Contrary to popular belief, the modern farm life includes a good chunk of time spent partying. Yesterday the land trust run by our friend Janina, which helped us lease the farm, hosted a launch party on the ranch. It was a blast.
In one fell swoop, Shae Lynn and I got to meet all of our neighbors (in the agricultural sense, we quickly learned that neighbors can live about 10 miles away) and made some amazing friends. San Mateo County and Pescadero are incredibly diverse in terms of agriculture. The people we met were absolutely fascinating. The history of this town and area alone could keep us occupied for decades, but the current projects going on around us are really exciting too. There are numerous business and personal ventures being undertaken by our neighbors that include organic vegetable and fruit CSAs, educational programs/camps for city and suburban kids to learn about farming and food, farm tourism programs, and an ever-growing slew of pasture-based livestock enterprises. The spirit of innovation is certainly alive and well here, and we are flat-out inspired by what we can learn from everyone around us.
The whole day was packed. We spent the morning doing chores and finalizing the design for our brooders. We plan to start construction next week and our friend John from Santa Cruz was kind enough to come up an hour before the party to review the design and see if we could economize it in any way. Of course, though, our innovative conference room/bedroom facility (the picture on the right), left some things to be desired.
In terms of the brooder, we are pretty happy with our designs. We’ve spent a few days in salvage yards and recycled wood dealerships, and we think that we can cut our price of construction down by about 40% just by using recycled materials. Shae Lynn has even taught herself to use Google’s drafting program SketchUp so we can see our designs in three dimensions and easily make those innovative changes that come to us at 3am or during lunch.
All of this planning work is crucial because as we scale up, any inefficiency in our designs or our work habits will get passed on to consumers as higher labor costs in our food prices. At this point, most of you reading this know us personally and have probably heard this, but our long-term mission on the ranch is to provide the most affordable and accessible food we can that adheres to our personal and agricultural ethics (That sure is a mouthful!). We certainly respect the work being done by upper-end gourmet producers, but for us the most important work we do is that which gives customers more choices for where they can get their food. Normal families that have to choose between a $26 organic chicken and a $4 super-market industrial one will usually err on the side of being able to pay their mortgage.