Snakes In The House

I’m sure that everyone has noticed my absence, well there is a reason for that. We’ve had an in house snake issue and I have finally grown brave enough to go back into the office. Kinda hard to run the business end of a business when you can only use the computer when Hubby is home from work. For my entire life I have been terrified of snakes. I’ve grown to accept the fact that black snakes are good to have at the barn but when they decide to come in for some air conditioning, it’s too much. I’ve been told that we are “blessed” to have a black snake in the house..not sure on what planet that’s true! So, this is why I’ve been missing.

Aside from the aforementioned, it’s been crazy busy here. We shipped off all of the fiber Friday to the mill. I decided to hold back all of the colored fleeces this time to work on processing myself. When we first started out in 1994, I did all of the processing and did so for years. In some ways I miss having that control but it has become much more practical to send it off. There were some absolutely incredible fleeces this year. We have two white ewes that double any fleece produced by a ram and it’s almost Merino quality. Can’t wait for everything to come back.

We worked the St. Stephen’s Farmer’s Market yesterday. Good Lord it was hotter than the hinges of hell! As always, I set up the spining wheel but could only spin in short spurts. My hands were so sweatie that I couldn’t get the fiber off of me. Fiber sales were off but the soaps and lotions did really well. I love the fact that this is a producers only market and they stick to that rule. There are so many F.B.N. (fly by night) soap people, that only use melt and pour soaps that are trying to infiltrate the market these days that it makes it hard for an honest producer to sell their product. You would think that something as pure and natural as soap making could escape all of the nasty back biting and unhealthy competition but apparently that is no longer the case. It’s really quite sad that many of us do our level best to be helpful to up an coming producers, then they come behind us with substandard products and cheaper prices than we charge. They are arogant and down right nasty and plow through us like yesterdays news. We can only hope that in the end, the consumer can see through the outward charm and realize that the quality and pride doesn’t exist with these people. OK, sorry about the rant but I know that many of our fellow producers know exactly what I’m talking about here.

A month or so ago, another producer accused me of being a “thief”. While I can understand her feelings, being called a thief was directed at an innocent mistake. For 15 years, I have worked hard to establish a strong customer base, been truthful, have done it on my own, haven’t stepped on a single person to get here and have enjoyed the fact that yes, it can be done this way. Maybe it’s the economy but it seems that all of the negativity and accusations are getting worse. In my “Pollyanna” way of looking at this I think we should be out there lending fellow producers a hand..not handing them a club or worse yet, using the club on one another. Well, I’m ranting again. I might just be dealing with some wounded professional and personal feelings today.

I understand that there are quite a few people in the Fall Line Farms Co-op www.farm2udirect.com that are looking for me and wondering what has happened. There has been a drop point mixup, that has now been fixed. Also, we had decided to only deliver once a month in an effort to justify the expense in deliveries to five drop points but we are changing that as well. We will be back on the list next week and starting the second week in July, we will be back every week (all five drop points). Sorry I wasn’t there but glad you missed us..we miss you guys too!

Make sure you always check out our website for additions of new products and changes www.breezehillfarm.com. Have a great day and say little prayers that we will not have any more house guest of the reptile variety!

Hello Again!

Wow, I cannot believe how busy the last, almost two weeks have been and how behind I am on blogging and just about everything else. It’s been so crazy, in a good way, I’m not sure what I’m doing! Just in case anyone really cares..business is really good. Since the introduction of the Fiber CSA, it’s been endless emails and phone calls and yes even some purchases. Also, once the offering was listed in the Local Harvest Store it’s been out of control. Who knew how well this was going to catch on. Be sure to check the CSA out at www.breezehillfarm.com, there are still shares available and the time is nearing for us to send the fiber off to the processor.

Let me share a little bit about what has been going on. It all started on Saturday, May 23, when we took off to the mountains in search of the magic “Heirloom Vegetable Seeds”. Well we found them; tomatoes, peppers, okra, squash, pumpkin and many more. It was a nice day for us to finish up shopping for seeds for the garden..the late garden. After lunch at historic Michie Tavern, in Charlottesville, we headed back to the farm. On the way we received a phone call from our friends at Shady Nook Alpacas www.alpacasinvirginia.com/, in Powhatan, they were birthing babies and wanted us to come out. So we diverted our trip to their farm. How wonderful to be included in this. I had spoken to Lois and Ken on the phone numerous times but had not met them. Our visit was two fold, we got to meet two of the nicest people and see one live birth of a cria. (Sorry, no photo’s today)

