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The Big Blow

Wrestling With Weather Woes

It made us physically sick when it happened. A wind storm came through Sandstone on Tuesday, and in a matter of minutes part of our movable high-tunnel became a twisted wreckage.

These high tunnels have multiple uses. In the winter, they shelter and protect our animals. And in the summer, we relocate them to the garden to create a more climate-controlled environment for hot-weather crops.

Thankfully, we didn’t lose any chickens (which live in it) – in fact, none even escaped! But unless we can repair/replace it quickly, this will be a major complication in the weeks ahead.

Every farmer deals with unexpected weather events – which are still recognized as “acts of God.” A gulley-washer rain storm, hail, a late frost or an extended period of drought. Small farms like ours operate on a very slim margin. Any one of these weather events has the potential to bring significant financial strain. But we must not dwell on it. Even the wise King Solomon recognized this in his proverb: “He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap." We're slowly learning to look past these punches and remember that we have always been supported and provided for. This too shall pass. Of course, your prayers are appreciate as we rebound from this setback.

Rushing to the scene, the damage under control, another view of the damage, and the patch job sealing the in-tact portion.

Based in Science, Rooted in Faith

Even though we keep up on stuff like agricultural research and planting strategies, farming remains largely an act of faith.

  • Bury a seed, add water, suppress weeds, and you harvest a crop.

  • Care for and protect livestock, and they grow and multiply.

It seems so simple, and yet when you look closely, its a surprisingly complex miracle! And truly, much of what happens “in between” is out of our control. So be it. Its hard to not be in control, but really, is anyone ever in control of life? Perhaps control is more of an illusion than we'd like to admit--these moments remind us of that. Anything can happen at any moment. And maybe that's a good decide.

The Good News Is…

Two seasoned workers are here now – Daniel and Jed. So, while the wind storm was quite demoralizing for Joel, he is encouraged that the key farm management team was here to respond quickly and move forward.

Before they arrived, Joel was flying by the seat of his pants trying to get things in place. No matter how hard he worked, there was always more on the “to-do” list than he could do. If two heads are better than one, then three heads are even better – and three sets of hands and feet really makes a huge difference!

After an initial planning meeting, Daniel and Jed (who are veteran field hands) made an immediate impact on key projects. As Joel stated, “Even on days when I get swamped with office tasks, I know they understand what needs to be done in the field and they do it.”

Mmmmmm. What’s That Delicious Smell…

Jed will be overseeing the bread oven this year. One of his first tasks was to fire up the oven (you know, the wood-fired oven we built last year). For the next few weeks, he'll be doing two things:

* learning the nuances of his oven – how to maintain a constant baking temp

* perfecting his sourdough recipes – finding that delicate balance for each grain combo

* zeroing in his systems for consistent results

We hope to offer you the very best bread soon (click here to receive more details). And to do that, Jed has to know the “personality” of his oven and be diligent to recalibrate his recipes and allow for variables in the weather.

[NOTE: Our kids are very excited because Jed makes outstanding wood-fired pizza too!]

Roger … Over And Out

Communication isn’t always easy on the farm. You walk to the field only to realize you have a question. Cell phones are nice, but aren’t the best way to get everyone’s attention. So this year we bought walkie-talkies. Now, with the press of a button, everyone is updated.

“Who can make a run to the hardware store in 10 minutes?”

“Hey, dinner will be ready soon – time to clean up.”

“Anyone see the kids playing out by the greenhouse?”

“Everyone to the garden now – the hose sprung a big leak!”

Questions get answered and more work gets done. A real time-saver. Plus, it makes us all feel very cool. Copy that!

Doing Life Together

COVID has forced many people to work from home for the first time – trying to figure out how to work while helping kids with online school and finding time for business meetings. That is nothing new for us! Plus, we have to consider that not everyone on the farm is related – so we have to work extra hard to create a healthy life-work environment for everyone.

Imagine having to “eat with the boss” all the time! Rural living means feeling “stuck” here all the time. Are there places to congregate and places to escape to? What are our working hours? Who is helping with meal prep and cleanup? Community life can be exhausting. It is key to talk it all out and keep up the conversation.

One adjustment we just made is that Joel’s office is in the basement. That allows others to meet with him without interrupting Megan and the kids (believe me, distractions are not good when they are doing school or chores!).

At the same time, we love farming because it allows us to be more intentional about living and working as a family. It’s not work vs. home, its a productive home. We try not to think of our kids as "in the way" but as reminders, that there is more to life than to-do lists and its not all about production and efficiency. We seek to be intentional about including them in a way that is more holistic. Its not always easy and certainly not something we've figured out. But we're trying!

Its a growing process...

Together Our Lives Are Better

In the midst of all these challenges and joys, we want you to know that we are so thankful for your caring support. Providing so many people with amazingly fresh and wholesome food makes us happy. Getting people to try new vegetables simply because – wham – we offer it (with a tasty recipe) in your share. Plus, creating a connection to the land and the seasons (that is sometimes rare for urban and suburban dwellers) is immensely satisfying for everyone! We've felt your support this week and it has meant a lot. THANKS!

The ATF Crew

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