Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bottom Feeders

so it's been a while since I've written a rant about an inconsequential thing and I think I'm about overdue.
We've been receiving some of bills that come with running a business and being a human today in regards to accountants and lawyers and since I a)don't like our lawyer and b)am not sure I trust that our accountant is working very hard for us, I've been especially annoyed this year when the bills roll in.

And I can actually handle the exorbitant fees they charge. I understand that it's a necessary service, requiring very specific education and for reliable (although that's questionable given some of the supposed 'deadlines' with our accountant) and trustworthy (again, see above) people, I am willing to pay, without too much grumbling.

It's the 'Administration Fees' that really burn my arse.  I am completely mystified that I can be charged for 'photocopies, long distance charges, postage, office supplies and paper'.  First of all, is that not a tax write-off, just as it for ANY business? So, is it even LEGAL to pass that off to the customer?  Secondly, can I now, in turn, when I send in my cheque, include an invoice for the paper it's printed on, the ink it's printed with, the postage it's sent with, the envelope cost, my time, computer depreciation, a charge for the accounting program I use and a fee to cover my heart medication when I have a coronary over this? 

Seriously.  An 'administration fee' is bullshit. 

Lastly, the fee from our lawyer was for a significant (personal) cheque we made well BEFORE Christmas to be handled by them and delivered to the recipient.  The date on the paperwork was VALENTINES DAY!!!  Does that mean that MY money sat in the lawyers bank account accumulating interest for THEM for TWO months before it made it where it was supposed to!? 

I don't know what the interest on that money was for two months, but I am quite certain that it more than covered the 'administrative' cost of that invoice that I just received.


I hope this finds you sleeping well-unless you are a lawyer, in which case I hope you're up most of the night- with the runs.


ps. remembered after posting this that two of my very good friends are lawyers, and I wouldn't wish the runs on them, so I ammend that last statement to read, " ...I hope you're up most of the night-with the runs-unless you're Kristen or Brynne."

Monday, February 27, 2012


There has been a lot to think about here lately and I'm too tired to make it really pretty, tidy and clever, so I'm going with point form tonight.

-firstly, that sick lamb has not been responding the antibiotics so I had called the vet to come by today to check it out (to be perfectly honest, the first vet was a small animal vet and I was wanting a large animal vet to have a look).  The diagnosis was a bit inconclusive, although she claims that it's basically footrot, in the mouth.  Gross.  Anyway, it's supposed to respond to penicillin and hasn't, so no one is really sure what is going on, but I'm hating watching the little guy suffer.  The vet seemed pretty keen on getting a post-mortem done which says more than anything else I think. 

-secondly, Rosie calved Sunday morning and had the CUTEST little jersey heifer.  Everything was fine until today when I went over to take a picture of little Rhubarb (Barbie for short) and Rosie was struggling to get up and had all the signs of milk fever.  Of course, this was after the vet had already left from seeing the lamb, so call #2 went into the clinic.  By then, Rosie had gotten herself jammed in the corner behind the water tub and was down for the count.  The vet had quite a time getting her neck craned around to get the calcium into the vein, but about 2 minutes after it was all over Rosie was back up on her feet.  The livestock cost this farm considerably more than they made today.  But gosh darn, that calf is CUTE! haha

-I had registered to hear Dr. Vandana Shiva speak (yep, she was in Canada this week) in Truro on Saturday, but the weather prevented that from happening, so I spent a good part of the day feeling sorry for myself and watching all the pictures and reviews come up on Facebook from people who had gone.  I got a call on Sunday afternoon from my friend Beth, outgoing executive director for ACORN (of which I'm currently secretary), to say that there was an empty seat at the supper table with Dr. Shiva that night in Sackville.  I bundled up and headed over and had a really amazing evening.  Supper was great and her talk afterwards was so inspiring.  I had taken my rubber boot (cleaned) over to get her to sign it and she did!  Ya know, like getting an NBA star to sign a ball or a rock star to sign a guitar.  I also got a couple books signed and gave her some of the "Acadia" wheat seeds that we've been increasing (and Wendell has been painsakingly cleaning!).  I have so much in my head about her talk that I can't put it together elegantly at this point, but I'll work on it.

