The Holiday Spirit

Tired of seeing of the news on Syrian refugees and Paris terrorist attacks? Me, too. Tired of Presidential debates in a non-election year? Me, too.  Already seeing Christmas TV ads and wondering how you’re going to get everything done? Me, too. Take a deep breath, slow down, and consider these 2 suggestions:

  1. Visit a local Christmas tree farm.
  2. Take a stroll at a holiday farmer’s market.

There’s no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to visit a local tree farm. We visited Schreppler’s Fir Tree Acres in Magnolia, DE recently and I’m so glad we did. The smell of pine and intense green color surrounded us. Chance loved playing hide-and-go-seek in between the trees and all of sudden we were singing Jingle Bells. Many have Christmas shops with decorations, greenery, holly, and wreaths. But you don’t have to buy a thing-getting in the spirit is free! Find a tree farm near you in this guide from Delaware Dept. of Agriculture.

How about a stroll at a holiday farmer’s market this season? Little Wagon Produce will be a vendor at 2 upcoming local markets:

  • Friday, Nov. 20 – Milton “Harvest Market”, Noon-4pm, on the grounds of Dogfish Brewery. Check out this article in the Cape Gazette for more info. Dogs welcome!
  • Saturday, Nov. 21 – Milford Riverwalk 2nd Annual Fall Market, 10am2pm, downtown Milford. Check out this article in Delmarva Life.

You can “buy local” for Christmas gifts, local produce, seasonal decorations, jewelry, baked goods and more while enjoying Christmas music in the background. See my previous post for what Little Wagon Produce will be offering. Downtown Milford is especially a great place to mingle where local residents drink coffee, hug, smile, and fellowship. There’s no entry fee. Just come enjoy the friendly atmosphere and get in the holiday spirit at the same time!

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In Memory-Ruth Ann Messick

In Memory of Ruth Ann Messick (Mom-Mom)

Feb. 14, 1931 ~ Sept. 9, 2015

Ruth Ann (Vincent) Messick was born on Valentine’s Day, 1931 to the late Ruth Adams Vincent and Hugh Vincent. She moved around a lot as a child, as her parents ran several country stores and a gas station (such as Andrewville store). They settled in Farmington in 1948. Mom-mom was 17 years old. On April 29, 1951 she married Robert E. Messick. Mom-Mom was 20 years old. The family of all R’s, Robert & Ruth Ann had 3 girls-Rebecca, Rita, & Rochelle in 1953, 1955, & 1960 respectively. But the real fun began when the 1st of 8 grandkids was born, my brother Breck, in 1973. The last, Lauren, was born in 1990.

To me, Mom-Mom was the conductor. We were all just members of her band. I picture her now, sitting in the kitchen on the phone, checking in on everyone. She would make a to-do list everyday for her and Pop-Pop. That to-do list would consist of sending off daily birthday cards, writing letters, cooking a pot roast for one of us for dinner, taking a newspaper to a friend, or helping one of her grandchildren. Of course, one of her favorite things to do was to rush off to a yard sale or auction. She collected DE church plates, DE glass, railroad insulators, strawberry tickets, oil lanterns, Dionne quintuplets memorabilia, DE postcards, and Farmington history. One time she said to me, “Well, you have to collect something, Christy. What’s it gonna be?”. She loved all things related to Greenwood Alumni and 4-H. Her basement is a testimony to Peach Blossom 4-H Club with many old pictures of club members spanning 40 years. She was always working on something-sewing for dress revue, a place setting for favorite foods, window displays, floats, and typing project books.

Her mind and thoughts were always with her grandkids. She was always ready to go, go, go with us. Trips to D.C., New York City, the cottage at the beach, plus ball games, proms, graduations, 4-H events, college days, weddings, and continuing the celebration with 5 great-grandchildren. But as I tried to dig out old pictures of Mom-Mom, I couldn’t find many. I have a ton with Pop-Pop but Mom-Mom was always behind the camera. However, in my box I did have a ton of letters from her. They mean more to me than a picture because in her notes she showed me her love, empathy, and concern. In a world where our noses tend to be stuck in our cell phones and a personal letter is an artifact, I have these snapshots in time from a grandmother with a ton of other interests who took 5 minutes to think about me.

But what I’ll miss most are the phone calls. She was the first one to call me after my wedding to say “We had so much fun. We love Scott. Don’t worry about anything here. Have fun on your honeymoon”. And she was the first to call after my husband’s Mom passed and said, “We loved her, too. How can we help you and Scott?”.

