Tag Archives: organic farming

The New, The Nearly Complete and Wild Turkeys

3 Mar

It has been a little while since I blog-diddy-blogged and I think I have a lot to say.

Springtime on the farm almost.  We’ve had a lot of rain.  All over town the forsythias are boldly blooming, while the apples and lilacs are just barely leafing. I swear I fall in love a thousand times a day as winter releases into this potent blooming of everything alive!  Daffodils, baby cows, violets, leafing trees, the first farmer’s market of the season…  Oh, you’re right there with me?  Awesome!

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Birth.  Emergence.  The Push.

To illustrate the life of a farmer in almost spring one could draw a pair of eyes taking in the entire horizon and connecting that image via dotted lines to a brain full of words that scroll like the words at the beginnig of Star Wars. But instead of an epic saga, its an epic To-Do List.  And that is how it is here with us.

Except that this spring I am in the process of building a brick and mortar, I’m actively fundraising via Kickstarter and I’m moving out of Jacksonville.

Before farm and store and fundraising and moving,  I’m mom. So I’ve got to say here that our silly little child turned 5 last week!  Five is big and doesn’t she know it!?!

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On the birthday we went up to the mountains for some sledding.  It was a beautiful outside and we had an awesome time. It was a wonderful break from the construction and hustle that is and has been the focus of my days.

Last week was all about launching the Kickstarter campaign and getting the plumbing into the shop and so many things were out of my hands.  I filled up my nervous idle time with the zen of painting the furniture for our store. Bright colors, physical labor and obvious results were just what I needed!

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And BE had fun too.

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Today we went to the J’ville house to get the “kitchen”.  The stove, counters, shelves and our beloved bicycle spice grinder.  It was a successful mission.

On our way there, BE and I encountered the biggest flock of turkeys we’ve ever seen. There were easily 50 birds, all crossing the road and headed into the hills.

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The encounter was especially auspicious because in folklore turkeys represent abundance and we had just come from the auto parts place where we were trying to get parts to fix the brake lights on our borrowed trailer but instead we got this rhinestone studded Money keychain for the new shop’s keys.

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“I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind!”

This brings us to Kickstarter’s genius mode of organizing crowd sourced funding and the incredible opportunity they offer to people like me. Using their platform, I’ve created a project and now I’m asking my friends, family, peers and fellow citizens of the world to back it.  Collectively we are making this thing real. Follow this link to learn more and get involved.  I sure hope it inspires you to!

A successfully funded campaign builds this kitchen and storefront.  Then I’ll take this potent lil’ brick and mortar and ROCK it like a hurricane.

Bling diddy Bling! 

While Kickstarter makes designing the campaign very easy, still it is one of the most challenging and deeply personal experiences of my life. To communicate my intentions clearly, to take a very public, very flying leap out of hibernation and to ask for help from friends and strangers are all uber humbling endeavours.  I am doing my best to muster sustained trust.  Yet,  I’m feeling a bit like these two turkeys…. one moving toward the goal with focus while the other meandering back the way she came.

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As I step out and create this brand new thing, I am mining the gems from my previous life.  Some are physical tools and stuff.  But most are rememberings distilled into clear hindsight and rich life lessons.

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Lessons that empower the launch of the new and stuff that enhances our now.  Like this plastic toy that entertained BE on our way outta J’ville today.

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And the five jugs of Mate Fire that I found in a box today!   A most thirst quentching reunion ensued!  Just. Yum.  (Don’t be jealous.)

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My longing for Mate Fire, for Habanero Honey Brew and for Heartsong Chai is the ultimate fire of this gigantic project I’ve created.  It was a true joy to down a good portion of this jug today (6 years in a bottle yet so revitalizing and delicious)!

And so today the kitchen moved from J’ville to GP and our trusty bicycle grinder is one step closer to her next spice grinding mission! And this week the plumber and the electrician will work their magic and bring us even closer.

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YOU can help us too! By liking this blog, sharing it with friends, visiting the Kickstarter campaign, becoming a backer, telling all your friends to back it too and by taking a moment to picture it all coming together with grace and ease!

There’s more painting to do too, if’n you are needing some zen in your life. As always, thanks for reading and witnessing the words of my world.

