborers on our ownranches." Farm workers at U.S. companies in Mexico make two or three time sMexico's minimum wage of $4.80 a day. But they still earn far less than the average $9.60 an hour that field workers in the United States made in January 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Juan Antonio Linarez, 19, makes a tenth of his U.S. roofing income at Taylor Farms de Mexico's vegetable cooling plant in Guanajuato. But he has health insurance and can live nearby with his family _ without the dangerous and expensive trek across the border. Some experts argue that farmers simply refuse to raise U.S. wages to compete with other industries, something they say would help ease the labor crunch. As the United States heads into a recession, more native-born workers might consider agricultural work if wages were high enough, said Harley Shaiken, director of the University of California at Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies." Labor shortage always is a question of at what pay rate," Shaiken said. "Very often, if the wages are artificially low, it will be very difficult to find a work force." But Steve Scaroni said he did offer higher wages and still couldn't find a steady work force in the U.S. Scaroni owns VegPacker, a California and Guanajuato-based company that grows lettuce, celery, cauliflower and other vegetables. VegPacker has struggled after forking out millions of dollars to launch its Mexico division two years ago. The problem is that cheaper labor in Mexico often is offset by lower productivity and high training costs, especially when it comes to enforcing U.S. food-safety standards."The only thing that's cheaper down here is diesel fuel and the labor per day," Scaroni said. "My productivity is down 40 percent" from U.S. levels.

News from Arapawa

News from Debbie:-
Hi Christine
This is Debbie, Mitch's wife - thought I could answer a few questions: But first, We as a family admire Mom so much - her passion for her cause (whether you agreed or not), her intelligence, her love of us / our children (whom we bought up on the Island) / our grandchildren (whom we made sure spent time on the Island with her) she was our matriarch ...still, there is a part of us that has thoughts along the lines thatif the 'cause' had not demanded so much of her, we as a family, may havebeen blessed with her in our life for another decade or more.

But - onward as we must: Currently Shannon is and has been on the sanctuary. We have one new kid and other nanny's are due to birth shortly. Betty had already made arrangements for the 'home goats' to be re-located to others who will be able to care for them on a daily basis in the same way that they are used to. The other semi-wild ones, that come and go as they please will continue to do just that, with their home range being the sanctuary - in this they are creatures of habit and I don't expect they will stray.

First priority is to get through the kidding and grow the kids on a bitbefore the transfer. Transfer will be some 3-3.5 hours by sea, then 3-4hours by road so we want them strong and healthy from the start. Trustees are Betty and Shannon - going through the process of appointing another Trustee/s - will keep you informed. The Trusts function is 'to provide a wildlife sanctuary in perpetuity'for the Arapawa goats, sheep and pigs and possibly other endangered species. It is an educational resource for school visits and will continue to be so as well as remaining accessible to the public and any scientific studiesthat will further help to establish them as a species in need of protection.

With some of the latest info Betty has received (ex Spain) and backing both at National (Gordon Copeland / Simon Reeves / Bob Kerridge - to name a few) & International level, we are aware that there is still much work to bedone. This research and support may indeed be the catalyst for the'protection and recognition' outcome we desire. Yes to continued involvement with G-UK & IAGA - DoC needs to be challenged at the govt level as this is the only level that can effect change.

Donations - will be used to promote all of the above and also in the longer term to develop strategies re: funding for fencing, maybe accommodation, maybe a retainer for a caretaker. Ideas are all wide open at the moment andat the end of the day any furtherment will require $$ or it may be that the animals will just 'be there' as they already have and are.

The Trust currently has a very limited pool of funds, some of which will need to be expended through; the translocation of the 'home goats' /immediate costs through the kidding season / drenching etc. The legal side will take some of six months before clear mandate. Mitch got posting rates from here. Probably missed something, but let me know.

