Dealing with Local Governments and Anal Thinking

So, as many of you know, lately we have dabbled in the world of farmers’ markets, selling our quail eggs shoulder-to-shoulder with our son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Rachel, as they sell their goat cheese.

I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy the farmers’ market experience, getting to know other local farmers, listening to their stories, and feeling a sense of community I think is so important for our future as a species.

Part of the whole “market” experience is finding the right markets to sell at. Where are the biggest crowds? Where is the greatest demand?….that sort of thing….so Seattle has been tried, and Steilacoom, and West Olympia, and Tumwater, and soon another in Seattle and one in Puyallup, and there are a couple in Tacoma worth considering, and….well, you get the picture.

And that’s what I want to gripe about for a moment here today.town_912

PAYING THE PIPER

Each market costs vendors money.  The way it normally works, a farmer will pay a flat fee for the use of a booth for one day, and also pay a percentage of the sales for the day.  West Olympia charges $15 per day or $120 for the season, a very reasonable fee. They also take a nominal percentage…something like 5%…..Steilacoom charges $30 per day and a percentage of sales….the Olympia Farmers’ Market downtown is so expensive we can’t even consider it,  and Seattle….well, let’s talk about Seattle for a moment.

Now I’m going to be slightly off with the figures, but trust me, they are close to the actual figures. The U-District Market in Seattle charges $150 per day plus a percentage, but they also charge something like $250 for a seller’s permit, so before you even unload your car and sell your first quail egg, you are $400 in the hole.

That’s a lot of quail eggs and goat cheese, friends!  That kind of “gutting” may not hurt the guy who sells smoked salmon and has over $3,000 in sales daily, but the smaller farmers have a real hard time justifying the cost and many simply cannot do it.

And I think that’s a shame and inexcusable!

THE POINT IS

A nominal fee is one thing, and defensible, but why charge local farmers exorbitant fees? It makes no sense to me!  Why discourage small local farmers from taking place in local events that are held to promote localism?town_914

Anal!

I’m done with my rant!

SHARING INFORMATION

We spend a lot of time at the local Urban Farm & Garden Center. In fact, Bev works there part-time, and it really is a great place to hang.  So when we decided to try our hands at greenhouse gardening/farming, we turned to our friends at the center, and one of them, Tristan, their soil expert, came over to our house last week, walked around our urban farm, and gave us tips on how to proceed.

No fee was charged by Tristan, by the way.  Tristan understands that his sharing information with us will eventually help the community as we learn to produce quality vegetables and herbs….community….help…..no charge…..

Not anal!

Have a great week!

Bill

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Busy With Farmers’ Markets

I haven’t been posting lately because, well, I’ve been busy.

Here’s what’s been happening…..

THE QUAIL

The City has closed the case on our quail adventure and we will not be fined.  Jolly good of them.  I still don’t know which neighbor turned us in, but I am looking forward to finding them and talking to them about the concept of community.

The quail are all moved over to our son’s farm and they are happy. The new aviary over there is almost completed.

And we are now immersed in the farmers’ market phenomenon.  Every Saturday, Bev and I sell quail eggs and goat cheese at the West Olympia Farmers’ Market….our eggs are also being sold on Tuesday at West Oly, on Wednesdays at Steilacoom Farmers’ Market, and on Saturdays at the U-District Farmers’ Market in Seattle.  I hope our quail can keep up with the demand.

In other words, all’s well that ends well!

Yesterday we did our first Steilacoom Market.  Busy place, about 2000 people…sold some stuff, met som people, enjoyed the sun and scenic setting….good times!

THE CHICKENS

Our chickens are about done with laying eggs. They are all three years old and it is sporadic at best this summer. The folks at the Urban Garden Center tell us that’s to be expected….three years of good laying is great. Anything beyond that is a bonus.  They are about to transition from “working pets” to just pets.  Will we eat them now that they are done laying?  We named them, for God’s sake. That should answer the question.town_142

GREENHOUSE

It’s a work in progress.  We still have to buy the plastic to enclose it, but the workbenches are all built, so we’re getting closer to completion.  We need to plant the fall harvesting plants soon, so stay tuned…..

MY BOOKS

We may be selling my novels at the farmers’ market soon….that would be cool.  I’m busy increasing my supply of them and preparing point-of-sale merchandise for marketing.

THE TO-DO LIST

Oh God, I have to make an arbor for the grapes, which have gone crazy this growing season, and we have to harvest the berries, and the greenhouse of course, and I don’t have any firewood for the winter, and ……I’m tired just thinking of it all….

But it’s a good tired.

BACK TO THE FARMERS’ MARKET

town_918Here’s the thing:  I really enjoy them. I enjoy meeting like-minded people who are interested in healthy foods grown organically.  I enjoy meeting people who would rather spend a little extra money for locally-grown food and locally-produced products.  I enjoy meeting people who are actually concerned for the environment and our community and want to make a positive change.town_912

And it’s kind of cool, working a booth, selling items made by our family….the eggs, the goat cheese….a real family effort, capped off with one of Bev’s sons providing live music during the market….

This is what community should look like.  Community isn’t giant box stores and impersonal clerks….community is neighbors spending time with neighbors, and bartering, and sharing ideas, all of which fosters a sense of belonging……

town_914Yep, I really enjoy it!

SEE YOU DOWN THE ROAD

Have a great week….have a great month….have a great life!

Bill

A Comedy of Errors

town_642Thanks for visiting again.

It’s been quite a week around here.  We are practicing the old adage “if something can go wrong it probably will,” as we transition from a quail urban farm to a greenhouse/gardening urban farm.

