An Urgent Message Message from the National Young Farmers Coalition!
Today, let’s make sure Congress gets to work!
Take just five minutes today – that’s right, just five! – for a National Day of Action for a better farm bill. Yesterday, we handed Congress over 20,000 signatures from farmers and advocates across the country demanding an equitable, sustainable 2012 Farm Bill. Today, we’ll make sure they hear the message loud and clear! While you’re on your lunch break, out in the field, on your way to a meeting, or headed to class, join us in making a unified statement to Congress: Get a farm bill done, and get it done right!
Will you join us?
Step 1: Dial the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Representative.
Step 2: Share a message like one of the three below with the person who answers the phone.
Step 3: Help us spread the word - and then give yourself a hand! You’re done!
What should the 2012 Farm Bill look like, anyway?
It should INVEST IN THE FUTURE OF HEALTHY FARMS, FOOD & PEOPLE
Harness the economic power of local and organic food and small businesses to strengthen rural and urban communities and create jobs
Grow the next generation of American farmers by providing the tools, training, and access to capital that beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers need to succeed
Ensure access to fresh, healthy food for all – including those in need and in our schools
It should PROTECT OUR PRECIOUS AIR, SOIL & WATER
Reward farmers for their environmental stewardship by fully funding farm conservation programs
Do not raid long-term conservation efforts to pay for short-term disaster fixes
Link federal crop insurance support to conservation of wetlands and fragile soils
It should REFORM FARM SUBSIDIES & LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD
Eliminate wasteful direct payments
Target support to working farm families by closing loopholes that benefit mega-farms and millionaire investors
Cap farm and crop insurance subsidies to improve fiscal responsibility
Another one from the “Drafts” folder. I never finished describing how cheddar is made (perhaps I’ll invite my friend Emily who works in the creamery to write a guest post about it, as I can not complete my description over six months later). The beginning of the unfinished post provides a nice description of the creamery, above which I have lived for the past year.
Monday morning, April 23rd, I woke at 4:20am, ate breakfast with my housemate, then walked downstairs to the creamery to assist the Head Cheesemaker in a cheddar make, while my housemate journeyed just a few yards further to the dairy barn and through to the cow yard and loafing barn to bring in the cows for morning milking.
Over the past five months, I have personally taken my housemate’s journey to the barn and morning milking many times and have come to look forward to the crisp air, clear starry skies, chirping birds, warm cows and the soothing rhythm of the milk machines. During those same months I have only made the early morning journey to the creamery on two other occasions to learn about yogurt production and bottling the raw milk and buttermilk. I have been waiting this whole time for the cows to start producing enough milk for a Monday morning cheddar make and for that to coincide with my milking weekend allowing me to participate on my day off. And that finally happened.
Creamery staff starts work Monday through Friday at 4:30am and by the time I arrived at 5am they had already pumped the weekend’s milk from the bulk tank into two pasteurizing vats for culturing: the larger for yogurt and smaller for bianca.
The bulk tank must be emptied of the previous night’s milk and thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before the vacuum pump starts bringing in the milk Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings so that the raw milk for bottling only comes from that one milking. The copper vat in the raw milk room, which is only used for hard cheese production, was filled with milk from Thursday and Friday’s milkings that had been pulled from the bulk tank those mornings into a very large bag in a plastic crate and stored in the cooler over the weekend. For yogurt production the farm will purchase additional milk from other local, organically certified farms to meet demand, but all the raw milk hard cheese on the farm is made from milk from the Hawthorne Valley herd.
I can not pretend to be an expert on cheddar production or cheese making in general, but Monday I was shadowing an expert in the trade and I have taken a few cheese making classes at Kookoolan Farm in Yamhill, Oregon, so I hope to articulate the basic how and why of cheddar making in an intelligible way with the help of photos.
The leaves have changed and fallen, the ground was coated in snow for half a day this week and the temperatures have inspired me to pull out the insulated overalls, rabbit fur hat, and take a trip to the Tractor Supply to purchase a new pair of insulated gloves. The sun drops rapidly behind the hills around four in the afternoon and by the time we call it a day dusk is moving quickly toward nightfall. This is a time for hunkering down near a well stoked wood stove (which I’m dearly missing this year) or just with a warm cup of tea or cocoa for contemplation. A set of knitting needles or a crochet hook may help with the reflection, but a pen and paper or the keys currently resting beneath my finger tips tend to provide a stronger pull on my memory.
It has been a very long time since I sat with this computer rested on my lap and provided text to describe the happenings of my life. Occasionally, I have posted a call to action on legislation, a song I enjoy, or another’s writing that draws me, but the majority of my own stories are stored in the archives of January and December. As a farmer I’ve noticed that my hobbies tend to ebb and flow with the seasons in a counter balance to the summer’s workload. I enjoy writing and hope that this season will provide you with more written encounters with my life rather than solely images.
As I open this space for reflection I have realized that today marks the one year anniversary of this blog. I began it at a time of transition: from Oregon to New York. And now my one year commitment to Hawthorne Valley Farm is coming to a close as well. I’m preparing for a transition again, but I’m not yet certain what that transition will entail. Over the next couple of weeks I hope to ascertain the next leg of my journey through life, but in the meantime I invite you to look back at through the archive view of this record of the past year in my life.