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My morning started out with my adding kitchen scraps to my compost barrel, although these two pictures were taken and copyrighted by Saxon Holt when he was photographing for my book Homegrown Herbs. Since I didn’t have any of my own pics of the compost barrel to post up, I used his with his permission.

I’ve had this compost barrel for years now and it is definitely one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. It’s called an “Urban Composter” and I bought it thru RealGoods. I’ve seen them sold by other companies too. It is easy to turn, fills from the top, and has a vent to keep air circulating thru the composting mix. It doesn’t have any bad smells, so it doesn’t attract wild or domestic animals hoping to raid the food scrapes.

I put all my kitchen vegetable and fruit scrapes in this barrel, plus egg shells and sometimes a bit of cheese ends up in there too, although not very much. You should never compost animal food scrapes like meats or a lot of dairy. Grains are fine to use and a bit of fats like veggie oils works fine, but don’t add a lot of fats/oils. I also put my garden trimmings of green leafy material in the barrel and a few(not too many) fallen leaves go in. I turn the barrel by spinning it in a rotation every time I add anything, which is 1-2 times a week typically. Whenever the material inside begins to look like soil and not kitchen scraps or garden trimmings, then I know it is ready to empty into a wheel barrel or a big bucket and I add it somewhere in the garden wherever I feel there is a need for some good compost nutrition to the soil. When it is the cold months of the year, I only empty the barrel about once because the colder temperatures outdoors mean the ingredients inside the barrel will take longer to break down and compost into a usable mix, but during the warm and hot months of the year, I can empty the barrel about every 6-8 weeks.

This method of composting has worked very nicely for me because I keep the compost barrel in my gardens where it is handy to add ingredients too and where it is not very far from my back door. At other times in my past I had compost piles that were pretty far away from my kitchen and not handy to add kitchen scrapes into. They were big piles that I had to turn using a shovel and digging fork, which is quite a bit of work, so the piles  didn’t get turned as often as I would have liked. That wasn’t a huge deal, because those piles still made great compost, but since they were turned less often, they took quite a bit longer to compost well. Compost piles that aren’t turned very often can be more tempting to wildlife or neighborhood dogs/cats, who want to rummage through the pile looking to see if there is anything tasty left to eat. Having an enclosed barrel keeps all the critters out of the mix.

Anyway, setting up a compost of some sort is a very good thing to do, and you can do it any time of the year. It creates usable nutrition in the form of composted ingredients that are perfect for your garden, patio or house plants. It means the kitchen scrapes and garden trimmings do not end up being bagged in plastic bags and set out for the rubbish collectors with the other trash. That’s what you want to avoid, because if compostable ingredients end up in a plastic trash bag at the land fill, they are not going to break down very well, plus it is added mass to a landfill, taking up room, and not doing anything to improve soil health in your own landscape.

If you want to find out more about composting, you can read the simple guidelines in my books Homegrown Herbs or The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener. Both of these books are available from a good book shop, online or probably can be borrowed from your local library.

After the kitchen scraps was emptied into the compost barrel and the dishes were finished up, Shrek began his campaign to go for a walk. We watered the greenhouses and pulled a wholesale order for this week’s delivery, and then we headed out for a nice walk. It was freezing cold!!! I bundled up, grabbed the camera, and off we went.

One of the places where we like to walk is a beautiful native habitat of desert and prairie native plants like this cholla cactus. The purplish red color happens during the cold months and you’ll notice that some of the cholla cactus arms or branches are hanging downward, almost like they are limp. That is on purpose. The cactus releases a lot of its extra internal moisture when the weather turns cold, and this causes the branches to go limp. By not holding a lot of moisture in the branches, as the cactus would do during warm/hot months of the year when it needs to have a reservoir of moisture to use to survive, in the winter that extra moisture would freeze inside the cactus branch and cause the branch to rupture. This would damage the plant and might even kill it, so nature has a plan to prevent that from happening.

All the needles on this cactus, and every other kind of cactus in this area, was coated with a thick layer of ice. The needles looked like crystal sticks and they were sparkling and beautiful! The temps did get warm enough by noon or so to melt the ice on the spines, but it still stayed in the high 30’s degrees F all day.

As we finished our walk, I felt like I was about a foot taller due to all the mud that had collected on my blackfoot daisy boots during our walk. No matter…we had a great walk…no one else was around the area, so it was quiet. We did see some quail and a marsh hawk along our journey.

