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Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

When I was a radio reporter, and later, when I taught audio production, I frequently heard the complaint that people hate the way they sound. The problem is that we hear ourselves differently from the inside of our heads than other people - and microphones - hear us. It is surprising to hear the words that come out of our mouths in a different way than we thought it sounded.

But what is even weirder, we recently learned, is to write about your own life and then hear your experiences narrated by someone else. To have your story told by a stranger.

Beth's book, Bet the Farm: The Dollars and Sense of Growing Food in America was just released as an audio book, which has honestly been a bit strange for us. It’s like the movie Stranger Than Fiction with Will Ferrell, where the main character hears his life being narrated by a mysterious voice. That said, there is no doubt that the experience is also thrilling--to think of people driving around or riding their bike while listening to our story is an honor. Please check the book out on Audible (you can click on the picture above) or where you buy audio books and let us know what you think!

There are so many other things that happened on the farm this spring too...

May yielded some huge morel mushroom stashes in Iowa, although here on the farm we only totaled about 5 pounds. John went to a class at Iowa State University in early May too and is now certified to pick and sell several types of mushrooms, including the infamous morel. His first sale covered the cost of the class and the gas for the trip, so any other sales in the future will be gravy!

Just today too, after a small sprinkling of rain, there are oyster mushrooms everywhere! The mushroom is one of our favorites and luckily, unlike the morels most Iowans know and pick (and then fry the crap out of!), oysters are ubiquitous during the summer on the farm and are super versatile to cook. (Check out this post for a recipe.)

After some tense waiting over a very cold in April and early May, the grasses and invasive weeds (like multiflora rose and honeysuckle) are now also growing in earnest. The cattle and goats are valiantly trying to keep up, but are totally out numbered and out massed.

Our last kid of 2022

And speaking of goats, our final kid of the season was born just two weeks ago. The mother, Myrtle (or Myra, or Matilda—we call her a different name each time) was gifted to us from some friends and waited a full month after all our other does kidded to finally pop. Her little buckling kid is already giving us headaches, consistently deciding to be anywhere but where we want him to be. Myrtle is a great mom, always watching out for him and “baaawing” loudly anytime he is out of sight, but the pair are also stand-offish from the rest of the crowd, making them a bit harder to manage.

The rest of the goat kids are growing like kudzu, and have quickly learned to eat plants and drink water. Which now means that the space which once was adequate for the 13 original does and buck is now way too small for an additional 17 kids. In other words, they are keeping us on our toes!

The "barn" will have an apartment and space for classes

Beth has also been spending a lot of time navigating the quagmire of county zoning laws in order for us to start construction on our new apartment and commercial kitchen. It is a lot of forms and meetings, but we are also grateful our county is zoned and no one can throw up a hog confinement unit in the county without a lot of scrutiny (unlike in most of the rest of the state). But while we waited for permission we have also completed our drawings--the building will be a wonderful way for us to bring people out to the farm for dinners and classes on cooking and writing.

John and his friend Harrison began milling wood for the new building, working through 15 pine logs harvested from a stand that Leroy, John’s father, planted in the 50’s as a Christmas tree plantation. The tree farm concept never did pan out as hoped, but now, 70 years later, the trees matured. In the past 20 or so they have begun to die, making for perfectly straight wood boards we hope to utilize as posts and beams in our new building.

Milling wood for the barn

The new building will give us yet another place for you to spend the night and we hope many of you will again visit this summer! Please get in touch if you’d like to drop by for a few hours or book a place to spend the night!

We still also have beef available for later this summer and fall - please let us know if you are interested in supporting the farm through a beef order.

Stay well!

Beth and John

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