Sunday, September 02, 2007

Makin' Hay

I have some new pics for you! Here they are:

They are in descending order: English Arrow pea vines drying for next year's seed; newly harvested Stuttgart onions; Tom building himself another compost bin; B's Flambeau Acres is one of our great market vendors; onions curing in the garage; our farm stand; another market vendor, Mary Lou Czerniak from Taylor County (Czerniaks make up the southernmost participant of Price Direct while I am at the northern end); and Rich Tobe from Jump River Dairy in Catawba. B's sells honey and maple syrup, the Czerniaks sell produce, flowers and great berries in season, and Jump River has organic eggs, great meats, and good, wholesome sheep milk.

We had a great market yesterday despite the fact that many people had gone to area Labor Day Festivals. You should have smelled my Hannah's Choice melons! They were heavenly and when the market opened, people lined up and bought most of them -- only the ones not quite ripe were left. One customer told me they wanted melon to eat today, not next week. So I wound up taking a couple of them home. Hopefully they will be ripe for next market. It was a lovely day, and I asked people to give me feedback next week on what they bought. No one wrote down on my sheet what they would like to see me offer next year; maybe they want to think about it. I took a bowl of hot peppers (from the Laos seeds Bill and Linda sent me) and because they were so small, I sold them 5 for $0.10. I sold most of them! One person told me that they love hot peppers so I told her I will bring all of my hot peppers next week -- the Laos, Thai Hot, Thai Hot2, Thai Hot3, Joe's Long Cayenne, and Serrano. I will have to check the Early Jalapeno and Tobasco because I don't know if those got any fruit this year. The peppers I don't sell I will dry and use in organic pest mixtures next year. Serrano peppers are going for at least $7.00 a pound!

We had our first unfortunate instance with a vendor this market. It was an old lady who was a crafter. She showed up at the market at 8 a.m. and set up. One of the other vendors who arrives early showed this woman a copy of the market rules which clearly state that you may sell crafts but at least 50% of your stand must be food items that you have grown. The woman read the rules and put up her stand anyway. I arrived late and saw the woman, said hello, and hurried to set up my own stand; I didn't look to see what the woman had on her stand thinking I would check it out later when I had a chance. Well, the market opened and I was busy for a while (melon rush). Then the market manager called me aside and told me that people had come up to her and said, "Do you know you have someone not selling food?" So, she went to check out the woman's stand, and then asked the rest of us vendors who have all signed market contracts and participate in making decisions about the market, what we wanted to do. At first I thought we should let her stay seeing as she was an old lady and already set up, but that we should tell her at the end of market that she couldn't come back unless she conformed her stand to market rules. But because we discovered that the woman had been shown a copy of the market rules and she set up anyway, the majority voted to ask her to leave. I support the group so I went with them. That woman had no interest in the goals of the market, what we as a group hope to achieve, or our rules. She is a professional crafter and all she gave a damn about was making her buck. She accused US of being greedy(!) and based her "right" to be there on an ad that was placed in the newspaper for the market. The ad did say "food and crafts" in it, but there was a phone number to call. It would have been logical (polite and ethical) to call first to be sure you conformed to market rules before showing up cold turkey. We apologized for any ambiguity in the ad that might have caused her to misconstrue it, and told her the ad would be corrected. This woman was a first class bitch and I am glad we told her to take a hike. Later that day I spoke to an attorney about the incident and was told that for the sake of good will we could have let the avaricious old sow stay the one day to get her "feed", but we did right in sticking up for the market rules; the woman was taking advantage of known customer traffic at the time and place allotted to the farmers market with no intent to conform to market rules or become part of the market group. (Being part of the market group is not required to vend at the market, but committed interest would be nice.) She tried to pass off the Indian corn she was selling as a food item, but when we looked at her stand, the wood crafts were front and center while the Indian corn was on the side line and being marketed as a decoration and not food. I told her that, which only incensed her and she glared at me. She threatened us. She said, "You can bet word of this is going to get around." I told her she could go sell at the Pamida parking lot in Park Falls and she replied she'd alreay been there! Obviously she thought she wasn't making enough money at Pamida. She also said she had a trailer full of crafts she could have brought and that she had a space rented for the Harvest Festival which she was tempted to cancel because of this "incident". We told her we had nothing to do with the Festival and that she should not take out any anger on the Festival people. (The attorney I spoke to told me that the old battleaxe won't cancel her spot at the Festival because she wants the money. I'm tempted to go to the Festival just to see if she shows up.) Anyway, good riddance to a most disagreeable person!

When I got home from market I was all nerves and got Tom and Ed to go with me to cut all the sweet corn. The market sold out of corn right away and EVERYBODY wanted sweet corn. I set up the canopy at the end of the driveway, but only made one sale. I should advertise, but I never know when I will be able to just sit at the stand for a couple of hours. Tom doesn't like to do it, and I don't like to leave him with the kids all the time. Lara can't (and doesn't want to) sit outside because she is sensitive to heat and sunlight with her medications even with the canopy, and Ed would be ok, but if he wants to go in the house, I would have to leave the stand alone because Ed can't be left by himeself at any time. Our schedule for September is already very busy so unfortunately it will be difficult to connect with us at the farm if you want to buy anything. (Just keep an eye out for the red canopy because that means I'm out at the end of the driveway selling.) It will be nice to build a good stand that has better shelter. (I have some wonderful building plans for one I got from the University of Delaware.) I might be able to run an electric line out to it so there would be heat on cold days and I could run a radio for Lara (If I could get her to come out with me for some fresh air). Anyway, next week I will have New England Pie Pumpkins, Sugar Loaf Delicata squash, and from Tom's garden, Sunshine winter squash, along with Perkins Long Pod Okra, Stuttgart onions, Forellenschuss lettuce, Southern Giant Leaf Curled Mustard, White Egg Turnips, hopefully some Moon and Stars, Green Nutmeg, Charentais and more Hannah's Choice melons (pray the hot weather holds) and all my hot peppers I mentioned earlier.

I have been really thinking hard about the garden layout. I have decided to move the perennial section to the house under the trees where I can keep a better eye on it and I will plant more fruit trees in that field section. Bill MacKentley at St. Lawrence Nursery in New York probably recognizes my handwriting by now! Drought three years in a row has just been devastating to me trying to get the trees started, but I know that I have good ground for fruit trees and if I can just nurse them along till they take hold, they will be strong trees. St. Lawrence Nursery has excellent stock! It sure tries to live! I plan to buy about 1,500' of 4' high deer fencing to overlap the woven wire and be on top of the smooth wire of the perimeter fence. I am also thinking about adding either 4 low tunnels or another high tunnel from FarmTek. And, I will build a gate since My Own True Love prefers to think about things to do instead of actually doing them. (I guess watching Cops is preferable to exercising your brain and body by building a needed wood shed and tool shed, but then again, those are things I want done.) There is another beaver around (I noticed a new skid mark going down to the creek) and several good sized trees down that I can use for fence braces, so if I can get to those things before the ground freezes the garden should be pretty secure.

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