Thursday, February 20, 2014

ME-dia Frenzy...

Either all the other small direct sales farms have shut their barn doors or they are just smart enough to say NO but lately we've been bombarded with requests for interviews, mentorships, videos and intern sponsoring.

And we're better because of it.

In years past this type of coverage usually happens in the summer. Farms are real pretty in May, June and July, but fresh- local- small- farm- raised food is one hot topic today. Even in the dead of winter it seems.

Recently,  I did a farm tour/interview with Molly Gleason from The Illinois Stewardship Alliance, (Buy Fresh Buy Local Campaign)  an audio interview with  Eva Voinigescu a reporter with the Medill News Service in Chicago, Megan Larmer Manager of Biodiversity Programs of Slow Food USA  and Next week a couple we are mentoring via the Central Illinois Farm Beginnings will come and visit with us face to face. The last few weeks we've been answering their questions by email.

To ice that media cake, we just spent two days with a grad student from Northwestern, who not only asked us some amazing questions but also got his jeans and hands dirty doing chores. Meet Connor Walters:

When we asked him if he wanted to hold one of the piglets while I did the testicle removal he honestly replied, "no thanks, that's a little too intimate for me"

Well said Connor.

All of this is an invasion of our privacy, our work routine and our ability to...ok..I'll just admit it...take the occasional midafternoon nap to break up our very long work days.

So why do we say yes to every Tom, Dick and Sherry reporter?

Because we really do believe in what we do and when we share it with others it reignites the flame we hold for this kind of farming. When a young man like Connor Walters drives a few hours out of the city to bunk down in a snow tundra of a farm and work with us two days for free and then leave THANKING makes us feel good about what we do.

It makes us want to be better farmers.

The amazing thing still...Connor was not even an agriculture student, he was journalism major who will graduate with that Masters degree this May at the age of 23. Given the choice of interviewing and writing an in depth story about any other topic, he chose small farms. Given the choice of going anywhere in the country, he came to Chatsworth!

And while he was here he learned to: milk cows,  plow snow, minister to a sick calf,  castrate pigs, feed steers, grind grain, and stock a small farm store with yet another side of fresh frozen beef.

I hope we were able to teach him a bit about those things that are not so easily seen. Like how on a farm like ours we don't get "snow days" but we can take time out to share a cup of tea with our son and his wife when they drop by.

About how animals have to be tucked in and cared for before we can take care of ourselves. That customers are not just people who bring us money for goods but friends who care about our welfare in bad weather and leave jars of jellies and jams in our store for our breakfast.

About how satisfying a meal can be when you've raised the beef for over a year and a half before you can enjoy the meatloaf and cared for the cow for over 8 years who gave her milk for you to drink.

Showing others how to do what we do can be tiresome. Some days we would prefer to just go about our business all alone and then just go to bed.

But if did that how would others learn what there is to be taught? You can only go so far with "Mother Earth  News," Google, Bing and YouTube and the upcoming Chipotle sponsored series Farmed and Dangerous.

To really learn about real farming you have to actually spend time with real farmers.

Yes, I know. Profound. But some folks just don't get it. It was through the generosity of others who let us visit their farms in the early years, ask them the endless questions that Keith and I were ever able to get to the spot we are in now.


But still happy to help others who will carry on this way of life...we day when we FINALLY get to take that really long afternoon nap.


  1. Just wanted to stop by and say I love this blog post. I'm in the same graduate program as Connor, and I work with Eva at Medill News Service, so I know how hard it can be as a journalist to find wonderful people like you who are open to working with us! Not all reporters may act like it, but we DO know what an imposition on your time it is to speak with us. So thank you! And I look forward to reading Connor's story about your farm.
    Liz Bibb

    1. Liz, what nice things to say. The more I hear of this graduate program, and the more I talk to students who attend, the more impressed I am ! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. It's vital work Donna; spread the word!

    Oh, and I've heard that Oprah is looking to interview someone about outdoor 'thunderboxes'; shall I forward your name and address?

    1. What can I say crow? My husband does the work and I yak about it. It's a perfect relationship

  3. Oh, Donna, I am so in awe of the work you do -- and the energy and enthusiasm that you have. Your life seems to be such a labour of love -- in every way...

    1. That's what I love about the internet Broad. I can sound all enthusiastic while I am actually buried under the covers with a big bowl of buttered popcorn and a trashy (but PUPLISHED!) novel.