Anthony and I just wrapped up our last market of the season and I really can't believe that summer has come and gone. I'm a bit excited for fall and winter, because that means I will be able to sit down inside without feeling guilty or thinking of the million and one things we need to get accomplished outside. I thought a small recap of the summer was in order, seeing that I've gone dark on the blog in recent days and you haven't heard from us since June was born on Father's Day.
Some of the flowers at the beginning of the season
This season was our first year of flower farming and WOW, what a year. Anthony talked me into keeping things smaller, so I could see if this was something that I really wanted to do. Normally his slow decision making and baby steps drive me nuts, but this time he was so right and I'm glad I listened to him. I'm not sure how I could have fit anything else in. At all.
We started selling at markets on Friday mornings (as soon as the flowers were ready) at Boxed and Burlap in Delavan. When that market abruptly ended due to its extreme popularity and super fast growth - which led to them having to suspend the markets until they can figure out parking and other logistical issues - we were invited to participate in a different market at Terra Yard Creations in Elkhorn.
Anthony at Terra selling his little heart out
A few weeks after we began selling at Terra, we were contacted by one of our Instagram friends, Denise from Highfield Farm Creamery, to see if we were interested in selling at the Saturday Farmer's Market in Fontana. I was nervous that we wouldn't have enough flowers to support two markets, but eventually the field was in full bloom and we were able to participate a few times during the season.
Anthony and I had the BEST time selling at all of these markets. We never expected to like it as much as we did! The community of other growers and sellers was so welcoming to us, and we started seeing regular customers looking for both our jam and flowers. These markets led to so many other opportunities for us throughout the summer and we were even able to sell flowers for a few special events and weddings.
With people asking us to participate in things, and other people contacting us to ask for flowers and jam and honey, it really feels like we are in exactly the right place, doing what we are supposed to be doing. We were able to fit a few other things in this summer. We had bumper crops of both tomatoes and cucumbers, so we canned our little hearts out. We grew the best cantaloupe I have ever tasted in my life.
We had a few visitors, who unfortunately had to share in some of the hard labor because we don't have too many days where we can just sit around and hang out anymore.
The boys. One of them farted right as I took the photo, which explains my Popeye smile
Anthony & Henslo
We squeezed in as much time as possible with our girls. Dolly and June are now almost the same size that Patsy and Loretta were when they first came to the farm 2 (!) years ago.
This summer was also one of those years when a lot of hard things happened at one time. The well pump broke. The girls escaped. Twice, and both times Anthony was out of town. Our pasture fencing barely held up and needs to be completely replaced. We battled, week after week, with our broken pool. We've recently had more repair work done on it and are looking forward to swimming in at least more than two days next summer. I know it sounds obnoxious to complain about a swimming pool, but when you're dumping tons of money into something that you don't have time to use and you really could use that money for oh, I don't know, fencing, more flowers, a remodeled chicken coop, new carpet, etc. - it kind of pisses you off.
The swamp, er...pool
The thistle took over our pastures because I asked Anthony not to spray it. The bees and birds and butterflies just love it, but the cows don't and they decided to escape to look for better food. So, next year we will be spraying the thistle. I know I'll have plenty of other things for the pollinators to enjoy and hopefully the girls will be happy with that solution as well. I'm not sure my heart can handle many more escapes.
We got double the amount of honey from our bees as last year. We are working on selling from our website, stay tuned for exciting news about that in the near future. Until then, we are selling locally at Charisma Hair Studio in downtown Elkhorn, as well as the Country Mobil on County Road A, west of Hwy 12. Now we're just watching over them until they hunker down for the winter.
Uncapping the honey
Anthony and I were able to leave the farm for a weekend getaway to a music festival with my Aunt and Uncle in Kentucky. It was the first time we have had time away together since we moved here almost 3 years ago. Anthony's sister was sweet enough to fly out from Las Vegas to watch over our girls and water everything like crazy since we got all of our rain for the season in two days in June. I really can't believe all of the things we were able to fit into this summer. I feel like it was 3 years compressed into a 3 month period. We ended the season by selling at a 2 day event in Roscoe, IL. Again, while we were selling at Terra Yard Creations, we were approached by Ann who asked us if we might have sunflowers growing in October. When I told her it was possible, she asked us if we wanted to sell them at her event, Nellie's Barn Sale, in the first week of October. We needed enough flowers for a show that sees about 4,000 people in a weekend, to be exact. We decided to go for it and went nuts. We planted sunflowers, jarred our honey, made wreaths, made more Strawberry Heat Wave and pretended like we knew exactly what we were doing. And again, we met more fantastic people and had a blast. We can't wait to do it again next year.
Anthony and I both work off of the farm part time and it is getting harder and harder for both of us to leave. We love it so much and of course there is always more work to do. Now that we've got our first successful season under our belts, and are starting to forget all of the hard stuff, we have some serious plans in the works. More flowers! More tomatoes! Chickens, FINALLY. Dinners on the farm! The sky is the limit now that our backs are a bit rested and we've seen what we can do with what little we have. We are both looking forward to a quiet winter full of planning and growing and learning and yes - resting.