When a customer rushed over to the pile of carrots on our market tables and announced, “I needed to see for myself if these carrots are as beautiful as they look on your website, or whether the picture had been photoshopped!” I had to laugh. Not because her comment was preposterous in any way — I’m sure plenty of photoshopping goes on in the Wide World of Websites. The thing is, I have no earthly idea how to do it. As I told her, it’s nearly a miracle that I can get a photo onto the site at all. Forget about prettying it up.

Updating a website is new to me in every way, actually. Ten years ago, long-time customer and website designer extraordinaire Karen put together a site for the farm, and her kind tech-minded husband Mason hosted it for us. My only job was to send Karen photos, recipes and text updates whenever the mood hit and she would do the rest. Heck, Karen even set up the mechanizations enabling my blog posts to automatically go out as emails to the people who subscribed.

I didn’t have a clue how any of these things happened. Ignorance is bliss, right? And whoa, was I ever ignorant. It was only after Karen was set to take on a full-time job and could no longer manage the website that I fully realized just how euphoric life had been.

When Karen told me the program she used for building the existing website was almost too difficult even for her skills, there was no question I had to start a new one from scratch rather than try to take over where she’d left off. Friend Kent suggested I use the services of one of the online web-hosting sites and after searching around and reading reviews, I decided on a company called GreenGeeks.

I plopped down the dough (a la credit card) to contract with GreenGeeks and learned that one of the programs they work with called RV Site Builder includes various page templates to choose from, saving users from having to create each page themselves. GreenGreeks described RV Site Builder as “not sophisticated.”

Immediately, I thought: That’s the one for me!

My first amazing discovery on the road to site building was WYSIWYG, which is short for What You See is What You Get. Not only does the acronym lend itself to an adorable pronunciation in its own right — “whisseewig” — it’s way less intimidating than its counterpart, HTML. With WYSIWYG you simply type what you want to say. HTML, on the other hand, is full of codes and squiggles and dots and dashes. Granted, you can get a whole lot snazzier using HTML, but it’s a whole lot more frightening too. There’s not even a cute way to say it. Hitmil? I don’t think so.

Thanks to RV Site Builder, putting the website together wasn’t nearly as stressful as I’d anticipated. Whenever I ran into a problem, someone at GreenGeeks’ Level One Support staff was always quick to answer my email inquiries. I was impressed.

This is not a photo of one of those people. It’s Mary, harvesting cucumbers during a cold spell last fall. I include it because it’s one of the pictures I used in the new website, and I know that soon enough I’ll be able to replace it with a more current shot of Mary doing something else. This will be one of the advantages of managing the site myself — I won’t have to pester Karen with it anymore.

It took some time to make it to this point, however. As pleased as I was about getting the site built, it was much more difficult trying to figure out how to put it out there for others to see. Mason had suggested I practice with a trial website, something with a different name than angelvalleyfarms.com. He’s a smart fellow, Mason. The problem was that I was the recipient of his ideas.

(That’s Dana and John, who share a page on the new website with Mary. They had nothing to do with all this, but it just seemed like time for another photo.)

We’ve never been very happy about using angelvalleyfarms as our domain name — we only have one farm, after all, making “farms” look a little silly to us — yet at the time we felt we had no choice. The name angelvalleyfarm was already taken when Karen started our first website those years ago. We considered angelvalleyorganicfarm, but thought it was too long. For the new site, however, we decided to throw caution to the wind and use it anyway.

I’ll spare you the details of switching back and forth between domain names with GreenGeeks. It was too much even for the Level One Support staff. At one point during my descent into madness (as I like to remember the process), my email inquiries were referred to Level Two.

This is how I imagined Level Two.

Suddenly, I was the guy in the movie “Brazil,” the one at the end of the runway whose mind was being erased by the man in the creepy baby mask. To make matters weirder still, each person I dealt with in Level Two Support had Russian spy names. Vlad was the first, then came Alexander and finally, Oleg.

Okay, so maybe Oleg isn’t Russian. It sounds more Scandinavian, really. Remember, though, by the time Oleg came along, I’d been metaphorically worked over by ol’ Baby Face and my brain was as mushy as the guy who was tortured in the show.

At least at the end of it all, we wound up with a new website. You can see it at either www.angelvalleyorganicfarm.com or www.angelvalleyfarms.com. (Mason made one domain name magically morph into the other, so both take you to the same place.) It’s a simple site, made up of only words and pictures. There are no moving parts, no slide shows, no background music. I’d love to brag that its simplicity is by choice, but honestly, it’s as fancy as my technical abilities allow.

What you see is what you get. If I were ever to try to do more with the site, I’d have to email Level Two again. And man, I’m not going back there.

* * *

Sounds like we’ll have some rain to deal with during harvest time, so this list is going to be a little tentative! Here’s what we plan to bring to the farm stand this Wednesday, if time allows:

More of those wonderfully sweet carrots, both in bunches and in bulk; Brussels sprouts (not as many — we’re starting to run out, boohoo); green onions; green garlic; young leeks; bunches of chard; Dinosaur kale; bunches of purple beets and golden beets; green Butterhead and red Butterhead lettuces; Red leaf lettuce; maybe a few Romaine; lettuces mix; the first of the spring spinach; and pink & purple radishes. (We’re giving the Euro mix a little break this week and we’re still waiting for the arugula — but those two things will be back soon!)

***A snafu I discovered after sending out last week’s missive was that with the new website name, suddenly the email address attached to the blog wasn’t working anymore. My apologies to those of you who tried to reply, only to get an “undeliverable” message! I think I have it fixed now. If it doesn’t work, though, please use our alternate email: angelvalleyfarm@gmail.com. We love hearing from you!

Thanks!
Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm
Farm stands:
Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and
Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)

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