[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
Ruminations - essays on the farming life at frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html
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