Back home again, Willow and Pal were waiting to share the heat from the woodstove fire. Shrek and I were freezing by this time, so the fire heat felt wonderfully good.

I noticed as I went into our living room that my Christmas cactus has started to bloom this weekend like nobody’s business. All winter long, starting in November, this plant blooms wearing gorgeous coral flowers. I think it is beautiful!

Give me a piece of plain cloth and colored threads and I’m about as content as I can be. My love stitching hand needlework. Some people paint or draw or use other mediums to create wonderful things that they enjoy. For me it happens with colored threads. This piece of needlework is about 3/4 finished, but there is still quite a bit left to do. My hope is to finish it before the busy season starts for me at the end of December, but I don’t know if I’ll get it finished by then or not. This is one of my passions. It is how I relax and feel peaceful, so some things cannot or should not be hurried. It will create itself in its own time as I stitch in one piece of colored thread added to another until eventually I have a finished picture all from thread and cloth.

Whatever you enjoy doing, whether it is sports, music, art, reading, cooking or stitching or something completely different. I hope you will have plenty of time to work on it and that it will fill your whole self with peace and joy!

Now, I have one last thing to put before you. This is a small cholla species that Chris bought a few years back from our friend Kelly Grummons (he and Jorge have a hardy succulent business called Cold Hardy Cactus – check it out online). The plant label that tells us the species of this beauty is somewhere in the heart of the plant buried in the soil, where Chris tucked it when he planted this cholla as a baby plant.  As beautiful as this cholla is, with it’s golden long spines, it is wicked mean if you try to handle it without great care, and there is very little chance any of us will risk digging around at the base of the plant to look for the plant label to find out what the species is. If you happen to know the species, would you send us a note on our Desert Canyon Farm facebook page to tell us. Thanks very much for your help.

Have a week of joy and gratitude as you honor the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you will enjoy it with good friends or family, delicious food, and a great deal of laughter and happiness!

 

 

 

 

 

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We’ve been working on all sorts of projects this week. We had to replace wooden benches in the greenhouses that were rotting and I finish sorting and consolidating the veggie label inventory. Lizz had already finished most of the plant label inventory, but this was still waiting to be done, so I took advantage of the colder weather and finished it up. Lizz sowed another round of perennial seeds, that will be for sale in our Farm Stand next spring. We are hoping to have so many fun and interesting plants to offer this coming spring season! Chris harvested the Muhley grass, which is one of the two remaining seed crops to pick before we ship the seed to Germany at the end of the month.

I saw a very funny sight yesterday as I was visiting with my parents on the back porch. We realized that Chris had taken his laptop computer out to the flower field where he was harvesting the muhley grass seed crop. I should have guessed…it was the Nebraska college football game and he didn’t want to miss it, but the seed harvest needed tending to without delay.

If you look closely, you can see his laptop sitting on top of a gray plastic crate where he could listen to the game as he worked. Chris is passionate about his Cornhuskers football team, so never let it be said there isn’t a way to do farm work and listen to the football game!

It’s mating season for the mule deer and so the bucks are hanging around with the does and the youngsters in the herd. You can see the King Stag standing back by the row of dead poplar trees. He had his mind on quite a few of these deer women. We’ve had several bucks hanging around of late, but he is the largest and most majestic.

Speaking of the dead poplars…we planted these in the first years of the farm as a way to start creating a windbreak around the farm’s parameter. Poplars are short-lived as a rule, but they grow fast and they can offer some protection to younger slower growing trees in the windbreak. By the time the poplars are past their lives, some of the other trees have grown big and will replace the poplars. So, these dead poplars have been just hanging out until Chris had some time to cut them down and haul them to the woodstack. My part of the gig is to stack them up for firewood and break all the small branches into excellent kindling for starting our daily wood fire, which is how we heat our home and offices. Chris and Poppy (the tractor) began the process of cutting down and removing the dead trees this week. There are many of them, so it will take a while to finish this project, but he made a big dent in the task.

