[Market-farming] big day yesterday - had our organic inspection

KAKerby at aol.com KAKerby at aol.com
Thu Aug 2 12:22:49 EDT 2012

We had our organic inspection yesterday.  We'd had plenty of  scheduling 
notice - learned two weeks prior that the day would be  yesterday.  So we had 
plenty of time to get stuff ready.  I wasn't  terribly nervous, but sorta 
nervous.  I told my husband that if I started  chattering like a fool, to kick 
me or something.
By quirk of staffing, my inspector yesterday had also been my reviewer  
until very recently.  The WSDA Organic office had someone in their  office move 
on, so by luck of the draw my reviewer became my inspector  (and now 
someone else is my reviewer).  So I got to meet her after all my  conversations 
with her as my reviewer.  Nice gal.  She also brought  along someone named 
from one of the other WSDA organic offices, to get some  practice doing 
non-ruminant certifications.  It was sort of comical  watching them go back and 
forth, debating this-or-that piece of  certification philosophy.  Such as, why 
clipping chicken primary flight  feathers isn't a violation of the NOP 
standards, but ringing a pig's nose would  be.  We had done the former, but not 
the latter.  It also turned out  that my inspector "likes to chat" just about 
as much as I do, so we got along  famously.  My husband didn't have to kick 
me even once.
They were here for about four hours, which is about what we expected.   
Summary - our rental hayfield and pasture passed with flying  colors.  Our pigs 
passed with mostly flying colors, but they want to see  what sorts of 
shelter the pigs will have this winter.  We took down last  year's winter shelter 
once the trees leafed out, so right now they just have  forest as shelter.  
We acknowledged that we give them more substantial  shelter in winter, but 
they want to see it.  They also want to see better  rodent control measures, 
since the chicken-yard cats stay with the chickens and  don't patrol in the 
pig area.  And finally, they want the chickens/rabbits  to have "more" 
sunshine than what they have now.  There was some  philosophical disagreement on 
that point.  The chicken shelter roofing  extends over the majority of the 
chicken/rabbit exercise area to provide  protection from aerial predators.  
So they couldn't really consider that  the chickens and rabbits had access 
to the "outside" even though  the shelter has no walls and sunshine comes 
pouring in through the open  southern end.  So we're going to extend the fenced 
area to include a  yard covered with bird netting rather than a solid 
cover.  They said that  would almost certainly be sufficient, but that our new 
reviewer would have to  give the final OK.  The inspector was funny - she kept 
saying "OK, I have  to take off my reviewer hat, and put on my inspector 
hat, and tell you that your  new reviewer has the final say-so.  I am just her 
eyes and ears now."   But we understood what she was getting at.
So, the much-dreaded inspection has come and gone.  Now I know exactly  
where to focus my attention to tweak the few items still on the list, for those 
 parts of the farm we wanted to certify this year.  More importantly, now I 
 have a much better idea of how the certification process will go for those 
parts  of the farm that we planned to add to our certification next year.  
I had  told myself that I was going to take today off, but my head is 
already full of  "want to go take care of this or take care of that, and get 
moving on  such-and-such".  Alas, the perils of being a Type A personality.   
Bottom line, if anyone is considering going through this process, I'd say go 
for  it.  Ours was apparently one of the more complicated applications they've 
 had in awhile, because we hit all three categories - ruminants, 
non-ruminants  and crop production.  Lots of paperwork, true, and quite a bit of  
back-and-forth between the details and the "big picture".  But I have to  say, 
99% of it was a very good mental exercise and/or new  documentation habits, 
for all the different aspects of our management  practices.  My one "I'd do 
it differently next time"???  My gosh, do  this in winter!  We didn't get 
started on this until March, and we were WAY  too busy to be messing with this 
stuff during the growing season.  Some of  our production suffered as a 
result.  But now we know.  As soon  as things shut down for the year, we'll be 
working on our 2013  certification.
As someone on this list said earlier this year, Go Team!  I'm glad to  be 
another step towards being on that team.
Kathryn Kerby, who might start wearing a "Go O!" t-shirt
Snohomish, WA
Ruminations - essays on the farming life at  frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html
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