Sunday, March 21, 2010

Well, I didn't get a spigot jar.  I got a 2-gallon glass jar instead, thinking it would be more useful overall.  It's full of milk/cream now and I'll do the separation and start culturing this morning.  I was hoping to avoid making the butter on Sunday night or Monday morning, but that's what I get for taking a 24-hour pause to get something.

I haven't gone to the hogget thing yet, either.  I'll tell you the story and you can let me know that I'm looking at this all wrong. 

When Jenna posted on her blog about a hoggett cook off put on by The Greenhorns, I got really excited.  After all, that's what I am.  A greenhorn.  I would LOVE to meet other new farmer folks.  I followed the link she posted that said it was on Saturday.  Then another source said it was on Sunday.  So I emailed the contact and asked for more information - like, maybe a schedule of events.  That's when I found out about the price and my issues started.  The event is both days, and it costs $45 - $200, sliding scale.  (Now, sliding scale things drive me a little nuts. I can't handle pay-what-you-like things.  Really.  It drives me nuts.) As an *employed* engineer, I should pay the top end of that range.  But I gotta tell you - that's not going to happen.  $200 is two whole electric fence netting sections, not a few hours at a farm.

I went back and forth several times.  I can't help but feel that real beginning farmers don't pay that much for stuff like this, and there may not be many of them there.  It must have been a fundraiser for something - The Greenhorns, a nonprofit group.  Not a group that one joins, mind you.  I decided not to go.  Then, I felt that these may be the people that I hope will pay me someday. So I decided to go.  Then I emailed Jenna and found out how much she was planning on paying. She's in the middle of buying a house, but was going to pay more than I would pay.  So I decided to go again, and pay more than I'd like.  Then I looked at the schedule, and found only one thing I really wanted to see, besides dinner. Plus, Jenna's getting a fair amount of PR off this event.  So I decided not to go again.

It's an understatement to say that I've over-thought this.  I'd really prefer to go to something like a potluck, or a farm tour, where I don't have to pay someone a huge amount of money that I had slotted for a goat shed. But I feel guilty about not wanting to pay.  Sometime I'm going to have a farm business and expect other people to pay more than they want to for my service.  So now I feel annoyed and guilty.  It's wreaked havoc with my peace of mind this weekend, and I hate that.  But I would feel crappy as well, if I had paid the dough and not met any other beginning farmers, or farmers at all for that matter. What I'd love to find now, is someone who'd let me work at their farm some weekends in exchange for teaching me how to milk a goat.  Call me an idiot, but I don't think those are the kind of people who I'd find.

So tell me - am I being selfish and petty and I should have gone and gladly paid up?  Or do my concerns make sense?  There's still another day - if I'm wrong, I can still go and donate.  It's OK to tell me I'm wrong - I won't get defensive.

I felt so guilty about this that I've found another thing I'll do instead (or in addition).  On Thursday evening Browns, a local brewhouse is having a fixed-price dinner where only local food is served.  I'll post the info after I make my reservation, if they even take reservations, because I'd love to have company if there are any readers in the Albany area that are interested.


  1. I think if I were you I would go and pay an amount that was middle of the road. Just because you're currently working a job that pays a good wage, doesn't mean you have money to throw around. (You'll never be able to make the switch from engineer to goat farmer without carefully managing your finances.)

    Of course it's a gamble on whether the event will be worthwhile, but you need to chance it because you want to meet people with (hopefully) common interests and starting to form the process of networking will definitely benefit your future business. (Consider the fee for the day as advertising money.)

    I doubt if the day will be a complete bust. You're bound to meet at least one person who will be a good contact down the road.

    Any help at all? (Join the club. You have no idea how much I over-think decisions!)

  2. If nothing else, to be around good food and people of like minds might be worth $45. Then, while there, if it seems better than what you were expecting, maybe you could offer a little more than your initial payment. If you are there for at least 6 hours- it would break down to less than $8 per hour. I might go for it.

  3. Hopefully you've gone and come back all fired up by the time you read this ;-)

    I would go. It's hard to part with the money, but you're in a stage where it's important to forge those connections that you will later reap the benefits of. I hear you on the money, though.

  4. Jordan, I started to make a comment here soon after you posted this. I didn't finish because it wasn't flowing (and the spacer bar on my laptop is sticking and just about every word was joined to another one... damn.)

    I think you are being too hard on yourself. There's no reason you are required to pay a higher amount on the sliding scale when you have other ways to spend your money.

    And don't spend a lot of time worrying about whether this comes back to you, like karma, when you need to make money from your homestead. I know this region. When you are earning the money from your goats or butter or cheese or felted goods, you will meet a lot of happy people who are so grateful to pay someone whose efforts align with how they want to live and spend their own money. I'm from here, and for example, quickly figured out that I'd pay someone for butter (and salsa), but might make cheese (and can tomatoes).

    About the Greenhorns, I could be wrong.... but I think they are raising money for a film documentary. It's expensive.

  5. Hey Kate - are you in the area and interested in going to this thing with me on Thursday evening (see below)? I've made a reservation, so if you are interested, make a reservation and let me know.

    Thursday, March 25 from 6-8pm. $30 per person.

    Please join us for a celebration of the working farmers of Rensselaer County. This very special event will feature an appetizer reception of dishes made exclusively with locally farmed meats and produce. Call 273-BEER today to make reservations for this limited capacity event.

    Presented by The Rensselaer County Farm Bureau.


    * Oven Roasted Garlic Onion Potatoes

    * Maple Glazed Carrots

    * Tossed Spicy Mesclun Greens with Feta Cheese, Boiled Eggs, Caramelized Shallots, Croutons finished with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

    * Quark smothered with Apple Confit & Honey

    * Pulled Roast Chicken finished with Brown's Pale Ale, Spinach and Chevre Cheese

    * Apple Cider Glazed Pork Roulade filled with Spinach, Roasted Shallots & Mozzarella

    * Beef Ragout with Brown's Oatmeal Stout & Root Vegetables

    * Apple, Greek Yogurt Parfait with Maple Whipped Cream

    * Brown's Bread Pudding

  6. Mmm, sounds wonderful. I wish I were close enough to go. But when I retire, hopefully up there in New York, maybe we could meet and exchange ideas. Right now, I toil away as a beltway bandit in DC and live in Ashburn in beautiful northern Virginia.

  7. Not sure Jordan. I have a very miserable week with a nasty hearing today that could continue, and a lawsuit expected by the end of the week, which takes time to get together with another lawyer. I will be very, very distracted by crap.

    But if the hearing today turns out to be easy, I will see the week differently!!