We also have a few different kinds of hawks that visit the farm on a daily basis, like this sharp-shin hawk.  Hawks are very special birds to me and I always feel good when I get to see them. They are predators that keep smaller wildlife from becoming problems when their numbers get too great, so these hawks hunt those smaller wildlife, which keeps a check on the numbers  of ring-neck doves, rabbits and squirrels, mice and so on. When there is a good balance in the wildlife community, all of them thrive and less problems arise. We see a red tail hawk (sometimes a pair), the sharp-shin, and a Merlin here all the time. Occasionally, a goshawk is in the neighborhood too.

Below is the nest of a robin. It’s in our peach tree and now that the leaves have mostly dropped from the tree, I could get a good look at it. The complexity and structure of bird nests always amazes me. They are experts at creating homes for their young. Imagine the baskets they could weave if they were so inclined ;-}

I’ve been working on a few house projects this week too. These are my gray water collection barrels. They are piped to collect the wash water from my washing machine. They sit on cinderblocks so that they are high enough to get a good gravity flow of water happening and I simply attach a garden hose to each barrel when I’m doing my laundry. The water goes into the barrels from the washing machine and then flows out to water shrubs, trees and areas of the garden through the hoses. I can move the hoses wherever I need the water to go. The water soaks into the ground, helping the plants in the process with a hearty drink, and ultimately ends up flowing into the ground water. Perfect!

My barrels are old and the spouts that I hook the hoses up to had broken off, so I needed to put new spouts on the barrels.

When you conserve water, like I do with my wash water, everyone and everything is a winner in the process. That said, if you decide to put in a similar kind of system at your homeplace, be sure to remember that you must buy environmentally safe soap to use to wash your clothes. Otherwise, the ingredients in standard mainstream laundry detergents can be very harmful to plants and soil-dwelling microbes that create healthy soil. I use Seventh Generation laundry soap. There are other good brands too, but check carefully.

Look at these two red tree squirrels peeking out from under the solar panels on our roof!  Our solar system provides 80-85% if all the electricity we use for our home and all our farm buildings and equipment. We are so grateful that we have this solar system! So are the squirrels!! They play underneath it, but have never in 10 years caused any harm to the roof or the solar system. It’s pretty fun to watch them.

I’ve been doing some needle-felting projects this week. I love doing needle-felting and unlike some of the other types of hand needlework I enjoy doing, needle-felting projects are pretty fast to accomplish. I had a great time working on these two pillows this week.

It’s a snowy wet day here today. Excellent moisture for the earth. It’s a good day to stay warm and cozy indoors, enjoying the woodstove fire and drinking delicious chai tea.

 

 

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I was supposed to be on a business trip this week, but it was postponed to later in the year, so I ended up with some extra unexpected personal quiet time. Lizz watched after the greenhouses and I barely stepped a foot inside of them this week, which is completely unheard of, but was a nice change.

I worked on some office work that needed finishing up, and of course, those kinds of projects are never really done, but the seed orders are finished and that is huge and a relief. Next, I’ll need to start updating the blog plant databases and work on creating the new plant Farm Stand information signs. M’lissa usually does this work for us, and she offered to do it again this year, but she is creating a new life in Montana, which is very exciting!

I did have time, FINALLY, to freshen up the scarecrows on the front porch. That was great fun and they look a lot more exciting now. The old scarecrows were pretty weary after all of the spring, summer and half of the fall seasons.

Garden carrots were harvested and went into the crock pot today for a tasty meal sometime this week. I had time to bake fairy bread and cookies. It has probably been three years or more since I baked cookies, and I enjoyed it, but they are mostly gone already, so it might be another three years before I do that again ;-}

We got snow and it was cold for part of this week, which meant that Chris couldn’t do some of the farm work he had planned on doing, so he took advantage of his quiet time to work on re-building the neck on this vintage guitar.

This guitar was mine and I got it when I was in the 6th grade and have played it through the years into my adult life, but a number of years ago I pretty much stopped playing it. I gifted it to Chris as he said it was the perfect guitar for a Dixiland band he plays in. I am a firm believer that instruments should not just sit around…they should be played, so I was very happy to hand this guitar into Chris’ care. The problem was that the neck was too thick to be easily played properly.

At one time, Chris was an apprentice Luthier. A Luthier is a person who builds and repairs string instruments. Chris really enjoys this work and thought at one time that it might be a second career for him later in life. His plans have changed about that, but he does still work on guitars when the need arises.

