State of Suspension
What is the difference between suspension and traction?
They can be confused. Our business is moving from one to the other, it appears. But is it really? And where were we compared to where we are now? Is the paradigm of traction really any different from that of suspension?
We have known considerable traction over the years. We have raised 3,500 animals per year across 5 species, producing 80 different products. We have mowed 800 acres of pasture, maintained fences on 400 acres, and managed five miles of underground waterlines. We have achieved third-party certification for high quality of management of land and livestock. We have attended two markets 85 miles away every weekend of the year, and made a third trip per week for commercial accounts. We brought a "slider shack" to the market, including 5 employees, and sold 100 sliders per hour at our peak. We have worked seven days a week for fifteen years, growing nutritious grass-based foods, and employing up to five full-time equivalents. We have improved infrastructure by continually upgrading systems for water and fencing. We have built a commercial kitchen, in which to prepare convenient foods of outstanding flavor. We have become fast friends with various customers, meeting the most interesting and fine people through sacred exchange at farmers markets. We have sent bi-weekly newsletters describing the vicissitudes of our journey to 2500 people, 35% of whom open them. We have compiled a sampling of these newsletters into a book.
This has been our traction.
But four events are converging forcefully to invite us to suspend our traction: 1) mismanagement at our primary market, 2) scarcity of labor to work on the farm, 2) scarcity of meat processing appointments, and 2) aging of owners. Each of these has created stress for us, but the combination and convergence suggests it is time to rethink our business model.
Over the next year, we will be selling off all of our animal inventory, except the beeves, and work on resting, healing, and re-envisioning. We began the process in August by selling the brood cows. Breeding ewes depart just after Thanksgiving. We are in the midst of harvesting our pork, while chickens and turkeys are already in the freezers. A neighbor is helping us manage our hens and eggs. Given all of our supply, we will have our usual range of products for Madtree and Montgomery for the next year. But we will be working down our inventory for all but beef, which we will have indefinitely.
Selling reproductive livestock can be like sending children off to college; one resists it mightily, yet knows it is right for now. This suspension of activity will create space for new consideration. Silence rather than the hum of work will become the prevailing sound. We are moving into a state of meditation, which is awkward for those of us prone to perpetual activity. But we have finally come to accept our souls are yearning for the quiet.
Raising and marketing nutritious food is a primal, ancient, and essential cultural act. We are now at the top of our game, and lament the loss of momentum by accepting the state of suspension into which we step. We are deeply committed to the production of food, and will return to it in fuller force when broader support for the process is ascertained.
As previously mentioned, in the next years we will not just be casting our eyes to the skies. We will be at work expanding wetland development and striving to develop greater permanent community on the farm. Once that community is sufficiently in place, we will resume producing food. The difference between now and then will be the underlying support for the journey will come from a group of dedicated people rather than two individuals.
The stripe down the middle of this picture is the creek banks we have widened, the far bank last year and the near bank this fall. (Flowing water is barely visible.) The green across the creek is oats drilled into future wetlands. This winter we will broadcast by hand wetland seeds for bushes and shrubs on top of the oats. The oats will serve as a seedbed for the seeds. In February of '22, we start planting 40,000 trees in the same location with another 30,000 to follow in 2023.
So, we are announcing two dates for spreading wetland seeds for anybody who would like to join us. Those are: Saturday, December 11 and Saturday December 18, starting at 9 AM. We will have a hot lunch available. Depart when you have had enough. We will be broadcasting by gloved hand, with so many pounds allocated per acre. Jacob will have it organized for us. If bad weather strikes, we will find a day during the last week of December instead. So, let me know if you would like to brave the elements on either of these days and help with this task.
One of our favorite meals is Mekong Pho, Mekong meatballs, and Mt. Fuji Gyoza. Chris and Yurie helped us think about how to execute this, for which we will always be grateful. The rice noodles and Pho are so easy to digest and carry an inviting Vietnamese flavor.
In terms of Thanksgiving, remember we have turkey stock available for making gravy or any other matter. We also have delicious aioli that is perfect for turkey sandwiches the next day.
Bob will be at Montgomery on Saturday for the final market of the year, and Stephani and I will be at Madtree on Sunday.
In the power of suspension!
Drausin & Susan
Tonight's full "beaver moon" will be partially eclipsed late in the night.