I’m sure each grandchild has a ton of their own memories. For me, she’s the reason I’m a Democrat and why I love Delaware history. She took me to Pea Patch Island, Patty Cannon House, and Woodland Ferry growing up. She’s the reason why I have a lead foot and speed too much. She’s the reason I love antiques and a really good yard sale. She’s also the reason I boss my husband around way too much, just like she did Pop-Pop. And she’s the reason why I can’t keep my hands still.

For Pop-Pop I picked the word devoted. For Mom-Mom, I picked the word hands-on. She was certainly a hands-on grandmother. For Pop-Pop, I said I would teach my boy how to give a really big bear hug. For Mom-Mom, I’ll teach him how to take 5 minutes out of his day to call a neighbor or write a thank you note. I thank God that she’s reunited with Pop-Pop in heaven. Rest in Peace, Mom-Mom Ruth.

Messicks w Joyce at Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal Dinner-September 21, 2012 Joyce Wright in center Pop-Pop & Mom-Mom Messick on far right

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At our wedding, after the anniversary dance, which they won. Mom-Mom & Pop-Pop Messick in center.

Chance-newborn

August 31, 2014. Holding Chance.

Keeping It Simple-Top Questions this Season

Little Wagon Produce has been in business over 25 years. That’s a lot of time to reminisce and observe how customer preferences and questions change over the years. One transition we’ve seen is the way in which customers want their produce. For example, many non-locals want really small produce, especially when it comes to yellow and green squash.They want it little, before its even matured. This is challenging because it doesn’t keep well in the heat. Our locals usually want the exact opposite so we try to provide both options. I’m not sure why the preference for smaller. It doesn’t seem to taste as good to me and honestly, you get less for your money!

We also get a lot of questions on a daily basis. Customers want to know what’s in the field behind the stand. Mom explains the difference between soybeans, field corn, and sweet corn. At one time we even had a jar with shelled field corn and soybeans so we could show the difference. More and more customers are becoming removed from their food. They have never grown a garden or picked produce. But the questions are getting more complex. They may have read an article on GMO’s or the advantages of buying organic, but they have NO IDEA the physical effort it takes to grow, cultivate, and pick produce, especially corn, and even carry a full basket of corn. Farmer Dan even has carparl tunnel in his hands from pulling sweet corn so much. The consistent routine of twisting an ear off the stalk has given him much pain in his arm and elbow.

But just to give you some insight, here are a few customer questions from this season:

5. How many flowers are in a 6 pack? Yes, seriously, a customer really asked this.

4. Do we sell fishing poles? Uh, no. But maybe we should?

3. Is a green tomato ripe? No, a green tomato is not ripe. A red tomato is ripe. I still don’t think the customer understood.

2. Is our produce organic? No. Farmer Dan has a license to apply chemicals. He does so sparingly. Chemicals are very expensive so we do not waste them. A fellow farmer from Maryland wrote an excellent blog about how “Spraying isn’t Dousing“.

1.Is our sweet corn GMO? No. Although GMO sweet corn seed is available now, we have not tried it yet. Will we in the future? Possibly, if it yields well, has the same supersweet taste, and minimizes how many chemicals we spray topically. The customer shook his head and was not satisfied. His comment was, “It is GMO. How else do you get the bi-color (yellow and white) corn?”. Questions like this are getting harder to answer and the answer is not simple. Farmer Dan taught us that the customer is always right, but in this case, he was wrong. I’ll tell you more in my next blog…

As you can see from above, the questions vary tremendously. Some simple, some complex. There are many times where the markets are busy, the heat oppressive and questions are just too much. But Mom and Dad still go out of their way to be polite and try to educate them as much as possible. Our answers are simple. We tell the truth about our practices. We do not believe in false marketing and would never say we are organic just to attract customers. And we will never advertise that we are “GMO-free” just to attract more business.

Seeing how Mom and Dad treat customers with respect and tell them the truth taught us a lot growing up. It created a loyal, respectful business that our family is proud of. Our story never gets old. We had too much produce in our garden so we put out a wagon and an honor box. It grew from there. It’s that simple. We want to share our food and knowledge with you. So even as customer fads come and go, Little Wagon Produce will be answering your questions another 25 years from now. God willing.

Happy First Father’s Day!

This Sunday will mark Farmer Dan’s 42nd Father’s Day. Hopefully we can celebrate him and all the awesome Dad’s  in our family. But there’s a new “Dad” in town. It’s his first and we thank him for everything he does for us, which includes singing, changing dirty diapers occasionally, big hugs, naps in his lap, running to the pharmacy constantly, making bottles, and taking over for Mommy when the crying won’t stop! We love you! Happy 1st Father’s Day!

Easter Egg Hunting with Daddy

Easter Egg Hunting with Daddy!

