Well, another week has tolled and its time, once again, to write this weeks blog. By the way, how does one do this every week? It’s quite a daunting task!!! I mean I’m sure I will run out of ideas in another week!!!!
So, guess who mentioned, once again, I did not write anything about Joe Natural’s – which purportedly is the whole raison d’être for the blog. And further opined that my prior blog may have been tinged with a bit of self serving, albeit hypocritical commentary inasmuch as we are engaged in the business of commerce. Ah, the Social Media Girl… Such as taskmaster!!!
So, that got me to thinking: Is it commerce that is inherently bad or is it the way that commerce is plied? Is there commerce steeped in integrity and therefore reciprocally, commerce absent of such underpinnings?
Well, I believe there is a type of commerce, one which we at Joe Natural’s are engaged in, that promotes local production and consumption: A commerce that sustains both its practitioners and its consumers. A commerce that is concerned with the core values of the care and maintenance of our natural resources.
One only has to look at firms like Stonyfield Farms, Patagonia or Tom’s to see that even on a large scale, commerce can be conducted in an ecologically responsible manner. Employing responsible practices (which tend to be initially more expensive then those used in more traditional commerce), these firms are profitable, enabling these companies to fund other socially and ecologically necessary projects on both a local and national level. These practices ensure consumer loyalty from those of us who have taken the time to understand the challenges we face in trying to leave the earth and its resources, less diminished. So big, while maybe not always better, doesn’t necessarily have to be bad……..
At Joe Natural’s we subscribe to a more localized form of sustainable commerce. While we are our own farm and the source of much of what we serve, we can not do it all – nor would we choose to. We would sorely miss our farmer friends. We would miss the camaraderie of being able to share the pleasures and occasional travails of the life of a farmer. We would miss the wonderful goat cheese we get from Dustin and Justyne at Noble Springs, the wonderful dairy cheeses we get from Padgett and Nathan at Sequatchie Cove Farm (plus the absolutely amazing steaks and roasts), the amazing beef for our burgers from our friends at Triple L, the amazing milk and cream from the Hatchers and our jams and preserves from Marsha and Ron, our Amish friends.
Each one of these wonderful people farms, painstakingly and lovingly working their land to produce the most wonderful of products, all the while remaining faithful and responsible stewards of the earth they are so blessed to work on. We are pleased and privileged to be able to purchase the amazing products they produce. In turn we are able to utilize the bounties of our farm in conjunction with those of our friends to produce honest food that delights and nourishes those who choose to eat with us.
It is my thought that each of us who chooses to farm and then sells what they grow and / or produces does so not for the delight of achieving monetary riches but rather for the sheer joy of working our small piece of the earth. We delight in being able to produce food that is a joy to eat and done in a way that is humane, uplifting and spiritually satisfying. That, as it were, is what sustains us.
So it seems there is commerce and then there is commerce. I’ll let you decide.
– Farmer Joe
As you know last week was my very first time blogging and the wonderful girl that does our social media wondered if I could by some chance stay on point this week (as that didn’t happen last week) and discuss Joe Natural’s; all we are about and all the wonderful things we do…. Well I am trying really, really hard but……. there is just this one little something on my mind I want to discuss so here goes: The Christmas season is upon us in earnest. You can tell by the inordinate amount of traffic on the roads heading to the myriad of retail establishments for the sole pleasure of trying to figure out what to buy the exhaustive laundry list of people stuffed into your pocket or pocketbook ….
So two thoughts : Is that what Christmas is really about ???? And why can’t we give gifts to people we care about on any random day we feel the urge??? I’m no theologian but it is difficult for me to understand where the religious significance is to a holiday so firmly steeped in the exercise of purchasing… I mean my church attendance is sporadic but aren’t the teachings of the bible more in line with having less worldly possessions? Doing for and giving to those less fortunate?
Sadly, Christmas has become a time of the year that induces people to angst over a severe bout of budgetary distress and then spend the ensuing months paying off credit card bills at exorbitant rates of interest in order to feel - feel what??? Certainly not a religious contentment or fulfillment… Since when does one need to incur debt in order to attain spiritual enrichment?
Seems to me the meaning and spirit of Christmas has been pirated and remade as a pseudo religious holiday under the guise of an orchestrated consumer frenzy. Somehow the idea of “less is more” has reasserted itself as “more and then some more” Now I’m not taking sides or talking about differences in religious beliefs, or lack thereof… I just am just observing people and listening to them bemoan the imminent task of having to venture out and buy presents, accompanied with a look of peptic distressetched on their faces …. I don’t sense peace or tranquility or joy - just a sense of abject obligation …. Well just something to think about.
Could in fact simpler be better? Maybe Christmas is the perfect time of the year for families to be together with the goal of bringingjoy and happiness to each other. Maybe it’s a time for taking a long walk together, hand-in-hand, saying nothing, just being together as a family A time to reflect upon the true gifts present in our lives. For friends to share time – time well spent. A time to let those you know – know that you truly care about them… A time to lend a hand. A time to help. Seems to me those are the important gifts…. These are gifts you can both obtain and give with pleasure and joy and then share and share again.
And what does it cost you??? All it costs is personal involvement and commitment…Then in lieu of a monthly credit card statement, you get a gift that keeps on giving – day after day, year after year. I know sacreligiious. I mean the impact to Walmart and Target and Macy’s and Kohl’s and Best Buy. What am I thinking !!!!!!!
But wait!!! How about this………..
