Our older daughter’s boyfriend emails me that he is crazy about my strawberry fruit chips. Would I please send him instructions? He’s fantasizing about mass commercial success.
Of course, I write back, copying our daughter. Just puree the fruit and pour it into the dehydrator trays. There’s really nothing to it, I write. I’ll take pictures and put them in my next blog.
Moments later, the phone rings. “MOM!” It’s our daughter. “No offense, but you have no business sense whatsoever.”
“That’s true,” I say. “What have I done now?”
“Putting the fruit chip recipe on your blog!” she says. “How can he make money if you’re giving away the farm?”
“There is no fortune in fruit chips,” I say. “Way too labor intensive.” Not that her boyfriend is a raging capitalist. He’s a self-employed fisherman, an entrepreneur who wants to send his kids to college some day, not buy an island.
This is not the first time the subject of making money from our farmlet activities has come up. Family and friends have asked why we don’t sell the eggs, chickens, or goat fleece? Can’t we milk Pearl and sell cheese?
The Bearded One and I tried to start a business together once — to turn our big empty-nest house and view acreage overlooking Agate Pass and Puget Sound into a small retreat center. After an expensive year-long, ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of the necessary permits (and $10K in architect fees) we gave up, sold it at the height of the market and moved here. We were lucky.
Still, our daughter doesn’t want a political discussion. It’s Labor Day, we’re between political conventions, and her boyfriend has got a hot idea he’d like to capitalize on if I’d just keep it quiet, thank you very much.
“But the recipe for fruit leathers is in every dehydrator cookbook on the planet,” I say. “I don’t own it! Nobody owns it! The only secret is leaving them in the dehydrator for a few more hours.”
The Bearded One insists that I have, in fact, invented a whole new thing — potato chips made out of fruit. Strawberries and peaches work beautifully with no added anything. Blackberries have too many seeds and aren’t sweet enough.
“Can you just write about something else this week?” says our daughter.
“Of course.” The kids all know they have automatic vetoes over any blog involving them.
She thanks me, and I set to work pureeing strawberries.
I take pictures of pitchers.
And pictures of puree.
Fourteen hours after the machine starts, they’re finished. Nice and crisp.
I send the step-by-step commentary and pictorial to the entrepreneur.
The next morning, he writes back that he is elated and energized. He says that he has changed his mind, that I should share these delicious, healthy fruit chips with the world.
And speaking of the world, I read my Tasmanian friend’s blog, and see that her husband has borrowed the Bearded One’s stickman idea.
I show the Bearded One and he laughs. He will not issue a cease and desist order, he says. In fact, it gives him an idea for a new political party. He’s ready for one.
“Bored, unoccupied men ignoring their women got us into this mess,” he says, referring to the economy of the USA. “The Stickman Party’s platform is about men drawing cartoons to amuse their wives. I am the president. My VP is currently residing in Tasmania.”
He reaches for my hand, and waves to our adoring public, the chickens and goats. He’s putting us in the stickman pose he draws on the labels of Farmlet Jam we send out as gifts. “The Stickman Party is born,” says the Bearded One.
The goats bleat. Chickens cackle, and I sing out the rest of the Stickman Party platform. “Fruit chips for all!”