July 31, 2012

Here's to Family Farms! And Music! And Rural Communities! And Red Ants Pants!

We had just a fantastic time this weekend at the 2nd Annual Red Ants Pants Festival in White Sulphur Springs.

It's nothing short of amazing to watch a big pasture outside of a small Montana town come to life the way the Jackson Ranch does for this festival. And, to know that one incredible woman's vision for women in leadership and strong family farms and viable rural communities is the reason for it all makes it even more so. That's the reason we go. Because even in dust and heat (and with a toddler in dust and heat) -- it's just magical to watch it all come together and feel that energy.

This is the second year we've done the festival and this year, the music was even better (Mary Chapin Carpenter!) and we were able to do a demonstration of our bike-powered fresh flour, in addition to selling whole ancient and heritage grains and our sourdough Farmer Bread.

About 125 people showed up for the demo (called the Tour de Flour) to hear us talk about heritage and ancient grains, fresh flour and the renaissance of family farming. And, at least 15 brave people signed up to compete to win flour and bread with our grain-grinding bike time trials. (We did, however, had to call it at 7 contestants because the mill got so hot it started to gum up -- basically baking -- the flour. We've never tried grinding that fast, for that long or in that kind of heat. :)

To top off the excitement, the Red Ants Pants Foundation -- which is why the whole festival was started to begin with -- announced on stage Saturday that we are one of their first grant winners. Pretty darn cool, especially considering how highly we think of the foundation (and of our friend Sarah Calhoun, the owner of Red Ants Pants). Basically the organization was founded:

-To develop and expand leadership roles for women
-To preserve and support working family farms and ranches
-To enrich and promote rural communities

To that end, this year, the foundation used the proceeds of last year's festival to dole out community grant awards to people and organizations working toward those goals. We were so honored to be on this first list.

We won for a project we've been dreaming about for some time now: stone-milled ancient and heritage grains. So, thanks to the foundation, we're shopping now for an electric (our legs are so happy!) stone mill that will get fresh flour to our Grain CSA farm share members (sign up now!) as well as individuals, restaurants and bakeries across the state and the region.

So, even despite the dust and rain and sunburns, it was a tip-top weekend.

Here's the proof:

Willa and her Papa had a grand time walking around the festival, collecting rocks, listening to music and watching all the people. This girl did not get her Mama's aversion to crowds.
We got to hang all weekend with Emily, our amazing, awesome, incredible apprentice.  Here's Willa and Emily (or, "Ammee" to Willa) watching Mary Chapin Carpenter, sipping on a lemonade slushy and yelling "Good job people!" after each song. (That was Willa's idea.)

Oh, Mary Chapin Carpenter, your voice is like home to me. Here's one big reason why, and why she was just the perfect voice for this event.


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