He rebuilt the neck on this guitar…everything from making the neck less thick so that it is easier to play, to repairing the top of the neck which was warped, and replacing the frets. My very old and much-loved guitar has a new life now and it sounds quite nice when played.

The winter birds are starting to arrive at the farm in big numbers now. I’ve noticed that the juncos are showing up, as are the piñon jays in a massive-sized flock. The piñon jays always arrive around mid-day, during the cold seasons of the year, looking for corn that I put out just for them. They eat their corn meal and off they go back to the juniper piñon pine forest that is about 10 minutes from the farm and where they live. It’s always interesting and fun to watch how the bird community shifts and changes with the seasons.

Tomorrow begins a new work week, and I’ll be back to being busy again. Chris also has a lot of farm work he is hoping to accomplish this week. That said, I’ve enjoyed my quiet week. It was still productive, but in a relaxing way, and much appreciated. Thank you, Lizz, for making that possible.

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A week or so ago we had a very early snow and super cold temperatures, down to 11 degrees at night and only 28 degrees during the day, which is quite early for us here in Canon City to get that kind of weather in early October.

We hauled out all our frost blankets from the barn and covered as many of the remaining seed crops that haven’t been harvested yet, trying to keep the plants from freezing and us losing the seed crop. We had enough frost blankets to protect the Gaillardia, which is the one crop that is still flowering, and not yet near to finishing up in seed ripening.

We didn’t have near enough frost blanket to protect all the remaining seed crops, so the ones that were nearly finished in the picking were left unprotected. The Agastache rupestris was almost all picked, and good thing too, because the cold totally froze what was left. Most of the seed crops came through pretty well all things considered.

Now we are down to only 2 crops left to pick and tomorrow we are supposed to get another snow event (right on time as we near St Hallow’s Eve). It isn’t supposed to be nearly as cold as that last storm, but we will cover the remaining Gaillardia with frost blanket just to be safe, and not risk losing the seed that is still finishing out ripening.

Yup…it’s fall in Colorado. Yesterday was 80 degrees here and tomorrow will be a high of 40 degrees.

I picked my Kakai Hulless Pumpkins, which do not have hulls around the seeds. These pumpkins make delicious pumpkin custard or pie, and you can fry the seeds in olive oil or butter and salt them for a great snack.

My Saffron crocus is nearly finished blooming. So beautiful!

Hannah, Gretel and Rosie enjoyed a lettuce breakfast with their grains. They think the warm weather has been dandy.

When we had the last snow event, we made some straw cubbies for the ducks to get in out of the snow and ice. They did use them when it was snowing, but they normally won’t go in them unless the weather is really bad.

It’s that time now when we are planting for our spring busy season. Above are the baby horseradish and comfrey plants all rooted nicely. They will be transplanted into bigger pots towards the end of this year.

Lizz has also started the seeding for some of next springs plant offerings. Above are some baby carob trees that just germinated about 3 weeks ago. They have a set of true leaves and are working on their second set of true leaves, so they are slowly growing.

This past weekend we went for our last Sangres hike until next summer. We hiked up the Megan Lakes trail in the snow. The weather was great for hiking with temps in the 60’s and a sunny blue sky with no clouds!  Our hikes now will need to be at a bit lower elevations if we want to hike without snow shoes. Thank goodness there are plenty of good options to choose from near our farm.

When we came to one of the creek crossings, Shrek got very serious about his fishing attempts, but alas there were no trout to be found in the creek. As you can see from his serious expression, he took a good hard look to make sure they weren’t just hiding from him, which of course they were. Ahh…this dog loves to look for fish in the creeks, ponds and lakes.

We hiked up as far as one of our favorite meadows, not too far from tree-line and the lakes, but the snow was getting deeper, so we stopped here and had a really nice relaxing lunch in the meadow before heading back down the trail.

St. Hallow’s Eve is two nights away. Shrek has his Halloween towels out for decoration. These were a fun treat from our friend Marge and her dog Aloha. Thank you, Marge and Aloha, we are loving these!

It’s hard to imagine that it is almost November. Whew…where is the autumn going so quickly. I want it to slow down so that I can enjoy it longer.

Chris repaired my bike and I took it out for a lovely ride along the Arkansas river this morning. What a pretty colorful autumn ride that was and I enjoyed it greatly. Thank you Chris!

