Sunday, February 24, 2013

Progress and produce in a frosty season

So it is now Feb 24th.  So much for Don's retirement.  In the past 3 weeks, much has happened. progress to be sure, but not so good for Don's plan for naps.

We attended the Agri-tourism Conference. Made some new friends, lots of contacts, answered a few questions, and shored up some confidence in our plans for the farm. Since then, there have been numerous meetings, and sign out papers. Still waiting on word about health insurance, but that's still a topic for another day.

Sheep got sheared, and all or near all are pregnant. That, too, is for another day.

Taxes are done, filed, and put away. That's a happy thought. so while we are on pleasantries, I will fill in the details of the produce story.

We have a rather unique local business that specializes in overstock, damaged, and other odd lots of various merchandise. We have been long time fans of the establishment, as it has provided many 'finds' over the years, varying from gallon cans of carrots, curtains, pet supplies, plastic kitchen ware, and so much more. Included is fresh produce retrieved from the distribution center. I have always tried to take advantage of the bargain prices, and happily changed the evening menu at the last minute to adjust for the daily deal at the Warehouse.

One day in mid January, amid a discussion of the current status of hay quality and nutritional needs, the Warehouse was mentioned. A short time later, the discussion came to mind as I placed my produce find of the day on the counter to pay. I looked behind me, and in a rare moment, there was no one. So I posed a question to the owner/cashier -  "What do you do with the leftover spoiled produce?"

The result - said produce is now consumed at Ewe And Us.

The first few hauls were crates of green beans.  A little moldy perhaps, but the girls didn't care.

 What a treat to have green goods in the bunk on a cold January day.
 Then one day, a special treat came in.  Watermelon! and cilantro, and collard and turnip greens. And berries, and bananas, apples and more.
 No, thats not a scene from a horror movie, its just watermelon lips on ewe.
 Here is a view of our 'produce' wagon while Don cuts the melons. Notice the waiting line behind him.
And then came the salad greens - cilantro.

Since then, we have lost track of how many hundreds of pounds of produce we have hauled home to the sheep. Last week it was potatoes. 1200 lbs of potatoes. Had to make 2 trips. They may not be in the form of fries, but it matters not. At 100 plus lbs/day, we still have some left.

I checked back in with the owner, to be sure they were aware and on board with the exchange. It's all good, for everyone. The crew doesnt need to haul everything back down the street. They don't have to pay to have it hauled away. It doesn't get put in the landfill. Its put to use - even if it's just sheep feed. And our pregnant ewes are getting an extra shot of nutrition.

Okay, so we have had a few days of grumbling. It does take time to empty all those berry containers, sort through the foul smelling bags of potatoes, and untie the bundles of greens and cilantro. The slimy cucumbers in shrink wrap were the worst for soaking through gloves and numbing fingers. Not to mention the loss of garage square footage to use as a walk in cooler. (an issue to be addressed before it warms too much).  But it seems to be worth it.

There is no predicting what or how much we will get. We just respond to 'the call'. But we do take notice when advised to 'bring a truck'.

And, for those of you may wonder, NO, even the food bank couldn't use this stuff. It's already been rejected once, maybe twice. But it does spark a little feeling of satisfaction that its one more item on our list of  'sustainable practices.'

So the next time you make some vegetable soup, you can raise a spoon,  think of Us, and say "Here's to Ewe".  Just don't use those rotten potatoes.