I wanna be just like Daddy

I wanna be just like Daddy when I grow up!

Naps in Daddy's lap

Naps in Daddy’s lap

Getting started early! Riding a sheep!

Giddy Up Daddy!

Daddy bought me a pool for a summer!!?!

Daddy bought me a new pool for summer!!?!

Daddy takes me to daycare every morning. ♥

Love to be with Daddy. He takes me to daycare every morning. ♥

My “Chance” to Take a Break

I haven’t blogged since July. The past 2 years have been an emotional roller coaster. The high’s have been amazing-getting married, buying a house and small farm. The low’s have been brutal-losing Scott’s mom, experiencing a miscarriage, and losing my grandfather. So it was long over due when my “Chance” to take a break finally came. Words can’t describe him so I won’t even try. I’ll give you pictures instead.

Chance Daniel Wright

August 30, 2014

5lbs., 12 oz., 20.5 in. long

1st picture taken

1st picture taken

All 3 of us

All 3 of us

1 week old

1 week old

1 month old

1 month old-September 2014

2 months old

2 months old-October 2014

 

3 months old

3 months old-November 2014

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Soon to come-1st Christmas

 

The Man We All Called Pop-Pop Bob

Everyone who knew him, loved him. He was so personable, loving, and outgoing. He smiled all the time. He loved his community, baseball, church, fire hall, 4-H, the DE State Fair, and family. But above all, he loved his grandkids. For almost 35 years, he was a second dad to me. I loved to hear him talk about growing up in Hickman, making scrapple with his dad, and his time working on base.

Even though he wasn’t a farmer, Pop-Pop had a love for agriculture and farm crops. This stemmed from his dad (Floyd Messick), owning a produce stand in Hickman and driving truck crops to the city with Mom-Mom’s dad (Hugh Vincent). This may help explain Pop-Pop’s role as Superintendent of the Farm Products building at the DE State Fair each year. One of the ways I connected with him more recently was through the Milford Farmer’s Market. For the past 10 years, he showed up on Saturday morning in Milford to help my Mom sell produce. He would sit in a chair in the back and cup vegetables, while customers sat with him. He loved the conversation, hugs, and smiles from so many familiar faces he saw each week. I joked that I’m not sure who was more popular-our sweet corn or Pop-Pop Bob. But in recent weeks I know for a fact now, it was Pop-Pop. Thank you so much for all the concerned questions about him from customers in recent weeks.

So here’s to the man who painted my bedroom Punky Brewster colors (each wall was a different color), took us grandkids to the beach every Labor Day and taught me how stand a wave, let us celebrate the last day of school by inviting friends over to swim in his pool, taught me how to drive on the Nine Foot Road well before I was 16, came to all my high school ball games, drove me to Springfield, MA for a FFA contest when no one else would, loved to hug and squeeze me, and danced with me at my wedding. No matter what I did, he loved me unconditionally and made me feel important. He will never be forgotten and I’m proud to call him mine. Baby Wright may never meet him but I will be sure to teach him about the loving man we all called “Pop-Pop Bob”.

Robert Eugene Messick

April 8, 1930 – June 28, 2014

This sailboat was filled with sand and had our names on it.

This sailboat was next to Pop-Pop’s pool in his backyard. He filled it with sand and had our names on the side.

This pretty much sums him up.

May 1984. This pretty much sums him up.

Sitting on the top row of Woodbridge Elementary School bleachers. I have no idea what we were watching. I am the one underneath the pom-pom. (Christy, Derek, Pop-Pop, Devon, Danna)

Sitting on the top row of Woodbridge Elementary School bleachers. I have no idea what we were watching but doesn’t he look like a big kid sitting there with us? Can you guess who is underneath the pom-pom? (Christy, Derek, Pop-Pop, Devon, Danna)

In the old 4-H Building at the fair. Janelle and I just gave our sewing demonstration. (Pop-Pop Bob, Janelle, Christy, Mom-Mom Ruth and Mom-Mom Ann)

In the old 4-H Building at the fair. Janelle and I just gave our sewing demonstration. (Pop-Pop Bob, Janelle, Christy, Mom-Mom Ruth and Mom-Mom Ann)

This was at Girl's State in 1997. He came to see me sworn in as Girl's State Auditor. (Danna, Pop-Pop Bob, Christy, Pop-Pop Bill)

This was at Girl’s State in 1997. He came to see me sworn in as Girl’s State Auditor. (Danna, Pop-Pop Bob, Christy, Pop-Pop Bill)

He recovered well from heart surgery in 1999.

He recovered well from heart surgery in 2001.

