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When brands promote a culture of bigotry

December 24th, 2013 No comments

cracker barrel

Recent comments by reality TV star Phil Robertson have provided yet another opportunity for Americans to learn what is and isn’t protected by the First Amendment, among other things. Here’s what he said:

On vagina and anal sex:
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

On “blacks” of pre-civil-rights-era Louisiana:
They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
[What The Duck? - GQ Magazine - Jan. 2014]

Duck Dynasty’s host A&E promptly suspended Robertson who has made far worse comments. Whether you share his beliefs or not, most people reading this post understand the Constitution protects our choice of speech from government actions, not the consequences from private citizens. That fact hasn’t stopped a contrary perception from being the perennially memetic teaching moment it has become.

Yes America, if it is not obvious, you have the right to be a moron. What is new is how some corporate brands have been willing to embrace and promote bad messages out of a belief they are standing up for the United States Constitution or large groups of customers. The latest example is Tennessee-based Cracker Barrel.

“You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores. And, we apologize for offending you.”

By pledging to keep Duck Dynasty products on their shelves, Cracker Barrel has chosen to use their brand to amplify a culture of bigotry. By further issuing an apology to angry customers who support Robertson’s comments, Cracker Barrel’s actions invested their entire brand into the content of Robertson’s character.

BRAND PROBLEM: The temptation brands have to resist in deciding whether to take sides on the social issues of customers nowadays is assuming the loudness of one message or another is somehow a measure of its morality or the justness of its cause. Another temptation brands have to resist is thinking customers are a monolithic “you” who share beliefs instead of sharing values.

BRAND SOLUTION: Most every successful American brand has a mission statement and expressed values that nearly always reflects the ideas of the kind of America we all want to see. No one would fault a company for choosing to echo their more established values over the angry noise of America working out what it believes along the way.

It’s too bad some brands find themselves with a calibre of leadership that doesn’t simply adhere to the wisdom and values of their own carefully crafted mission statements, but now that corporations are starting to act more like people it’s getting easier to discover just what kind of people they want us to know they are.

A&E TV with shit on itUPDATE 12-27-13: Well, that suspension lasted all of zero episodes. Phil Robertson is back on A&E resonating with ad dollars and America’s heart. Here’s A&E explaining why they changed their minds.

“But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family … a family that America has come to love.”
[A&E Welcomes Phil Robertson Back to 'Duck Dynasty' - The Hollywood Reporter - 12-27-13]

Farm hour: Journey with apples that rock

February 9th, 2013 No comments

apple orchard
Freshly mulched apple trees in the orchard.

The apple compost pile was loaded with fat earthworms, so Vince had us use the rake instead of the shovel to bin it up and move it to the apple trees.

apple rockWe had just enough for the ten trees. The compost looks good, but I’m sure our next batch will be even better now that we’re able to process the carbon inputs with the chipper.

Speaking of inputs, I treated the orchard to Journey’s “Anytime” from their Infinity album through this wireless speaker Vince picked up.

Journey is not on the OMRI list of approved organic inputs for apples, but the official entry to the USDA reads: “This is how we make them rock.”

Living green: moonshine made the old timey way

February 6th, 2013 No comments

This recently aired WCTE Living Green segment was filmed last summer and shows you how we make our award winning 105 proof authentic Tennessee moonshine on Short Mountain the old timey way.

The Tennessean has a nice story on the five courses of amazing Southern cuisine from Loveless Cafe that our moonshine will be paired with at Manhattan’s prestigious James Beard House this Valentine’s Day.

Farm hour: soil organics

January 25th, 2013 No comments

the orchard
a view of the organic orchard on the farm in Woodbury, Tennessee (Cannon County)

Ken asked me a little suspiciously where I got the soil samples I had him test. He said he hasn’t seen soil that good anywhere around here, and the organic matter for the farm soil is off the charts. It was low in potassium and magnesium.