Tomorrow the snow is expected, so it will be a good day to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Stay warm and as the seasons continue their transition from Fall to Winter. I hope your days will be filled with joy.

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Hi Everyone,

Just a quick reminder about my booksigning event this coming Saturday, October 20th, at the Pueblo, CO Barnes & Nobel bookshop. I hope you’ll be able to stop in and say hello while I’m there. Below are all the details…

 

Tammi’s latest book, Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine, is the winner of 2 book awards…The 2016 Silver Nautilus Award and the 2017 International Herb Society Thomas Debaggio Book of the Year Award.

Homegrown Herbs has been on the National Bestseller list for many years now and continues to be very popular!

If you love wildlife and you love to grow herbs, vegetables and fruit, this is a great book for your personal library!!

October 20, 2018     Pueblo Barnes & Nobel Bookshop hosts Tammi for a Book-Signing event

Tammi Hartung will be visiting with Barnes & Nobel bookstore customers about plants and signing books for all three of her book titles, including Homegrown Herbs, Cattail Moonshine & MIlkweed Medicine, & The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener. Please stop in and say hello if you are near the bookshop on this Saturday and during these times. She will love to see you!

This is a great opportunity to get a signed copy of one of Tammi’s books to treat yourself or to begin some of your holiday gift shopping

Time: 11:00am to 3:00 pm

Location: Barnes & Nobel Bookshop in Pueblo, CO at 4300 N. Freeway in Eagleridge Shopping Center

 

 

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Desert Canyon Farm is a registered Wildlife Habitat and is part of the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Watchable Wildlife and Birding Trail, so needless to say we welcome wildlife of all kinds here and we do our best to co-exist in a peaceable way even when there are challenges.

Last week I discovered that Chris had forgotten to close the garage door the night before and a whily raccoon went into the garage that night and thought it had found a delicious feast in our bags of greenhouse fertilizer. Oh my goodness! The fault was ours for forgetting to close the garage door that night, but all the same I was pretty distressed to see that this critter had chewed holes in every single bag of fertilizer we had. There was fertilizer scattered all over the garage floor, which Chris cleaned up while I figured out a way to remedy this raccoon challenge from happening again.

We use tubs in our supply barn for supplies that need to stay perfectly dry. Fortunately, we had several that were not being used at the moment, so now they have a new job to do. The bags of fertilizer are now inside these tubs, lids closed, and stacked neatly in the garage until we are ready to use them.  That will hopefully make the fertilizer a bit less obvious to the “Coons” if the door would ever get left open again (better not happen), and they are moisture proof so the torn bags won’t absorb any moisture and the fertilizer pellets won’t be ruined. Yay…problem solved and no critters were scared or harmed in the process ;-}

And while we’re on the topic of wildlife, we have a rock squirrel that lives in the middle of the desert garden and has been there for the past 2 years or so. This little fur-ball is pretty cute and really fun to watch as he/she moves around the farm collecting seeds and fruits and other tidbits to eat and store for winter. Below is either the front door ( I think so, because this is where I see the squirrel entering and exiting all the time) or the back door to its burrow. The hole goes deep under the roots of an old cholla cactus.

On the other side of the garden is the “back” door (or maybe it is the front door) and it comes out in the middle of a big patch of yucca plants.

One year we had rock squirrels get under our house and they started renovating our crawl space and the heating duct system of our house. We did have to get them out of that space and Chris cemented their doors so that they wouldn’t get back under our house to live. That was about 8 or 9 years ago and thankfully they haven’t gotten back under the house again. They do live in one of our equipment sheds, the desert garden and around a pair of old cisterns that no longer function, but all of those places are fine and they haven’t caused us any trouble so they are most welcome.

The squirrels, cottontail rabbits, and mice are all part of the food supply for predators like foxes, coyotes, hawks and bobcats, and these predators keep those other critter populations from becoming too big while getting a meal for themselves. All things in balance, and we are all part of the food chain at some point, so it is a good way to think about nature like this. Everything contributes to everything else on this Earth.

As I was filling the bird baths this morning, the honeybees were happy to get a drink for themselves too. Shallow bird baths provide water for many different kinds of wildlife including pollinators.

Last weekend, we took a short hike to the Cowboy Cabin, an old homestead cabin not too far from the farm. It is a beautiful hike, especially during the autumn season. Shrek did a bit of wildlife management of his own on that hike. He is forever finding bones and he is very serious about his work of finding the perfect place to bury them. On this hike, he found a rather large bone and set about finding a good spot with soft moist soil to bury the bone.