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Wrestling With Rammy

17 Dec

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Though I’ve been silent here in the world of blog, on facebook I’ve been talking about our Ram and his obsession with the girl sheep.  And about our challenge to keep the fences up when he keeps smacking the posts.  I’ve also been talking about the pneumonia & bronchitis combo that invaded our home and took my man down hard.

It is garbage night here on the farm and D very much wanted it taken out.  I went to do it at 11 and oddly, the rooster is crowing. Snowball the dog is there sniffing around the coop.  That’s strange.  Snowball lives in the other field.  The field with Rammy and the boy sheep.  Sure enough, He’s finally squashed the fenceline!  Sheep are everywhere.  Girls in the boy’s field.  Fugggggah!  The dogs are crazy excited, the girls are spooked and I can’t tell the sheep apart in the darkness.  Rammy is following one mom who, baby by her side is darting here, there and everywhere. He’s got his head low, his lips curled back, and his sniffer fully activated. It cannot be left this way till morning.  My man is down for the count.  I figure my best bet is to contain the ram.

The strap of my headlamp plays a key role, and yes, I do eventually get to straddle him. Dragging a bull by the horns is every bit as difficult as it sounds, especially on ground all squishy wet with melting snow and ice, mud & sheep poop.  The dogs are doing that excited-confused- nearby-with-tongues-out thing that dogs do, not helpful.  It was a ferocious, prayer filled, determination that did it. With he ram between my legs, I’m moving him with my knees, holding him by the horns and forcing him toward the barn Inch by inch.  And all the while I’m begging the dogs for help.

Rammy’s in the barn now and shut up tight.  The rest can sort itself out when daylight comes.  The garbage can is sitting at the curb.  And there is a definite tickle in my throat.  Here’s hoping it is from yelling at the herd.`

Oh and also?  All I can smell is Ram.  #whattabeast

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So Much Living Gets In The Way of Blogging….

10 Jul

 

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It seems so simple that I could live and then have a short lil summary to blog about.  Though as you know, there is a space and silence between my blogs.  As much as I want to keep things simple, my writing is deep and only flows when it flows.  I have many an attempt in the drafts folder, but few that get published.  Anyhow.  It is summer now.  Happy summer people!   Dive into the goodness of your friends, adventures and gardens!

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Like all of you, we have been busy, busy, busy!  The farm is bursting forth with the fruits of our labor.  Somehow, in year two here, we are still discovering new fruit trees in the orchard and mourning the loss of a few that are slowly dying.  We know so little about stewarding orchards and wish we knew more.  The trees I pruned this spring, which got a raised eyebrow and a muttered “hack job” from my man, have leafed, flowered and fruited quite nicely.  The apples are ready and delicious!

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Uber Herbal has been fabulously and creatively exploding!  We’ve got tons of new products, many direct from our farm.  I feel like finally my vision is clear, I’m super excited about what I have to offer and I love the way the product line is being presented and received.  Now I need to spend some time on the Etsy store…. loading up all our new, seasonal goodness.  Keep an eye out (but give me a week).  I have not put products into stores like I planned.  Mostly because I am juggling my time and this avenue needs more attention than I have to give right now.  And so it becomes a winter project.  I’ve been doing my best to give everything I choose to participate in my all.  It has been richly rewarding!

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Incredibly, in the excitement of Uber Herbal hitting stride I’ve been able to keep perspective on my life priorities and spend incredibly focused time on the farm and adventuring with my family.  Last week we had the awesome opportunity to spend two nights camping at Squaw Lake and it was incredible.  This weekend I’m taking BE to the Oregon Country Fair.  And I’ve accepted the invitation (and challenge) to attend the Burning Man Festival with some of my favorite women in the world.  My sweet friend Dana keeps assuring me that if I want it all I can have it all….. we will see!  I leave you with a photo of BE and me, taken at midnight when she suddenly emerged from the sleepy time kingdom to firmly let me know that it was high time to cuddle.  I hope all of you are enjoying the blossoming of your hearts and the fruits of your focused intentions.  Happy Summer!

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On Squishin’ Roses

7 Jun

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Yea, well.  I declared sabbatical.  And I called the manager of the farmers market to tell her.  And I couldn’t.  I didn’t.  Instead I told her I’d start May 18.  And I did.  

