Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tortuga, Teeth and Tractors

 Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

Fairy, newly painted and ready for spring.
So much for going on hiatus as I blabbed about last time on Tortuga Thursday. Life on Tortuga Flats Farm never really takes a hiatus even if the farm part of life slows down in the winter. When some events started unfolding, I remembered what I promised back when I started this blog and decided I better post. Here's a piece of what I said:

What do you do for retirement when the main financial contributor to the household has been out of work for three of the last five years - thanks to the not quite a depression of the last several years - and your retirement accounts have been cut in half due to the same state of affairs? … Two years ago, in the midst of wondering what the last half of our life would be like, my son, Lance, called and proposed we join forces, create our own little commune. … You'll hear all about our trials and misfires and what works. Maybe my glimpse into retiring with nothing in the bank but love will inspire or scare others in the same boat. …Oh by the way, the retiring part is my husband. I will still be toiling away at my writing career.
With that in mind, here's what's new and how we are managing.
Half of a tooth fell away. I knew without going to the dentist I would need a cap. Unfortunately, the Indian Medical Center does not do caps. I can get cleaning, check ups and fillings but no serious work. A day later, I got a coupon in the mail for a free checkup and X-ray at a Chino Valley dentist. Free is good. As I suspected, I need a cap to the tune of about $1200. There are interest free payment plans but it would still cost $100 a month. If I take out their insurance, I can save $200. Forget about it...
The tractor needs fixing. The estimate for that work is right at $1000.
Bulbs are up and flowered a month early.
Keep in mind, our pickle business is not yet off the ground, but we are so confident about our product that our hopes are positive. We have pickles piled up and although we have a few customers without even trying, we aren't in a position to start the income flowing yet. We did get some of the necessary registrations and fees taken care of, but there are more in order to do the Farmers' Markets. Takes money to make money is not just a saying. We have to spread out the expense. Our goal is to get going on the markets by the end of this summer.
And speaking of our pickles and relish, the reviews are astounding. Which is how we got some customers. We asked a few people to do some taste testing for us, and they are now insisting on buying jars. One guy buys a half case at a time of the pickles. I've gotten some great ideas on how to use our relish. This relish is not just for dogs and burgers. One man makes to die for scrambled eggs with it. Another person always puts it on roast beef sandwiches. I'm so anxious to get out to the markets. 
Garlic is much larger than this time last year.
So seeds are ordered, the field is mapped out for planting and now we wait for warmth. We are so lucky to be able to keep on heading for our goal. It doesn't have to be easy, just worth it. I have another book coming out soon, I can work in the sunshine and hang with the family for mutually beneficial activities. Life is good.
Tomorrow, the Old Farmers Almanac, 2014, is due in the mail. Sure hope it says the last frost will be earlier than usual because we are anxious to get started.


  1. Sounds like you used your creativity and found a way to make this part of your journey fun. I'd love to taste your pickles. I've been out of work myself for the last seven months and struggling to make money writing.

    1. It's a tough road, Debra, so hope the writing goes well for you. If you're anywhere near northern AZ, you'll have to catch us at a farmers market.

  2. What a creative venture. I would love to try your pickles and relish, sounds yummy. Best of luck with the business and with your writing!

    1. Thank you, Alicia. Hopefully, you'll be able to some day.