On another subject, we are expecting an early taste of winter here tonight and for the next couple of days. The low temperature tonight is supposed to be in the mid-20’s F, and Sunday night they tell us it will be 14 F degrees. Tomorrow during the day it is supposed to warm up to only the high-20’sF, and Monday a bit warmer, but not by a lot. So, we have been spending today preparing for this cold spell.

Below are great huge rolls of plant frost blanket that Chris and I will use this afternoon to cover the seed crops that are not yet ripe enough to harvest. There are a lot of these crops not yet ripe, so a large portion of our flower seed crop field will be covered in frost blankets for the next couple of days until the temperatures warm back up enough and then we will have to uncover the flowers so that they can finish ripening to seed before we pick the seed harvest.

I’ve also been preparing the retail nursery yard so that I can winter store shrubs and trees outdoors under frost blanket for the winter months. In preparation for doing that, I had to dis-assemble our retail benches and plant sign lattice boards, and stack them all up so that I have a big open area to put the shrubs and trees. I wanted them in a good spot that is protected a bit and also easy for me to water them every couple of weeks as needed during the cold months.

My intention was to put the pots in place on Friday and today and have them all covered over with the frost blanket, but this winter cold spell temporarily postponed that task until later next week. I want to put them out when the night low temps will stay in the 30’s for several days so that they can adjust more easily to being outdoors, even under frost blanket, in the cold. That way when the next really cold spell happens, and the temps go below 30 F, the plants will be more acclimated and shouldn’t have any trouble handling the cold with the help of the frost blanket.

The fairy garden was put to bed today, along with the last things harvested from the outdoor food garden, I moved the remaining container plants into an unheated greenhouse space for the winter months.

My hardy kiwi is still green and growing, and I think the cold will shock this plant into doing dormant for the rest of the year.

The Sweet Briar Rose is loaded with rosehips and after the hard frost they will be ready to harvest.

The same is true for the Juniper berries. The hard frost sets the vitamin C complex in these fruits so that it will be more stable. I’ll harvest both after this hard frost, dry or freeze them for later use both as herbal medicine and for cooking and tea.

I managed to get 2 loads of laundry wash hung on the clothesline to dry before the rain and snow starts this evening. Chris split a supply of wood and stacked it on the back porch so we will have plenty at a hands touch for our wood stove, which is the primary way we heat our home. We are ready now I think for the first big cold snap of the year. All that will be needed is a pot of soup on the stove and hot beverages to drink. Yay!

I suppose I’ll close this post and be back again next week with more happenings. Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s 3am and there is a soft gentle rain happening here, finally.  I feel so much gratitude to Mother Nature for nourishing this part of our earth with this moisture. It has been such a very long time since we have gotten any moisture here and the ground is very very dry. This gentle soaking rain will help greatly and will make it easier for the plants and wildlife to begin facing the cold seasons of the year.

I’ve been laying awake for a couple of hours, wishing desperately that sleep would take me away into the land of lovely dreams and restful relaxation, but tonight it is not happening. Too much on my mind. Too many tasks on the list of things to be done. Too many thoughts circling round and round in my brain keeping me awake. Sleep is such a precious thing and for me it is a mandatory requirement for my physical, mental and emotional well-being. It is one of those daily acts of life I hold sacred. Tonight it is eluding me.

The fall season is a time when the farm work continues, but at a much more sane pace than late winter, spring and summer. This is normally my favorite season and the slowest work season of the year for me. This year feels different. I love the autumn with the cooler temperatures, beautiful fall colors, the crisp morning and evening air, with mid-day temps that are perfect for working or playing outdoors. I usually enjoy being in my garden in the fall, tending the plants, harvesting, or just sitting on the porch reading a non-work-related book. Instead the gardens are weedy and the harvesting is nearly done for this year. I’ve been trying to read books just for the pleasure of reading, which I love to do so much, but the list of work tasks is always lingering close to my thoughts trying to persuade me to stop my attempts at relaxation and instead focus more on getting work tasks done and checked off the list. When I have a hard time sleeping, relaxing and resting I feel flustered and frustrated because I know that once the end of December arrives I will be working full boil ahead 7 days a week with no possibility of rest and relaxation, or even a day off, happening again until mid-June. If I don’t start that working time of the year rested and relaxed, the work will be more difficult to accomplish and my stamina won’t be enough to see me through those months of non-stop work.