In two weeks, I pulled it all together.  I made some big changes.  I stopped brewing chai and elixirs for cafes until I have a better kitchen space.  This really freed up my energy to focus on all the stuff I’ve been wanting to bring forward. Namely, the Farm Directs: teas, dried fruits, herbal soaking blends and Metal Herbals. I am really freaking excited about this product line, new things in the works, the alliances building with cafes to serve the loose teas, local stores that want to sell the products and the tremendous reception I’ve received at market this season!  I’m in full swing with this Uber Herbal thing and I’m LOVING it!  Check out our current offerings here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/UberHerbal!

This crazy stuff is Gulkand, also known as Rose Squish.  It’s a solar powered version of rose petal jam.  Layers of rose petals and organic coconut palm sugar in a jar, set in the sun everyday for 6 weeks.  I’ve got several batches going and am 3 weeks in on batch one.  I will go further into this process in another blog, just had to share the beginnings with ya’ll now.

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Here is a link with info about the health benefits: http://ayurveda-foryou.com/archive/gulkand.html.  These pink petals are wild roses.  The red ones are from roses here on the farm.  And here is a picture of my fingers last night after harvesting rose petals for a few hours.  

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I am obsessed with roses right now.  In addition to the Gulkand I have been making herbal soaking blends with plants from the farm, packing them in cute little cloth teabags for instant enjoyment.  Roses are, of course, one of the main ingredients.  I have also been making Metal Herbals.  They are hearts made from recycled screen, hand sewn with copper and filled with roses and other flowers.  This one has a streak of marigold.  I started making them in 2012 because so many of my loved ones were hella challenged in their lives: break ups, loss, trauma…. and I wanted to offer something tangible to them as they lived with and worked with their grief.  The Metal Herbals emerged from this desire.  I feel they serve as a beautiful representation of beauty and pain.  The roses bite when I pick them and the screen bites when I work it, so both things demand my presence, care and intention. I think they are a perfect gift of love and support for someone “going through it.”  I also think they have the ability to be pretty darn romantic as well.

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The harvest season for roses is drawing to a close here.  A good thing because so many other plants are nearly ready!  Next up, sour cherries and from them our second annual production of Sinatra’s Secret: Sour Cherry Power Elixir.  Which really is as exciting as it sounds!  Till next time I leave you with a photo of us today, heading out to the field to plant our family garden.  In Joy Friends!

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Sabbatical. Or, “Don’t Throw the Baby Out With The Bath Water”.

30 Apr

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When last I blogged I was amidst such adult life questions as to where to focus my attention this lifetime, and whether or not to pursue Uber Herbal, my tea company.  I am happy to report that the fog is lifting and forward movement has begun!

Last week I had a short little sit on the porch swing with a new friend who said that ultimately the goal of this life is to be happy.  She went further to declare that it is each individual’s responsibility to cultivate their own joy.  While this is nothing I had not heard before, this time I heard it different. I heard it as if it applied to me!  Strange, I know.  I tried it on anyway and I gained immediate clarity!  Oh!  So I do want the business, but I don’t want the form it has taken thus far.  I don’t want the ashes of my former efforts embedded in the foundation of my current expression.  I see now that some cords must get cut and a new approach taken.  Eureka!

Last week I also had the experience of illness.  First my little one was sick for hella days. Then, just when I thought I was in the clear, I went down hard.  It was the kind of sickness where zero productivity was possible.  Where just being home with my family was over stimulating and exhausting.  I felt like my head had been sewn between pillows and while I could still see clearly; my mind and my speech were miles away, shrouded.  It eased me into a witness role which turned out to be essential to this whole process.

In the role of intimate witness, I dissected this company into every possible piece.  I rearranged components and I approached with new angles.  I then prioritized my intuition, my happiness and my own desires.  This achieved results that excite me.

It helped me to have the courage to declare a sabbatical.  I’ve cancelled my farmers market season.  I’ve stopped brewing chai and elixirs for local cafes.  With the time that this frees up I am going to dig into the farm, diversify my product line, develop a strong brand and move into a lovely production space.

During this sabbatical I am still doing some things I really love.  Things that are easy and that get my products into people’s hands.  I’m still selling on Etsy and I’m still delivering products locally.  Also, I’m saying yes to a few of the opportunities that have recently presented.  In May I’ll be selling my current products through a few local, retail shops.

