Womxn’s March and me… it’s personal, and political, and vital

Hopeless. Helpless. Outnumbered. Unsafe. Frightened.

These are emotions I have been struggling with since one of our Nation’s once respectable major political parties selected a self-proclaimed sexual assaulter, unstable, reality TV star to represent them for the highest office in the Nation.

The emotions amplified after the electoral college made him the President-Elect. (He did not “win” the election, losing by more than 3 MILLION votes, but due to the electoral college system in our Nation and the involvement of foreign powers in our election, he was named PE).

Well, he is President now. It isn’t a joke, not a funny but sad SNL skit. It is a threat to our Nation and the World. Other countries get it. They already have to deal with North Korea and the insane, unstable dictator there, they are very aware of the terrifying reality we live in with in the United States and the repercussions that holds for the rest of the world.

Today these overwhelming emotions changed for me. My sister and I got on the ferry this morning and headed into Seattle. We went to the Womxn’s March on Seattle.

We got to Judkins Park as people were still crushing in on the massive crowd. As we arrived there were already more than 70,000 people ready to mobilize, rather than normalize this new regime.

sueprotest

Before the speakers began I got to calm my nerves (really, it was a BIG crowd!) with the help of one group that brought Shane with. Shane is the friendly, happy dog in this picture. It was impossible to get a great photo not because he wasn’t photogenic or I didn’t have ample opportunity, but when his face was clear for a great shot, I was busy petting him! (Thank you to the folks who brought Shane.)

We heard announcements including the call for Campbell the lost child. Who was almost immediately located with family friends. The microphone would be used to get Campbell back into her waiting mothers arms once more before the crowd was sent on the path to Seattle Center.

Using the amplifying system for more than announcements and locating wayward daughters, we were treated to some personal stories from varying backgrounds about what this march meant to them. From someone who had stood by the ER doctors that lived through the horrors of clothes hanger abortions, to a powerful Native American that recognized the native land we stood on and the racism and oppression that ruled her family’s life just one generation ago, the stories were powerful. All with the message: still I rise.

We can be unafraid, and we can feel fear… and still we rise.

There was a palpable swell of emotion in the mass as the words of Maya Angelou rang true to us.

As I heard the next speaker translate the Prayer of a Farm Workers’ Struggle a single raindrop fell on my left cheek in the path a teardrop would have taken. “Help us love even those who hate us; So we can change the world.”

By the time we headed on the 3.6 mile sojourn across town there were well over 100,000. Some estimates put the number at more than 150,000 (and even 175,000!).

Near the beginning of the march we heard a roar behind us, we turned around in time to catch the “wave” (the type used at sports stadiums) coming our way. With a holler and some whistles, we sent it forward. We were treated to several such opportunities to send our voices forward or backward to the other marchers.

Shortly after the first wave there was more excitement. People were looking and pointing up. Two bald eagles had chosen to escort us with lazy circles on our route.

lookingup

The cheering of the massive crowd didn’t frighten them off, they seemed to respond to it, gliding effortlessly above us. It was truly inspiring. It felt as though we were being honored by our living, breathing Nation’s emblem, grateful for us protecting the sanctity of all that is so very good about this great Nation. There was an understanding in that moment. If we take care of them, the animals, habitat, land, they would watch over us. It’s not just women we need to prevent this new regime from raping with impunity.

wesupportyou

We saw signs printed from online sources, custom printed signs representing #whyImarch, and many handmade signs from materials like foamboard, corrugated plastic, cardboard and sticks.

Some messages were simple like #woke or AGHAST. Some were complex, citing the myriad reasons the megalomaniac in our White House is a threat to our society and the world. Some had photos of children, grandchildren, nieces, making stories personal. A few used easy to chant slogans to help make a point “Love, not hate, makes America great” or “Heal don’t repeal ACA.”

dirty-boots

baby-protesters

spaceneedle1

resistance

It was personal. Everyone there was there for a reason, reading the signs, talking with the people it wasn’t hard to comprehend that each of those 150,000+ stories were just as poignant as the women that spoke from their hearts just before the march. Each person there represented many more that could not be.

The march took hours longer than planned. They were expecting a HUGE crowd of 60-70,000. It took a while longer than they planned for all 150,000 of us to make our ways along the 3.6 mile path. But we did. People in wheelchairs, with canes, with infants and with teenagers. So many people, protesters that have been protesting since Vietnam and so many that have never marched or protested for anything.  We made it. Together.

seattlemarch

farastheeyecansee

Although it was clear from the signs that many of us had different messages, agendas, concerns to express with our marching today, we all did it, happily, healthily, and together. Because we can work together even when we don’t agree 100% and work towards the common good, if we have common decency and respect for each other (even the different others – or more accurately, quoting Ramana Maharshi, “There are no others.”)

