This has been a burning question for days now. Every time we turn on the news, we see reports about flooding..every time we look out our door, we see flooding. There has to be a point where enough is enough. Our pastures are on the way to lush and green but any grass growth that happens to be under the taller stuff is rotting. Our garden spot is standing in water, not because the drainage is bad but because there is so much water it has no where to go. The sheep and goats are both looking for elevated surfaces to stand on..s.o.p. for a goat but sheep are typically ground dwellers.
On the plus side though, all of this moisture is making for an absolutely beautiful Spring. The herbs are growing by leaps and anything that could bloom, is blooming. There are many new Irises showing this year that we’ve never seen before..can’t wait to see what colors they are. For years we have only had one or two little Lilly of The Valley pop up and bloom. The year I’ve counted 68 individual plants coming up. So from the floral garden standpoint..the rains (and snows) have created a beautiful display.
Talked to my shearer yesterday and we’re scheduled for shearing in two weeks. I know my girls will be happy when that’s done. Two of my smaller (more Romney) girls were actually walking on their side fleece, so this weekend I trimmed up their sides..the fleeces are really nice. I still think that I’m going to do a “pool it all together” processing this year. Since the Alpaca fleeces that I have are so plentiful and our girls fleeces are looking so great, a blended fiber will be nice and something very different. The end result should give me a lot of fiber to dye, over-dye and leave natural, so keep a look out for those to be listed around May or June. I have several people on a waiting list to get samples and if any of our readers are interested in samples too, just email me or leave a comment. When they’re ready, I’ll email you to get your address.
While on the subject of fleeces, all of my little goat crosses (Angora x Alpine) blew their fleeces almost a month early. I wasn’t able to salvage any of it. The fleece that they produce is the equivalent of Cashmere with the luster of Mohair. It’s really pretty, takes dye very well and I love to blend it with my white sheep wool..but not this year.
Soap update..it’s curing nicely and I should be getting it out to my customers very soon. I have cut back on the variety of fragrances for the time being (until I get orders caught up) and am going to start a Garden Collection of fragrances later in the season. I am still experiencing a hold up on the lotions and butters but hope to get started on those soon.
I’m sitting here looking out the window at yet another rainy day thinking how wonderful it would be if it would rain like this in the Spring and Summer when crops are in the ground, or better yet..why isn’t it snow? Today is my birthday and over the last 53 years, it has actually snowed twice on November 23, in Virginia, maybe more but I can only remember twice. It’s been a good day. I won a contest so I’m receiving an Italian Stitch Dictionary which will be so cool. It looks like I might be doing some freelance writing but I don’t want to jinx this one by saying any more. I had to run errands so I took myself to a “to me from me because I love me” lunch (an only child will get this one first!) and I’ve spent some more time working on the website..all in all, it’s been a very good day!
The title of this post is Successes. Basically, I wanted to share with everyone how my last two events went. Last Thursday, I did a “Ladies Night Out” event hosted by Ashwood Gardens. It wasn’t super great but we did OK. Yesterday (Sunday) we did a private Holiday Open House and it was great as usual. Sales were down considerably but it was wonderful to see my once a year friends and spend time enjoying the fellowship that comes from being part of this community.
With me, success is not always about the dollars and cents earned in our business but the people that have become part of our extended farm family (wish I could put a shovel in their hands and introduce them to “mucking”). We have friends that are genuinely interested in what we do here at the farm. They enjoy the stories and share in our good times and sad times. Some of them love our works and our products, some of them are just friends that give us the emotional support. A lot of people don’t get it, they don’t realize that when they see us standing at a table full of soaps, lotions and the many handmade items, what goes into what they see. The ones that do are not only customers but friends. They want to buy from us, they want to be a part, in some small way, of what we are doing. Once that level has been accomplished..success is measured. Make no mistake about it..we brought in the bucks too but luckily we brought in so much more.
On a very sad note. One of our wholesale customers is Grayhaven Winery in Gum Spring, Virginia. Max and Dion are wonderful people and the whole family is actively involved in the Winery..including their dogs. “Mona”, one of their little “Frenchies”, who has been a member of their welcoming committee and over all good will agent, was run over by a truck yesterday and killed. Our hearts are broken for them and wish them love and hugs during what will be some hard days.Cheers little Mona!
Every year with the excitement of getting ready for events, we are always met with some of the same questions and logistics problems while preparing. It seems like each year the truck gets smaller! We never can quite get all of the necessary display stuff, products and the handtruck in at the same time. I honestly don’t know where all of this stuff comes from (could it be that I’m working my butt off making it?)..it seems to grow over night. Luckily, most of the events that we do are local, so we can drop off and run back to the farm to pick up more if need be. Did I happen to mention, everything seems to get heavier too? I know, I know, goats milk soap and lotion are heavy but fiber arts aren’t, unless I’m carrying a sheep! This getting older thing is definitely not for whimps!
