GO CO-OP! What a wonderful turnout last week for the Annual Meeting—thanks to all of you who were able to attend. This enthusiasm from all our owner-members is exciting.

SWOON! Dayna and Tim—omg what dynamos. In their short term as a co-op owners/volunteers, they systematically learned how everything works, and finding some of our “systems” (i.e. sloppy habits) wanting, have quickly and quietly set things right. They explain everything to newcomers and long-time members alike with clarity and authority. Anna nearly fainted with happiness as she described how they took over and reconfigured the daily receipt tallying system, emptying her days and nights of a huge headache. She showed me the tally sheet yesterday, still breathless with amazement. “Now we have a complete record of everything!” she said. Tim and Dayna have mastered processing produce orders from dock to display, looking like they’re having a heckuva lot of fun, and while I was off galavanting in Oregon they handled the big Saturday milk order seamlessly. Saturday Dayna put Will Christison right to work on the produce order, and he appeared to be more enthusiastic to do chores than any twelve-year-old I’ve ever seen—he’s a keeper. The kicker, though, was when she explained to a smiling person offering his empty milk bottle that if he’s just exchanging he can deduct the posted bottle price from his new bottle of milk on the receipt. My jaw dropped and I couldn’t say anything at all as I realized “oh, so that’s how we do it!”

BOTTLE SYSTEM: Let me take a stab at this now that I’ve half digested it:
1. The posted Twin Brook price includes the price of the milk plus the bottle purchase.
2. If you want to sell the bottle back to the co-op, you can do it during open hours or at 4 p.m. Sundays in exchange for “funny money” which can be used in lieu of cash on your daily purchase or given to small children to buy treats.
3. If you are buying another bottle of milk, turn in your clean empty bottle and deduct the bottle price from your new milk purchase (HG = $2.35, QT = $1.65, PT = $1.45).
(Whew. Does this make sense now? I don’t really buy it—my cute “funny money” idea seems quite superfluous, but at least I feel confident that the bottles are being paid for. I hope we can fill up some of those crates on top of the coolers soon—if we don’t we’ll have to rent an extra storage unit just for those, never mind co-op expansion, and I fear our failure to return bottles might blow our cover on the special delivery system.)

RECYCLE: Aside from the health benefits of glass bottling, the idea is to keep packaging out of landfills (remember our local problem) and avoid manufacture of plastic and cardboard containers. Larry-the-dairyman can’t get enough bottles back so he has to order a whole truck load of new bottles every week. In the three months since we’ve been drinking his milk we’ve accumulated crates for over 300 bottles not returned! Here’s the text of a sign I found posted in front of the Lochmead Farms glass bottled milk display on the cooler at First Alternative Co-op in Corvallis:

“We are having great difficulty replacing our re-usable bottles. Due to this lack of supply, whole milk will no longer be available in merlons. Please know this is of great concern to us and we are giving this issue our utmost attention.” (Merlon? I checked all my dictionaries, including my 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary and Larousse, and there’s no definition suggesting a glass bottle.)

GROWL: That’s bear talk—I noticed Sunday that someone has removed an inch of honey off the top of one of the cute squeezy bears that I brought up from Coos Bay last week. That makes me very sad, like I’ve been attacked! Who would do such a thing???

HUNTERS/GATHERERS NEEDED: The wonderful cranberry juice that I brought from the Bandon farmers for you to sample at the Annual Meeting was very well received. Now the problem is to get it up to our co-op from Oregon. If anyone is traveling to the coast or to the Portland-Beaverton area this summer who would be willing to pick up a few cases, plus another juice product that will be ready in July (a cranberry and blueberry mix) and some of the Vincent family’s own apple juice sweetened dried cranberries, please let me know and I’ll set it up. That would be wonderful! 370-5430
(I think I already have a live one on the hook for a delivery mid-July if there’s room in the car.)

TEAMWORK: As we get more products from the mainland, we need pickups if people are going in that direction anyway and would get a kick out of hunting and gathering:
1. Salumi—I order it on the weekend for a Thursday pickup, so I need to know well in advance if you are planning to be near Edison or are willing to detour up that way. In fact I believe there will be 15 “sticks” waiting for us tomorrow—hint, hint….
2. Pickles and Sauerkraut—The farm/pickle plant is a couple miles south of LaConner and I need to have a couple days notice for the order to be ready.
3. Honey—We have plenty now, but next month we’ll need more. We need a week or so advance notice so the beekeeper can find his glass jars. He might be willing to deliver to the Thursday morning Skagit Wholesale Market behind the Skagit Co-op; otherwise it’ll probably be at the shop over east of Big Lake, which is something of a schlep, but fun.
4. Skagit Fresh juices—Those are picked up a couple blocks from the Skagit Co-op at the NABC office. Easy duty.
5. Locally Grown Tea and Jam from Sakuma—I haven’t got any of that yet, but pickups would be either at the Sakuma Farm Stand north of Burlington or at the Skagit Wholesale Market Thursday mornings 8 – 10 a.m.
6. Skagit River Ranch—We need a case of bacon and some sausages, and perhaps a few pork chops and chickens. The farm is about seven miles east of Sedro Wooley, and the store is only open on Saturdays; you could shop for yourself while you’re there to avoid the co-op markup. If I order ahead I think it can be brought to the Skagit Wholesale Market in Mt. Vernon Thursday mornings. You’d have to bring a hefty cooler and not drive around with it in the car all day because we don’t want the product to loose its freeze!
7. Samish Bay Creamery—We don’t move a lot of their cheese, but the plain gouda is popular. That’s in Bow. Cooler needed.

ISLAND MEAT: I think I might have mentioned in an earlier missive that I’ve been attending the IGFC slaughter here for about three years now, for no particular reason than I randomly decided I want to know where all my food comes from. The guys thought I was weird, but I brought cookies so they tolerated me, calling me “the rabbi” behind my back. Yesterday I took Anna with me to the slaughter at Rob’s farm just for a short time (I’m grooming an apprentice rabbi, apparently). Rob had several lambs—hair sheep, without wool. The remarkable thing is that Rob’s animals love him and trust him so much they go down in complete calm. The farmers all say the best thing about the mobile slaughter unit is that the animals are with their own people on the farm so they don’t have any stress hormones in the meat, not to mention all the other bad things they don’t have because they’re raised on pasture and have happy lives here. Last Thanksgiving I served Rob’s lovely lamb shanks. As the meal began, my grandson asked, “What are we thankful for today?” I didn’t expect the question and he didn’t expect my answer. Right away I told him that everything on the table was grown here on the island and listed the source of items from my garden and from farmers he knows. In particular I described how I had seen this very lamb put down without fear by Rob’s own hand. It was a true celebration that day. We are so lucky to have abundant meat from beautiful, happy, healthy animals grown where we see them grazing in green pastures as we go about our lives.

YAWN: I arranged with Guard to get another forty pounds of burger for our freezer before coming to town this morning to meet Al with our Fresh Breeze milk and cream. I learned that the second day of slaughter—at his dad’s place this time—was going to start at 6 a.m. so the IGFC truck could get the 1:30 ferry. Since I made cookies to make up for my lapse of obligation at Rob’s place, I figured that would be as good a way to start the day as any other, so that’s how I broke into the dawn.

Respectfully submitted,

– e.