I am proud and honored to have been a part of this spectacular day in herstory. I am looking forward to the next step, and the next march, and the next march and the march after that until society is returned to a safe, healthy place for my granddaughter to grow up and reach her potential, whatever that may be.

15965561_1347862811922499_4648983267264063836_n

 

Advertisements
Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Womxn’s March and me… it’s personal, and political, and vital

Hopeless. Helpless. Outnumbered. Unsafe. Frightened.

These are emotions I have been struggling with since one of our Nation’s once respectable major political parties selected a self-proclaimed sexual assaulter, unstable, reality TV star to represent them for the highest office in the Nation.

The emotions amplified after the electoral college made him the President-Elect. (He did not “win” the election, losing by more than 3 MILLION votes, but due to the electoral college system in our Nation and the involvement of foreign powers in our election, he was named PE).

Well, he is President now. It isn’t a joke, not a funny but sad SNL skit. It is a threat to our Nation and the World. Other countries get it. They already have to deal with North Korea and the insane, unstable dictator there, they are very aware of the terrifying reality we live in with in the United States and the repercussions that holds for the rest of the world.

Today these overwhelming emotions changed for me. My sister and I got on the ferry this morning and headed into Seattle. We went to the Womxn’s March on Seattle.

We got to Judkins Park as people were still crushing in on the massive crowd. As we arrived there were already more than 70,000 people ready to mobilize, rather than normalize this new regime.

sueprotest

My sister… who would never wear pink… except for this awesome, uplifting opportunity.

Before the speakers began I got to calm my nerves (really, it was a BIG crowd!) with the help of one group that brought Shane with. Shane is the friendly, happy dog in this picture. It was impossible to get a great photo not because he wasn’t photogenic or I didn’t have ample opportunity, but when his face was clear for a great shot, I was busy petting him! (Thank you to the folks who brought Shane.)

We heard announcements including the call for Campbell the lost child. Who was almost immediately located with family friends. The microphone would be used to get Campbell back into her waiting mothers arms once more before the crowd was sent on the path to Seattle Center.

Using the amplifying system for more than announcements and locating wayward daughters, we were treated to some personal stories from varying backgrounds about what this march meant to them. From someone who had stood by the ER doctors that lived through the horrors of clothes hanger abortions, to a powerful Native American that recognized the native land we stood on and the racism and oppression that ruled her family’s life just one generation ago, the stories were powerful. All with the message: still I rise.

We can be unafraid, and we can feel fear… and still we rise.

There was a palpable swell of emotion in the mass as the words of Maya Angelou rang true to us.

As I heard the next speaker translate the Prayer of a Farm Workers’ Struggle a single raindrop fell on my left cheek in the path a teardrop would have taken. “Help us love even those who hate us; So we can change the world.”

By the time we headed on the 3.6 mile sojourn across town there were well over 100,000. Some estimates put the number at more than 150,000 (and even 175,000!).

Near the beginning of the march we heard a roar behind us, we turned around in time to catch the “wave” (the type used at sports stadiums) coming our way. With a holler and some whistles, we sent it forward. We were treated to several such opportunities to send our voices forward or backward to the other marchers.

Shortly after the first wave there was more excitement. People were looking and pointing up. Two bald eagles had chosen to escort us with lazy circles on our route.

lookingup

Looking up? Bald eagle escort.

The cheering of the massive crowd didn’t frighten them off, they seemed to respond to it, gliding effortlessly above us. It was truly inspiring. It felt as though we were being honored by our living, breathing Nation’s emblem, grateful for us protecting the sanctity of all that is so very good about this great Nation. There was an understanding in that moment. If we take care of them, the animals, habitat, land, they would watch over us. It’s not just women we need to prevent this new regime from raping with impunity.

wesupportyou

We support you.

We saw signs printed from online sources, custom printed signs representing #whyImarch, and many handmade signs from materials like foamboard, corrugated plastic, cardboard and sticks.

Some messages were simple like #woke or AGHAST. Some were complex, citing the myriad reasons the megalomaniac in our White House is a threat to our society and the world. Some had photos of children, grandchildren, nieces, making stories personal. A few used easy to chant slogans to help make a point “Love, not hate, makes America great” or “Heal don’t repeal ACA.”

dirty-boots

Muddy boots… worth it to get this message across.

baby-protesters

Even babies know…

spaceneedle1

Aghast. Kind of sums it up.

resistance

Princess Leia’s message lives on.

