Often Michael and I find ourselves reflectively looking back to see where we've come from and the changes that have occurred in our lives. 2013 has brought a lot of changes - good ones and hard ones.
In January, our daughter, her husband and their 4 little ones packed everything up, filled every corner of a huge moving truck and took off on their new adventure to the Pacific North West. That change was incredibly hard on me/us. Bitter sweet. We've lived together pretty much for the past four years and now this eerie quietness swept through the home.
The birth of baby goats surely doesn't ever take the place of the little people in your life, but their adorableness and jumping and playing antics can sure help distract the heart that pines.
I started making our caramels in November 2012 and by February 2013 they began to take off. Whatever take off means. I guess it means people who tried one like them and bought more and more and more.
We were nominated this year for Phoenix New Time's Big Brain Award. I had no clue what this was, let alone there was one, but sure felt honored in the process. The people of Phoenix New Times - all their writers and photographers are simply some of the nicest people ever.
We invited the community of people who shop our market to become Farm Members. They did a 30 minute farm chore with the benefit of shopping our HSM (honor system market) on extra days (not just Thursday only). I think it totally benefited those who love Crow's Dairy Raw Goat milk (another new thing this year) because when Wendell would deliver on Tuesdays it pretty much was gone come time Thursday morning market. That's good.
In July we started our education piece of our farm's vision. We're just passionate that everyone who is able to grow their own food would take that first step. We began Simple Inspiration workshops now known as Simple Sustainability Workshops - an arm of The Simple Farm Sustainability Institute (more info on this in early 2014).
Our mantra is: Grow Your Own Food, Raise Your Own Food and Prepare Your Own Food. We've served no less than 200 "teach-me-please"- kind of people at our wonderful selection of workshops - many hands on.
Check out the new listing of workshops here. Kari, Jill, Hal, John, Annabelle, Bobbie - wonderful workshop teachers!!!!
In September, the phone rang. It was Tessa with the Good Food Awards. For fun, we sent several packages of our caramels in for a blind tasting. Never in a gazillion years would we have expected a call. We were finalists. Of over 1400 small food producers in several categories - including confections - ours were chosen to be finalists - in the top 5%. Amazing. Awesome. Floating. Smiling. Happy dance.
One of the other highlights, if you will, were, and are people. Actually, they are more than highlights -- they are gifts. Treasures. Community. Faithful. Every Thursday morning, our farm volunteers - Jackie, David, Ashley, Marty, Joy, Venous, Sharon, Michele, and others - come and harvest and package and sweep and grab coffee and make change and welcome over 200 market shoppers and then clean up and a ton more. To be honest, Michael and I don't know what we'd do without this unpaid team.
One day Joy showed up - her story is here. All I can say is I'm glad she needed milk - because she's become our official unofficial manager of volunteers and clean up and planting and pruning and organizing and making things look lovely and seeding and a lot more. Joy has two farm girl partners - Sharon and Kris. They sweat, dig, laugh, pull, seed and a lot more. A few weeks ago, they went on a "field" trip to Duncan Farms. They were invited to learn about compost. They learned from the "compost-king" there and came back with a wealth of knowledge from which we will benefit greatly.
Gretchen. You need to know about Gretchen too. She'd written her name down on a piece of paper months months ago. Of course, it was an important piece of paper - she was willing to help me milk goats. I lost the paper. One day, she showed up. Random.
Now - Gretchen shows up pretty much every morning and together we milk the girls, laugh, do goat therapy, drink coffee, chat and other goaty-farm chores. Every goat herder needs a Gretchen in their life...someone who you trust, who loves and cares for your animals like you do. I'll share more about her another post.
John showed up to do farm chores and now he's a regular. More about him on another post. Besides teaching some of our workshops on fermentation and making bone broth, John is a chiropractor - Infinity Spine Center - is his amazing place.
Ian - sent us an email. The subject line said: Will Break My Back Intern (or something like that). Besides helping Michael, he's now learning about goats and has been shadowing Gretchen around as her intern. He's awesome and makes amazing truffles (with a drip of honey in the middle) that is to die for.
Mathew - one incredible guy - who we are so thankful he showed up. He is right there to come along side and help Michael with pretty much everything.
Another highlight of the year was being invited to share our farm story with a wonderful publication called Where Women Create Business. I just about died when they told me I'd be on the cover. To be honest I still don't know what to think or how to process seeing myself at Barnes and Nobel or Costco. it's surreal.
Our year has ended with the blessing of spending time with our daughters, their husbands and seven incredible grandchildren. Michael and I are so thankful. We still shake our heads in amazing and wonder at what our journey has been. We thank God for His mercy and grace and goodness toward us. We are thankful for the love and support and encouragement we've received.
Make It An Awesome New Year!