Tuesday, December 3, 2013

First Year As A Small Farm

2013 marked our first year in business as small farmers.  Overall I thought it went pretty well.  Especially since it was such a crazy year.  We bought a house, tons of moving (three 26 foot u hauls), got married at our home, started a business, and worked full time to top it off.

My downfall is that I am a wicked procrastinator.  I will put off anything even though I am fully aware that I will be worse off for it.  I tend to start off okay each spring but then I just fall right off the wagon.  It is a struggle each day.  One that I am going to keep trying to overcome.

Despite that, the garden grew quite well.  I was able to sell lots of pretty bouquets at the market.  I met tons of wonderful new people and networked with other farms and businesses.  In regards to cash in vs. cash out, I nearly broke even.  Not too bad for my first year.  Of course, I'm not counting my hours worked.  That would be mentally painful.

I have lots of big new plans for the coming season.  I'm going to start raising culinary and medicinal herbs.  I have drawn out a beautiful garden plan for the back yard that includes around 16, 4' x 8' raised beds.  I'd like to start offering herbal wreaths, garlands, bouquets, sachets, and eventually, herbal body care products, tinctures, vinegar, dip mix, seasonings and oils.

I also hope to open the farm to private parties such as baby and bridal showers, garden club tours and herbal workshops.  Hopefully this can be accomplished by 2015.

I would like to wholesale more in the future too.  I do love the farmers market but it is very time consuming so I may phase myself out of it.  Hard to say for sure though.

Seed catalogs are starting to arrive in the mail so it is back to dreaming and planning.  Always my favorite time of year!













Friday, November 8, 2013

The Big Year

I'm still here!  I do believe this has been the longest I have not blogged.  Wow and sorry for the absence. 

Well, so much has happened this year.  The new house, the farm, the wedding, it has been crazy.

I only have a handful of photos from our wedding but the rest will be finished soon.  A close friend took our photos as a wedding gift!  I wanted to keep the wedding affordable and we did.  Around $5,000 for the whole thing.  Not bad at all.  We spent money on the wedding tent which included all tables, chairs, linens, lights and dance floor.  Food and drink.  Plates and utensils which were all compostable.  My dress and Andrews Suit.  The D.J..  Cake and Bartender.  And last but not least, two bathrooms.

My dress was custom made for me by a wonderfully talented friend.  We used pieces from my grandmother and great grandmothers wedding dresses.  Plus, an antique Victorian skirt and some other found materials.  I think it turned out beautifully.  If only I hadn't gained weight throughout the summer.  Turns out I'm a stress eater.


These guys, let me tell ya!  I have had the pleasure of laughing at their shenanigans for over 10  years.  Each one has a heart of gold.  From left to right: Kevin, Devon, Andrew, Jared, Kevin and Josh.
 Shelly, in the green dress, is my maid of honor.  I met here when we around 8 years old.  All these wonderful girls have been in my life since we were children and I can't imagine life without them. The girls got to pick their own color and dress and these aren't bridesmaid dresses.  Just regular dresses they can wear again.  My cousin did our hair too.  From left to right:  Ella, Nicole, Mandy, Me, Shelly and Tanya.

 
My most prized photos are the group shots of the entire reception party.  They put a big smile on my face. Even our high school principle and his wife are with us.  I recommend getting one of these during your wedding if you can.  See if you can spot my moms small, crowd surfing dog in the upper shot.
 
The farming went great too.  It was hard though since I worked full time from June through August.  I managed to take bouquets to the market for about two months.  I could have gone longer but I wanted to be done this this year.  The flowers did really well.  There were some failures however.  Zinnias were horribly diseased so I only harvested them for the wedding but that was worth it. 
 
The vegetables did great except for the tomatoes, broccoli, and zucchini.  Disease and bugs, ugh.  At least I know what I have to do next year.
 
We still have tons to do.  I have to wait for a few more good days to get some plants into the ground.  Pushing it a bit late, I know.  I'm a procrastinator, so instead of using the beautiful days of September and October to work, I'm now stuck with November.  There is snow on the ground today!  Learn as I go, I guess.
 