It was personal. Everyone there was there for a reason, reading the signs, talking with the people it wasn’t hard to comprehend that each of those 150,000+ stories were just as poignant as the women that spoke from their hearts just before the march. Each person there represented many more that could not be.

The march took hours longer than planned. They were expecting a HUGE crowd of 60-70,000. It took a while longer than they planned for all 150,000 of us to make our ways along the 3.6 mile path. But we did. People in wheelchairs, with canes, with infants and with teenagers. So many people, protesters that have been protesting since Vietnam and so many that have never marched or protested for anything.  We made it. Together.

seattlemarch

Seas of people.

farastheeyecansee

As far as the eye can see.

Although it was clear from the signs that many of us had different messages, agendas, concerns to express with our marching today, we all did it, happily, healthily, and together. Because we can work together even when we don’t agree 100% and work towards the common good, if we have common decency and respect for each other (even the different others – or more accurately, quoting Ramana Maharshi, “There are no others.”)

I am proud and honored to have been a part of this spectacular day in herstory. I am looking forward to the next step, and the next march, and the next march and the march after that until society is returned to a safe, healthy place for my granddaughter to grow up and reach her potential, whatever that may be.

15965561_1347862811922499_4648983267264063836_n

Granddaughter (photo courtesy of Andrew Grenier) #WhyIMarch

 

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The pillaging of Greenbank Farm

I’ve been following the Port of Coupeville’s activity with the Greenbank Farm for a while, but recently, specifically July 8, I turned my attention fully to the problem.

On July 8 two of the three commissioners seemingly arbitrarily (with no prior knowledge from anyone in the audience or the one dissenting commissioner) voted to cease the ongoing (more than 9 months) talks with the Greenbank Farm Management Group.

There is much more about this disturbing event here and here.

This has led to GFMG gracefully stepping aside (please take the time to read this link: Greenbank-Farm-Management-Group) so that the tenants of the Farm might have some chance of surviving this pillaging by the two outgoing Port Commissioners, who seem to be in their positions solely to dismantle this property and pillage the asset.

These Commissioners believe they are above the law or safe from repercussions because they have spread the word that it is the Farm that is the financial drain on taxpayers and the Wharf, preventing the Wharf from getting the capital it needs to be repaired and stay safe. They seem to believe that supporting BOTH sites and the businesses that thrive there is a conflict, creating an “us v them” distraction while they work out their hidden agenda. 

Well, not surprisingly facts say differently. I am a “numbers” gal. I always have been. I probably always will be. Numbers, dollars, money has been my career for decades prior to and including farming. Numbers and I are really comfortable with each other. So when I heard that Greenbank Farm had about $91k in expenses related to their leaseholders in 2014 it didn’t surprise me. When I saw the income during the same time was $92k I failed to understand this huge financial drain the Port had been crying foul over, that represents $1000 of INCOME.

Then I looked at the same numbers for the same period for the Wharf. $169k in expense… $31,620 in income. Hmmmm… Okay, you don’t need to be a CPA to figure this one out.

So maybe it’s in Leasehold Improvements/Maintenance the numbers are getting skewed… right? Nope, $19k spent at the Farm… $63k at the Wharf!

Wow. So, what covered these costs? Well, $335k came to the Port from a sale of part of the Farm (conservation easement) – so, $63k + $19k +$169k + $91k = $342k, is almost completely covered by that sale… not accounting for the rental incomes or the $365k tax levy that was paid for by taxpayers (to be fair about $40k of that came from taxpayers in the city of Coupeville – surrounding the Wharf).  Hmmm… Something STINKS here!

Maybe they mean the cost of the mortgage? After all, since 1997 the Port has invested almost $2.6 mil into the farm (including purchase price, interest, improvements, water/septic and management fees). Of course GFMG has invested more than $2.7 (including fundraising, grants and improvements). Oh side note… for the $2.7 million, GFMG has nothing… for the $2.6 million the Port owns this incredible asset… which Commissioners Bronson and Carr are determined to pillage.

This isn’t about money. It isn’t because the Farm is a drain (conversely it has been covering more than it’s weight, especially once community funds are considered).

Reading some of the false information that have put out… they have already been trying to color the incoming Commissioner John Mishasek and convince him that they are subsidizing wealthy customers of art galleries (businesses that not only employ neighbors, they provide income for hundreds of local artists and artisans – so needless to say – they are just pushing their agenda and not speaking with integrity).

