This is certainly proving to be an interesting summer here in northern Michigan. We had a warm start, variable amounts of rain and now cool temperatures in the heart of when it is usually hot. Our tomatoes are having a hard time figuring out what to do. We've got lush green plants with loads of blossoms but them seem to have stalled. The early crops all seemed to come in a rush with the early hot weather and were over before we knew it.
We raise a small amount of non certified organic produce here for our own table. We vend anything extra cooperatively at the local farmer's market in Traverse City, and at a neighbor's roadside stand. We are grateful for the network of relationships that allows this all to happen.
We borrow a neighbor's tractor to push our manure piles. He comes and loads some of the aged compost and uses it to grow the vegetables he sells. Dan contributes repairs to the tractor to help keep it running. We sell eggs, and other surplus at his stand, and he sends some of his produce to market in Traverse City with us.
This is especially important in how we conduct our large animal operation. Small though this is, we do go through a huge amount of hay. We do not hay ourselves however. We find it more cost effective to buy our hay from producers who already have the large, expensive harvesting equipment to bring it in.
In the five years we have been ranching, we have formed a wide network of interlocked endeavor with our neighbors. Each strand that gets woven between us makes each of us stronger. And we have met some wonderful people in the process. The main commonality is that we all love working the land, and tending our animals. I am very grateful for this experience. Many of the people are getting up there in years though. I wonder about what will happen when they all retire. Who will take their places?