This year, to make matters a little more tedious, my Mother is ill and has been in and out of the hospital. Being an only child seems to make it a little worse on me because I have no one to share responsibilities with, so I am spending a lot of time looking through the windshield. I am thankful that she only lives about an hour from here. She is at home now and I am recruiting her to help out with the packaging process. I though her helping might make her start to feel a bit better and I think I’m right. She normally works 8 hours a day 5 days a week and the really cool part about this..she’s 76! So being at home or in the hospital sick just about drives her crazy (and takes me right along with her!). I am hoping that this time, after almost 12 months of ups and downs, the Doctor’s have finally gotten it right.
So if you see or hear little from me over the next month you’ll know that I am running the roads, making product like crazy, taking care of Mom and doing events. If you’re driving down the road and happen to see a black F-150 that looks like it should be included in a “Pluggers” comic, blow your horn and say hi!
If you’re local, think about coming out and seeing us at some of the Events we have coming up..would love to see you! Check out the Events Page to see what’s happening between now and Christmas.
With the two events of last week behind me, I am getting ready for the first deliveries for the Co-op Winter Season. I’m also getting ready for a second attempt at the Fall Festival at Brookview Farm. Saturday’s event was rained out, so they are going to try again this coming Saturday. Several of my customers have placed sizable orders in anticipation of early Holiday shoppers..so I’m getting those ready too. Yes, I feel like I’m always getting ready! I’ve reduced my milkings to once a day now that the girls have been bred, so I’m only making soap and lotion every other day. Thankfully, I have a good bit of milk frozen, so we should make it through the season easily. Another words…order, order, order!
I feel so fortunate to have been part of the Wisteria Faire last week. There are so many nice things to say about the event starting with Mother and Daughters that put it together. They had done such a beautiful and efficient job in the planning stage that all went off without a hitch. This event was at two private homes which was really kind of neat. My booth was set up on the front porch of the daughters’ home..want to talk about a captive audience, everyone had to walk by me on the way into the house..so everyone saw me. We sold a nice mix of goats milk products and fiber items. It was so nice to see people buy yarn for Christmas gifts. The first day was a little slow, but that gave me time to work on a spinning order that I have. It was just wonderful and an email today let me know that there will probably be another in the Spring! Yeah!
You will notice that I have a new tab at the top of my Blog for the Co-op. My intention with this page is to list weekly, in detail, what we have listed on the Co-op. I think some of the reason why our sales are so very low may have to do with members not knowing exactly what it is they would be purchasing from us. Hopefully, this will help..we’ll see. Feedback on this will be appreciated, this is why I have left Comments open on the new page.
Well I must go do round two battle with Verizon (the phone Co.) over our internet. So far today they have eaten about 2 hours of my time with no resolution. Since I have nothing else to do today (HA) my patience is wearing mighty thin!
Next week I will be participating in a 2 day Open House and a Harvest Festival. This time of year I like to have items other than our goats milk soaps, lotions and socks. So any yarn that hasn’t sold during the year I use to make items to sell at events like these coming up. This year I have very little yarn left over..so, it’s going to be a hats season. This box of yarn is representative of what will become those hats.
Several of the skeins left over are handspun and include a little mohair and silk in the blending. The others are mill spun skeins left over from the CSA shares from last year and are all wool. All of the yarn is handpainted by me and I think the colors have turned out pretty nice this year.
Thought that since it is a rainy day here and not much to Blog about, I’d post a couple of pictures. I’ve added my take on what they might be saying or thinking just to jazz it up a bit. I hope you enjoy!
"I know I'll get caught but that grass sure is greener!"
"Please don't make me get up..it's time for a little me time!"
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I love this life! Everyday there is so much to do and at times it gets to be overwhelming but all I need to do is spend some time with the critters and I remember why it is all worthwhile.
On a business note. I’ve received countless emails questioning why our lotions are not available on our website right now. Well that’s an easy one..they are all sold out. Next week I’ll be making up new batches and once they are ready, I’ll bring the inventory on the website up. Crazy season is upon us from now until December 24th, so inventory figures are subject to change by the minute.
Until tomorrow..speaking of tomorrow, it’s Friday, that means Fiber Art’s Friday..be sure to join in. Have a good evening!
For people who are waiting on shipments from us, they will go out this week. Sorry for the delay. It’s been a bit nuts here trying to get CSA orders shipped and dealing with soap cure time being off schedule but we’re getting it under control.