(These emails between John Mishasek and David Day, the ED of the Port of Coupeville, were dropped at my booth at market last weekend – I was not the one who requested them under the Freedom of Information Act, so I am not aware if there are more – it just talks clearly about the WSU deal and the spread of the misinformation about subsidizing our artists/galleries: CoupevillePortCommisionEmails)

They arrogantly have sold their bill of goods that the businesses at the farm shouldn’t be there, and that they are paying below industry rents. The fact is they are not only NOT being subsidized, but are actually paying HIGHER rent than comparable properties… up to 50% higher! AND they are carrying their weight.

I’m NOT saying just because the Wharf doesn’t carry their own weight with their rent alone that they should be screwed by these same shrewd Commissioners. This isn’t us:them. I believe that is not what the Port of Coupeville was developed for. It wasn’t to profit itself… as a matter of fact here is what they say they are about: Purpose

I AM saying that both properties are valuable and should be protected, and the Port should be held accountable for the for the actionable activity of Bronson and Carr, including the obvious collusion prior to their July 8 vote and their negligence in taking over the Farm with no management, no communication and no responsibility to the tenants or, more importantly, the taxpayers that will have to bail them out of their arrogant behavior.

Please show up for the Port’s meeting. PLEASE let them know how off base they are and that they are not immune from being held responsible to their constituents.

Please help protect this asset from their pillaging.

August 12, 10am. Click for details.

Do you want to know why, as a farmer, I care so much? THIS is worth protecting!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Little Brown Farm wouldn’t exist without this

Today is my anniversary… I think I couldn’t say it better than I did here, a few years ago.

LittleBrownFarm

At weddings and anniversaries people often say things like “I’m marrying/married by best friend.”

I may smile and nod but inside that private place of my mind, it makes me roll my eyes. It’s one of those things that people say because they’re expected to, but they often don’t really mean it. People try to make one person fit all things to them, and I think it’s unreasonable. I am so lucky to have so many people I love – my mother, my daughter, my siblings, my friends, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, my in-laws… my husband doesn’t need to fill all those roles.  

Wedding family photo Wedding family photo

Daughter extraordinaire Daughter extraordinaire

10 years ago I married an amazing man, now with experience on my side I can safely say THE MOST amazing man I’ve ever met. I didn’t marry my best friend, although she stood by us and witnessed the union…

View original post 1,103 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Year 2015 – Ready or not, here it comes!

The Winter Solstice has passed, promising a gentle walk toward Spring.

Hanukkah has ended with the flicker of the lit candles and warmth of family.

Christmas has passed leaving tons of wrapping paper and memories in its wake.

The winter holidays of “Happy Holidays” are coming and going, colliding and passing.

It is the tender time as this year draws to a close and the New Year looms on the horizon.

Soon people will make their resolutions, put down their cigarettes and candy bars and pick up weights and tennis shoes (and kale, don’t forget the kale!).

Kale! The superfood!

Kale! The superfood!

They will promise to eat healthier, more local, more home prepared meals.

People will resolve to be more patient, more kind, more generous, more conscientious.

They will vow to improve their savings or decrease their debt.

The fabrications they weave will all begin with the best of intentions.

This year I won’t be joining them. Not because I’m anti-New-Years-resolution, I’m actually quite Pro-resolution. This year I won’t participate because for the first time in well over a decade, perhaps a few decades, I have no idea what next year will bring.

I don’t have a plan.

I don’t have a plan and it’s kind of freaking me out!

I’m trying to soak in the luxury of this special time before New Years Eve. Usually this time of year I am planning kidding stalls, crunching numbers, adjusting dairy equipment, planning packaging changes, doing product development.

Things keep seeping in, trying to claim this precious time.

New projects and ideas are not something I’m in short supply of.

This time is special, almost sacred. This one week. One solid week of… nothing.

Well, almost nothing. I’m still getting a little work done at both of my off-farm jobs. Year end is still here. Goats, sheep, llama, dogs and cats still insist on being fed every day.

Did I mention I don’t have a plan? Those little tasks in the paragraph above… not enough. Not for me.

AUGH!! NO plan!!

I know some of you have been watching this space for updates. I apologize if this post is not fruitful for you… I promise the frustration is MUCH more unsettling from this seat.

So, I will take a deep breath.

Meeting of the minds, with Velvet Rose.

Meeting of the minds, with Velvet Rose.