I have some folks interested in my flowers for weddings next year and a few other sales opportunities as well.  I'll be working part time off the farm so I will have more time next year.  Thank goodness!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Still Here

I'm busy these days!  The wedding, work, the house and of course the farm.  I have been selling at the Saturday market in Traverse City for three weeks.  It is a ton of work but I really enjoy it all.  Here are some photos of our farm stand.  We have sold out all three weeks.  Woo hoo!



























Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wedding Plans

Well, the wedding is coming along nicely.  I'm more preoccupied with the farm at this point but luckily wedding planning has been easy so far.  We need an officiant, cakes and a caterer.  Major things I guess.

 I'm meeting with a baker this week.  We want three smaller cakes that are just frosted a bit rustically.  I will decorate them with real flowers from the farm.

An officiant shouldn't be hard to find for us since that don't have be from a church.

 The caterer is proving to be a bit trickier.  I've contacted a few places and they are booked up so, hmmm.  We are providing all the vegetables and I had the crazy thought of doing it ourselves but that would be way to much to handle for the amount of people we will have over.  I'm thinking a cheese platter and a bruschetta with tomato, basil, and mozzarella platter for cocktail hour.  Then a nice salad, a green bean side, potato side and chicken.

I found a costume designer to make my dress.  She works for the Interlochen Arts Academy and is pretty excited to help me with my dress.  She doesn't normally do wedding dresses but she loved that I am using my grandma and great grandmas wedding dresses plus some other antique pieces.  We are shooting for a semi Victorian era look with lots of lace, flowers, ruffles etc.  It is going to be gorgeous!

The snow has finally nearly all gone.  I can prepare the fields now.  We have a tracter coming today or tomorrow to plow and till for us.  I have a zillion seedlings here and at another greenhouse.  We are about to get our greenhouse put up but needed the ground to dry more so that we can level the greenhouse site.  That should happen in the next few days too.  What a cool, slow spring!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wedding Plans

Well, we are finally making some headway on the wedding plans.  I booked a canopy for our backyard.  Tables, chairs, linens, dance floor, bar, etc., are included.  Whew!  That should run us around $1,500 or less, actually.  A fantastic price for a 150 person tent!

We had our "save the date" photos taken by a friend of ours.  He is a budding photographer and offered to take our pictures for free as a gift.  Fantastic!
Our old roommate, Jamie is doing all the photo editing and creating our save the dates.  We love how it looks so far.  It was about 16 degrees out and the skies were not at all that nice.  It was an off and on snow storm.  Gotta love technology.  She is also going to do our wedding invites and a lot of my farm business related stuff too.  She's really good at what she does and we really appreciate it.

When I said that we were doing a budget wedding I meant it!  So far so good but I did just fall in love with a wedding gown that costs about $1300.  Perhaps by saving so much on everything else I can splurge a bit on that gorgeous dress.

Next up, we need to find a D.J., an officiant and nail down a hotel for the guests.  So far the hotel search is a bit annoying.  Since we are in a tourist town and getting married during the summer, the rates are a bit high.  The search and haggling continues.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Have a New Blog

Greetings!  I have started a new blog for my little farm,  Perbellus Fruit and Flower Farm.  I haven't posted much yet but as things move a long with the farm there will be lots of exciting stuff.

I have not decided if I will stop using this blog quite yet.  There are so many things to figure out!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A BIG YEAR FOR US IN 2013

I have so many great things to tell you all.  First, as you know, we bought a house in November.  We made the move in on the second weekend in December.  We're all settled in and just happy as can be.  We haven't done much decorating yet but the ideas are flowing.  We just need lots of shelving.  I have so much stuff to decorate with already due to my hoarding tendencies, he he.

Secondly, I named my farm and got my EIN number so that I can make wholesale purchases now.  I chose Perbellus Fruit and Flower Farm.  Perbellus is Latin for 'very beautiful'.  I wanted something pretty but descriptive as well.  I want people to have a good idea of what we do by seeing our name. 

I kind of rushed the naming decision since it is the time of year to start ordering seeds and grower supplies.  The hardest part has been narrowing down my "want list".  It's quite extensive.  Do I really need 170 varieties of heirloom tomatoes!