I am incredibly grateful to have both the opportunity and the wisdom to step back.  This is a big leap of faith, but ultimately I trust that when I fully emerge I will be way more passionate about it and so it will be emphatically received.  I feel such relief at freeing up my schedule to focus more on the farming aspect of my life and I know this will benefit both myself and the business greatly.  With clarity and forward movement  I am experiencing renewed excitement about my life.  Porch swingin’ last week brought right into my face that I had lost sight of prioritizing my own joy.  Being sick slowed me down to take the long hard look that was needed.  I am seeing my whole life with new eyes.  I am feeling good about this process and the resulting choices.

So many folks offered me honest, neutral, constructive feedback during this time and I am so very grateful to have received your love in this form.  Thanks to all of you for responding and for caring.  I look forward to blogging about a new and different subject next time!

Seizing Opportunities to Step Back

5 Apr

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In springtime we took a break.  Yes BE n me took the month of March off and spent it in Florida with family and good friends.  We had an incredibly lovely adventure!

I was hoping that the distance would instigate new perspective on directing my life in a bit more of a direction.  No such luck.  Instead it distracted the heck out of me in all the best ways!  I tried to think about my life and my future, but I simply could not.

So now I have returned and the question still hangs: do I get a real kitchen for the Uber Herbal tea biz?  Or do I let the kitchen license expire (thus letting go of the business and thus opening my life up to the next great adventure)?

Last I wrote I was gushing about building a kitchen/fresh local grocery.  That idea has come and gone.  I’m back to thinking smaller scale: a production kitchen, farmers market & internet sales.  I’ve been looking at kitchen spaces across the valley and finding some good options.  I’ve also been weighing the option of not having a kitchen.  Been weighing this one deeply.

The 2012 season was rough for me and for the tea company.  Since moving to the farm, I’ve been pretty scattered.  I’m 45 minutes from my work kitchen now and the farm has taken an incredible amount of physical prowess and presence.  I immediately began to integrate products from the farm into the product line AND to launch into a second market.  Both these moves were WAY premature.

And then in August, I had the opportunity to attend the Burning Man Festival.  I laid down the farm, the tea biz, the markets, and I left for an entire week.  It was a very special experience.  As I was out in the desert I began to see that the reason Uber Herbal has been such an uphill endeavor is because it is building off the crumbled remains of my former company, Heartsong.  This was truly an eye opening realization and a great opportunity to practice self compassion.

You see I’ve been using my almost-in-foreclosure-home as my licensed kitchen.  And while it is licensable, it is by no means efficient.  It is in foreclosure because of the burst housing bubble, yes.  But also because when the market was good, I took a second mortgage out and with that money, I built the Chai Hut for Heartsong.

I never doubted this move because I had complete faith that Heartsong was gonna rock the free world organic beverage style and there would be plenty of time after our launch to take care of my home and my own needs.  Instead, the company crashed simultaneous to launching.  Instead, I found myself with nothing but a whole lot of debt, a very public failure and a few pots and pans.

What I realized in the Black Rock Desert is that I was linking the success of my new dreams with the failures of my broken ones.  And that this was an excruciating and unique form of discomfort.  The opportunity to launch a new company from a “free” workspace was impossible to resist.  But the workspace itself was totally crowded, inefficient and uninspiring for me.  I’ve worked “ghetto style” for many years and I’ve worked in some really nice spaces too.  I know that kitchens are all about their flow.  A solid floor plan and lots of storage makes a good production space. Taking time off this summer helped me to recognize my lack of passion around the business stemmed from a lack of desire to do production.  I returned home, laid most of the company dormant and began to reassess. I began to ask myself if I would want to do the business if I had a good kitchen space.  I’ve been asking myself this question for months now.  The answer is most often a yes.

If I do want to do this thing, now is the time to line it all up.  Markets begin in May.  My kitchen license renews in May.  Summer is nearly upon us!  To chai mama or not to chai mama.  That is my burning question.

And so dear reader, if you have any strong opinions about my direction in life or anything I’ve shared here, please do share with me!  I feel really stepped back from the whole thing and open to new ideas.  A new kitchen is both a leap of faith and a bit of an investment, so I’d like to hear everything from everyone so that I can make the best possible, most informed decision here.  As always thanks for being witness to my unfolding!