I will let my mind wander over the moments that have made up the year coming to a close.

I will let my mind steep in the poignant memories. Embrace the thoughts that need embracing. Let a tear fall with those that need sorrow or sympathy. Smile while revisiting the memories that have already brought me joy.

Ah, here it is. The most tender time of year. The sweet spot.

Joy!

Joy!

I’m letting go the lack of plan. I am carrying this, the tender time of year, into 2015 as long as I can bear it.

I hope your 2014 is a year you will remember fondly. If not, take a moment with me, embrace this tender time of year and make a memory that will make 2014 a year you can look at fondly when you let your mind wander through your past.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

Posted in It's Personal | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A day off on a farm?

If you’re a farmer, you probably clicked on this to see how one gets a day off on a farm.

If you’re not a farmer, but know one personally, you’re probably waiting for the punchline.

If you don’t know any farmers, you’re probably wondering why I’m blogging about my ‘weekend’ (just a hint – we don’t get weekends, or days off!).

But I did. I took a day off!

The goats taking their sabbatical is freeing up a bit of time for us. I have started another paying job off the farm (2 part time jobs so I can farm… that is another post!), so I don’t have as much time as I had hoped, but hopefully some of the financial pressure created by farming (ahem, yes, yet another post!) will be eased a bit.

What would I want to do with all this new found ‘spare’ time? I want to learn things.

My patient, hardworking husband took over our next to last Saturday market of the regular season for me and I went all the way to Rochester Washington. Including the ferry it was a little over 3 hours to get there.

I knew I was going to learn a lot. It was called Photography on the Farm and it was on the amazing Helsing Junction Farm.

I don’t want to make this a long post telling you all of the stories I learned about the farm, about the area, about food writers and photography… but I wanted to share a bit of what I captured through the lens.

Thank you Audra Mulkern, for teaching our motley crew of shutterbugs.

Thank you to PCC Farmland Trust for organizing the event and keeping it at an affordable price for even a farmer (yes, it was free!).

And especially, Thank YOU to the sisters of Helsing Junction Farm for opening your farm up for this event. I hope you are pleased with the photos it produced.

On the way to the Photography event I was stuck in traffic... but this was my view.

On the way to the Photography event I was stuck in traffic… but this was my view. (iphone)

Fall Bounty

Still life with Helsing Junction Farm bounty. (iphone)

Fruit box

Helsing Junction Farm fruit. (iphone)

Helsing Farm

Helsing Junction Farm fields… growing photographers. (iphone)

Even though I was quite pleased with the photos I captured on my iPhone, I got to play with my new Nikon too.

Barn door

Old barns make for beautiful photos. (Nikon)

Barn sky

The outside of that beautiful old barn. (Nikon)

Farm photographers

Helsing Junction Farm fields. (Nikon)

Farm Post

Farm fenceposts. (Nikon)

Fence moss

Fence rail. (Nikon)

Harvest Farmer Photoshoot copy

Farm harvest, farm photographers. (Nikon)

Tomatillo

Tomatillos. Nom! (Nikon)

Pepper

Peppers. (Nikon)

Pear fruit copy

Fruit. Delicious, beautiful fruit! (Nikon)

Organic lettuce

Lettuce +1. I always think of spring lettuce, but autumn greens have the best flavor (and color apparently!). (Nikon)

Plum smiles copy

We didn’t just take photos of the food… Delicious! (Nikon)

bw still practice copy

Black and white produce. (Nikon)

Work Bench copy

Work bench. (Nikon)

PCC Farmland Trust copy

Thank you PCC for the great day! (Nikon)

Farm Stand Sign copy

A stop at their farm stand yielded some delicious beans, honey and squash… and some lovely sky colors changing. Autumn darkness wasn’t far behind. Thank you Helsing Junction Farm, for all you do! (Nikon)

Posted in It's Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Raspberries and chevre – summer delight!

My job (as Chief Milkmaid of the Little Brown Farm) is hard.

I’m sure you’ve heard me say it… I work LONG hours. I do a lot of manual labor, use a lot a pitchforks and wheelbarrows. I wash a LOT of dishes. Wah.
Oh, and the pay is bad… but that’s a whine for another day.

So why do I do it? The perks are out of this world!

I truly have to suffer for my passion. I simply MUST get a kiss from Lacey before she exits the milkstand every single milking (twice a day, every day). And Xenia won’t get down from the stand without a proper backrub.
Watson gives me a backrub if I just sit in the pasture for a few minutes (it’s a butt-rub if I stay standing).
…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my goats, there is so much more!

