Reaching “Critical Mess”

You know how it goes: you move into a four-bedroom farmhouse with an immense barn and a seven-bay vehicle shed, and after a few years, all of it is bulging with stuff. Where did it all come from? What’s it doing here? And why can’t I find anything anymore?

So for the first time ever, I’ve rented a huge commercial dumpster (30 cubic yards). It showed up in late afternoon, so I didn’t put much into it today — a couple of broken-down wheelbarrows, the kids’ childhood little red wagon, sadly and irreparably rusted, a tractor gas tank with a hole in it, several decrepit office chairs and other defunct furniture. Soon the balance will shift as more farm stuff gets put in — rusted-out feeders and the like.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Jack and the Magic Beans: A Modern Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a lad named Jack. Jack lived with his mother, and they were very trendy. One day, Jack’s mother said, “Take the cow to the market and sell her, because we’re vegans now.”

Jack protested, because he was fond of the cow and liked milk, too, but his mother insisted. So he went down to the market and traded his cow for some magic beans. The magician had a beard and a tie-dyed robe. He told Jack that they were as perfect a food as a bean could be.

“How perfect is that?”

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Let’s Open the Farmer’s Market on Earth Day

When picking a date for the first day of the farmer’s market season, could you find a better choice than Earth Day?

(Okay, technically Earth Day isn’t until Thursday, but the big blow-out was Saturday, and it was great!)

The market opened in beautiful spring weather and attracted swarms of happy customers. It was like being hit by a cheerfulness bomb! You should have been there.

As usual, the other vendors outdid themselves. Imagine the kinds of produce that ought to be ripe by mid-April, and the quality you’d expect for such early produce. Then multiply it by ten. That’s the Corvallis farmer’s market. All the aging hippies who’ve been in the organic produce biz since the Seventies have gotten really good at it! Competition for quality, variety, and earliness is intense. There were even some local strawberries — six weeks before the regular season.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Eggs: The Miracle of Spring

Not so long ago, springtime was a difficult time on the farm. You had spent a lot of your cash during the winter, but harvest time was many months away. Spring faced you with your biggest expenses of the year: getting equipment back into shape, hiring extra labor, plowing, and planting.

On top of that, meat is hard to come by, since you thinned your herds in late fall to match the level of fodder you could store over the winter, and all the animals that you could spare are already gone. And you’re even worse off where vegetables are concerned. Anything that doesn’t keep for five or six months is gone.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Side-by-Side Testing: This is the Age of Science!

You have to make a choice: Do you want the truth or your comfortable illusions?

Frankly, I think most people prefer illusions, because of their comfort value, but there’s a lot to be said for truth, especially when the future is riding on it! One of the most useful ways of getting at the truth is the side-by-side test, which has lots of applications in everyday life. I’ll talk about farm-related ones here.

I frequently tell people that I have “the best eggs ever.” Is this true? Well, so far it is! But I don’t just rest on my laurels. Once in a while, I go out and buy other people’s eggs, then cook them up in exactly the same way and do a taste test. Ideally, this would be literally a blind taste test, since my eggs tend to have very dark yolks compared to other people’s. In a blind test, you don’t know whose eggs you’re tasting, so your preconceptions and wishful thinking are kept in check.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.