And the most exciting news......................We are engaged!  Finally!  We have been dating for 9 1/2 years now and I have been waiting for what seems like an eternity.  He proposed on New Years Eve which also happened to be my 31st birthday.  My mom called to wish me happy birthday and told me that it was my golden birthday and that I was supposed to get something golden.  Perhaps, a few diamonds too.  About an hour later....

Photo: Finally!

Nobody new that Andrew was going to propose.  Mom just had a feeling I guess.

I'm looking forward to 2013 more than any other year to date.  So many things to do.  My wedding is pretty much planned, ha.  I've been thinking about it for years.  Now it's time to start enacting the plan.  Picking a date is the hardest part so far.  I want August but it may be hard to find an open weekend that month.

I'm doing a very frugal, DIY wedding.  Lots of flowers and food from my garden.  I can provide most of my decor from the hoard of jars, bottles, antiques, doilies etc.  I want an elegant, vintage, country wedding.  Not "cowgirl boots country" but "farm flowers and lace country".

 I don't believe in spending 25k on a wedding.  I have a business to start and bills to pay and a fun life to live.  I can think of a thousand things I would rather spend money on.  I dislike most of the "traditional" wedding fluff that I see all the time anyhow.  I'm going to keep it under 4k if I can.  I don't think it will be all that hard.  Especially if we have the wedding and reception at our house. 

I will write a lot about it as it happens  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Old Stuff


  My earliest collecting started at the age of five, when I found a cobalt blue medicine bottle in our backyard creek. I remember thinking that I'd found the greatest treasure. I still have that little bottle 25 years later, along with many others. I've had many great treasure hunting adventures since then and I've drug others along with me. We've dug in old dump sites in the woods or old homesteads long forgotten. I've found ink and medicine bottles in my own gardens too. Some of the perks of gardening behind our 120 year old house. Just imagine all my cute little medicine bottles on the window sills with little flower stems in each one, sun shining through.

  At some point in high school I became smitten with old windows. I've even taken a wrong turn on my way to a college class and ended up with 20 windows.  I simply left a note on the door inquiring about the windows leaning against the barn. He called back. I left a $20 and away we went. I estimate that I have around 100 windows now. Hopefully I can start building greenhouses and cold frames with them next year.

  I've accumulated quite a few other things too. I love baskets, buttons, fabric, tea cups/plates, antique kitchen utensils, wooden trunks, old picture frames and so much more. I realize I sound a bit like a hoarder but I have plans for this stuff, I swear. It will all happen now that we have our own house.

  Clearly, I'm very nostalgic. I'm not collecting for value or looks, though they are perks. To me it's more about the history. How many pie crusts have been rolled out by that old rolling pin? How many children have gazed out these old windows at the first falling snow? It's the same feeling that makes me gaga over an old farm. I think of the generations of families that grew up there. The hands that built it and the babies born. It's the saddest thing to see an old farm slowly falling into itself. I would save them all if I could.

  I pictured my first home to be a farm house. It's not and that's probably for the better. They need more love and since this is our first home it's better to start off with something easier. We will enjoy it too. But when the time comes for our first real old farm, I'll be ready. I'm not sure about Andrew (not much for diy), but I'll be ready.


 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Late Summer Pics

I'm still really terrible at using blogger.  I have the hardest time placing photos, caption and text.  It probably doesn't help that I'm very impatient and spend zero time actually learning the program. 

I started using the caption feature but then it just stopped working, oy.  Whatever.  You can see in some of the photos that I have a piece of fuzz inside my lens.  I use a sony cybershot so it will probably be cheaper to buy a new one than to send it off to be cleaned.

Eventually, I would love to upgrade to a Canon Rebel.  First, I must make a more consistent income.  Always easier said than done.  

 
Amazing storm.
 
Slow decay.
 
Zissou enjoying her favorite spot.  Hilarious.
 
 
 Monarch.
 

 Morning webs.

 Cherry orchard fence.
 Zissou in her second favorite place.

 More morning mist.  See the fuzz in the center of the pic?

 The clouds above.


The sand below.  Andrew and I visiting Lake Michigan.
 Juice grapes.
 An otter at Fishtown in Leland.