Farms aren't built in a vacuum, and ours has come together with an amazing variety of folks who helped us along the way. This part of the website is dedicated to all those who have helped us get started, stay focused, and make progress even when progress seemed impossible. We want to take this opportunity to mention them and let the world know what good folks they are.
Our deepest and most profound thanks to Donna and Steve Semasko at Edelweiss Acres of Lacey, Washington. Donna and Steve have given us years of friendly, cheerful, skillful and generous help with our goats, regardless of the circumstances. Even if it was 2am on a worknight and we had a problem, I knew I could call and Donna would be able to help. To say that they have helped us is such an understatement. They've made it possible for us to raise healthy goats and build a nice herd.
Two online retailers that we have worked with are Caprine Supply and Hoegger's Goat Supply. If you need goat stuff, they have goat stuff. Whether it's dairy goats, meat goats, fiber goats or working goats, they probably have what you need.
We may never have gotten started with sheep had it not been for Al and Lyn Schweider of The Pines Farm of Maple Valley, Washington. Their annual wool sale event, along with their very active participation in regional and state wool judging events, introduced us to the many wonders of hand spinning, weaving, and using wool as a craft item and a practical everyday textile. I can't imagine life without my spinning wheel and I can't imagine sheep without Al and Lyn.
A very big thank you to the folks at the homesteadhogs group at Yahoo.com. The collective wisdom on that list is more than I hoped for, and I found a few new friends along the way. A contentious, argumentative, funny, experienced and generous bunch of folks. Don't bring up politics unless you're ready for a debate, but do ask for the fried doughnut recipe.
A special thanks to Jerry Darnall for his years of mentoring on all things swine, as owner/moderator of the HomesteadHogs group. We're very fortunate that he's also right here in the region and available to answer region-specific questions. May we pass on our knowledge as generously as he always has.
Also a big thank you to the Tamworth breeders who got us started with our wonderful pigs, John and Vickie Hinkley of New Heritage Farms in Toledo, Washington. Thank you for our girls! They're doing great!
For anyone who has any notions about what it takes to start up a microdairy, I am very happy to recommend Vicki Dunaway's Small Dairy efforts and the dairycreamery group at Yahoo.com. Again, these folks are knowledgeable, generous, helpful, and the collective holders of some amazing cheese recipes. The group is mostly those folks who have made the jump to become licensed, but you can learn a lot about what makes good cheese versus what makes great cheese.
Also in the dairy world is Paul Hamby at Hamby Dairy Supply, one of the country's top online supplier of small-scale dairy equipment, health care and know-how. Paul is also a fierce proponent of small farm rights and all things rural.
Jim and Rachel at the Beez Neez Apiary Supply in Snohomish, Washington, have been very helpful as we got started with bees. And they're just all around nice folks too. If you have questions about bees, they have the answer or they know someone who does.
Randy Oliver of scientificbeekeeping.com based in California has been instrumental in our education on many of the more advanced topics of honeybee management, particularly in terms of scientific research into Varroa, CCD, queen performance, pesticide impact and other forms of ground-truthing.
Livestock become lost-stock very quickly without good fences, and we get our fencing from Premier 1 Fencing out of Iowa. Stan and the crew there have lots of experience with keeping all sorts of critters where they belong, without costing me an arm, a leg, and an afternoon in the process. If you have questions about fencing, they have the answers.
There are so many people who have helped us figure out what works and what doesn't, it would be a very long list to include everyone. But the folks who have helped the very most include:
Kate Halstead at Rocky Prairie Herb Gardens, Monroe, WA
Michaele Blakeley at Growing Things Farm, Carnation, WA
Erick Haakenson at Jubilee Farm, Fall City, WA
All the folks in the Sno-Valley Tilth and Tilth Producers groups.
Mary Embleton at the Cascade Harvest Coalition
Bobbi and Alan at the Snohomish Conservation District
All the folks at the Snohomish County WSU Extension Service
I want to formally say Thank You to our Heavenly Father for paving the way for us to have this farm. Not only have we been able to settle here and make a life for ourselves here, but the people and the organizations which we have become involved with have brought such warmth and fullness into our lives. We are blessed to be called to this work, and we humbly thank our Father that He gave us this calling.
I also want to thank Saint Jude for so many so-called impossible situations which somehow just all worked out:
* My job was eliminated in May 2007, yet we have found sufficient replacement work for me to keep our bills paid.
* My Dad was in an emergency room in July 2007 in kidney failure, and doctors told the family to prepare for him to be on dialysis until a donor could be found. Not only did he recover from that episode and not need dialysis, but a donor was found right away - me! He's healthy and feeling great at the moment and we are blessed to know that if the time does come, I can be a donor for him.
* The many amazing near-misses where just the right combination of people, circumstances, tools and know-how came together at just the right time to make things work better than we ever dreamt possible.
* When the farm was ready to take another leap forward, but the money just wasn't there, the job that laid me off in 2007 called me back and hired me on again. It was an answer to our prayers.
There are so many other things that seemed to be crises at the time, but which just faded into very do-able challenges, and we faced them with the grace, strength, patience and humility that we have learned from our faith. Thank you, St Jude, thank you, Catholic Church, and thank you God for everything You have given us. We are truly blessed.
Whatever your faith, whatever your beliefs, whatever your thoughts about the world and the universe around us, be thankful for whatever you have at this moment in your life. We spend so much time thinking about what we don't have, we forget about what we do have.