I get to play in the cheese room. Every batch of cheese offers delights to the senses!

Oh, and I have to do research and development… not just trying new cheeses and other dairy products to expand our offerings, but I HAVE to experiment with ways to prepare our products so I can make helpful recommendations at market.

Today I did some really, really hard work for the farm.

First, a simple dessert, more for quality control than anything…

Ice cream with Cajeta

Ice cream with Cajeta


Pistachio ice cream with Cajeta! MMMmmmmm!!

It’s kind of like cheating though. You take our delicious goat milk caramel sauce and pour some over cold, delicious ice cream. Add a spoon and you’re done.

Then I put some effort into coming up with a brand new recipe idea for summer. Inspired by the summer barbeques in the neighborhood, it’s a light, summery dessert.

Fresh local raspberries and Caprine Cream Chevre

Fresh local raspberries and Caprine Cream Chevre


I started with some local raspberries (from Quail’s Run Farm!), added some of our Caprine Cream Chevre. I mixed it together with a fork.

Mixed raspberries and chevre

Mixed raspberries and chevre


I mixed it together with a fork.

Dessert!

Dessert!


Then we ate it on graham crackers and chocolate!
Wow!

Yes, my life is hard. I’m willing to keep working hard like this to come up with more new ideas to help you enjoy our farm’s goodies too, that’s how much I care.

I can’t wait to see what work I get to do tomorrow!! (It involves bottlefeeding baby goats… but someone has to do it, right?)

Aphrodite meeting her new guard momma/llama

Aphrodite meeting her new guard momma/llama

Posted in Cheese, Gluten Free Recipe Ideas, Market Food - Food Blog Amateur, Vegetarian Recipe Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let people help?

It doesn’t seem like it should be a challenge to do that, but I am willing to bet I’m not the only one overwhelmed by this idea.

A friend of mine sent me a link to a wonderful, inspiring Ted Talk.
http://www.upworthy.com/an-8-foot-tall-woman-is-destroying-the-entire-music-industry?g=2&c=reccon1

I really recommend you click through and listen. It isn’t a long one and it’s powerful!

It made me think.

Our farm has let people help. Even when it was hard and I felt like I had my hand out, I always felt it was a fair exchange, much like Amanda Palmer in the video.

A few years ago we invited people to be a part of our farm via Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/littlebrownfarm/cheese-cave-and-classes-and-farm-store-at-the-litt).

We were rewarded with an amazing experience of over 270 people investing money from their pockets to support our dream. We hope our backers felt balance in the transaction. It was my first experience ripping away pride, being utterly exposed and vulnerable, and simply letting people help. The connection felt was overwhelming.

Baby bottle time!

Baby bottle time!

We have invited people to our farm to let them “help” with bottlefeeding the baby goats. More than 50 people each week come through our doors and experience the baby goats. We invite those people to shop or even just leave a ‘tip’ in the Milk Money jar. There are always some people who do.

Milk Money Jar

Milk Money Jar

We ask people to help us by shopping local. Help us by buying our products. Our community has been wonderfully supportive willing to exchange their hard earned funds for the fruits (or cheese) of our labor.

Market Cheese Tray

Market Cheese Tray

We have asked interns to help us, in exchange for housing, food and a stipend coupled with a learning experience rarely available. The experience, while providing us some concrete benefits, was enough for us to radically change course. Sometimes help doesn’t arrive in the format you expect it.

We have asked for help resolving concerns and were surprised to not receive the help… which served as a perfect reminder, inviting, asking, “letting” people help does not mean that they will (even when it is in their interest to do so), sometimes they just aren’t in the place to be able to help.

Generally being vulnerable enough to let people help is hard. Not like completing a marathon hard (2001). Not like opening the first micro-creamery in your county hard (2010). Not like recovering from a medical condition that is “incompatible with life” hard (of course I had a near-death experience – do you think I would have turned my Kate Spade’s in for MuckBoots without something BIG knocking me up alongside the head?). Being vulnerable can be hard, challenging, even crippling.

Vulnerable is the key word.

Is the help, which is not a guarantee, worth being raw and exposed?

When I hit the roadblocks, I often think it isn’t worth it. I find the critic in my head saying “I trust the wrong people.” “I’m too trusting.” “I need to be less honest in my communication.”

When we funded our Kickstarter, the answer was YES! Easy. Well, the Kickstarter wasn’t easy, but the community support (local, domestic and international!) was worth every minute and then some. The relationships I have now because of our Kickstarter, I wouldn’t trade for all of the funds received x 1,000.

