About me...

Because this journey is intensely personal, there will be times when my posts will be about more than just rebuilding the physical aspects of my life. They may be random and sometimes I think they may not even make sense to some. But whatever I post here will be as honest as I can make it, no punches pulled, telling it like it it. I hope that I can share some insight with others who might be going through a similar transitory period in their own lives. With luck and perseverence I know I will eventually successful in my new life. I have very high hopes for all of this but then I had those when Dave was alive, too. I am naturally a pretty optomistic person, I think.

Article from 2007 that is still relevant today

The following is an article I posted in 2007 about comparison shopping between being in a CSA and shopping for organic food at the supermarket. Because I didn't have time to do this in 2008, I dredged up the figures from the year before because the principles are the same. Our CSA structure changed for 2008 and we included delivery, so the reference to our CSA is out of date, but the gist of this info is basically the same. Check it out.

Good argument for LOCAL FOOD!!!!
New Moon Farm Comparison Shopping for Organic Produce
July 26, 2007

Recently, there was an article on Yahoo! Money (it is a series about how to manage your money) on how to save money on organic produce. Joining a CSA was one of the 5 ways mentioned. After reading the article, I decided to do a little research of my own. Since I rarely buy organic produce in supermarkets (definite perk of being an organic farmer), I took a trip around to my local groceries that stock organic produce to see what it was selling for there. Since I had some errands to run anyway this week over near the Walmart, Target and Bloom stores, I took a quick survey of their prices for what was received in our CSA share this week for a comparison. Keep in mind that NONE of the produce in the store survey was locally grown.

Here is what I found:
At Target
Two 4 inch long Zuchinni $3.99 (6 oz)
Two 6 inch long Slicing Cukes $3.99
3 small Tomatoes (Hothouse tomatoes, not homegrown heirlooms) $4.99 I weighed these with the plastic clamshell pkg included and it still weighed less 1 lb -- 12 ounces was the pkg wgt. The label said they were a product of Minnesota, go figure.
10 oz. pkg. Grape Tomatoes $3.49
2 Green Bell Peppers $4.99 (If you got the pack with a red and green one, the price was $5.99) Did not have Eggplant available

At Bloom
2 Med. Yellow Squash $3.99 (not quite 1#)
1 dry pt. Grape Tomatoes $3.49 (The dry pt weighed around 8-10 oz)
2 small Green Peppers $3.99
Did not have Tomatoes, Cukes or Eggplant

Harris Teeter was too far to go to and I don't have many other choices in this area.
Food Lion has some packaged organics on occasion but nothing fresh this week but then Bloom is Food Lion anyway. I went into Walmart but it scared me and I ran away....not really, but their organic produce choice was so limited and looked so bad, I just left the store without recording the price info.

Here is what our Tuesday CSA group received this week, priced using the previous supermarket prices:
24 ounces of Grape Tomatoes $8.28
Two cukes $3.99
3 lbs Heirloom Tomatoes $14.97
1.5 lb Squash/Zuchinni/Patties $5.99 (If I were to use the zuchinni price of $10+/lb i/o the yellow squash price of $3.99/lb, the value is $15 for 1.5# of squash)
1 Green Pepper $2.00
1 Italian Eggplant $2.99 (this is our price and the price at Diamond Organics)
1/2 lb Asian Eggplant $1.50 (ditto on this price)
CSA members paid $20 for this weekly share.
Total value for what they received, using supermarket prices: $39.72 sans 6% sales tax. (that adds $2.38 for a total of $42.10)

Our produce is grown under the exact same USDA standards for certified organic produce as ANY of the produce in stores. In fact, we generally grow ours over and above what is required. CSA member's produce was less than 24 hours from the field when they received it and didn't travel 3000 miles to get to you, so the nutritional value is probably double or triple what the store's produce would be. AND they saved $19.72 over what this produce would have cost at the store before any sales tax was added.
This is a Blue Jay. There are about 20 of these in the pecan tree outside my kitchen window this morning.

This is a Red-bellied Woodpecker. There are also several of these in the pecan tree outside my kitchen window this morning.

Early morning musings....

The title of this blog is "Simply Sustainable - My Life on an Organic Farm". It mostly talks about the ups and downs of living and working as a farmer. But I wasn't always a farmer. In fact, my previous incarnation was about as far from farmer as you can get. I worked in the financial services industry for over 25 years....securities and commodity brokerage, to be specific.

My epiphany that maybe that industry wasn't where I needed to be came to me back in 1992 and it took me two years to shake myself loose from it and "retire" from my long career there. I have never looked back, although sometimes I do miss the money. Of course, that only lasts for about 30 seconds because my old life always flashes before my eyes and brings me back to reality because the truth of it is that I am not sure that I would have survived another year in that business, much less the 13 years since my departure.