The next day we sheared our llama, Kosmo. Still don’t think we’re over that one yet. He is so big and so spoiled (don’t know how that happened!) and is such a bratty baby. First he had to have his hum and kick fest, that was fun. Then he cushed and refused to get up. The crowning blow though was when he got nose to nose with me and spit. He had eaten breakfast about 3 hours before, you know that was a really pleasant spit! He and I got in a spitting match while my husband just stood there and laughed. Finally, Kosmo was shorn. We were invited to a Cuban Party that afternoon, so after showers we left for the party. Didn’t stay very long but the food was to die for. We promised we’d come back later for fireworks but came home and crashed.

I’m glad we got good rest on Memorial Day because last week was the week everyone decided they needed to order soap and lotion. With it only being me doing the production work, I tend to get backlogged easily and now I am. We’ve got a Farmer’s Market this weekend at St. Stephen’s and wholesale orders coming in from all of our accounts. This is such a good and encouraging thing. Business is picking up for all of us.

Wow, I’ve been all over the map with this post. Look next week for some fun and exciting things we will be offering to our customers and readers. Have a great rest of the week and upcoming weekend..we’ll be back Monday!

Almost forgot to include that we sheared most of our sheep this past weekend. We had one ewe produce 22 pounds of fiber, with a staple length of close to 12″. I’m thinking that we might should consider shearing her twice a year from now on. She’s always been a big producer but this was huge. To add to that, she is over weight, so her diet started Monday.

A Garden Beginning

For those who are not interested in gardening these photos will be boring but for us we’re pretty excited. As many of you know that are from Virginia we have had so much rain that it has been dificult to plow and get our gardens in. Yesterday hubby took the day off to get the plowing part done so this weekend, after the Farmer’s Market Saturday, we will finally plant the garden. Thank goodness we are not too late and the really cool part about it is when other’s have run out of veggies at the end of summer, we will still be harvesting. That’s great for the freezer and for the Market’s we attend too.  Be sure to check out our small stand of wheat. If all goes well, I will make pancake mix out of the harvest from that. So what if it only makes 3 pancakes!

"Brandywine's"

"Brandywine's"

Plowed dirt waiting for the disc.

Plowed dirt waiting for the disc.

Our Mini Wheat Field

Our Mini Wheat Field

The plan for the garden this year is a focus on Italian Heirloom’s. I can’t wait to see the first beans to show themselves!

Asleep At The Wheel

I have spent the better part of my day trying to fix a problem. It is amazing how one mistake can become so much of an issue but I believe it’s fixed. Wasting time is so very costly right now because there is so much going on. Exhaustion can cause you to do things that you otherwise wouldn’t do on your worst day. Enough about this.

I have been up to my ears in soap today too. The increase in milk production keeps me either making soap or lotion everyday. Having a heavy inventory is a good thing this time of year. It is normal for us to sell out of most of our soaps at each Farmer’s Market we participate in.  We now have customers calling and pre-ordering before market day because they don’t want to be disappointed by not being able to get what they came for. I’m glad that we have such wonderful customers and honestly, the advanced ordering is really a good thing because we know in how much more to make and bring. This season we have added some new and wonderful fragrances to our line too. “Tomato Leaf” has had everyone talking about that first tomato of the season and the “Cucumber Mint” is simply fantastic.

So now it’s time to hit the sack. Milking at 5:00 a.m. comes too soon when you’re still up after midnight. I’m feeling like I’m asleep at the wheel!

Pictures From Our First Market This Season

Set Up

Set Up

It was a beautiful and very hot day but all of the anticipation made it worth it. The first market of the season is always so exciting! Familiar faces, new faces, people looking for old time favorites positive comments and great suggestions. This was our first “in person” offering of our new Spring 2009 Fiber CSA. People seemed interested but I’m afraid the heat may have played a big role in the lack of ” lovin’ the wool”. Here are some photos from the beginning of the day.

Collina Della Breeza Line

Collina Della Breeza Line

Breeze Hill Oatmeal & Honey

Breeze Hill Oatmeal & Honey

Beautiful Natural Colored Alpaca Yarns

Beautiful Natural Colored Alpaca Yarns

Don’t forget to check out the Spring 2009 Fiber CSA Share information at www.breezehillfarm.com.