This time on the Steadcast: business networking for homesteaders and small farms featuring an interview with Lynda Cink and Brian Swanson of LnB Connectors, screw-ups of the week, and the struggle of keeping a professsional wardrobe in a Tiny House.
Welcome to Season 2 Episode 4 of The ‘Steadcast, the homestead and farmstead podcast you listen in-stead of making the mistakes yourself. As always, this is Jason of Gray Area Farm.
Before we go into the networking topic, let’s get through the updates and screw-ups of the week.
How to Store Clothes in a Tiny House For Professionals.
We’ve been fitting out Barn 2.0 so we can move our storage and utility stuff in there started this week. We bought braces to secure the additional cabinets that we rescued from the school’s remodel to the wall so they don’t tip over or whatnot since it’s a dirt and rock floor in there. Then we can start moving stuff like our storage clothes and such in there. That’ll be the biggest improvement to our day-to-day lives yet. The Yuugest struggle for Tiny House livers… and the rest of the person, not just the liver… their spleen too, I guess… is storage of things like clothes when you are a busy professional on the move like Tera Lynn.
Working on the farm and doing writing? I can go full Columbo and rock out my khakis, maybe even one of the two polos I still own if I’m really dressing up for an event like a business networking outing. But as a school administration type, supposedly there’s some kind of cultural expectation that Tera Lynn not go to work in one of three different outlets each day. I don’t really get it, but she’s quite insistent this expectation exists. But in a Tiny, and I’ve read the same from the RV Full Timers sites, it is a real struggle to store clothes in such a way you can choose something to wear and not wrinkle the everliving crap out stuff. Because also in a tiny, there’s noplace to store an ironing board. We get to do the old college trick of laying out an ironing pad on the kitchen slash dining room slash office table.
Try Using the Storage Space Under the Bed — But Learn From Our Mistakes About “Clothes Storage Bag” Fails
We’ve solved that for the most part by storing stuff under the master bed, with any backstock, if you want to call it, has been at the storage unit. But every single clothes storage bag we’ve tried that fits under the bed has ripped to shreds within a week. This has been a terrible thorn in Tera Lynn’s side, so it’s been very exciting to know that within days that will be solved.
But since it’s Gray Area Farm, NOTHING can go exactly to plan. The kids were rough-housing and playing, as kids are wont to do. One of them – they instituted their kid mafia Omerta oath so we can’t figure out who exactly did this to us – slammed the barn side door with the wind SO HARD that they broke the door jam at the latch. So now it only stays closed if it’s deadbolted. So there’s another thing to put on the list to fix around here.
Hacking the Chickshaw
We purchased a whole mess of new chicks a few months ago, and we found our very first tiny pullet egg from one of them yesterday! So that’s awesome that they’re going to start laying for us here and keeping up their end of the deal.
I have a new Pasture Raised Life column coming out in a couple days describing how much “the first egg” costs and why $2 a dozen eggs from a neighbor with chickens is just about the worst thing ever. But where does the screw-up come in? We’re still purely free-ranging these gals, about a hundred yards from where they’re supposed to be. And the Chickshaws we built for them based on designs we got from Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture still don’t have wheels. The Chickshaw is a great concept and a great design, and god love Justin for putting it out, because it’s an ingenious plan. But the wheels he uses are basically just not available for any reasonable price. Like people want 60 bucks a wheel for these things now. No. Just… no. But now that they’re laying, and with all the feral dog pack attacks going on in El Paso County, we need to get these guys behind the electric fencing we bought and installed for them right the heck now. So we’re looking at hacking the chickshaw by putting second hand bicycle wheels on them instead. Justin Rhodes strongly recommends against that, but sorry bro, I’m not paying $240 for the fancy plastic wheels.
We *REALLY* Don’t Want to Think About Next Year’s CSA Yet
We received our first call about next season’s CSA, off our listing at LocalHarvest. If you’re out of the area and looking for a CSA – community supported agriculture – farm to be part of, LocalHarvest is probably your first place to look. And then look them up on social media or at the farmers markets to see if their growing practices and scale are what you’re looking for. Remember, when we’re talking local food and regenerative practices, friends don’t let friends use Bountiful Baskets. If that’s all you have and you want to get good practice at using bulk veggies, then fine. But that is not a long term option. Anyway, where’s the ‘screwup’ there? The fact that we have not even started to think about plans for next season. Will we even have a CSA? I mean goodness, between the presidential election and Deutche Bank looking like it’s gonna pull a Lehman Weekend here, are we even going to have an economy of any kind next season? Sorry, let me adjust my tin foil hat here, it’s getting in the way of the mic…
Business Networking for Small Farms and Homesteads — Yes, It Can and Should Be Part of Your Marketing
Most people think that business networking – chamber of commerce meetings, BNI, leads groups – are all for folks like Edward Jones advisors, real estate agents, and your multi-level-marketing types. And sure, I got involved in my PEPNet Friday morning group that I talk about here from time to time because I had been in there as the Edward Jones kid. None of the groups in this area had small farms or much of anything in the homesteading cottage industry space. So I went on a whim to start talking about the eggs and the Veggie Season Pass CSA. And it worked like a CHARM. But I was still the only one there. Sure a beekeeper just recently started in PEPNet, basically inspired by me being there.
When I talked to other local farms about things I’m up to, they say “well, that’s cool, you’re lucky to have those contacts.” I’m trying to tell them that everyone can get these contacts. Everyone can join a BNI or one of the many spin off groups to pitch their products, sell eggs and veggies, and help spread the word that local small scale ag is just as much a normal business and normal business people (sometimes) as the local real estate lady or auto repair guy. But it is like pulling teeth to get some of the other local farmers to even try. They don’t have time. That’s not them. It won’t work for their personality style.
That’s why we’re going to talk here in a second with Brian Swsanson and Lynda Cink of LnB Connectors, a business networking advisory and hosting group here in the Pikes Peak region. Have a listen to hear the interview, and if you’re in the Pikes Peak Region (or a big SciFi or popular culture fan and willing to travel) check out their GalaxyFest event in February.