Regards Debbie

Good morning Sure Christine, you can share this email. For the meantime, communicate with me, Shannon / Betty's mail box is jammed- trying to download 1200 odd messages. I speak with her daily so keep her informed of goings on. Shannon will stay on the island till end of June. Mitch & I are usually home on the island Fri-Sun. There has been great support from people who live or work in East Bay to keep an eye on things while in the area, even DoC has volunteered to check out boats near the sanctuary to stop poaching. Unfortunately the animals are eagerly sort by trophy hunters. Please extend our thanks to all for their prayers and good wishes over thesepast weeks. ThanksDebbie

Monday, May 26, 2008

Appreciate What You Have

What else can I use at the title? We were told about a farm to rent. Kinda an on again off again possibility for a farm to rent. It opened up and it looked like a viable opportunity. Well, it wasn't as cut and dry as that.

The free stall was kinda new relative to many of the barns we have looked at. It had been rented however. Tenents often don't give two s**** when renting a facility and there were clear wear and tear issues. The owner made it clear that we as tenents would be responsible for not only all repairs, but would have to pay the guy back for repairs he had done! Weigh jars I could understand, but the PVC pipe to fix the vacuum?

OK. If he was a reasonable sort, that can work... Just keep a detailed record of our repairs for the next guy...

Barn was $500/month. Ok. That comes with minimal pasture and the fellow across the street (who everyone likes a lot) would rent out pastures there. Then hay. We offered $30/acre or add on another $100/month for lease of land.

The deal killer, however, was the electric bill. Apparently we would have to not only pay the electric on the barns (reasonable as we are using them), we'd have to pay for them for their house and out sheds for their beef too! I am not naive enough to assume that it only costs $80/month or less to run electricity through a farm house... And why are we paying more in rent monthly for that anyways?

Contemplation as we go out into the pastures a little. Pig weed. The lad had been cleared of debris and I admit you can see that a lot of work had been done to improve the ambience of the farm. There wasn't the extreme clutter that is common on a lot of these "used farms". Cattle had grazed in a semi continuous system on the remaining pastures. Kinda spent considering the lack of rain. The counter from the to be land lord was $700/month if we used the whole farm. He liked what we do, but I guess that is a priveledge of his electric bills, improving his farm infrastructure and getting him a discount on taxes (ag assessment).

We are not that desperate to move. Well I am not. Dave is in a minor state of depression again. I suggested a realistic counter-offer to see if he would be interested in a viable farm business in the place, but Dave figures he would not be interested in this at all.

We then looked at one of the more realistic farms. In Fort Edward. The house and barns are on Rte 4. It would be interesting, but again we would have to eliminate the reduction of debt part of our considerations for moving. I'm ok with that as it is a great direct marketing location and I think that we could remove debt faster as I willnot have to marekt and distribute product so far from the farm. I think Dave realized I was right and this didn't set well.

We got home about 11pm. Belle was still outside. Joe on the poarch. (Abel was with us). We woke up in various states of recovery from such a long trip. One cow had a sore from foot. Claire woke with a cold. Joe had to get me up at 3am or so to go out. Dave didn;t get to sleep until 1:30am. I felt like I had a hang over (and haven't had a drink in ages...). I also woke up late.

It is a beautiful morning. Our farm looks pretty damn good compared to a lot of these places we have seen since January. I am ok with staying. We have done a pretty damn good job. I think we definetly listed our place at the right price the first time. You cannot find a place in better shape out there to do this kind of farming. Not in VT, NH, NY or MA. Not for less! I think we are ok with staying. I think we are ok with not taking less than what it is worth.

Now to start the haying season...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

It's Not Just the U.S.

