Thoughs: Niman Ranch, Organic Gardening, Sustainability & Living Frugally

Since at least two of you are reading this blog *grin* I'd like to share some thoughts about a few things that have been on my mind lately.

Niman Ranch
Kelly pointed me to this article about Niman Ranch. A couple of snips from the article:
Demand required that Niman form a network of like-minded ranchers and farmers.....Chicago's Natural Food Holdings came in as chief investor, taking four of the seven seats on the board of directors, Niman Ranch was losing somewhere close to $3 million......"I consciously deferred profitability to expand the brand,"....... "strategic error to defer profitability for as long as we did."
When it comes to working as a self-employed person I try to be careful to not bite off more than I can chew. I take pride in doing a job well, and if something doesn't go well, I'd hate for it to be because I wasn't able to manage a job of that size.
Organic Gardening
We're planning on raising a lot of our own food. According to the TN laws, we can use any plants from the garden in our restaurant, but no animals without jumping through hoops. That's fine, i can live with that. When it comes to the produce, people often see an "organic" label, and assume food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food, but its a myth. There are also "hoops" to jump through if you want be certified as organic. We're probably not going to deal with that either. To me, it's just a marketing buzzword. If you do things that give the plants the best care possible, as naturally as possible, while having the least impact on the land, then you're probably doing it right. Our farming plans include crop rotation, green manure, cover cropping, application of compost, and mulching. The guineas and ducks will handle the insects, and I find pulling weeds to be very relaxing. Kelly and I are going to be eating most of this food, so of course, we want it to be pure and safe. The bottom line is I don't want to pay a certifying agency to permit me to use a label on my food. (Click here for additional reading.)
Sustainability
We're growing our own food and raising our own meat. We're building our own house with passive solar and in-floor radiant heat. We considered a lot of ways we could be ecologically conscious and do the whole 'tread lightly' thing. We're not going to go full-on Mennonite and live without electricity. This computer likes power, I'm not living without my cellphone, and I enjoy my cleaning robots and machines. We'll use solar power where its feasible, but to power the house, it's just not going to work.

And just think: how can you do better that "eating locally" than to eat the food you raised in your own backyard?

There's an old saying that goes
Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
or Do Without.
We discovered that we live by that saying, before we'd even heard it. Recycling, to us, is not putting stuff in a special bin. I saved green plastic berry containers, and lined them with plastic baggies. Filled with dirt, they're great for started my seedlings. Instead of plastic food containers, I prefer to use Mason jars to hold food in the fridge. If I decide a purse has lived its full life, I'll hack it up, saving the handles, zippers, fasteners, etc. for my sewing kit. I could have trashed my laptop bag when the handle broke, but I repaired it instead. My professional cooking utensils are stored in rolling plastic office supplies carts. One of them was weak, and didn't want to stay together when I'd move it from my car to the client's house. 15 minutes with a drill and $5 of bolts & wing-nuts, and now the thing is super-sturdy and works perfectly. That brings me to being cheap... in other words...
Living Frugally
We live pretty cheap, in general. That's how we managed to buy our land 'in cash' and still have money left to build a house. With our income being so sporadic these days, we're even more cost conscious. we've taken some "drastic" measures, too. (This is one of those things that might make you, Dear Reader, gasp in horror.) We canceled netflix. We buy store-brand dish soap. I needed some sturdy pants to do yard-work in, so we went to goodwill, where i bought 5 pairs of jeans for $35. Kelly is using an iBook G3 that's so old, it has a CD drive with a drawer and can't get past system 10.3. Mine is not quite as old: a G4, running 10.4.11. Yeah, I'd love a newer computer, but I don't really need it. We even gave each other haircuts this week. (He has often buzzed the back of my head [I wish I could remember who gave us hair clippers as a wedding gift!] but this was the first time I gave him a full-on haircut. It turned out pretty good, IMHO!)

Some things aren't worth cutting corners, and other things are corners we're simply not willing to cut. Kelly is a "Choosy Mother" so he only wants JIF peanut butter. I want good shampoo. The dogs are noticeably healthier when they eat decent dog food. Another old saying is, "I'm too poor to buy cheap shoes."

It's just a matter of priorities. We've wanted to own land for a long time. Not just some dirt that surrounds a house, but a decent parcel of LAND where we could build stuff, keep a little farm, and enjoy the luxuries of privacy and peace & quiet. We've made choices along the way that have enabled us to do that.


Right now, my priority is to go to bed. I did a Personal Chef gig today, so I'm beat, and we're both going to the property in the morning. Nighty-night!

Today I learned: People who want to put in their "two cents" in need to fork 'em over or give me a reason to waive the fee.

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