One sentiment that really struck me was when she was talking about the farmers in India after the 'green revolution' who were growing Bt cotton and commodity crops for export and I thought what she said was also applicable to here.  "When farmers are told to buy certain seed, grow it a certain way and sell it at the dictated price, that is a modern form of slavery."  She's referencing the no-saving seeds, using only GM seeds and the price of the seed, the use of the chemicals sold by the same company and then the pre-determined prices, no matter the seasonal differences, market demand, etc.  And it's not that different here.  We feel like we're in control, but if we cannot save our own seed, we really are at the mercy of the corporations.

She will be appearing on George Stoumboulopoulus this week if you want to check her out.  Or, there are tons of youTube videos of her speaking. 

-I 'gave up' GMO's for Lent, which is to say that I want to take this opportunity to watch exactly how much GM food I eat and prepare.  I thought that it really wouldn't be that difficult given how much organic food we eat, but between the glucose (GM corn), lethicin (GM soy), maltodextrin (GM corn) and canola oil, our food system is in big trouble.  I've had to be a little lenient on the meat front, since the pork we source is 'free range', but is fed conventional feed which almost certainly contains GMOs.  Thankfully Rosie calved just in time, so that in a couple days I won't have to buy milk and butter anymore.  Whew.  I am so grateful that we can source so much of our food locally and that we can buy quality whole food.

-Well, Mark is at another meeting tonight and I have big plans to get to bed early tonight, so I'm signing this chaotic entry off right here.

I hope you feel inspired by your food often.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Quick Nfld. Highlight Reel

I didn't realize how few pictures I took of our trip to Nfld. until tonight when I uploaded them.  Then I remembered that since Mark had his phone, we relied on it a lot, which is pretty useless as a camera really.  Lesson learned that convenience rarely equals quality.  Anyway, here's just a couple with some narration.

This was the view from our second hotel where we stayed for two nights (good friend Lanna scored us a free one so we treated ourselves to the second one).  The 11th floor of the Delta, downtown St. John's.  You can see Cabot Tower at the top of Signal Hill waaayyyyy in the distance, in the middle of the shot.  Well, shortly after checking in and taking this picture we decided to start walking that way and ended up hiking all the way up the damn hill and back down the side, making our own trail in the snow as we returned.  It was a beautiful day and in the end I was glad we walked it, but I definitely did my share of complaining on the way up (and Mark's share too).  
above two pictures from said "useless phone"
My brother had fandangled us a super great deal on a jacuzzi suite at the Super8 too (via the wonderful world of Kijiji) so we had pretty amazing accomodations while we there. (Not to leave out the futon we stayed on the last night, which was cozy and free and came with good food and lots of laughs with friends. :)  )
While I enjoyed the view of the city and Signal Hill, Mark was far more appreciative of the action going on at the harbour and one day while I enjoyed a nap on crisp, white sheets, he spent a couple of hours watching a container ship being loaded by various forklifts, cranes and trucks.  I said that he would make a good terrorist or drug lord, keeping such a close eye on the shipping traffic.  He took some videos to watch with Wilson and marvelled at how union workers don't miss a single second of break time.  They leave a container hanging in mid-air the minute it strikes 3 o'clock. For that afternoon it was sort of like being on vacation with a really well-behaved version of Wilson, content to watch 'Mighty Machines'. 

 This is us at Cape Spear and the whole time I was there I couldn't help but wonder at what the early explorers thought when they landed at such a desolate landscape.  I would have sat down, had a good bawl, got back on my boat and went home, warning anyone else thinking of doing the same that THERE IS NOTHING THERE!  Just a big, cold, naked rock. Brrrr.

It was an amazing trip though.  St. John's is a great city and as promised, we met some great characters and everyone was really nice.  The first night we arrived, we were taken to the pub where The Republic of Doyle is based, watched it with the local crowd (hushed during the show, rowdy in the commercial breaks) and had some of the best fish and chips we've ever eaten.  Our gracious hosts (Bryan and Lanna) continued that hospitality all the way through and we look forward to getting back someday (and this time Mark won't miss that container ship leaving the harbour!).

Now that we're back, life took no time settling itself back into 'normality'.  Today, I was researching some strange mouth disease I discovered in one of the lambs, cutting tofu, writing an email to an ACORN board member, wiping a nose, tickling a kid with my toes and talking to the eye doc's secretary, all at the same time.  It occured to me at one point that Mark's idea of multi-tasking is checking Facebook while sitting on the toilet.  But then, he is the one who held onto the smelly, struggling, 55lb. lamb while I drove us to the vet clinic today, so I will be kind.  The vet thinks it's some kind of bacterial infection and not contagious, but it sure is gross.  I won't go into the details, but the smell is gag-a-riffic.  Anyway, of course he is my biggest, nicest lamb and now he's no longer organic, but here's hoping that whatever it is clears itself up. 