Dairy farmers press supermarkets for deals that will secure supply
Published Date: 25 April 2008
By Dan Buglass
THE relationship between farmers and supermarkets has been fractious at best in recent years. The multiples have made repeated pledges of loyalty to farmersuppliers. Producers, on the other hand, feel that they have been relentlessly squeezed while the big players post increasing profits. The media at large has in recent weeks highlighted the fact thatinflation in the food sector is resulting in considerable pain to theweekly budget of the average consumer. Not so, according to the UK government's Office for National Statistics: the most recent data shows that food in real terms is almost 20 per cent cheaper than 30 years ago.That is why, according to many former dairy farmers, they have soldoff their cows and reorganised their businesses. The end result isthat the surviving milk producers for the foreseeable future will fall well short of matching the EU quota of 14 billion litres they are entitled to sell each year without a penalty for being in excess. Earlier this week Morrisons was cleared by the Office of Fair Trading, in respect of allegations surrounding price fixing, many of which related to the dairy sector. That verdict cost the OFT £100,000.Jim McLaren, the president of NFU Scotland who runs a dairy farm near Crieff, believes the time has come for the multiples to lock into secure contracts that will be of mutual benefit. He said: "Now that the weight of price-fixing allegations has largely been lifted from the shoulder of Morrisons, they can get on with the job of formalising arrangements with milk producers to secure its supplies of liquid milk in the future." All the major competitors – Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose, Marks &Spencer – have entered into varying agreements with dairy farmers. We have been in discussion with Morrisons over the last ten days and stressed that point and hope for an early announcement that will give everyone a degree of security." Tesco is certainly on the front foot with the announcement yesterdaythat the 147 direct suppliers in Scotland contracted through Robert Wiseman Dairies will receive a significant increase in their milk cheques at the end of this month. Those producers, who are part of the £25 million Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group (TSDG), established in July 2007, will now be paid 28p for every litre of milk that ends up on the UK's leading supermarket chain's shelves. That will take these selected dairy farmers very close to the top of the UK milk price league. Sarah Mackie, senior buying manager for Tesco in Scotland, said: "We look forward to building closer relationships with the farmers who supply us with milk, and working with them in the future."Dairy farmers in Scotland, in common with their colleagues throughout the UK, have been near to total despair in recent years. Jim Watt of Benthall Farm, near East Kilbride, was close to packing in, but he is now happy with the new arrangement with Wiseman and Tesco. He said: "Just over a year ago I was making plans to sell the herd andcut my losses. Joining the Tesco milk pool proved to be a turning point and gave an opportunity to invest for the future."A new milking parlour is being installed and I plan to grow the herd from around 90 cows to 120 cows in the months ahead." My son has decided to come back to the farm and we are genuinely looking forward to the future with a lot of optimism as a result ofthe new contract."However, life does not appear so bright for those dairy farmers who trade with Wiseman, but are not part of the Tesco deal: the new terms could cost them money, according to Ian Potter, a widely respected dairy analyst.He said: "In a shock move one of the UK's most straightforward and transparent milk buyers, Robert Wiseman, is to change the notice period for non-Tesco buyers in an attempt to halt the threat of sudden losses of milk supplies."Under the new contracts the three-month notice of severance will onlybe operational from the first day of the month, but that has much wider implications, according to Potter.He said: "At first sight it may not seem like big news, but the contracts warrant further examination. It translates into the fact that any producer who has not served notice before 31 May 2008 may not be able to leave before 1 December. Milk will be scarce in the autumn and the big players will still have to meet their obligations."The perceived 'white knights' of the UK dairy industry are worried about quitting existing contracts for higher prices at a time when milk will be short. That tells a big story. Farmers should stand firm."

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I probably am not suppose to put a picture of Marcia into the public realm, but I could not resist. Here she is with Cliare in my getting ever clutterier kitchen.

Here is Ken helping Dave fix tedder. I didn't get the pictures of taping walls or helping us pull well.
Weekends! This was the last one. After making 68-70 gal. of yoghurt and Labneh... I'd love to sleep in, but looks like a road trip is in store for tomorrow...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bumper Cars

Marketing and sales are like riding bumper cars at the local county fair. You all get into the little cars in a spirit of fun and exhuberance. You start by waving at eachother and smiling as you go by. Eventually those that are more agressive start to wack into everyone with as much gusto and determination. Smiles and waves turn into concern and strategic maneuvering...

To make the best of the situation, you laugh at those that bump you the hardest. Compliment their efforts and redouble on the far side to get a hell of a side wallup when they are focusing their efforts on someone else (see they think you are out of the picture)...

I like the carnival aspect of things. I've done the distribution of "local farm products", sold trailer loads of lambs and goats into ethnic markets, assisted husband on bottling milk in MA, make and sell cheese... I prefer this lifestyle to working a mundane politics driven office. I am too cynical and stubborn to get along with 8-4:30ers. Maybe a wee excentric to boot (at least the CNY versions of office co-workers think I am... I think they are right. Why be boring?)

