Sunday, February 26, 2012

What have I been up to?

I don't normally go this long between blog posts, but life gets busy. It's the time of year where every garden plan, wish for more ducklings, improvement to the property, etc gets planned.

The time of year when all I'm typing on the computer is seed inventories and planting plans and duck egg candling results and stuff for work, as well!

I have 11 duck eggs cooking in the incubator, along with 5 chicken eggs. If all goes well, the chickens should be popping out of their shells in one week. The ducklings should arrive a week later. If not, I will be one sad little farmhand.

I have seeds starting in my loft. The loft is filled with the smell of wet peat as I am working towards using up the last of the peat pellets I bought almost two  years ago. Bulk buy = great deal. However, I've found methods I like better in the meantime, so hopefully this year I will finally get those foresaken peat pellets used up.

I've got peppers, kale, celery, chard, collards and spinach on the heat mats. Two weeks from now, the tomato seeds will go in. I also need to start my flowers and herbs. That might come next weekend to keep me busy so I'm not staring into the incubator waiting impatiently for my little chickies!

Now looking forward to warmer weather, an awesome garden, and new fluffy butt ducklings! Not to mention cleaning brooders, shoveling compost and all that other fun stuff.

Last year's seedlings:

Last season's quack-lings (purchased)...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: West Sound Small Farms Expo!

Yesterday was the West Sound Small Farms Expo. Now that I've recovered a bit, I thought I'd share some of the things I saw and did!

The opening to the morning was an introduction by Arno Bergstrom of the WSU Kitsap Extension and a short talk by Charlotte Garrido, Kitsap County Commissioner and farm advocate.

Arno Bergstrom of WSU Kitsap.

Arno and Shannon Harkness (WSU Extension) making sure people could find their seminar locations.

Charlotte Garrido, Kitsap County Commissioner.

After the morning introductions, I split off from my bosses, and ventured into a seminar titled: Growing Your Farm Business with Social Marketing. The presenter, Jenny Ingram, is a food blogger. You can find Jenny's Blog here, her Facebook here, and her Twitter here.

Jenny is a very animated, well-spoken presenter. She gave a great talk about how to link and properly market your business with an online presence. Her advice on to how promote without being spammy  is  well worth remembering. For every one self-promotional post, you should post 5-6 interesting things that you think your customers would like to read. Nobody wants to become obnoxious or spammy when promoting their product.

Jenny Ingram of the Jenny on the Spot blog.

Next I attended Flower Growing for Profit. While ornamental anything takes a back seat to food production in my priority list, it looked like an interesting seminar. Janet Foss, who grows cut flowers for market and wholesalers, gave a great and detailed presentation. Janet recommended many varieties of plants that grow well in our climate and helped identify where and what the demand was for such products. She even brought a few of her favorite tools to share with the group.

Janet Foss demonstrates the Pottiputki Planter.

Lunch was locally produced rolls, salads, soups and pastries for dessert. Food was courtesy of CJ's Evergreen Catering, Monica's Waterfront Bakery and Chef Chris Plemmons.

Our lunch speaker was Richard Conlin, Chair of the Puget Sound Regional Food Policy Council. He is from Seattle, and related stories of how they turned unused urban spaces into community gardens and encouraged healthier dietary choices. While it seemed to be a disconnect from the rural life many of Kitsap's small farmers live, it was a very interesting talk and I'm always happy to hear from an urban food advocate.

If you had some time between presentations, there were many vendor booths providing information and product samples. Represented were Poulsbo Farmers Market, Bremerton Farmers Market, Kitsap Community Food Co-op, Key Peninsula Food Co-op, Kitsap Community and Agricultural Alliance, WSU Kitsap Extension, Scratch and Peck Feed, Kitsap Food Chain, Washington Tractor, Pheasant Fields Farm, Liberty Bay Books and more! Thanks to all the vendors for being so welcoming!

Pheasant Fields Farm brought free pots of cat grass for all the Expo-goers! Thanks Nikki!

Part of Scratch and Peck Feed's display. Look! It's a Henbag!!!

Another of Scratch and Peck!

Key Peninsula Food Co-op's booth.

Kitsap Poultry Growers Co-op.

The KCAA booth.

Kitsap County Noxious Weeds.

Bremerton Farmers Market.

WSU Extension.

Kitsap Community Food Co-op.

After lunch, I attended a seminar entitled: Food Security Begins at the Co-op! The main presenter was the produce buyer for the Port Townsend Food Co-op. It was an interesting talk. Port Townsend's co-op has an all Certified Organic produce department, with the exception of four or five products which are clearly marked as such. They put a huge emphasis on local, having differing designations on their stickers and signage which identifies where their produce comes from. They also emphasize familiarity with your farmers, having profiles on each regular supplier which identifies where they are, what they grow and how they grow it. I wish we had a store nearby where everything was organic. It would be so much quicker to choose produce and move along if one didn't have to find the miniscule organic section and hope they had what you came for.

