Thinking about the current virus panic, any of us who grew up on a farm know that we always planned ahead and made room for sudden changes. The weather gave us enough surprises. Illnesses were a problem. WWII and the Korean War tightened supply lines. So we did what we could to be self sufficient — and you never knew when that would pay off exponentially, as the pandemic folks say.

So, to stay ready, it was a priority at our place to stock the freezer, canned fruits and veggies, and keep the firewood stack always more than a cord. Mom baked bread (taught me how too). The flour bin always had 50 pounds in it. We protected our water sources.

We bought coffee beans in bulk. We grew potatoes, corn, strawberries, pears (main crop), and all manners of vegetables. We bartered for milk and cheese with the farmer across the creek. We always had twenty or more chickens, for eggs and meat. We had a couple of dozen, or more, rabbits. We partnered with another family on beef and occasionally raised a lamb or two.

Dad had a day job as a carpenter, he and we kids worked our little farm together. Then Dad got sick in the late spring of 1951 — some kind of walking pneumonia. He was up and down for six weeks. But we never missed a meal.

And we never had a sanitation issue. You see, we never, ever threw away last year’s Sears and “Monkey” Wards catalogs.

Farming is a family thing

We attended the Shavano Conservation District annual meeting and barbecue last Saturday night. It was likely the last public sort of gathering we’ll see around here for a while, with this COVID-19 messing everything up. One of the heartening things about the meet up was the fact that there were four generations of the Frigetto family attending.

Leading the clan were Gedo and Beulah who came to the Montrose area to raise sugar beets in the late 1940s. Also there was their son Gary and his wife Joni. Gary and Joni’s two sons, Justin and the award recipient Jordan plus their wives Kareen and Jesyka were there. Also at the table were Justin and Kareen’s children, Kayren, and Cade, as well as Jordan and Jesyka’s two youngsters, Allie and Hayden.

They were all on hand as 33-year-old Jordan was named SCD Farmer of the Year (see nearby story).

Oh my, the Walmart is out of food. Whatever shall we do ...

Montrose resident Amanda Garcia posted this on Facebook a couple of days ago. I thought you would want to see it if you are not finding food in the stores.

“Need milk or cheese? Go to Rockin’ W in Olathe. Homestead Meat in Delta and Ouray Meat and Cheese in Ouray have quality meat. Worried about veggies? Go to Camelot Gardens to get seed and fertilizer to grow your own. Don’t want to do that? Buy from DeVries, Mattics or others this summer. All the food you could ever need is produced locally, people.”

“Soap? Yes, that can be purchased from Cimarron Creek Essentials.

“These are all local companies.”

Exactly, Amanda.

Remote functionality

Colorado Ag Commissioner Kate Greenberg has asked the whole ag department staff to work remotely for the next couple of weeks. This is probably a good thing given the virus scare and all. But for most of us who interface with the department regularly it means business as usual. Everyone will be working by email and phone, which is what we have done everyday. I have met only one ag department employee in person. That would be Deputy Commissioner Steve Silverman. We met at the Wool Growers meeting last summer. We email now.

Greenberg, in her announcement this week, said the department’s offices would be open but most contact would be electronic as opposed to in person. We may find out we don’t need quite that much office space at the capital after all.

Hemp seed certification

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) has announced that it is accepting applications for new hemp seed varieties. The research to improve industrial hemp seed to produce better plants, and in some cases, plants that will produce so little THC that it will be insignificant. I asked Rick Novak, the director of seed programs for the CDA, if anyone has developed that “holy grail” of hemp seeds.

“I believe that a lot of people are looking for it, but I haven’t seen a seed yet,” he said Monday morning.

A company in Kentucky claimed to have developed a strain without THC in 2019. But the company went into bankruptcy and nothing has been said about their alleged discovery lately.

The seed certification program is being done through a partnership involving the CDA, CSU Seed Programs, the Colorado Seed Growers Association (CSGA). New applications must be submitted to the CDA by April 3 to be eligible for crop tests this year.

According to the CDA, hemp seed certification in Colorado is a multi-step process in which CSGA and CDA each have specific roles. The CSGA will determine if a particular hemp variety meets the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies’ national genetic uniformity/stability standards. As Colorado’s industrial hemp regulatory agency, the CDA is responsible for verification of THC levels meeting USDA standards for industrial hemp. The THC content standard remains .3%.

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