Wind & Rain
The wind brought one and the rain the other.
As I left the bank in Hillsboro one day late in November, amidst a downpour of rain, a strapping young man stepped forward to introduce himself. He explained he raises pastured hens and has been selling eggs to restaurants and CSA's in Columbus. He had heard about our farm and wondered if he could come for a visit to learn more about what we are doing. He had seen the truck and trailer pull through town, followed it to the bank, and waited for me in the rain to introduce himself. After giving him my card and driving away, I couldn't help being impressed by the initiative.
One month and two visits later we signed an agreement for this young man, Mike Kelley, to assume management of our new mobile hen-house on our land. He will incur costs of production and continue to provide eggs to restaurants in Columbus for his own account, but we will be his primary customer. We will provide an attractive apartment for him to live in. Further, he will help Landis with three or four milkings per week and will help us with feedings and tasks, as dictated by need and availability. He will be a whole within a whole.
Mike grew up in this area, attending Hillsboro High School and then Wright State University. He also, importantly, received training at Laurel Oaks Career Center in machine milling and welding. He has demonstrated entrepreneurial talent by putting himself through college by buying and reselling used cars. Upon graduation he launched a business on eBay, selling inspection tooling, to the point of becoming in five years the #2 seller of thread gages, with over 1500 listings.
After five or so years of this success, the call of the spirit began surfacing, however, and he found himself voluteering on vegetable farms in the Columbus area, studying Wendell Berrry's epistles, and attending Joel Salatin's seminars. His urban stint began to close, as he realized he wanted to migrate back to rural work and life, with recognized costs and benefits attached. Our paths crossed in the rain by the bank, and now he is working with us. We are fortunate. He is an able person, physically, intellectually, philosophically, and most importantly, he is a good communicator. And curiously, his grandfather ran a logging business for decades out of the tiny town, Cynthiana, in whose shadow we reside.
As the wind brought us Clark, the rain brought us Mike. We are fortunate to have people of this caliber on our team. Together they will allow the sun to bring us next whom it will, with ever-growing promise for our future.
It took 80 inches of rain over the past year to deliver Mike Kelley to us, and we are grateful, but enough is enough at this point! Another 3 1/2 inches fell at the beginning of the week. Alternating conditions between intense cold and intense rain, resulting in mud, is hard on animals. Weaker ones can not withstand the fluctuations. A good number of animals have been lost in southern Ohio to this weather. We have lost two, bringing greater challenge and heart-ache to the journey.
Beef Barbacoa on tacos with tomato salsa, guacamole, and sour cream recently presented themselves to us in irresistible fashion. Beef Barbacoa is made from the shoulder of the beef, and is slow cooked for 10 hours at 200 degrees in a delectable sauce of: lime juice, chicken stock, vinegar, cider, cloves, and multiple spices. After it cools, it is painstakingly pulled apart by hand to remove gristle and fat. It is then returned to its own juices to marinate in the refrigerator for 2 days. On the fourth day it is ready for packaging. This product takes longer to prepare than any of our prepared foods, and Beth does an excellent job doing so.
The OEFFA conference is currently underway in Dayton. This organization is the primary certifier for organic production in Ohio, and does an excellent job of advancing the case for family farms. USDA, in contrast, has allowed corporate agriculture to benefit from organic certification, thus flooding the market with supply, driving prices down, and forcing small dairy farmers in particular to go out of business. OEFFA defends the small farm and is a great force for the better in this regional community. For more information go to: www.oeffa.org.
Beth & Bob will see you this Sunday at the Hyde Park Market.
In deference to the blessings and burdens delivered by the elements,
Drausin & Susan