That was great to hear, but it makes me want to do another test to be sure. My best guess is that the sloped field may have gotten over a 100 years or more of heavy leaf matter from nearby oak, maple and hickory trees. The soil I submitted was blackish in color with dark gray clay. Ken said it looked like someone dumped river bottom soil from a Mid West cornfield.

Another thing he saw was over the top cation exchange capacity. Normally he sees a range of 6-15 for Cannon County farms. We had a 36. It’s a great place to start for some very happy organic apples and blueberries.

Farm hours:

  • completing application for USDA Organic Certification
  • setting up a temporary greenhouse
  • setting up a cistern on the barn
  • cleaning the barn
  • turning the strip crop sections in field 3 and sourcing organic clover and rye cover crops

Farm hour: planning the organic garden

December 14th, 2012 No comments

Spring planning

Here’s what the garden looks like on paper as it goes from an idea to the planning stages: how much to plant, when to plant, where to plant and what our yields should be.

We’re in a multi-year process of becoming a USDA Certified Organic farm. One of the requirements to be certified organic by the USDA is documenting your source for organic plant and seed stock. We ordered and received our seed stock from Heirloom Seeds. Here’s what we’re planting so far, and any advice on keeping them healthy is welcome:

  • Roma tomatoes
  • Giant Beefsteak tomatoes
  • Kellogg’s Breakfast tomatoes
  • Lemon Drop tomatoes
  • Anaheim peppers
  • Serrano peppers
  • California Wonder peppers
  • Orange Bell peppers
  • Sweet Pickle peppers
  • Beaver Dam peppers
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Pepperoncini peppers
  • Little Finger carrots
  • Agate (Edamame) soybeans
  • Shirofumi (Edamame) soybeans
  • Giant Winter spinach

Our organic apple orchard and blueberries are now planted and protected from deer and the compost operation now chugging along. The next big project that will start consuming our farm hours leading up to Spring will be constructing a large cold frame system or a very small green house to get a needed early start on planting.

Protecting apple trees from deer

December 3rd, 2012 5 comments

deer nibble

Tim warned me it was just a matter of time before the cute deer became a nuisance. The tips of this winesap (W4) are all nibbled by deer.

I’ve been doing a lot online reading to get ready for this.

haloCage: I’m testing fencing one tree after reading about it and determining it’s probably the most fail safe solution. The problem with it is the cost, labor (work adds up per tree) and the way it looks. But it works. I placed 5 feet tall fence about 2 feet above the ground giving me 7 feet of protection.

Contraptions: The next thing I found was something that I still want to try. It’s a solar powered water sprayer that uses infrared motion senors to detect animals and then sprays a burst of water. It’s expensive, but the other problem I see with this and the version that uses a hose is that they can freeze in the Winter.

Scents: This seemed like the most ridiculous category consisting of people swearing by sprinkling human hair, urinating, hanging bags of soap or dirty clothes in the trees. People swear by them probably up until the have to collect this stuff.

Sprays: There are all kinds of sprays, but I’m limited to organic ones. There are plenty of them, but most only last a couple weeks. It’s easy to apply, and it’s also cheaper to make your own. So that’s what I did. I just mixed the following ingredients and used a hand-held sprayer to coat the trees and the blueberry bushes. I’ll probably do it regularly and see how it goes.

  • 3 gallons of water
  • 5 tablespoons of ground cayenne pepper
  • 4 eggs whites

Smokehouse: I’m not giving up on this option. We’d have plenty of turkey and venison.

UPDATE 12-6-12: It rained the day after the first application and I saw fresh damage by deer to two more trees. It looks like we’re going to cage them.

UPDATE 12-10-12: After finding significant evidence of damage the day or two after application of the cayenne pepper concoction, including one of several damaged blueberry bushes literally ripped from the ground, we caged all the apple trees and purchased a solar-powered electric fence for the blueberries.

My thinking on scents and taste deterents is that consumers are easily tempted to want to out smart deer with these products, but if you are serious about protecting your orchard you’ll fence your trees and bushes. So, do it right the first time.

