It was officially our 6th year on the farm last month and each year I write a post about what we've done, how far we've come and where we are going. This year is no exception, so let's get to it.
We crossed a few more projects off of the list - first repainting the mother-in-law's quarters in hopes of turning it into a farmstay space. This turned into a MUCH bigger project than originally anticipated. Each groove in the beadboard had to be caulked, and that ended up taking FOREVER (all of the walls AND the ceiling are beadboard). But the end result was definitely worth it, and I've almost completely forgotten what a terribly consuming project it was. After the painting was finished, this project was put on hold until this winter. I'm excited to do the fun part of decorating and furnishing it with things like bedding, lighting, rugs, window treatments and artwork. We should be ready for guests this summer!
We continue to sell eggs on a small route around town. We doubled the amount of chickens we have - from 33 to 67 - to accommodate the demand for our farm fresh eggs. There's not much more work involved in having 33 vs 67, thank goodness, because that's what I told Anthony when I sold him on the idea of getting more. There isn't room for many more in the chicken house, so Anthony is safe from any future chicken negotiating.
We reworked one of the rooms in the old milk house, and changed it into a floral room for me.
The milk house, before concrete filled in the drop down
I had painted it last fall, but it took almost a year for someone to finally be willing to come and pour the small amount of concrete we needed to fill in half of the floor. Once that was in, we moved my floral cooler in and used our old kitchen countertop as a workspace.
So much brighter and organized
It drastically changed how I worked with the flowers this year - for the better! I'm really most excited for my lower back because now I stand at a taller counter and am not hunched over for hours at a time. We were even able to host a few pop-up shops from this barn.
People could pull right up to the barn, stand at the door to the floral studio and pick out flowers, honey, jam or cards and be on their merry way with little to no contact with anyone but me. It was like our own personal farmer's market.
Some of the flowers I sold at the pop-up this summer
I got a huge shock when Laura and Wayne (the former owners of our farm) showed up as one of my first customers in the floral pop-up shop this summer. It was an amazing and unexpected surprise - I had to hold back tears. We feel so fortunate that they still keep in touch and up-to-date on what we are doing here, and that they approve.
We sold our first flower subscription this year and it was a blast! From Tulips, to Peonies, to full summer subscriptions, each week was made up of gorgeous blooms that grew right here on the farm. I'm still amazed at what comes out of those tiny little seeds I start in the basement in March.
Loretta and June gave birth to bull calves and both times it went off without a hitch.
Anthony always tells people that the best time of year to be on the farm is during calving season. There's nothing like watching these little guys chase each other and their mothers around the pasture. Right now all five of our girls are settled and due to calve from next May through July. It should be an interesting summer!
This year we processed our first steer. We have had so much anxiety and trepidation about this ever since our first heifer calved. People always ask us about naming our cattle, and we only name the ladies who will be staying with us throughout their lives.
Even though Dolly's steer didn't have a name, it didn't make any of it easier. We worked closely with our neighbor Kevin, who generously helped us load him up into his trailer in a very uneventful manner (thank goodness) and took him to Lake Geneva Country Meats. Kathy at Lake Geneva Country Meats held our hand throughout the rest of the process - beginning with coming to the farm to see if he was ready, to fitting us into their incredibly packed processing calendar, letting Anthony spend a day in the packing plant to see every step the steer would go through, to walking us through selecting all of the different cuts of meat. It was a lot of uneasiness, but both Kathy and Kevin helped us get through it, and for that we couldn't be more grateful.
We hosted our first plein-air painting workshop in July and this was something ELSE that made me cry.
Can you imagine what it's like walking around your home and seeing different artists set up, painting picturesque scenes of where you live? Needless to say, it was a powerful, incredible experience. We can't wait to do it again next year.
The bees provided a lot of (unwanted) excitement this summer. From a fourth of July swarm, to multiple episodes of robbing and LOTS of stings, we were continually challenged by them. They gave us the gift of 352 pounds of honey and it is just as delicious as it always has been. We are experimenting this winter with some new offerings with the beeswax - soap, candles, different lip balm varieties and maybe even furniture polish. I'm hoping at least one of our hives makes it through this winter. So far we've already lost two out of six because of the robbing.
Baby Red, our little disabled chicken, came to live with us in the basement for a few months, but she didn't survive.
We were so sad to lose her, but she was a gift in that she taught me so much about chicken behavior and health. I'm much more confident handling our chickens and figuring out what's going on with them than I was before I had to take care of her. I miss interviewing her for our Instagram stories. She was such a cool little hen.
Anthony grew beautiful peppers, melons, tomatoes and even took a shot at growing a giant pumpkin.
He had so many peppers that he approached the produce manager at our local Piggly Wiggly and sold some there. It was pretty exciting to have Lucky Break vegetables in the grocery store where we shop. What life are we living???
I think Anthony and I can agree that the most exciting thing we did this year was host our first few events. Yoga on the farm, flower bars, jewelry making and our first large private party helped us realize that we want to do keep doing this and more often.
We are currently working on the design and layout of our future outdoor kitchen and brainstorming ideas for next summer's yoga, workshops and who knows - maybe even farm dinners will happen!
Now that I'm actually sitting down and writing about everything we experienced this year, I realize that there were a lot of firsts - even after six years - and a lot of times when I cried about it. I always know I am right where I'm supposed to be on this farm, especially when I'm hit with these emotions. Thank you for following along, always supporting us and pushing us to keep going. We've said it before and I will never quit saying it - we couldn't go through this journey on our farm without you and your unending cheerleading.
Cheers to the last six and cheers to the next!