This past day and tonight I have been feeling frustrated about how people think about farmers and our value in the world. I hope this post won’t come across as too much whining, because I’m not intending it to be sent into the world that way, but something happened that has me pondering this a lot and I guess I just need to express my thoughts.

Not for the first time, we had a farm visitor asking personal questions about our life as farmers and how our farm business functions. These questions get asked of us pretty often actually, and I always make every effort to answer them truthfully, whether or not I feel the questions are appropriate, because maybe in the bigger world picture of how people view farmers and small farms (not just in the limited scope of Chris and I and this specific farm), maybe the questions are needing to be asked. Perhaps they are more appropriate than my personal feelings admit. So, I answer the questions if I can. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have the opportunity to give a complete answer, because too often that answer would be more lengthy or complex than the person asking the question has time to hear or desire to listen to.

I was asked how much money this farm business makes in a year and how many employees we hire and what seasons they work, how many hours they work and so on. Well, if you are thinking about farming, these things are important to have an idea about. If you put value on what farmers contribute to society and to the daily existence for every person on this planet, then of course these questions and the answers are valuable to have insight about. So, I always feel I should at least try to answer these kind of questions as truthfully as possible.

So I told this person what our farm’s gross income is, how many employees we hire and what time of the year they work and what they do as part of their job here. The reaction I got from this person was all too familiar. They clearly thought that we make a rich living and we have a lot of help to do the work here. I didn’t have the opportunity to finish my answer and explain that our gross income is what we earn before we pay out all of the farm expenses and wages to our employees, and that Chris and I combined actually earn 1/6 of that gross income to pay ourselves if it is a good year and less in a challenging year. We have the most incredible employees possible, and they are truly amazing people to work with, and we usually consider them family in a short period of time. However, we hire a very small crew, especially in comparison to the work load, and they accomplish so much! Still, there is always more work to be done than all of us together can completely accomplish.

I think this is just the nature of farming and I’m sure every farmer feels the same way. As to earning a rich living, well…that is almost laughable. We do pay our bills, but there isn’t much, if any, savings and little possibility of retirement. What we are very rich in is a lifestyle that is nurturing to us…we live  in a beautiful place and we do the kind of work we feel good about and think is important to a bigger picture than this small farm. We eat fresh delicious food, breath good air and can take our dog for a walk in the peace and quiet of wild BLM lands in the evenings just 10 minutes from our home. We are surrounded by the beautiful place this small farm has become in the nearly 23 years we have lived and worked here and we have a community around us that is friendly, kind and supportive of us and our farm business. We were able to raise our daughter in this place and with the values this kind of lifestyle instills in you…that if you work hard and love life, if you are honest and respectful of and to all living beings, then you will be blessed with a wonderful life, even if it isn’t a “rich” or “easy” life. These are the things we treasure about our lives. We have so much to be grateful for, and believe me, we are grateful for our life here and the success of our small farm business! We work very hard for this success and this life. We earn a lot less income than nearly everyone else we know, but we do work we enjoy and that work provides us with enough livelihood.

If you are thinking of being a farmer, this is most likely what you can expect of your life. Farmers, and especially small family farms, are critical to the well-being of whatever part of the world you live in. Collectively these farmers and their farms play a huge important role in the world in a positive way.

To every farmer out there…from one farmer to another…I want to thank you for what you do! I know your not getting rich farming and I know you have more work to do than you have time or help to accomplish. I know that you look forward to the “slow season”, if there really is such a thing as that, to rest and relax so that you can be ready for the busy seasons of the year. I know that some nights you are awake, just as I am tonight, trying to let go of that feeling of being flustered or having too much on your mind. Know that you are appreciated by many, as I know Chris and I are appreciated by so many!  We are thankful for that love and appreciate and respect that we are given every day. Now I’m going back to bed because there is still a bit more than an hour of sleep time before I will get up to smile at another new day of being a farmer.

To everyone who has read this post…thank you for listening to my thoughts. I think I just needed to tell someone and I’m grateful that you were here to lend me a listening ear or in this case listening eyes as you read my words.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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