Waiting for the first foot


At the end of my 80-minute commute from St. Paul, I was greeted by the sound of sizzling hamburgers smothered in sauteed onions and pressed between grilled slices of home-made, multigrain French sourdough. Thank you, Linnea! What a sweetheart of a step-daughter. Her gift gave me an extra hour of time this evening – an opportunity to prepare an invoice and packing slip for beef that my husband Dave will drive to the farmer co-op warehouse tomorrow noon.

Our grass-fed beef will be divided among boxes packed with a variety of meats, veggies, and frozen pizzas, as specified by the customers. The packed boxes will then be delivered to, or picked up by, families within a five-county area in west central Wisconsin.

This system has been developing over a three-year period as farmer coop members have managed production to meet the demands of a growing customer base. It takes a lot of work to reinvent a local food system. It’s required amazing hours of organization, labor and communication to engage farmers and continually build the customer base. It’s demanded deciplined coordination, lots of old-fashioned conversation, and hundreds of hours to implement new marketing technologies. Hats off to the leadership and staff of the West Wind Community Co-op. Because of their efforts, there’s a food hub growing to meet the local demand for sustainably produced foods.

Dave and I are late comers to the effort. We joined the co-op just this summer and are still learning how to manage the paperwork more efficiently. That’s one of my short-term goals: becoming a much better bookkeeper.

It’s a good goal for the coming season – for the weeks when cold and snow halt many outdoor chores. Fence-building must wait until the ground thaws in April. Snow-covered pastures mean we’ll feed the cows bales of stored hay until grasses sprout in the spring. We’ll expand and improve the cattle handling area once the snow’s gone and we can move heavy metal gates closer to the barn.

Once the snow’s gone. Funny, there’s just a dusting on the bent grasses right now, but it won’t be long before Dave’ll be using the heavy skid steer to clear the driveway.

The snow will blow, and I’ll have the time I need to build my farm-management muscles. It’s nearly Thanksgiving. Time to find an on-line bookkeeping course or two.

What have you got on your winter-time to-do list?