We put the Christ back in Christmas and rename this other holiday…… Let’s see…. “Spendamus”… Hmmmmm …maybe “Splurgimus”…Wait – I know….. “EXTRAGAVAGANZAMUS”!!!!!!!!!!!! There it’s all settled…. Oh shoot…. Forgot to talk about Joe Natural’s again…. Oh boy am I going to hear about it……….. Sorry Nicole……Well maybe next week……… Happy Holiday Season to All…………
– Farmer Joe
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Well, this is my first time ever blogging and I imagine that for a business such as ours the intent is to provide interesting and stimulating facts that encourage people to eat at our café…. That I should endeavor to create a measure of kismet and build the solid foundations of long-lasting relationships…
However, I believe I am going to miss my mark, as it were. I am actually going to use this opportunity to ruminate and grumble about the state of the world (vis a vie through my having quests at the farm this week) .. About the lack of care and interest, supposedly responsible people, show for the land upon which we live and depend upon.
Joe Natural’s began and continues as a farm based business. Each and every morning, rain or shine, the day starts with tending to our animals. The rest of the day can go in any number of directions depending on what needs to be done and what has broke and needs repairing or what other emergencies arise. The bees, flowers, vegetables all need constant care and attention – a form of job security as it where… Truth be told, I always forget to turn the compost pile so every once in a while I have to run up to the top of the farm and bring the tractor down to turn the pile (we use Alpaca manure as its high in nitrogen)…
Anyway back to the matter at hand: We had company in town this past weekend. A good friend for a lot of years. A monetarily successful person who waxes philosophically about organic food and health and all manner of related subjects – because as we all know – it’s all the rage to be organic these days…
Well anyway, the first evening they stayed at the farm, I was getting ready to make a fire (as we always do) and he asked if he could help… I declined the offer, but he was not to be dissuaded. So off he went with me to collect fire wood from the wood shed. Now, I chop and split my own wood (by hand I might add).. If you haven’t thought about it, during the course of the year trees come down around the farm and regardless of whether they are soft woods or hard woods we make use of them. Nothing like a good fire to keep the farm house warm and keep the electric company from absconding with your hard earned money.. By the way if you haven’t ever split wood by hand it isn’t done liked the portray in the movies… You don’t use an axe… An axe being a sharpened blade only gets buried in the wood and then you spend the rest of the day trying to extricate it… Believe me, I’velearned the hard way (what do you want from a guy raised in New York City??)
Actually you use tool known as a maul.. A maul looks like an axe but it has a blunter and heavier head so when you strike the wood log with a descending blow it splits the wood rather then cut into the log. Your best efforts notwithstanding, every so often you need to use a wedge and a ball peen hammer as well.. Anyway I’m sure you get the idea, it’s a lot of work. Work that I consider a wonderful and productive exercise (I gave up my gym membership soon after taking up farming and have never looked back)!!! Another aside, to conserve on fossil fuels, I walk the farm as much as possible carrying feed bags and whatever needs to be hauled by my own two feet. Besides being environmentally responsible it allows me to eat a bit more then I should and I fall asleep by 7 (I’m a huge fan when daylight savings time is over as I don’t feel so odd being asleep by 7 - at least its dark out!!)
Sorry for the tangent…. Now where was I??? Oh yeah……back to the point of this whole missive….. So, I start the fire… My fires are constructed along the lines of anorganizational chart of sorts. First some recycled newspaper, then some twigs cut from the downed trees, then some little wood (kindling as it where) from, you guessed it, downed trees… Now here’s where it gets a wee bit complicated: To get the coals hot I use the soft wood split logs first with a small amount of the split hardwood logs on top (the soft wood doesn’t burn hot but I don’t want to waste the wood. Then as the fire burns down I put on unsplit hardwood logs so we get a long lasting, toe warming, toasty fire…..And knowing how much time and effort went into chopping the wood, I judiciously use up my store of hand split wood..A reasonable and rational thought – no???
So my guest, who will remain anonymous (what’s that disclaimer they use in books ? “the names and places have been change to protect the innocent” or something to that effect – for a moment I thought it was please put you your tray tables up and your seats in their locked and upright position – but then I remembered where that was from) piles on log after log…..No amount of painful moaning, begging or pleading could stop him from his goal… The fire appeared to leap out of the chimney over the roof and up to the stars…. The intensity of the fire when it is massed, causes the wood to burn at a much faster rate, thereby necessitating more and more wood (if in fact one really deems a roaring fire a necessity) begetting the need for more and more wood – until, sadly, the whole pile was used. Used in the most disrespectful and irresponsible manner possible.
What does this little episode say about us??? What does it portend for the future of our land, our resources, our food, our health and that of our children and grandchildren??? How can seemingly intelligent, well educated people be so callous towards the care of that which binds us??? Have we become so lost or so egocentric we believe that wood actually comes from the front of a grocery store or a plain looking fellow in an old, battered pickup truck parked along the side of a road? And of course such blatant disregard for our trees extrapolates into blatant disregard for fossil fuels and the blatant disregard of all of the earth’s resources.
Look ……..for much of my life I surely wasn’t any better. I stand equally as guilty of making sure that my part of my world was handed down further diminished from how I received it. Unfortunately, that is the way it is. But I’m hopeful it doesn’t have to be. Yes, I decided to learn to farm and as a result developed different values. My curiosity and desire to learn lead me to reading various books by ecologically based authors. Agrarian Essays by Wendell Berry. The Contrary Farmer by Gene Logsdon. Great Possessions by David Kline. There is so much to learn about life. The difference between living well and a life well lived.
Well I didn’t tell you a damn thing about Joe Natural’s and maybe that’s just the right way to start. If you want to discuss my point of view you can visit me at the shop in Leipers Fork. If that’s too far a drive wait a bit. On February 1st we are opening a second Café in Cummins Station (across the hall from Wild Wasabe) . Or your welcome to come visit me at the farm and chat if you’d like.
– Farmer Joe