he said it.
he said it.
Since I started farming, I’ve nearly always had some side hustles to fund the dream, and I’ve really come to love the noncommittal ‘gig life.’ When I hear about an opportunity, my first question is, ‘what are the hours?’ and if it fits in with the other gigs du jour, I’ll more than likely at least give it a shot. The side jobs help keep the farm in a place where I can make more sustainably-minded decisions, lending some leverage to my bottom line as long as I can give some Uber rides on the weekend.
Enter Pandemic. Exit income.
To be sure, I’m happy to be essentially working out on the farm this spring. Without rushing back and forth to the city to teach classes, I’ve had more time to work on some landscaping and organizing that would normally reside on page 2 of To Do, never to be done. And like a lot of folks, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, and high-fiving myself for already having a jar of dry yeast in the fridge before bread baking became so cool and yeast became so scarce. So, as the thrifty gal I like to think I am, I’d like to share a few ways I’ve saved some pennies this spring.
We’ve ramped up the kombucha production here! This jar is about 2 liters and I’ve been brewing constantly. The stuff in the store is so delicious and convenient, but the expense can start to add up. Also, I’ve noticed that some brands are adding seltzer, which I can do on my own, for less.
I started this SCOBY from a little bit of leftover store-bought kombucha about 8 months ago. It took awhile to grow her out, but now this mama is… I want to say a strong independent woman, but indeed with the same gusto I proclaim that she is a strong symbiotic community!
I flavor the kombucha only after I’ve poured it off into a separate container to chill. It’s great to mix 50/50 with a flavored seltzer (like ginger!) or a chilled tea (Apple Pie Chai was a recent hit). A big favorite is mixing in a bit of Tart Cherry Concentrate.
Rolled oats must be one of the cheapest calorie sources around, but add some nuts and sweet and I’m searching granola packaging looking for its master’s degree behind the markup. Making your own granola is a great way to save some dollars.
But try comparing recipes out there: oven temps range from 250F to 375F and times range from 15 minutes to an hour. Do I need parchment paper? So I’ve started a Granola Diary to try a bunch of recipes, tweak them of course, and see what I like. I’m using up all kinds of little tidbits in the pantry. We’re past hot cocoa season (or are we, Rochester? I see snow in the May forecast) but cocoa powder can flavor a nice chocolate granola. Chia seeds, slivered almonds, shredded coconut, the kitchen sink, you see? Have fun, but no crunchy granola hippie jokes, ok? I’ve heard them all.
Stay tuned for my very personal Granola Diary release party.
I’m eating the yard. Whatever. Official spring green harvesting for the CSA members is a couple weeks out yet but here’s my new favorite lunch wrap:
Neither pictured nor found in the yard but awesome to add:
EVOO, honey mustard, balsamic, any old sauce you like!
Roll it up and chomp chomp it down like the rabbit that you are.
*Be safe eating from the yard. Don’t do it if you or your neighbors spray chemicals. Don’t eat anything you can’t absolutely identify as edible. Wash it all before you eat it. You know, basics.
With more time at home, soaking and cooking dry beans has become quite easy to fit into my schedule. We are blessed here in Rochester with Lori’s Natural Foods’ amazing bulk section for a wide variety of dry bean options, many organic, at an excellent price. I find that dry beans often have more flavor and better texture, and are definitely cheaper than their canned alternative. I can cook up a batch of white beans and have them at hand for soup at a moment’s notice, or just tossed with butter and salt for a snack, or thrown in with some chopped veggies and vinegar for a side dish. I’ve mentioned that french lentils are a great salad topping , and any of these legumes can match that purpose. Now the only concern is where to find cool classic jars like this with thrift stores closed. Will garage sales happen this year?!
While I’m trying to save money here, I really want to support my local businesses, too. We’ve had some amazing takeout from The Saucey Chef and Le Petit Poutine, and Salena’s recently reopened thus, being one of my dad’s favorites, is up next for sure, probably when he and I can safely picnic outside.
What tips do you have to share?
That’s a wrap! Season 2 at Enka:ri Farm is in the books. My little farm baby is growing up so fast.
Yep, I said farm baby. I’ve found this endearing term quite fitting for the 30 acres of dirt, a couple ramshackle barns, and a fat whiny mortgage I’m blessed to call my own…
For a couple reasons.
1. I don’t have any real babies and I was hoping folks would throw me a shower. Not too late. I’m free next Sunday and I’ll play all the terrible baby shower bingo you can handle.
2. This farming business takes a lot of my time and energy, and oh goodness a lot of my money. Like a sweet drooling baby.
3. And for all the effort, the farm did not produce truckloads of food in seasons one and two. It merely produced enough for the CSA and me to eat. But that was (excluding losses to extreme weather) the plan. So this is the best analogy I’ve found for explaining this farm’s timeline to folks. In the beginning years, I’m building soil, I’m setting up infrastructure, I’m encouraging an ecosystem with strong biodiversity, and I’m establishing perennial plantings in the field which will take a few years to produce any crop at all. My farm baby just gets nurtured and nuzzled and lavished with gifts and kisses. I have not expected my baby to pay for her own diapers. As she grows and matures, I’ll expect the farm to pay for herself, and when I’m old, hopefully she’ll put me in the coziest rocking chair. I don’t see farming as a career from which to retire, but as a lifelong lifestyle choice. However, I do watch my orchard trees like some people watch the stock market, as I surely plan to lean on their crop to support a simple lifestyle in my golden years.
Though a touch on the silly side, and knowing that farming cannot hold a candle to the job of parenting, I hope it works as a clear analogy and gives a little smile. Choosing this eclectic lifestyle 10 years ago led me to learn that I get to determine what success means for me. Back in 2010 it was being okay with making nearly no money in exchange for the opportunity to travel around and follow the sun while learning to farm and function in rustic rural settings. Since then it has looked like taking on a lot of side jobs to finance this dream, and now it means letting plum trees grow, hazelnuts shrub, asparagus stalk, and welcoming more red-winged blackbirds to combat an evil infiltration of Japanese beetles on the cherry trees.
What does success look like for you?
Chickens, caterpillars, people – when you turn off the light, we’re all just creatures looking for a crunchy green snack. Am I right?