To clarify and summarize, we have not gotten rid of our quail.  We are still in the quail business; we just can’t keep the quail on our urban farm, so we had to move  all 140 of them to a new enclosure on our son’s goat farm outside the city limits.

AND THAT’S WHERE THINGS WENT SIDEWAYS

Bev and I spent two days digging fence post holes, getting the frame squared up, and actually framing the new enclosure on the goat farm….but….

We were notified by the County that structures must be at least fifty feet from the property line.  The new one we were building was only twenty feet from the line….soooooo….

We took it all down and started over!

Just shoot me now!

Our son felt so bad about not knowing the regulations that he offered to dig the new holes and build the new frame.  That hasn’t happened yet but it will soon. In the meantime, we have moved all the quail to a large chicken coop/enclosure they already had on their property….and that’s where they are now while we wait for Matt to build that new frame.

Amazingly we have not lost one quail through all of these moves.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT OUR FARM

Soon to be a greenhouse
Soon to be a greenhouse

I’ve cleaned out the two aviaries where we once had quail and I’ve begun building shelving for the greenhouse.  I should have all that done by the end of this weekend and then we can put up plastic and the aviaries will officially become greenhouses.

What a mess!

But our spirits are high and we managed not to piss and moan too much through it all.

Bev will be working on the quail business while I work primarily on the greenhouse business.  Of course we’ll overlap at times and help each other, but that’s the basic division of labor as of right now.

Oh, and our specialty quail were born….five of the seven hatched….these are rare birds and sell for $100 each, so cross your fingers that they survive the next couple weeks.

I’M TIRED

And since I’m tired, and I’ve got a very long to-do list, I’ll stop this blog now and let all of you get back to whatever it is you do. Thanks for listening to me vent.  If you’ve got experience with greenhouses and feel like sharing your expertise on this blog, please do so in the comment section, or email me at holland1145@yahoo.com and you can guest blog here.

Bill

Big Brother is Watching

Soon to be a greenhouse
Soon to be a greenhouse

BIG BROTHER’S WATCHING

Yep, we got a notice the other day from the City of Olympia telling us we had too many quail. That means, of course, that one of the neighbors complained because, well, there was no other way for the city to know what we had in our backyard.

So we appealed and we lost the appeal, and they have given us until July 5th to move or get rid of our flock, and we spent a day moaning and being pissed off and yes, I was cussing a bit….LOL….and then….

We spoke to Bev’s son, who has a goat farm three miles away, out of the city limits, and he said sure, build an aviary on his place and keep the birds there, and Bev was fine with that and doesn’t mind going over there daily to feed and water the birds, and then I was thinking I could easily make our two existing aviaries into greenhouses, and we can start growing more plants for a longer growing season….soooooo

I’m no longer cussing.  The work has begun on the new aviary on Matt’s property, and we’re moving all the quail over there this weekend, and….

Goodbye catastrophe and hello solution!!!!!

When I was younger this sort of thing would have put me in a bad mood for weeks.  Now, well, let’s just say I am much-mellower and I realize that very few obstacles are worth pissing and moaning over.

What really bothers me about the whole thing is the neighbor, whoever they were, didn’t just come and talk to us. We have tried to foster a spirit of community in our neighborhood, and it just seems like people, at times, don’t understand what that means.

Oh well!

SPEAKING OF THOSE GREENHOUSES

We struck a deal with the local urban garden center and they will set up our greenhouse for us and provide seeds and knowledge. In return we will sell the seedlings to them for a discount. In other words we’ll become a wholesaler of plants and I think that is very cool.

HAY BALE GARDENING

If you haven’t tried it then at least consider it.  I’m not a scientist, so I can’t tell you exactly why it works. I just know it does.  We have never grown such vibrant, healthy plants as the ones growing in our hay bale garden.  The potatoes are absolutely going nuts, as are the onions, carrots, kale and pumpkins.  You can bet I’ll have some hay bales in the new greenhouse for next year.

You could probably still give it a go this year if you wanted.  It takes seventeen days, give or take a day, to amend the bales with fertilizer, water and my own magic elixir, rabbit poop, so that still gives you more than enough time to grow some fall veggies or even late-summer veggies.town_884

WEATHER IN OUR NECK OF THE WOODS

We had the wettest winter on record here in 2016, followed by two very hot weeks in early May, but since then we’ve had a very normal June for us, which means on-again-off-again showers and temperatures ranging from 65-75.  Right on schedule, the warmer temps and sunshine are due this Saturday, the 25th….so for us, this is a normal late spring/summer.

I’ve been watching the news about the droughts and severe storms and tornadoes and flash flooding, and I swear to God, I don’t know why more people don’t move to western Washington.  Right about now I’ll bet there are millions of people who think 75 degrees sounds pretty darned good.  Actually, we are supposed to have an additional 20,000 people move into our city in the next year. I’m already dreading the increase in traffic.  LOL  Shhh, don’t tell anyone we have perfect weather here.

QUAIL PRODUCTION

The quail are at the peak of their laying season right now. We get between five and six dozen eggs per day, and that’s about all we can hope for with the number of birds we have.

We currently have some specialty quail eggs in the incubator, something new we thought we would try.  When they are adults they will sell for $100 each, so cross your fingers and hope they all live.

BERRIES AND GRAPES

We’ve already harvested the raspberries.  Blackberries are ripening now and then it will by the blueberries’ turn….and the grapes are going whacko!

AND THAT’S IT FROM MILD OLYMPIA

Thanks for stopping by.  I always appreciate the visits and comments, so keep them coming.  Share your thoughts in the comment section…tell us all what works for you…and in advance, thank you!

Bill