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The Depth of Winter and A Year on This Farm

11 Jan

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We have been on the farm ten months now.  i’ve been diggin’ my self into this place with deep roots.  Maybe because it is a farm.  Maybe because that is what I know.  

My transition from 2012 into 2013 has been wild and bumpy and real deal.  On December 3, I turned 41.  On December 4, driving home from Ashland on a very wet night, I crashed my car on the I-5.  The car spun in circles on the highway, bounced off the concrete median and came to rest on the shoulder, facing oncoming traffic.  I walked away in one piece.  A sweet friend rescued me from the side of the road in Medford, offering me safe haven till morning.  The owner of the farm where I live owns a body shop in town.  He straightened out the frame, put on a new door, banged out the worst of the dents, covered them nicely with a new bumper and got us back on the road.

When we were picking up the car, our landlord said, “You guys thinking about another year out there?”  We answered affirmative and he said, “Well, we want to do a walk through and make sure we still want you there.”  A totally reasonable thing that shook me to remember that life is changeable and that what I think I’m doing is such a small part of this whole shebang.  

So while I was laying low with whiplash wounding and astonishment, my partner D was raking and pruning and burning, working so hard on the land!  Getting wood for our fires, dealing with infrastructural blow outs and broken limbs in the trees and baby sheep born in snowstorms.  Non stop action and full on craziness (also called farming). 

And we’ve both been thinking about the year we’ve had here.  About the hard work that farming is.  About what else we could do and where else we would go.  About the future of this farm, the future of ourselves, the future of our family.  And we’ve been processing this very deep stuff to the best of our ability.  Compost is indescribable gorgeousness.  The process is messy and it takes a long time to really break things down.

We are not one of those families that romantic love created.  When I was pregnant, we had opposing ideas about where to go with that.  He did not want anything to do with having a family, so he took off.  With time he turned around.  So we’ve slowly tiptoed into this very sweet family, built backwards but with conscious effort.  When we moved to the farm last February, it was BE’s third birthday and our first time living under the same roof.

So 2012 recap: 1. Move to farm an hour away from our familiars.  2. Move in together for the first time.  2. Integrate farm into a very new tea company and attempt very fast growth. 4. Two adults with a toddler establish farm infrastructure, plant, maintain, harvest, process & sell the foods we grow, get a bunch of animals: chickens, ducks, sheep & two big farm dogs. 5. Experience steep learning curves with all of the above.

Which brings us back to now.  And the walk through with the land owners.  Which really was no sweat.  We care for this place, they can see that and they are grateful for it.

2012 was completely experimental!  All we did was “test the waters”. Then came December filled with slowness, reflection and assessment.  I truly felt like a little seed in the dark ground pushing, pushing, PUSHING at my container, seeking the paths of least resistance.  OUT!  And now I’ve got some wiggle room and I feel empowered because by looking deeply at possibility, I am actively choosing my reality.

So it looks like we are staying another year.  And as we set intentions for that, I am sitting on the 5 year plan, just waiting for it to hatch.  And it comes through so clear that I’ll speak it here.  I want to dig my roots into this farm and to blossom some goodness in Grant’s Pass.  I’m dreaming a retail space downtown: licensed kitchen, seasonal elixir bar, regional foods market.  Here I will sell my products and other fresh, incredible, regional goodies and the freshest veggies ever. Here I will build a bomb diggity old west style bar serving tea and then some: Heartsong Chai, Habanero Honey Brew, Turmeric Kombucha, Cold pressed coffee drinks, seasonal immune boosting tonics and more.  I am formulating a business plan in my head.  I (think I) am staying grounded in reality while dreaming big. I am allowing visions for the future flow through and I am feeling entrepreneurally creative again. The lessons of Heartsong’s fiery crash I keep close in heart and I am working with the fears that naturally rise up from there. I’ve been calling this storefront, Fresh.  I see it so beautifully and clearly.  Tens of thousands of miracles will have to occur in near perfect unison for this seed to blossom fully.  Regardless, it is a seed I cherish.  One that I will nurture.  I speak to it now to give it life.  Whispers of encouragement as this sprout begins its dark journey through the dirt and toward the light are most welcome.

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