Even now, as we face hard times, was the vulnerability worth it? Still reeling from the pain of dashed hopes, I might think not. But it was. It was BEYOND worth it. (backstory: our interns are leaving soon. They have been a great help to us here and their footsteps on our farm will stay for decades… you’ll get this full story in a few weeks with many photos. It is exciting to see them pursue their path and we are grateful for their help while they lived here.)

Being vulnerable and open to the public has put us in the situation to be burglarized. Worth it? How would I have anything worth taking if I hadn’t been open to the public?

Risking my heart with a close friendship, to have it shattered… worth it? Ouch, but yes. Being in tune with someone the way we were was special, unique and eye-opening. If it happened once, it can happen again, and again. Now I know to be open to it and maybe can talk myself out of running from it when I see it again. That relationship made me a better person. It helped me to recognize a better, authentic me, and be more appreciative of my charmed life. Worth a few (okay, a lot) of tears? Yes.

Dino

Dino

Loving my beloved pets, only to have them die in my arms… worth it? Speaking of tears, flowing and unfettered, YES.

I had many years with my pets that have passed. Never enough. What would be enough? I know I made their lives better, healthier, longer… and they returned the favor unconditionally. Do I still squeeze my critters tight at the thought of their passing? Of course.

Young Dino

Young Dino

Frankie puppy days

Frankie puppy days

Living my life as I have been for the past decade has been a shift. Most of you reading this never knew the lifestyle we had before. You can extrapolate from learning about my experiences in my writing, but few of you were there and witnessed the change. I wonder if I could go back? If I would? This winter I was certain I must, for self-preservation if no other reason. As I built the walls of self-reliance and separation, despair quickly filled in the vacuum. Vulnerability was gone. Risk was minimized. The burden was untenable. The pain was too familiar.

I have lived motivated daily by love and passion, surrounded and in touch with the things that feed my soul. This amount of soul care has put me in the position to allow my vulnerability to show, something I was never strong enough to do before. I have had so much support and love that I know I can face things like stage-fright, difficult neighbors, regulatory hurdles, heartbreak. I am so lucky.

I have been able to live with my hand open, to receive help, knowing that I was returning value to the equation, just as the 8’ woman in the video above.

We have had our share of hecklers, she talks of the cars driving by yelling “get a job!” our hecklers often have just as witty of insight as they lash out – sometimes from positions of smugness, or fear, or overwhelming envy.

Some of our harshest criticisms have come from those we opened ourselves to the most. It is a searing pain to bare your soul, be your most vulnerable, and have someone you trusted shred it like a weathered old tarp in a spring windstorm.

The rich community support has allowed me to get past the hecklers and the critics… in spite of the wounds caused by the thoughtless words.

Vulnerability can hurt. Sometimes vulnerability is rewarded with support and appreciation. When it isn’t, the hurt cuts deep leaving open, tender wounds, and ultimately scar tissue where there was once freedom and easiness.

Now the question… Knowing the risks and still being quite raw, do we open our hearts again?

We are the precipice of big change.

Do we show the pale underbelly?

Do we let people help? Or do we push forward with the hard choices we know?

When does showing vulnerability become opportunistic?

When does inviting others to help become not being responsible for one’s own decisions?

When does the heart decide it just can’t handle one more break? One more kick while we’re down? One more battle?

I am a lucky girl. If you’ve followed any of my writing you know this fact. I’m really not complaining.

I lead a charmed life. I know it, and I’m grateful.

I am, however, at a precipice. A leaping off point… and as much as I embrace change, I’m terribly fearful of heights. I’m not up for crowd surfing or being naked in a crowd like Amanda in the video. I’m afraid of taking a course that impacts so many of my creatures and my community and finding out later, once it’s done and can’t be undone, that the support we needed was there and we just didn’t LET someone help.

Do I miss out on the risk that someone out there has a solution for us that would complete them by sharing with us? Could there be a fair exchange of support? We have learned the intern or apprentice programs won’t work for us. We have also learned that my business skills still leave me employable. They aren’t so rusty that I can’t return to helping a start-up company make a go of it, or help manage finances for a business person with assets to balance (or juggle, as the case often is), or manage the most valuable assets a company could wish for, their staff, by keeping teams fiscally, physically, and emotional sound – connected to their work, invested in their performance, satisfied by their contributions, while improving the bottom line for their bosses. These are skills I possess and excel at executing. They are not my passion, but they are sound and valuable, and could help an entrepreneur achieve their passion.

