Miolea Organic Farm

  (Adamstown, Maryland)
Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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My Mom

I took this picture on May 26th, 2013, with my wife.  It is of her rose bush, that she planted last year.  That I kinda ran over once or twice, mowed a little and let weeds over come the entire bush.  I spent some time last winter, weeding, re-staking and securing the plant. 

We were out by the berries and I saw it and called my wife over so she could see it and admire my handy work.  "You have got to take a picture of them," she said.  So, I got my phone out. took some shots and notice the rays of sun coming through the trees.  I tried to capture both rays and rose at the same time.  Below is the outcome:

   

I showed her the picture and said "My mom always loved roses, and that ray of sunshine must be her admiring them".  It was just a comment based on the beauty of the situation and the fact that I miss my departed mother. 

It was May 27, 2009 when my mom passed away, which makes the timing of the picture above and the comment all the more poignant.  After her passing I wrote the following post a few days later:

My Mom passed away Wednesday May 27th at 5:00 am, I knew this because at 6:23 the phone rang and it was my sister.  She couldn't get it out but she didn't have to, my mom suffered from breast cancer and it spread to her bones.  She was in terrible pain and in the end it was really a blessing for her, we were selfishly hoping she would be around longer but it truely wasn't fair to her.  She had given us everything she had from life lessons to cooking lessons and she was crazy about spelling and grammar.  I, unfortunately, let her down on the latter two.

She was delt a cruel hand for life but she raised three really good kids and she always had a smile, a laugh and strong shoulder.  She was a great cook and loved to entertain.  But what was endearing was her ability to laugh and look at the bright side of every cloud.  She lives on every time I cook tomatoe sauce, bread, meatloaf, pizza, well you get the picture.  Mom is with most of her family now, they are all probably sitting around playing cards and joking and laughing.  She had the ability to forgive like no other, a trait I am still trying to emulate.  We grieve and we miss her terribly but she wouldn't want us to morn, she was a partier and that is what she would have wanted.

I never stored the details of time the day she died, I could not have told you the day, the month, or the year for that matter.  My memory of the day was that she died and left that void that we all feel or will feel at some time in life.  She died and that is what remained as my memory of the event. 

This single shot of a rose with sun rays coming through the trees as a backdrop made me think of her love for them and of her .  It is sad but at the same time it is so heart warming, being one of those things that makes this hard life we live easier.  It made me go back to that post, to re-read what I had felt only to find that I was reading it on the date of the day she passed. 

From her I learned it is what we do for others and the impact we have on those around us that makes me a good person.  If you look for someone to help, you will find them.  Your reward will not be know to you but things will happen that you do not understand.  It is not the materials that we own or the clothes that we wear by which we are judged, but by the people we help and lives we touch.  Which is how my mother lived her life.

Thanks mom,   .

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Damn learning curve

Farming for profit, has there ever been a greater oxymoron?  Okay, maybe humane slaughter is bigger.  At least from the small farmer's stand point, when more than seventy-five percent of all small farms in the nation, bring in fewer than ten-thousand dollars a year, of farm income, I ask can there be true economic sustainability in small farming. 

This year we changed our business model in that we are concentrating our selling on only high dollar produce and fruits.  We are still selling mainly on farm but have joined a market in the city.  We are hoping that by cutting back on different varieties and concentrating on a few things we can turn profitable.  Because of our size, we cannot grow, as much so consequently we do not have a large variety.  I want to be a successful grower, but we need to make a profit.  Selling only what we grow is hard because we do not have a bevy of different fruits and vegetables, so variety is not going to be our strong point.  

What we will have this year is strawberries, blueberries and sweet corn.  These crops sell for a premium and there is great demand.  We will be able to conserve the 12,000 gallons of collected rainwater because we will not have so many different plants to water.  Our organic chicken meat has not taken off as we hoped but this is only the third year.  We have increased our layer flock to 120 layers.  We are selling most of our eggs directly to Dawson's Market in Rockville.  Dawson's does not put them out on the shelves.  Instead, they call customers to let them know the eggs have been delivered.  We continue to expand the layers (we have 50 more day olds started) striving to get to where we deliver more dozens so we can make it onto the store's shelves.

Being a small enterprise has great disadvantages, especially, when we go up against the bigger growers and grower associations.  We did not take on this farm without knowing the physical, mental, emotional and economic sacrifice and that failure was more likely then success.  We are going back to the model that first made us money and that is by growing a few things and concentrating on value added products.   

We knew going into this that it was not going to be easy.  What we were not prepared for was all the different ways your heart breaks.  We lost another layer last night.  It was stuck under the trailer.  I had moved the house in the morning before I let the layers out.  I was tilling and I noticed the trailer looked low in the back.  I knew I did not crank the front back down after I moved the tractor away from the ball.  I saw it and made a mental note to lower the front of the trailer when I was done tilling.

Well the day got away and I did not lower the front.  Sunset comes and I go out to put the layers away for the night and that is when I found one under the backend of the trailer.  I can only surmise that it was stuck and died of a heart attack.  I took her over to the compost pile and as we have done with every other body, returned her to the earth that helped nourish her in her brief existence. 

I take it personally, you are not supposed to, you are supposed to let it roll off but I don't.  I know I am too attached at times to see the forest for the trees but that will not change.  As long as they are in my care, I will always take my mistakes hard and demand a greater awareness.  Five years we have been working with layers.  I thought I had been exposed to all the perils of layer life, yet here I am still in this damn learning curve.

BUY LOCAL: Do your family justice, find a local farm, ask questions and then support it if it feels right.  If you do not get straight answers, it is probably because they are hucksters not growers.  

 

 
 
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