small, independent farming

New Article – Exploring Small-Scale Multi-Generational Farming for Homegrown Stories

My interview with the Nash family took me out on the farm and into one of my favorite fields: independent agriculture.

The family farm used to be the backbone of America. Since the 1980s Farm Crisis, family farms have been gobbled up by corporate farms, and now fewer than half of the farm-acres in production are still considered small, family-run operations. There is a small, but growing push from consumers for fresh, local food, however–the kind that factory farms are incapable of delivering. And, to fill that niche, there are farms like Nash Farms outside of Billings, selling as much directly to consumers as they can. For them, keeping their farm independent and in the family is as much a part of the calling as providing fresh, nutritious, and affordable food. Here’s a story I wrote and photographed for Homegrown Stories about Nash Farms.

Building a Farm for the Next Generation

Rusty, but functioning, antique tractors and a modern solar array frame Tom Tschida as he describes the unlikely way he became a rancher. “I’d been away working for a long time when [my parents] bought this place and started building it up. A few years ago I decided to quit my job and move back home,” Tom says of moving back to Montana to help his parents, Jerry and Carol Nash, run Nash Farms. After years of building a career as a photographer in Southern California, Tom found himself missing Montana. “I wanted to be around family. I wanted to be working with animals. I wanted to be playing in the dirt. So I came back to do all of that. It’s been great.” Continue reading…

 

 

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Lost Photos Project

Engineer on Mount Washington’s Historic Cog Railway waits for the signal to begin moving forward again.

Recently, I’ve been forced to switch hard drives, leading me to the unenviable task of cleaning up my files. I knew that some day this would happen. What I didn’t know was the treasure chest of unlooked-at photographs buried in there. I had folders of pictures from trips around Maine that I knew existed, but had left behind as new projects came up. In most cases, the images hadn’t even gone through the usual process of digitally organizing them. Embarrassingly, some entire folders hadn’t even been looked at—or hadn’t been looked at in so long that they appeared new to me!

Stream flowing under the autumn leaves in the Maine’s White Mountains National Forest.

I’ve decided to go through them, organize the images and post them in my flickr account. Some of the real stand-outs will also go to my stock agency for sale.

The fist two batches to make the transition are from a trip into New Hampshire’s White Mountains and a drive through Acadia National Park (both with my parents.) Both sets of photos yielded pictures that reminded me of the effect of a great image to transport the viewer to another part of the world. Some photos came up that surprised me. There have also been pictures that have sparked my love of photography again.

A wave crashes against the rocks in Acadia National Park, Maine.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sorting through many of those “lost” files. As those pictures go up, I’ll be posting them here.


Paulie and Me

“Join Paulie and Loren, long-time friends and hilarious duo, as they embark on a journey to build a microbrewery. Together, they hit the road to meet America’s top beer gurus, and learn what it takes to craft unique beers.” This is the tag line of a new TV show I’ve been working on for the last few months. The show is currently “in-development” (what TV-land calls a show before it has anything to show). Today I head to Dallas to film something to show the rest of the world and begin the process turning “in-development” into “in-production.”

This might be a great place to throw in some background on the show. “Paulie & Me” is what’s called a “Follow-doc” reality show, meaning the camera crew is going to follow these two friends as they work on building their brewery. This is something I happen to have a little knowledge of, having written articles on beer and breweries. In fact, that’s how I came to be part of the show. After Loren and Paul read my Matador Network article on breweries around the US, they contacted me to act as their on-camera brewery expert. Obviously, I’m not an expert on the building of the brewery, I more closely resemble an expert on breweries around the country. Why have a breweries expert? Two words: Road Trip.

That’s right, these guys, who don’t know anything about building a brewery, but love beer and want to craft it, are going to hit the road to see how breweries really do their magic.

This first shoot is to get some footage for the website, but when it’s done, it should show this friendship of opposites in its natural (and funny) habitat. These guys have been compared to “The Odd Couple” being polar opposites, Paulie being loud, unkempt and perpetually late, and Loren being routine-oriented and quiet. I don’t know how they’ve been friends for twenty years, but I guess it works for them. What it means for me is that, no matter how much Loren (or any of us) plan the day’s events, it will almost certainly derail without warning.

mountain biking on the monture trail, montana

Farewell, Mountain: A riding Retrospective on Monture Trail, Montana [Mountain Bike Tales]

Here’s the link to my most recent story appearing in Mountain Bike Tales:

Farewell, Mountain: A riding Retrospective on Monture Trail, Montana

The story has roots in a ride I took with friends Aaron Teasdale and Rod Kramer a few years back on one of the trails most in danger of closure in the United States. With the current situation of Montana (and the greater US) trails getting more perilous, I wove it together with the recent Federal Court ruling closing trails in a WSA near Bozeman that threatens access everywhere. The story is an adventure of hope.

Transitions make the Heart Grow Fonder

I’ve been taking a lot of time off from writing on my blog.  A lot of time off from writing on my novel project.  A lot of time off from fiction in general.  I haven’t been taking a lot of time off.  While on a short leave from fiction, I’ve been writing articles for the Matador Network, working with New England Mountain Bike Association and most importantly, in a transitionary sense, shooting some video.

What’s a novelist with no kids doing shooting video?  Funny you should ask.  It brings me to an admission.  I don’t know what to do with my life.  Just when I think I have myself nailed down, I do something that defies my conventions.  I’ve done this plenty of times in the past, moving from fiction to travel writing (or photography) and back.  I’m convinced I like adventure and the grass always looks greener on the other side.  Well, I’ve strayed way to the other side this time.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a fan of documentaries.  You get to watch a true story unfold in front of you.  That love only compounded with the invention of The Travel Channel.  I would search the cable listings to find shows like The Lonely Planet series with Ian and Justine or The World’s Most Dangerous Places with Robert Young Pelton.  For an hour each afternoon I would be swept away to another world.  I was addicted to travel and Ian and Justine were my dealers.  (Pelton’s the kind of dealer that pushes you past the gateway drug into the more dangerous stuff…)  But what these guys were peddling was the free sample.  And for most viewers, that’s all they needed.  I, however, need the real stuff.  The stuff of adventure.

Enter my new HD camcorder.  Armed with a new way to see and show the world around me, I’m hoping it will be the catalyst of a more significant change in my life.  A change that will take me out into the world, rather than just watching it from the sidelines.  I already have a few projects in mind and you can read about them here:  Life’s Fast

I’ll still be writing fiction, but my tiny amount of free-time will be divided between passions (as it always has been.)  In the end, I hope that this transition makes me a better, more dynamic writer of fiction with a fresh passion that only a little distance can provide.

5 Best Places to Keep Your Adventure Sports Alive During Winter [Matador Network]

New travel article for Matador Network about the 5 best places to keep your adventure sports alive during winter. It features five incredible indoor adventure parks around the world.

 

How to Become a Hut Master [Matador Network]

My latest article for the Matador Travel Network is up and can be seen here:

http://matadorsports.com/how-to-become-a-hut-master

It’s a short article about how to land the dream-job of being a backcountry “hut-master.”  Check it out.  Also, spend some time looking over some of the other content on the network.  These guys do a great job (and make my life as a writer easy in the process.)  They, and I assume a majority of their readers, live for travel and it shows.  Don’t be surprised if you look up at the clock and see that a couple of hours has passed while you’ve been surfing their sites.