I’ve out-thought myself, we’ve out-talked the options.

Do we simply pursue what we have determined the best course of action is? Or do we open the invitation and let you help?

This is our lives, not salacious gossip. Please keep the precious pink belly of Marshmallow in mind as you form your opinions. That’s about as vulnerable as I feel posting this.

Baby puppy belly

Baby puppy belly

Posted in It's Personal, Rant Rant Rant | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Planting Seeds

(Bayview Farmers Market opens this Saturday, our first market of the season! We have been so busy on the farm preparing delicious cheeses and dairy products for you that I haven’t had time to blog. My dear friend and leader of the Pandanistas decided to help me, and took on the challenge. Enjoy Anne’s thoughts and images below:)

PLANTING SEEDS (guest blog by Anne Belov)

In some ways, making art is a little like being a farmer. The hours are long, the pay is…well, let’s just say that no one’s getting rich around here. You have to get your hands dirty if you want to do it right. It is a compulsion you can’t ignore.

You plant your seeds, you breed your goats, you have an idea, and then something wonderful comes into the world. Maybe. Both with farming and making art, you take this small bit of seemingly inconsequential material, and sometimes, if all the stars are aligned, it becomes far greater than where you started.

Of course, nobody dies or starves if I make a mistake (well, except maybe for me.) I’m not responsible for a new life or feeding the masses. That’s a relief. But art does satisfy what I consider a crucial need. Expressing myself creatively fulfills my own need to turn my thoughts into something visible. It’s the way that I process what I see and experience. It’s a way that I can communicate that experience, and it’s a way that painting viewers can get in touch with what they feel and experience as well.

Other Rooms / oil on Linen// all rights reserved//Anne Belov

Other Rooms / oil on Linen// all rights reserved//Anne Belov

It seems so ordinary to me to observe the world this way that I forget that not everyone does.

So, about five years ago, I planted some seeds in my studio. These were the seeds of a story about…um…pandas. Okay, hold the phone, who let loose the pandas?

I’ve been a painter for more than four decades, but six plus years ago, pandas crossed my path and I started drawing them, and writing cartoons starring them. They would just pop into my head and a story would emerge. Sometimes it would be triggered by a news story, sometimes by a phrase I had heard. They are very silly. After drawing them for a year or so, I decided to start a blog, so I could see if anyone besides me would think that they were funny. It turns out that they did, and I was reminded of another need that often goes unfulfilled: the need to laugh, and to lighten the burdens of life that many people carry.

While writing and drawing the cartoons is a lot of fun, I wanted to combine the natural humor of pandas with my fine art background. Over the last decade, my paintings have taken on more of a narrative aspect, and I decided to turn my creative capacity to telling a story in picture book form. I was a reader growing up and I loved beautifully illustrated books.

And it was a great excuse to spend a lot of time watching panda videos. (Hey, this is work!!!)

Panda illustration from Pandamorphosis

Panda illustration from Pandamorphosis

I started working on a story about a girl who wanted to adopt a panda from the zoo and have it come to live with her. I wrote and I sketched and the story kept changing. Before I really knew what was going on, the focus of the story shifted from the girl to her cat, who wished she got as much attention as did the pandas. I kept writing and drawing and eventually started working on more finished drawings.

It took me almost four years to finally get the story where it needed to be. I did “final drawings” that I replaced with other final drawings. Even when I was arranging the final layout and order of the illustrations for the book designer, I was still editing the order as I realized that the story made more sense and had a better flow when I shifted the sequence of some drawings at the last minute.

There is something about being fully engaged in the process of making things, whether it is art or cheese or green things from the earth. It’s about doing something with your hands, that you can touch and smell. These are the things revive your spirit and they are worth sustaining.

My book, Pandamorphosis will be published later this spring. It’s been a long hard trip, but it’s worth it.

Anne Belov indulges her obsession for panda satire on The Panda Chronicles, she also writes regularly for Whidbey Life Magazine, an on-line and print journal of arts and culture, and shows her paintings at The Rob Schouten Gallery in Greenbank WA. You can also see her paintings and illustrations on her blog Nothing Overlooked. Her first book for children, Pandamorphosis will be published sometime in 2014 by Leaping Panda Press, Anne’s own panda-centric publishing venture. Previously published works include four volumes of the collected cartoons of The Panda Chronicles. Her main regret in life is that there is no MacArthur Foundation Grant in the field of Panda Satire.

Posted in It's Personal, Oprah's Favorite Things - if my name was Oprah not Vicky, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment