Let’s Open the Farmer’s Market on Earth Day

When picking a date for the first day of the farmer’s market season, could you find a better choice than Earth Day?

(Okay, technically Earth Day isn’t until Thursday, but the big blow-out was Saturday, and it was great!)

The market opened in beautiful spring weather and attracted swarms of happy customers. It was like being hit by a cheerfulness bomb! You should have been there.

As usual, the other vendors outdid themselves. Imagine the kinds of produce that ought to be ripe by mid-April, and the quality you’d expect for such early produce. Then multiply it by ten. That’s the Corvallis farmer’s market. All the aging hippies who’ve been in the organic produce biz since the Seventies have gotten really good at it! Competition for quality, variety, and earliness is intense. There were even some local strawberries — six weeks before the regular season.

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Eggs: The Miracle of Spring

Not so long ago, springtime was a difficult time on the farm. You had spent a lot of your cash during the winter, but harvest time was many months away. Spring faced you with your biggest expenses of the year: getting equipment back into shape, hiring extra labor, plowing, and planting.

On top of that, meat is hard to come by, since you thinned your herds in late fall to match the level of fodder you could store over the winter, and all the animals that you could spare are already gone. And you’re even worse off where vegetables are concerned. Anything that doesn’t keep for five or six months is gone.

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Side-by-Side Testing: This is the Age of Science!

You have to make a choice: Do you want the truth or your comfortable illusions?

Frankly, I think most people prefer illusions, because of their comfort value, but there’s a lot to be said for truth, especially when the future is riding on it! One of the most useful ways of getting at the truth is the side-by-side test, which has lots of applications in everyday life. I’ll talk about farm-related ones here.

I frequently tell people that I have “the best eggs ever.” Is this true? Well, so far it is! But I don’t just rest on my laurels. Once in a while, I go out and buy other people’s eggs, then cook them up in exactly the same way and do a taste test. Ideally, this would be literally a blind taste test, since my eggs tend to have very dark yolks compared to other people’s. In a blind test, you don’t know whose eggs you’re tasting, so your preconceptions and wishful thinking are kept in check.

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Off to the Big City I go

I’m spending about a week in California, on a visit to my day job, Citrix Systems. At one point I was flying to California every week (which was exhausting!) but tight budgets have kept me at home for nearly two years!

That’s left me more disconnected than is good for my work — I write the user documentation and kibitz on improvements in our super-spiffy network accelerator, Branch Repeater (and if you were wondering, no, I didn’t write the product description the link points to).

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Raccoons Cause Trouble, For a While

If you’ve had chickens for a while, you loathe raccoons. If not, you will. Here’s why:

A while ago we started losing 1-3 chickens a night. Some were completely eaten, others barely touched. This is one of the more infuriating aspects of predators: they don’t have an “off” switch. Instead, they keep killing until they run out of targets.

In the wild, their prey scatters and the predators only get one or two victims. But a fox or a raccoon that squeezes into a closed henhouse will kill your entire flock.

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