The final seminar I attended was entitled: New Tricks for Old Dogs and Young Pups, Internet Marketing. This presentation was a crash course in eCommerce. Presenter Jon Delmendo was full of information and was happy to stop and answer questions as they came up. It was an information-heavy presentation and most of it was more advanced than anything I would need, however, it was all good information to have for the future.

Finally, there was a raffle for door prizes. Lucky people won items including seed packets, books, t-shirts and one lucky winner went home with a drip irrigation kit.

The evening finished off with a beer and wine tasting for those 21 and up who chose to purchase drink tickets. Having only attended tastings where they give you a thimble-sized sample, I was pleased and also shocked that they filled up my glass on the first trip through the line. After specifying a smaller serving the second time around, I gave up my remaining drink tickets and headed for home. I like beer and wine, but I like escaping Bremerton in one piece much more!

I want to wrap this up by thanking the WSU Kitsap Small Farms Team (Diane Fish and Shannon Harkness), their sponsors Kitsap Sun, Washington Tractor, Mason-Kitsap Farm Bureau, Farmland Pets, Kitsap Credit Union, Pheasant Fields Farm, Kitsap Food Chain, The Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau and Central Market. Also, thanks to all the speakers, presenters and vendors, the caterers and the local beer and wine producers. What an amazing day!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Spotlight On: 2012 Westsound Small Farms Expo

This is a departure from my regular fare, but it's an event I'm looking forward to.

The Westsound Small Farms Expo premiered last spring to rave reviews. One of the many projects of our WSU Kitsap Extension's Small Farms Team, the Expo is meant to bring education, awareness and networking to our farming community, as well as our non-farming neighbors.

Diane Fish and Shannon Harkness spend hours upon hours planning these events and their work is much appreciated.

Here are some photos of the 2011 Small Farms Expo:
Marilyn Holt at the Kitsap Community Agricultural Alliance booth. You can read more about KCAA here.
The Kitsap Community Food Co-op booth. You can read more about KCFC here.
Arno Bergstrom, Director of WSU Kitsap Extension.


The 2012 West Sound Small Farms Expo will be at Olympic College in Bremerton on Saturday, February 11th. You can find more info on the WSU Kitsap Extension website.

You can also check out the WSU Kitsap Small Farms Team on Facebook here.

Offered seminar topics will include: Farm to Table 101, Energy Wise Agriculture, Water Wisdom for the Small Farmer, Conservation Tillage, and Diversifying Your Income Streams. Locally-produced lunch is included with admission and there will be a beer and wine tasting for an additional charge after the Expo! It's $55 for admission to the Expo, $12 for the Beer and Wine Exhibition.

Thanks again to WSU Kitsap Extension and Small Farms Team for putting on another exciting event!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Photography: A Major Passion...

I've shared enough of my photos here that you've probably already figured I'm an eccentric and enthusiastic photographer. My first camera was a Kodak 126, with which I wasted countless rolls of film clicking away at ducks and the neighbors dogs and whatever odd thing I could find. My grandma used to give me a lot of grief when she'd develop a roll of film for me and it was all of the ducks on the lake. Again.

As a teen, I practiced my chosen craft at rock concerts and radio station promotional events. I shot rock bands into my twenties, when photography and I decided to take a mutually agreed-upon break from one another. Not that I completely stopped taking pictures, it's just that I was done driving to Portland or Olympia or Tacoma or Bellingham to go to shows. For a while, I kept the camera close, but let the photo opportunities come to me.

At one point, I was convinced to dig out a camera and shoot a wedding. Don't think weddings are my favorite thing to shoot by a long shot. I felt out of place and that my shots would be contrived and stiff. I'm much more of a candid photographer. I like those unexpected shots: things that just happen to look interesting, things that happen organically.

A few summers ago, I went on a serious beach kick. Every weekend it was a different beach either on Puget Sound, or on a few occasions I drove all the way to the ocean. Now and then, I still take outings with my camera to try and find some unique element of natural beauty or the bizarre leavings of human beings (unintentional art). I've recently considered getting back into freelancing as a candid photographer at concerts and events. We shall see if I get any interest.

I started a new page for my photography work. You can buy prints, greeting cards and other cool stuff if you're so inclined. If not, it's always free to look... though if enough people buy from me, I'd be able to go to the Zombie Prom...

That said, you can find my photography site on Redbubble here.

And while you're looking, check out my friend Bekah's portfolio here. She's awesomely talented too!