There are many of you who follow this blog that are members in the Fall Line Farms Co-op and have been our devoted customers since it began last November. I wanted to let you know that we will no longer be participating in the Co-op as a Producer. There many reasons why and this is not the venue to explain but I did want to let you all know that you can always order our products direct from us and delivery to the Richmond Virginia area will be free. Also, you can stop by the retail outlets we have and find our full line of products, except the Wool/Alpaca Socks, they would need to be ordered direct through us. Email us email@example.com for a list of retail outlets or any questions you may have.
I will keep you all updated on events that we will be participating in between now and Christmas. You already know what great gifts our goats milk soap, lotions and socks make – and they don’t break the bank! Please know how much we value your business and want to keep as many of you as customers as we can.
Speaking of products and business, I need to get to work on making soap and lotion today. Orders are backing up again.
Before I get too wound up in my Blog post I want to share something with everyone that I read this morning from Alpaca Farm Girl Blog http://networkedblogs.com/p10606724?ref=nf and it oh so true of the life of the farmer. Read it and maybe you’ll understand more about what our lives are like. Be sure to leave Katy a comment with well wishes for little Pippi, that she gains strength each day and will be in the pasture with her Mom soon.
What a beautiful morning! Nice and cool, 56 degrees to be exact, sun shining bright and low humidity. Can’t believe this is Virginia the 2nd day of September. Not to worry though, by the weekend it will be 90 degrees again. Don’t know why we’ve been blessed with this couple day cool snap but I for one could not appreciate it more. The prelude to Fall always makes me happy because that means Winter is not far behind! Between all of the acorns and how quickly the sheep fleeces have grown since shearing in the Spring, we may be looking at a hard Winter this year. These two things are usually a good sign of that.
The late garden is looking fantastic! Every tomato plant is covered with tomatoes that should be ripe by the end of the months and the peppers – Wow! Aside from the typical Bell Pepper, we planted Chocolate and Orange Bells and Jimmy Nardello’s. Lat weekend at a Farmer’s Market, I bought a couple of the JN’s to try…can’t wait for our to rippen. The early garden has pretty much finished it’s thing, except for the tomatoes. With this lul in harvest, I’m taking advantage of harvesting seeds for next year.
Well, our new sheep additions are getting closer to their arrival time. I can’t wait! Adding Icelandic’s to our existing flock should make fiber harvest interesting. These new girls will be ready for their Fall shearing when they arrive, so we should get several pounds of fiber from them. This will also be a new thing for us, our sheep are only shorn annually. It’s nice to add something new.
I’ve got to get goats milk soap and lotion deliveries ready for tomorrow and as of about 20 minutes ago, we have another new retail outlet, Ashwood Gardens & Nursery in Ashland, VA, so I need to get their delivery ready too. Welcome to the Breeze Hill Farm family Charlie & Terry Blair, owners of Ashwood Gardens!
There are still a few more days to make comments on the “Giveaway” post from last Friday.
Well, I have found now that I just need to give more time when I do the next Giveaway. Lucky for my two winners but a lot of our customers and friends want more Giveaways so they can get their names in the hat to win Goats Milk Soap and more. This week, I will announce another Giveaway so keep your eyes open for it. I will also make sure there are pictures of the product too! I love the emails I’ve gotten after the fact and have encouraged everyone to hold their comments until the next one. I like doing this because there are many people who have never used goats milk products and it’s a great way for them to try and see what they think. Not all contests will be for goats milk products though, we will also have fiber related contest too. So keep an eye out.
Over this past weekend I pulled out the dye pot and started my annual creations in color. Apparently, the new colors I’ve come up with are very desirable because one of my friends was here and she bought everything I had done. Guess what? I forgot to take pictures and she’s on her way back to Japan. As soon as she gets home, I will get her to photograph the yarns so I can post them for everyone to see. At least I wrote down the dyes I used so I can duplicate. See, when I say I’ve been crazy busy, I mean it.
Today, it’s soap making day. My girls (goats) are still giving me lots of milk so I’m not only making for sale now but stock piling for the Holiday season. Last year we rocked over the holiday buying season. If current sales are any indication, we will be rocking in double time this year. Bring it on!
I’m really enjoying the products this summer as a member of Fall Line Farms. It’s been a lot of fun and I love everything I’ve tried so far! Stocking up for Christmas gifts too.
If you both could email me I can get your Goats Milk Lotion and Goats Milk Soap shipped out the same day. Jayne, your winnings will be at your pickup point for the Co-op on Thursday.
Thank you both for participating in our first Giveaway. Though the response was poor, we will be doing this frequently and not just Goats milk products but Fiber related items as well. So, be sure to check back to the Blog often.