Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meet speaker Cathy Lafrenz

Today we are having a little chat with Cathy Lafrenz, also known as Miss Effie to her blog readers and customers in Donahue, Iowa. She has a you-pick flower farm and an on-farm store called the Summer Kitchen where she sells locally made crafts and foods. She also hosts parties on the farm. At the conference, she will be talking about gardening, canning, homestead businesses, and farmer's markets.

When did you move to your homestead?

I moved out here in 1996 ... Cliff had lived here since 1983 or so.

What was the first thing you did, garden or livestock, and why?

Walter the duck
I started gardening the first year. I had always canned but I always lived in apartments. So I was thrilled to have a veggie garden and of course, flowers!! And herbs ... fresh herbs are such a part of my life.

Livestock came in 2002 in the way of chickens ... I started out with 16 and now have close to 100. And ducks!! God's pest control patrol.

What is your favorite part of homesteading?

I love the sense of self-sufficiency. I love knowing that the power can go out and I still have the ability to cook a meal, have some heat and have food in the pantry. I love the ping that canning lids make. I love having hand knit socks .... made out of yarn I spun myself. And my absolute favorite thing ... is an omelet in the spring made from our asparagus, eggs, chives and chevre that I made from local goat milk!! 

Cliff doing an apple cider making demonstration
And as you know, I love to share my lifestyle with others. So the agri-entertainment business works great for me.

What is the toughest part?

Losing animals .... losing a crop .... winters are sometimes hard. For a while ... there was a sense of loneliness .... but FB, blogs ... have made us all closer. And I am seeing more and more people reach for the lifestyle. Some with success .... some without!

What are your plans for the future?

My business has grown a lot and I have had to change the way we live. We have down-sized our veggie gardens and have joined a CSA. Now -- I still have 20 tomatoes and 12-15 pepper plants but I no longer grow green beans, brocolli and cabbage. I have gone to supporting other local farmers so we all have a chance to make a living off the farm.

I would like to teach more. And I would like to have the time to spin more yarn and knit more. And I knit alot ... but not for us. And that is what I really am looking for.

I can't see the business growing anymore physically ..... but we still have lots of ways to grow financially. So I am working on ways to make the "farm" pay for itself.

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