We got our AWSOME sign from Terry Signs (824-3144). Combine that with Dick Barnes getting the again cooling system going and our farm store is actually going to be OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

As expected the Amish cheese at Hamilton Market did cut into the Hamilton sales. At least I didn't pay for the curb space. We will try marketing through the Peppermill and Aunt Bee's Farm to see how it goes. It is kinda why we decided to market yoghurt and milk from our organic cows. Gotta be flexible. Dan's tomme is good, others pretty good. Everyone who markets cheese in the area suggested he be competitive (raise his prices to be with us), but it is his business.

The beauty of small scale direct marketing is that we can all be flexible. I'll just put pasteurized product into that area and keep my quality as good as it always is. I'll keep the customers that like what we do. Fair enough.

On the flip side we will be bouncing someone out of another account with our new 2008 products. It evens out. When you are marketing, you can bitch and moan to family only and for a total of 4 hours. Then get over it and come up with a different approach. Keep the quality excellent and you will persevere.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Arapawa Island Goats

First picture has our buck "George". Carmella and Peach are to the left and Karo to the back. I am not sure if it is Pandi to his right or not. Next picture is Karo with Patti goat. Bottom is the Peach, Carmella and Phragmities group.

The hay feeder is up side down behind Phrag and her group. That is where Peach and Carmella sleep.

Arapawa Wildlife lost a great soul

Goat champion Betty dies after stroke
The Marlborough Express Monday, 19 May 2008
One of the Marlborough Sounds most enduring and high profile people, BettyRowe,
died in Fairview Hospital, Blenheim, early yesterday morning, aged 76.

Mrs Rowe, who originally came to the Sounds from the United States with her late husband Walt, spent 30 years fighting for the preservation of ArapawaIsland's goats. Mrs Rowe
suffered a stroke on Anzac Day and family and friends knew at thattime the animal advocate was unlikely to return to her East Bay home thatmeant so much to her.

She fought long and hard to protect the Arapawa goats from shooters sent by the former New Zealand Forest Service and more recently the Department ofConservation. Mrs Rowe and rare breed societies worldwide believed theanimals to be descended from old English goats released on the island byCaptain Cook in 1773. But the authorities have sent in shooters over the years to cull the goats to protect a scenic reserve containing important Cook Strait forest and plant species. Mrs Rowe set up a sanctuary in East Bay for the goats.

Mrs Rowe is survived by her daughter Mary, sons Mitch and Roy, nine grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. A funeral will be held at Nativity Church in Blenheim on Thursday at 1.30pm.

http://www.stuff. hexpress/ 4553660a6008. html

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Dairy Plant

Calling my little art space a "plant" always seems funny to me. The "Dairy Plant" is only a 13'6" x 14'2" room. It is a portion of the milk house and is one of two buildings that house this cheese business. The second is the new aging/store building I noted earlier.

I love my little space. The photo here is right after processing, just after hooping and just before scrubbing. It is set up for doing raw milk cheeses. Note I use the thermometer from the recorder to note temp, but the lids and all are not on.

The piping on the wall may be more elaborate than they need to be. Basically, it is set up to heat the vat with steam for pasteurizing, hot water for raw milk, use cold water when needed and has another port for attaching another cooling water system. That will be important for full batches of yoghurt or other hot milk cooking products.

I didn't spend much at a time, but it is adding up. The only things I'd do differently are adding a vent/air system and doing something a little different about the drains as the mice like to come through and I have to add a screen to the top when cheeses are in the plant.

I like small plants. They seem inviting, like a school art room or a clay studio in the back of the house. Larger plants always mean business. Cash flow and covering debt. I like to make cheese because I make cheese, not because of a looming loan payment. (I do make cheese for that reason, but that debt is not as large as some). Dave and I hope to eliminate that debt component so that the plant and his barn are inviting places, just because we enjoy our way of life, not because of the mounting and declining bills on the desk.