Delaware State Fair in 2002. He loved to stick his tongue out at us.

Delaware State Fair in 2002. He loved to stick his tongue out at us.

 

He loved the DE State Fair.

He loved the DE State Fair and served as Superintendent of the Farm Products building.

The was at the Milford Farmer's Market one year. He loved to help us every Saturday morning. And the customers loved him.

This was at the Milford Farmer’s Market in 2008. He loved to help us sell produce every Saturday morning. He helped Mom initially, when she started at the market 14 years ago. The customers loved to see him and often sat down with him or gave him hugs. Thank you to all the customers who have asked for him this year.

Dec. 2008. Our annual shot of all the grandkids.

Dec. 2008. Our annual shot of all the grandkids at Christmas.

Sept. 22, 2012. At our wedding, right after the anniversary dance, which they won. It's one of the only pictures I have of all 4 of us together.

Sept. 22, 2012. At our wedding, right after the anniversary dance, which they won (they were married for 64 years). It’s one of the few pictures I have of all 4 of us together.

 

 

The Significance of June 30

June 30. It seems like an insignificant date year after year. For many, it simply means……

  • half of 2014 is already over!
  • summer is officially here!
  • Little League All-Stars are under way!
  • State 4-H camp is over until next year!
  • the DE State Fair is less than 20 days away!
  • the 4th of July holiday is just around the corner!

But in DE state government, it is significant. It’s the end of our state’s legislative session (no exclamation point). This means late nights for many state employees and legislators as they try to wrap another year’s budget and policy making. This will mark the end of the 147th General Assembly. It ran from January 2013 to present. Any bills left in limbo are forever gone. All legislation must be introduced as new in the next session, which will begin in January 2015.

This year’s session was plagued by low revenues, a proposed gas and water tax, e-cigarette laws, and another potential casino bailout. There wasn’t much room for anything else; therefore agriculture took a normal backseat. Here’s a roundup of ag-related legislation from this past session (click on the link for more info):

  • HB 385 w/ HA 1– Industrial Hemp
    • This is Rep. Dave Wilson’s bill to allow DDA and/or any higher education institution in DE to create and operate the pilot programs to study the growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. According to NCSL, 15 other states currently have laws allowing for hemp production. So far it has only passed the House. Time may run out.
  • SB 245 w/ SA 1 – Dangerous Dogs & Animal Fighting
    • I don’t really consider this an agricultural bill but it comes through on my RSS feed. It pertains to the treatment of animals when seized for criminal activity, etc. It passed the Senate and just came out of the House Health & Human Development Committee.
  • SB 201 w/ SA 1 – Humane Killing, Authority of DDA
    • This is an interesting bill but needed, in my opinion. It clarifies the duties of the newly established Office of Animal Welfare within Public Health to oversee “companion animal” programs as well as shelter standards, previously managed by DDA. It also updates DDA’s role to focus on poultry and livestock species. It passed both chambers and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
  • HB 122 w/ HA 1, HA 2, & SA 2 – Amending Registration of Farm Vehicles
    • This bill requires farmers to register their farm vehicle with DMV and display an official “FV” tag, which replaces the former white, plastic Farm Vehicle Use tag. This stemmed from rampant illegal abuse of the white plastic tag. The new tag is only available through DMV. The cost is $10 with a signed affidavit, confirming that they meet requirements for being a farmer. For more specifics see this blog post from the DE Farm Bureau. I need to print this for Farmer Dan and my Grandfather. They love going to DMV (no exclamation point).
  • HB 150 w/HA 1, HA 2 – Raw Milk Bill
    • Sponsored by Rep. Outten (my district), this bill sought to legalize raw milk for public consumption within Delaware state lines even though the FDA  does not support. It was defeated in the House last June (2013). But a May 2014 House of Representatives e-newsletter highlighted this bill again, touting a “far more tightly focused bill” and stated it would be circulated for sponsorship soon. Haven’t heard anything since. There are some audio cuts on the House of Reps website.
  • HB 63 – Freedom to Farm 
    • Sad to see this bill sit on House Ready List for more than a year. Perhaps it got complicated because it was a constitutional amendment? Or no one advocated? I sent an email to the Secretary of Ag and my legislators in support. Maybe something bigger and better is planned for next session?

A few other semi-related ag bills:

  • HS 1 for HB 60 w/ HA 1, HA 2, HA 3 – Direct Shipment of Wine to DE Consumers (for those in the grape business)
  • SCR 64 – Establishing the DE Waterways Management and Financing Advisory Committee (for DE Watermen)

Keep in mind, the session isn’t over yet. Interesting things can happen in the wee hours of June 30 (no exclamation point).