Lately, since being laid off from my off-farm job I have had to look for work elsewhere. It has been an adventure to say the least. Not many people want to hire someone who needs to be able to leave work for days on end to seed, or mill flour, or haul grain or whatever else is occurring on the farm. I need a job with flexibility and part-time hours that pays well. I have taken a couple consulting jobs helping other companies to achieve their own safety program. I have also offered to help my brother-in-law Darel with his screw pile business. In the spare time, I have spent a few hours here and there trying to get the interior of the house finished. Cindy has taken a full-time job in the city for the first time since we've been together.
Of course, more important than all of the above has been the efforts to grow the flour business. That is where my passion lies...the farm. Last night I had a meeting to present my flour and grain products to The Old Strathcona Farmers Market jurors. That was interesting, but no indication whatsoever if I was successful in getting into the grand ole market. We'll see.
While none of this crap is terribly bad, we are not in danger of losing our home for instance, it has given me the opportunity to realize the importance of making the farm work financially or simply getting out of it altogether at some point in the future. Trust me, getting out of farming is the last thing I will contemplate. Still, it has crossed our minds that if our farm venture doesn't work it will mean downsizing to hobby farm status at best while I get permanent full-time work off-farm.
Of course, all of this thinking gets me thinking about food and prices and sustainable agriculture. Driving through St. Albert today I saw a sign in front of the McGavins Bakery that said in big bold lettering CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP BREAD 10 for $12. That sign is the exact reason that agriculture and especially family-farm type agriculture is in serious trouble in North America. I would venture a guess that nowhere in Europe would a sign like this exist...I could be wrong. If you haven't had a chance, watch the Movie "Broken Limbs". It is a documentary on apple farming in Washington state. Incredibly inspiring to watch, cleverly portrayed and completely insightful. I am embarrassed by that sign in St. Albert. I continue to feel badly that we live in a place where people in general look for the cheapest food as opposed to the best food. I am so glad for the customers that chose to support our little farm at City Market and Alberta Avenue Market and the bakeries that buy from us.
In the meantime, we happily struggle ahead with our plan to provide incredibly fresh flour at a reasonable price to as many people as possible. I hope that it is a win-win proposition.