Busy, but Blessed!
Our discussion at breakfast this morning reminded me that every April is the same. The conversation was not about ‘How to get it all done’… rather, it was a more realistic topic… ‘What shall we abandon all hope of getting done?’ The rapid transition from bucolic winter to supernova-spring at the farm could be likened to revving a Ferrari to red-line and popping the clutch… you had better hang on tight!
Highly productive and biologically dynamic pastures and hay fields are growing explosively…I’m pretty sure that on a still evening we can hear the grass growing! Lambs are popping up (out?) daily; Jersey dairy cows are freshening and their calves are nosing around wonderingly; the beef cows are starting to calf; even farm markets are reproducing… they have proliferated from one per week to four per week in the last 7 days. Whew!
Unfortunately, the days are not getting any longer. We seem to be destined to have to manage all of this in a woefully inadequate 24 hour day. Too much work and too little time? Prioritizing is the order of the day… it just isn’t all going to get done. We have manure that needs to be spread, fence that should be fixed, water lines that should get buried, fields that need to be reseeded. Organic certification paperwork is overdue...Tractors never break except in April...Oh, and next Tuesday is tax day… sigh! In the midst of all of this, the animals seem to expect to be tended, and fed, and assisted in birthing, and milked… and cheese and yogurt and butter and kefir and milk and curds and chocolate milk all need to be made. Family and Church responsibilities are pressing...I feel the need to ask for patience from our precious customers as I know that the next three months will be a little ragged. At least you’ll know why we have dark circles under our eyes and 'pasted on' smiles in April/May/June. :)
But, all is not doom and despair. We ARE blessed and need to remember to count our blessings. The mild winter reduced animal hay consumption and we have precious leftover organic hay this spring. The dry winter allowed us to treat the animals to a lot of ‘out on pasture’ days, which saves a fortune in organic bedding. Our winter product drops and winter farm market were very well supported, which has rescued us from the standard ‘flat broke’ cash flow crisis that March usually brings. We did bump the bottom of our bank account with a loud ‘Thump’ in March, but only after we had updated our market truck and our skid loader… so that was to be expected. We are now milking in our ‘just in time’ finished milking parlor, and it has eliminated many of the woes of the old parlor. We were able to invest some time and attention in our family over the winter, which does wonders for relationships that get a little stretched and neglected during the ‘green season’. Opening a barn gate and letting a herd of animals out onto lush pasture gives a farmer a deep sense of fulfillment after they have been unnaturally confined for much of the winter. I don’t speak ‘cow’ or ‘sheep’… but I can clearly read the joy on their faces as they stuff their muzzle into a patch of brilliant green grass, soft fluffy clover and magnificent dandelions... that gives even a harried farmer a warm, fuzzy, satisfied feeling inside. Health, strength and meaningful work to do are often overlooked blessings, as well.
Last week, a customer asked me about why our Certified Organic 100% Grassfed ground beef was substantially tastier than what he could get at Whole Foods. It occurred to me that something I take for granted might not be known by many of our customers. Namely, that the majority of organic ground beef is from worn out, old, organic dairy cows. These cows are bred to produce milk, not meat. We have two separate herds of cows here, and none of our beef comes from our dairy herd. ALL of the beef we sell is from our herd of prime, plump, pampered, Hereford beef cattle … born and bred on our farm… and never, ever having tasted anything but our organic grass and hay. Hereford beef cattle are renowned and prized for their ability to thrive on a ‘grain free’ diet and the beef they produce is unparalleled (in my, admittedly biased, opinion). So if you haven’t tried our beef… you are missing out! My personal favorites are chuck roast, cheese burgers (I can recommend a good cheese supplier :) )… and our minute steaks (they make OUTSTANDING cheese steaks and stir fry!)
You can pick up some of our 100% Grassfed, Certifed Organic beef, as well as all our other products, at the following farm markets: Tuesdays - Crystal City Freshfarm Market, 3:00-7:00; Thursdays - Ballston Freshfarm Market, 3:00-7:00; Saturdays - Silver Spring Freshfarm Market, 9:00-1:00 and Old Town Alexandria Market, 7:00-12:00. Enjoy the beautiful spring weather, and have a cookout this weekend!