Something in the air last night prevented most of us in this house from getting a good sleep, so I'm off to try to catch up early tonight.
I will try to get a roller derby shot soon for all you who so desire, although I've chosen a name so that contest is over.
"Please welcome to the track, at 5'7", 175 lbs, an organic farmer, lover of seeds and soil, Vandana Shove'her."
It's a reference to Dr. Vandana Shiva, who, concidentally enough is coming to NS and NB this week.  She is an 'eco activist' who believes in and promotes seed security, women's rights, organic farming methods, and other important things, all with a little sparkle in her eye and a very deliberate, peaceful beauty to it all. She's a little Indian woman who moves like fluid in draping sari's.  Who else to better exemplify an agricultural-minded roller girl's alter ego?!

Anyway, I hope this finds you well rested.



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Too much perhaps.

Mark and I just returned from our trip to Nfld. on Sunday night and since our return, we've had some good reminders as to why those kind of trips are important.
Let me preface this entry by saying that for the last half of the four-day trip (yep, four whole days!), I spent the majority of my time double checking flight times and preoccupied with weather reports from all sources for all Maritime cities and emailing my mother.  I was desperate to get home.  Partly because I'm a homebody mom, partly because the weather was being tricky and partly because I knew my kids would be wearing out their welcome in West Branch. 
But, we certainly made the most of our time in St. Johns and enjoyed every minute of it. We stayed at some nice places, the weather was really amazing, visited with some great friends and met some new, fun characters.  Overall, a huge success. 
I think I will wait until the kids are older until next time though.

Anyway, since we've returned, we've been on meeting mission 101 and have yet to spend any time in the house at the same time.  I'm currently sitting on two separate hiring committees, am the secretary of a regional organic board, closely involved with the Sunday School at our church, and have recently joined the roller derby league here on the Island.  The latter has been so refreshing and exactly what I need.  I really love all the girls and the activity is a whole new challenge that I'm really embracing with good humour (because some days that's all I've got!). 
I am, by the way, searching for a good roller derby name and am open to any and all suggestions. 

So, between that and Mark's volunteering (namely, as a session member for our church) and his setting up our new business with Bio-Ag amongst all the other farm related things, we are a busy couple of bees these days.  I think I could count the number of words we've said to each other since returning from the trip, on all my fingers and toes.  We are also nominated for the Outstanding Young Farmers award which involves a short presentation at an event in a couple weeks, so that's been sitting in the back of my head as well, although not foremost on the priority list (don't read that bit, judges!).  Perhaps having listed it all out in this entry will have lightened my cognitive load a bit, or, just make it worse.  :S

Oh, and just to keep things interesting, as I was feeding the sheep (nearly done actually) last night I heard a particularly pathetic bleat and watched as a brand-new, still wet baby lamb stumbled out from beside the feeder and stood there shivering.  A quick check found its mother filling her face at the manger, so we got them together and all is well now, but talk about unexpected.  This has been one strange lambing season.  (If I talk like that, it makes this chaos seem like an anomally, but let's be honest and recognize that I am a terrible sheep record keeper....blah.  It's unfortunate that I am also an Organic Certification Consultant which basically means doing paperwork...oh well, sort of like the cobblers kids going without shoes I guess?)
I also had a serious scare when one of my bigger lambs took a case of the runs while we were gone and was pretty down and out on Monday, which I worried meant coccidiosis.  I've never had to deal with it before and knew it would mean trouble for the rest of the lambs if that's what it was. Thankfully, I think he just got a big dose of soybean meal in the creep feeder and learned the ol' "too much of a good thing" lesson.  He's recovered and finally made his way back into the feeder today after a couple days of standing outside of it, looking sadly in at his gorging cousins. 

So I'd better get my control freak hat back on and get back to some committee work, or maybe start looking at developing a marketing plan for the BioAg stuff, since Mark has identified that as a priority for us.  I say that I've already started by mentioning it on this blog, but I don't think that cuts the mustard as my contribution to the business.

A big public thanks to my Mom (and Dad!) for being the bravest/craziest/most generous woman (& man!) for taking on the three terrorists for most of a week.  And my sister, sister-in-law and aunt for all playing the entertainers as well.  The stories from their visit still haven't stopped coming, so some great memories were made to be sure.

I hope this finds you anticipating spring, but still enjoying the throes of winter.