Farm hour: quantifying what’s possible

October 30th, 2012 No comments

leaf harvest
One of three tarp loads of oak, maple, hickory and walnut leaves we gathered up for the orchard compost.

composting leavesThe orchard “mulchery” is set up. It’s 20 feet long, five feet wide and about 4 feet tall. If half the space is used, that should be 200 cubic feet of mulch. We added about 80 cubic feet of compacted, harvested leaves to use throughout the winter and started a pile with some of them today in the middle bin.

To start, I used a lot of the leaves, 15 gallons of cow manure from the neighbor’s field, grass clippings from today’s upper field mowing and about 8 gallons of water.

Water is going to be an issue until I can figure out an easier way to get it to the orchard. By the time my two five gallon buckets got there, I had lost about 4 gallons to sloshing.

upper fieldWhat’s Possible? I measured the space and determined if we use the entire space for blueberry bushes and apple trees, we’re looking at around 175 blueberry bushes and 32 apple trees. Using non-organic yields, the potential looks like this:

  • Apple:10-20 bushels per tree is 320-640 bushels of apples, 960-3200 gallons of cider or 13,440-26,880 lbs. of apples
  • Blueberries: 15 lbs. per bush is 2,625 lbs. of berries
  • Market: at current market value: $26,000 – $47,000

What’s Practical? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. We have about an hour of daylight each night and two weekend days of winter farm hours. We can’t eat all that, and we probably can’t process all that for others. Can we do this?

We’re thinking of starting with 8 apple trees and 10 blueberry bushes, but I’m mulching as though we’re doing it all.

Farm hour: garden and orchard chores

October 22nd, 2012 No comments

orchard chores

Vince got the chain saw and took down this dead tree in the upper field. This and a broken branch from the pregnant cedar became firewood. The smaller branches are in a pile to be composted.

The plantable orchard space is growing with every farm hour. It took maybe 30 minutes to get this tree out of the way. Thirty minutes here. Thirty minutes there – adds up to over 40 cubic feet of leaf and grass matter and 15 gallons of seasoned manure from the barn in the garden compost.

We can almost see the entire field as we begin mowing areas from where we cleared rocks and hidden tree branches. Then there’s starting the orchard compost, setting up rain barrels, getting some Shiitake mushroom logs going… the months away are small chores for now.

Categories: farm, food, values Tags: , , ,

Farm hour: harvesting leaf mulch

October 19th, 2012 No comments

leaf mulchThis is one Fall and Winter chore I think will really pay off no matter what we decide to plant in the orchard.

Mulching.

We’re going to need lots of good mulch, and I think we might have enough ingredients on the farm. I’m not really sure, but each evening farm hour gets us closer.

I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around how I can possibly produce as much mulch as we’re going to need for the garden and orchard, and then I found gold.

This evening’s haul was a dark, nicely decayed, heavy leaf matter raked from under some huge oak, hickory and maple trees that grow in the upper field fence line. There is no telling how much of this is here.

Categories: farm, food, life, values Tags: , , ,

Short Mountain Distillery launches Apple Pie Moonshine

October 16th, 2012 3 comments

Short Mountain Distillery’s official launch of our Apple Pie Moonshine is Saturday November 10, 2012 at the Still House 9am – 4pm.

Be sure to bring your favorite lawn chair and warm jacket and enjoy a day of mule wagon rides, lite lunch served by The Blue Porch and music from the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. The crew from Hazard Life will also be here with replicas of the entire Dukes of Hazard fleet.

Come join us for free moonshine tastings as well as an opportunity to purchase some of the first bottles of Short Mountain Apple Pie Moonshine!

WINTER SCHEDULE ANNOUNCEMENT: Beginning Nov. 10, Short Mountain Distillery will begin our winter schedule with extended holiday store hours. From Nov. 10, 2012 – March 20, 2013, tours are limited to scheduled charter buses. Our store hours will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.