Holidays are full of food, gift giving, traveling from here to there (sometimes staying here as in our case this year). They are spent rolling dough and cutting gingerbread men or placing large spoonfuls of this wonderful potato mixture in hot oil. This season's celebration was spent lighting candles or turning on the lights and for some - it was both.
Besides food, gifts, light and whatever else spends itself for your holiday - I think it's a perfect time to have another cup of coffee and reflect on life that has rolled by over the past twelve months.
January was a busy month for us as our accomplishments as caramel makers went viral with this delightful piece about us and our farm. See here. It was quite thrilling to go to Costco in Olympia, Washington with our granddaughter and see my face on the cover of this amazing publication.
While in Olympia with family - Michael and I got to enjoy a family hike to Vance Creek Bridge. I can be a bit of a dare-devil I suppose and was determined to walk/crawl over parts of this bridge. It's the second highest railway arch bridge in the US. Check out this picture here. I've never had such an adrenaline rush as I had on that bridge. I pretty much crawled - grabbing the wood planks - but barely 1/10 of the way across it.
Not only did we make the cover of Where Women Create Business, but we became Finalists in the 2014 Good Food Award competition for our sea salt bourbon vanilla goat milk caramels. With pride we have been able to display the little sticker on the corner of our packages.
We intend to send samples in again this next year---perhaps with a few of our newer selections - The Lewis our French Press infused caramel or maybe The Heat - the caramel with just a kick of cayenne. This year we intend to play with different infusions for our caramels.
The third week of January our kidding season started with the arrival of nine baby goats. Two of those babies, Milly and Molly, are now going to be first time moms the beginning of March. And during that week Winnie, our Anatolian Shepherd puppy joined the team as the guardian of the goats. She's one amazing animal!
The first week of February, Anita Roman of the local TV station of Fox News did a fun broadcast from our farm. You can see that piece here. Since that time, we open for Joys Friday Morning Farmer's Market from 9-10:30 am that is geared toward the weekend cook. It's no longer an honor system market - but cash and carry.
The first quarter of the year we continued gardening workshops and in April we added cooking classes to the education piece of our farm.
In May we started our CSA farm share program and sold all our first offering of shares within six hours. We were able to serve thirty families who could never make it to our Thursday market with fresh produce.
In July we closed the farm for our "summer break" but still continued with a Summer Sizzler for CSA members. Closing the farm gave Michael and I a chance to catch our breath, regroup and evaluate a lot of things. That time was a significant shift for us - where we made the hard decision to close the farm completely down to the public. That meant no more Thursday market - where anywhere from 200-300 people walked around our farm/home property.
In August, we released our Press Release here. I know we "upset" and confused a lot of people, but we just had to do what was best in order to continue. Businesses like what we do here are of an "organic" nature. They grow - they die - they change. . . they change as the heart of the people running the business changes. Change is one thing that is constant in life.
In September, we worked hard fixing irrigation, amending soil, ordering seeds, chasing rabbits and gophers and of course we continued making a TON of caramels. We also were getting ready to announce the fall CSA subscriptions for the new 8 week session. Again, the popularity of this model for those who love fresh farm grown produce was evident in the fact that we filled all thirty spots the first day.
Education and teaching people how to grow food, raise food and cook food is important to Michael and I. For the past two years we've had the most amazing instructors teaching people how to garden, make cheese, raise chickens and goats and to cook all sorts of simple meals. Those workshops and classes wrapped up in October and November. At this writing, Michael and I are taking time to think through this piece of our farm life. We are determining what course to take for classes whether to discontinue our workshops here completely or offer classes once a month or simply refer you directly to those we trust to teach you what we believe is important. We'll post something on this sometime in January.
In October, we held a community event - a Pumpkin Patch - and farm tour. We invited Waffle Crush and sold all our available tickets within a few days.
A lovely fall October Alfresco evening - was a success - in spite of the threat of rain. Chef Kirsten's French Farmhouse Menu was fabulous and our good friend Alex (the French teacher at the International School) served in style.
We also bred some of our goaty girls in October - four of which are due to deliver ten babies the beginning of March.
The growth of our produce has been so lovely that Joy (our farm manager) tossed out the suggestion of starting a Friday morning market for cooks. So, in November Joy started her market - Joy's Friday Morning Market - geared toward the weekend cook. Here's the info about this market.
Ever thought of providing a team building event at a farm? Well, Triple A Insurance asked our farm to provide a team building event - and we did. Udder to Table - cheese making and more. (I will blog about this soon.) It was fantastic!
Events and creating a farm experience is something we LOVE to do. Contact us here.
We wrapped up our fall/winter CSA the middle of December. There's something special about folk who invest up front into a CSA share. It was delightful to get pictures and recipes from what was prepared from the food harvested.
Our NEW January CSA - a 10-weeker has begun. It's half filled and I haven't even announced it. The details are here.
Goat Milk Caramels Update
Since the end of Thanksgiving till now - we've made caramels and caramels and more caramels. We're thrilled - simply thrilled - delighted and close to doing some flips as to how much people love and want our caramels. Our caramels are beginning to show up in more lovely markets around the country. If you're reading this and are interested in knowing about our wholesale terms for markets - we'd love to talk with you. You can connect with us here.
Speaking of our caramel production piece of the farm - we will be launching a new caramel website soon. That's exiting for us.
If you live in the Phoenix Valley - you can always order caramels online - save postage and schedule a farm pick up for your order.
Reflection is so good - don't you think!