FARM & GARDEN | CONFESSIONS OF A FARMER | At Road’s End: Farming by Numbers

"It's difficult to get an accurate count on the crops when Amadeus keeps eating them." by Terri Smith

“It’s difficult to get an accurate count on the crops when Amadeus keeps eating them.” Photo by Terri Smith

By Terri Smith —

As spring starts to feel like it actually is just around the corner, I realize that I know a lot more now than I did at the end of last season; and thank goodness for that since the following is an only somewhat embellished account of where I was at in December

Statistics Canada called this morning before I’d even had my coffee. They wanted to know about my yields of vegetables for the previous year. To begin, what crops did I plant? Sheesh! I planted at least fifty different crops, but fine, I’ll list them: carrots, potatoes, salad greens, peas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips (okay, I didn’t really have any, but I’m annoyed so I’m including them anyway), peas, fennel, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers, onions, green onions, leeks, garlic, beets, umI can’t think of any others when there’s a foot and a half of snow outside and did I mention I haven’t had my coffee yet?

Okay, that’s fine. Did you say you grew cabbage?

Yes.

Chinese or regular?

Both.

Ok. And how many pounds of beets did you produce?

(Damn!) Um, maybe 300 lbs (I have no idea. Why don’t I know? This shouldn’t be a difficult question). I don’t really know, not without any numbers in front of me (Damn it! How come I don’t just know this?!).

That’s alright, ma’am, estimates will be just fine

(But that’s not an estimate. I have no ideaprobably more. I planted way more. The mice probably ate 300lbs!!! Why am I so useless at numbers!?!)

And is that how many pounds you sold?

(How the heck should I know? If I say no you’re going to want to know what I did with the rest aren’t you?) Yes.

And how much did you make per pound?

$2.50/lb! (Yay, I knew an answer!)

How many pounds of broccoli did you produce?

(Here we go againChris would have known these numbers. Why did my eyes glaze over every time he started talking about yields?! I should have paid more attention )

Ma’am?

Yeah, um, maybe 500 lbs. (Is that a lot? Is it nothing much? Why don’t these numbers make any sense to me?)

And is that how much you sold?

(Well, I didn’t mention what the deer and goats and root maggot ate so ) Yeah.

And what did you make per pound?

$2.50! (Oh, oops, no. That’s wrong.) Sorry, actually $5/lb. I sold them in 8 oz bags. (Phew, that was close.)

O-kay, (I don’t think she believes me) and how many pounds of carrots did you produce?

(Carrots! Damn. Well, if Mackin Creek sold 2,000 lbs in a morning at the Medieval Market in November I had to have had more than that at least, and I brought at least 40 (or 80 ?) bags to market each week plus the box-a-week carrotsand I just read that the average American eats 8.8 lbs of carrots a year, but apparently looking at my own numbers I gave all my shareholders 36 lbs each season, um ) um, 3,000 lbs, give or take a thousand.

Ma’am?

3,000 lbs (Give or take a couple thousand)

And is that how many you sold?

Yep (Just tell me I didn’t. Go on, I dare you!)

And what was your price per pound?

$2.50! Except bulk, then it was $1.50Oh yeah, and in the spring when no one else has carrots I sell them for $3.00/lb

So can I just say $2.00?

Sure. (Do I care? Who is using this information anyway? I’m not comfortable with these questions. I need an adult. Sucks that I am the adult. I always thought adults knew these kinds of things.)

Ok, how many pounds of cabbage did you grow?

(Damn cabbage, deer ate what the root maggot left, how much f***ing cabbage did I grow? Stall) Well, a deer ate most of it.

Did you say a bear ate most of your cabbage?

No, a deer. Or maybe several deer. One of my friends shot one of the deer, but the cabbage was still being eaten so I don’t think it was just the one unless he just got the wrong deer. It was his first deer. I didn’t know that or I never would have let him hunt here. He shot his first bear this year, too. But that was somewhere else. And it wasn’t eating my cabbages. I don’t think bear eat cabbage. I’ve never heard of anyone having a bear problem in their cabbage

So how many pounds of cabbage did you produce?

300?

Is that a question?

Would you tell me if it’s the right answer?

Ma’am?

Sorry, yes. 300 lbs.

And is that how much you sold?

Fine, 200 lbs. I sold 200 lbs!

And what happened to the other 100?

The deer ate it.

And how many pounds of turnips did you produce?

(Oh, damn it! I forgot I lied about the turnips. Why did I lie about the turnips? I did plant a few rows of turnipsWell, if I pulled out five bins worth and two of the five were okay to sell and each bin is about 20 lbs then I don’t know) 100 lbs (20×2 is not 100! Where did I learn math? I guess I didn’t really. It bored me. Someone should have told me I would be needing it one day.)

And is that how much you sold?

Sure, why not?

Are you asking?

Sorry, yes, yes. I sold 100 lbs of turnips (I’m a liar. Or maybe I’m not. I forgot all about the salad turnips. Actually it might have been 500 lbs for all I know).

And how much per pound do you sell your turnips for?

$2.50/lb!

Alright, and how many pounds of salad greens did you produce?

(Seriously? Pounds of salad?!? Who weighs their salad by the pound? Oh yeah, me. This would all be a lot easier if I had had a proper scale instead of that little kitchen scale.) Well, I sell salad mix in 6 oz bags for $5/bag and I probably brought an average of 20 bags each week to market since sometimes I had 40 and sometimes I had none so yeah, maybe 20 bags a week for 20 weeks at $5/bag and then heads of lettuce on top of that. Let’s see 40 heads a week for the box-a-week and then 5-10 for the market for about 15 weeks at $2/head

(This feels too much like those math questions I always hated: If Joe and Jane meet at the train station in Italy and take different trains and Joe’s train travels at 50 km/hour going west and Jane’s travels at 80 km/hour going north and then she catches a bus that travels 60 km/hour going southwest and they meet in Paris, how many pounds of turnips will they have produced in the meantime?)

So you made about $2,000 on 6 oz bags of salad mix and about $1350 on heads of lettuce if we say you sold 45 heads each week

(Wow, she’s good) Sure!

And is that all you produced?

Sure.

And was this all your farming income for this year?

Sad isn’t it?

That’s not for me to say.

It’s still pretty sad.

And can I share your answers with the Ministry of Agriculture?

Much good may it do them.

Ma’am?

Sure.

Have a good day ma’am.

You too.

Terri and Amadeus the goat, run Road’s End Vegetable Company and at least one of them can be found each week from June-October at the Oliver Street Market and during the winter at Cariboo Growers’ Co-op. Email her at roads.end.csa@gmail.com or for more about the farm and Amadeus like Road’s End Vegetable Company on facebook. 

 

 

 

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