That previous life does, however, give me a unique perspective on the present state of the economy, the stock market and the rest of the world . These corporate meltdowns that have been occurring on an almost weekly basis only surprise me in that I wonder how the companies managed to keep it from happening long before now. The latest scandals about the govenor of Illinois and the 50 billion dollar fund that is collapsing are just more dominoes falling, as far as I can see.

I have distanced myself from the reality that most people live in daily (9 to 5 job, big mortgage payment, credit card debt, etc.) on purpose. I gave up a lot by today's standards of success to get to the place I am in my present life. The money, the house, the car, the travel abroad...none of it really ended up meaning much after all, once it was gone. For a while, it was kind of like an out of body experience, but when I settled back down to earth, it was all good.

These days, like anybody else, my life is far from perfect. But it is so much closer than the majority of people that I know. I have truly never been happier in my adult life. My work has meaning to me and I know that I am doing something good for myself, for other people and for my little corner of the world.

Of course, I would not be honest if I didn't give a lot of credit to the people around me who have supported and loved me no matter how radical or strange my choices may have seemed to them. And I certainly could not have reached this level of satisfaction in my life without having my best friend by my side every step of the way. Sometimes, there are people who come into you life that have a profound effect and if you have the wisdom and openess to accept what they bring to you, it can change your life forever.

I don't want to sound cliche, because I truly belive this and there is no other way to say it. Opening yourself up to the endless possibilities of the Universe is the most important step anyone can take to having their best life ever. We are only given one life at a time to live, so make this one count. In the end, it really is all about the journey.


The new year came in with a nice surprise today and I have a wonderful chicken story to tell (regular readers know I am all about the chicken thing...).

We had lunch with The Farmer's Mom today. It was the traditional New Year's meal of greens, peas, etc. so hopefully we covered all the bases for the coming year. I am not too sure what the incredible chocolate cake we had for desert bodes for but if it is half as good as the cake, I can't wait!!!

After we finished, we came home to wait for the person who is buying our used van to come by and we were sitting on the sofa talking about it. All of a sudden, I noticed a shadow outside the front window. We have a porch with rockers across the front of our little house and the shadow appeared to be someone rocking in one of the chairs. I thought it might be the van buyer so I got up to look out the window and there was one of our hens sitting on the back of the chair.

The shades were down and she was turning her head back and forth trying to see in. When I opened the door and she saw me, she started clucking and squawking like she had just laid an egg (they do that, you know). I thought she was just doing something "chickeny" so I went back in the house. After I shut the door, she raised the volume on the clucking about 3 notches and started to peck on the window, so I went back outside to see if I could figure out what the problem was.

I should explain that this is the tamest hen we have out of the whole flock of over 100. She also lays one egg a day in one of several old baskets on the porch. I originally kept some of my garden tools in them and when I noticed this little black hen setting in one of them every day, I took the tools out and left the basket for her. The porch wraps around and the basket is usually in the back corner where it is protected from the elements, but it was VERY windy yesterday and it had blown off and I hadn't noticed it.

As crazy as it seemed, I thought maybe that was what she wanted, so I picked up the basket, along with a box and another basket that had blown off, too and put them down on the table for a minute to see if I could put it somewhere where it wouldn't blow off again. Almost as soon as I put her basket down on the table (not the usual spot, mind you) she stopped all the clucking, hopped down from the chair and came running over to me. She jumped up on the table, looked over the basket and hopped in and started settling down to lay her egg. Within 10 minutes, she was cradling her newly laid egg and in another 15 minutes, left and went back to her scratching under the big boxwood by the side of the house.

Her protector is one of the young Delaware roosters and he was there, too, in the bush, watching us. I say protector because he is young and not very "savvy" when it comes to the ladies, so he is kind of odd man out in the rooster club. But he really likes this little black hen because she doesn't peck him all the time like the other hens do (the roosters mostly ignore him because he has trouble crowing...sounds like he has a perpetual frog in his throat). When she got into the basket, he came and stood over her while she laid her egg.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to add that there was a cat sleeping on the table beside the baskets that never moved during the entire process. I have seen this hen get into her basket with a kitten sleeping in it before, so that part didn't really surprise me. Of course, that kitten is deaf and never hears her coming. He generally doesn't hang around once she gets in because she takes up most of the basket and she doesn't like to share. I have never seen her peck him, though, she just pushes him out with her preparations. He just gets up and leaves on his own.

Pictures of the Little Black Hen follow this post.
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Pictures to accompany Amazing Chicken Story

The Little Black Hen, checking out the basket while the roo looks on.

There is a cat sleeping on the other side of the box. I am not totally sure what the rooster is doing with his foot up there, except maybe trying to look cool...
Settled in and down to business.

See the egg in the left corner, just under her feathers....