Sunday, January 15, 2012

on conferences

We spent a couple of very cold winter days in a conference center in Leesburg VA. A pretty campus in an odd location..you have to drive through a neighborhood of new houses, shopping and a school to get there. The place was large enough to have a series of underground tunnels to get from one building to another..thank goodness, as it was way too cold to meander outside for a bite to eat.

Homer had the opportunity to present a 2.5 hour workshop on pen building. He began with parts already cut, and assembled a pen that is smaller than we usually use..but we have a small pickup truck and did not want long boards hanging out of the back as we transported the pen parts through 3 states. The session was fun, and extraordinarily thought provoking comments and conversations occurred. This morning, Homer was on the computer designing a pen that can be produced locally, last for 20+ years, be easy to move, and cheaper than the one he made for the conference. It is just the prototype that costs..a fortune..and a great idea was presented to us for a solution to that expenditure. More on that later.

Then on to workshops, idea sessions, business planning, lovely meals, silent auctions of cool stuff, keynote speakers, panels addressing food security, food production, the farm bill..many conversations in the hallways about ideas, plans, dreams..offerings of help, requests for help, lots of laughter, support..common interests..an opportunity to hear from DC Kitchen and the programs they run to offer an alternative to street life in DC..all in all it was amazing, thought provoking, so good to be there, to here opinions in alignment with mine and others that vary widely..but still make me think, make me stretch.

We feel lucky and blessed to be able to have the time and the means to participate in the farm conferences we have the joy to attend. We have been to ACREs, to Women in Ag, to Future Harvest/CASA, to PASA. There are others that take place..the one in New England, where it turns out a neighbor from Rockville (yes, it was another century, thank you Facebook for finding Robin) attends, is of interest to me, to see her and to hear about winter time growth in high tunnels.

The wheels are turning. There is much todo in this season of cold: prepare pots for seed starting in the basement, recheck seed orders, negotiate for cattle, get compost, have our water, soil and feed tested, prepare for taxes (ugh), see the dentist and doctor..and more..but to break from what must be done to spend a few days in what could be done is a gift, and we are happy to have it. A shout out to Claire who stayed on the farm and kept all in great shape while we were gone. Her father gave her a tool kit for Christmas, and she used the hammer in it for breaking the ice in the top of all the water containers these last couple of days. We could never leave without her here.

And here, from this past summer, is radio host Mark Steiner with one of our chickens. Taken last summer at a farmers market..who knew he would show up as a moderator at this years conference?! Small world!! And Homer too..

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