Spring Is In The Air..

Aaaah! Spring! It’s that time of the year when flowers are starting to bloom, trees are budding, the grasses are greening up and the garden is calling.

Now is the time to start moving manure from the barn up to the garden plots and to start tilling that “black gold” into the earth but this year things will be a little different in one of the plots. We have decided to grow potatoes for markets. Soil preparation for these beauties does not include manure as an amendment..so there will be less hauling than in years past. Can’t wait to see the lush green plants starting to pop up!

Each market season we have noticed that Spinach and Carrots are limited, so to do our part in answering the call for more of these foods, we have increased our garden area to add several raised beds for carrots and a second garden spot for spinach. Then of course there will be the usual cast of characters..tomatoes, okra, cukes, squashes, eggplant and lettuces.

On a different note, all of chickens seemed to be loving the warmer weather and longer days already. We have eggs everywhere! Our chickens are totally free range so as a result egg collection closely resembles an Easter Egg hunt each day. That’s OK though it is worth it when we are able to put together a carton of eggs that look like this…

Thank you girls…

Next on the list for our Spring “to do’s” will be sheep shearing. That’s always exciting too..when we get the chance to see what this years growth looks like. By the winter being mild, it doesn’t look like we will have the usual bumper of wool. We will be adding Cashmere this year to our fibers available. Friends of ours are getting out of the cashmere business but they still have 10 goats that need to be combed..so yes, I volunteered to do the combing. Payment for this job..we get the fiber! There will be some pretty cool rovings and yarns available in the fall!

Neeing Hair Cuts...Now!!

Maybe I’m wrong..look at all that wool!

Well that’s all for today. I’m afraid if I keep writing, I’ll wear myself out.

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Container Gardening Fans Read This…

We have come up with a wonderful product for all of those Container Gardening folks out there. It is our new Natural Growers Pack.

What is it and what does it do you may ask? It is a water retention and fertilizer system that is made from 100% all natural and organic materials. When you container garden or grow house plants, you are always faced with watering your plants..even if you are on vacation. Using our pack limits the need to constantly be watering your plants as the natural sheep wool acts as a sponge absorbing water and holding it for longer than just soil. The added bonus..you get a pack of sheep manure compost to add to your soil as a natural fertilizer.

These are all of the supplies you need to use this pack:

The contents of the pack, a container, your plant or seeds, plus soil.

Start with an empty large to extra large container. Line the bottom of the container with the enclosed sheep wool. Now take the wonderfully rich in nutrients package of sheep manure compost and blend it with your soil..place in your container on top of the sheep wool. Add your plant. Water. That’s it..easy peasy!

It is a wonderful system for container vegetable gardening. By using this all natural system you eliminate the need to continuously fertilize your plants too. Your container tomato plants will be the envy of the neighborhood!

The Natural Growers pack is available in our ETSY store, through Fall Line Farms Co-op, Local Roots Co-op, The Great Big Greenhouse in Richmond, VA and more locations are coming soon as we fill orders. You, of course, can buy them direct through me and we will have them at local Farmer’s Markets this Spring and summer.

Do something good for your plants and make Mother Nature smile at the same time..oh yes, and each time you purchase/use one of these Natural Growers Packs you are supporting a small family owned sustainable farm business!

Winter Yesterday..Spring Today

 

Isn’t it amazing how unpredictable the weather really can be? Yesterday we had a beautiful snowfall in the morning, followed by a sunny afternoon and ending with another brief snowfall before evening. In a single days time, the pastures are turning green and those Spring flowers that were not already blooming are today showing signs of bloom. We’ve had thunderstorms in February and a steady flow of rainfall this Winter..all will serve the ground well for the growing season. While we need to get the earth tilled to start the gardens, the ground is actually too wet. This will postpone that early harvest we always shoot for but a late harvest is just as beneficial.

We have taken some time off from selling through our local Co-op’s and Winter Farmer’s Markets while we’ve reworked our farm. There will be a lot of changes to some of the products we have sold for years and we are adding a lot of new. We started selling our farm products in our ETSY store. It is slow going but we have had some sales. I’ve started working on the plans for offering workshops throughout Spring and Summer. There are so many things that a person can do to live a more sustainable lifestyle and hopefully these workshops will generate interest from those who are anxious to learn.

That’s all for now. I always promise that I will be better about keep up with Blog posts, let’s see if this time I can really do it!!

 

Crazy Busy….A Sad Day For Me

Haven’t been around much lately. I really do have to get better about my bloging. It’s just been so crazy busy here that by the time I think about the blog, it’s after midnight and I’m off to bed.

The soap and lotion business is doing it’s impersonation of the “Christmas Rush” here in July. Which is a good thing! I’ve been very happy with the sales for June and this month is looking like it might just be better. We’ve introduced two new items to our line, Jewelweed Balm and Soap, and we can’t keep it in stock. For those of you who don’t know this Jewelweed is a wonderful, natural treatment for posion ivy and oak. To add even more benefit, we use just a bit of goat’s milk in the soap which helps with the drying effect of posion ivy. We haven’t gotten these two items on our website yet, so if you happen to be interested in either of them, just email us at breezehillfarm@verizon.net.

The fiber side of the farm has slowed down for now. All of this years clip is off at the processor and I haven’t had time to work on the alpaca and cashmere that I held back. I miss having the time to spin my own yarn. It serves two very important purposes for me. It’s relaxing and I get to “show off” my stuff!

For everyone who has been coming to the St. Stephen’s Farmer’s Market to visit us, we have taken the month of July off and possibly August too. Our reasons are very simple..I am just too busy to leave the farm during the week. My thought is, if I can’t keep up with sales, why make it harder on me? This way my husband and I both get a little break. Last Saturday, as part of our 31st anniversary celebration, we did a day trip to Gryffon’s Aerie www.gryffonsaerie.com in Whitehall, Virginia. What a beautiful trip this is! It was so clear, not horribly hot, and most of all relaxed. We hadn’t seen Ramona for several years and it was just great visiting with her and taking the “ride” around the farm to see all of the cattle and pigs..oh yes, and sheep. She and Collins’ farm is featured in Virginia Living Magazine this month, so hopefully many more folks will make the trek out to their place.  

This past Saturday we took the day and visited Grayhaven Winery www.grayhavenwinery.com, for their South African Food and Wine Festival. Grayhaven is one of our wholesale accounts and Max and Dion are also very good friends of ours. We had a wonderful time and I have to say, the food was excellent. Oh yes, so were the South African wines! We picked up the coolest print of an African child carrying a lamb over his shoulder. Every opportunity we get, we try to pick up anything that is tasteful portraying sheep. So basically, what we did is take a full week of doing and going and called it our anniversary week. Not very traditional but definitely relaxing and fun.

On a happy but equally sad note. We had a barn kitten born in May that did not have eyes. We’ve taken him into the house and raised him with his litter mates and Mom (that’s been a real experience) and today, “Baby” is going to live with his new family. The family who is taking him, just lost their blind cat that had been with them for years, so he’s going to a home that knows how to take care of his special needs. As I sit here and type this, I can’t stop crying. I’m going to miss that little face held high, inquiring as to what I’m doing when I come into a room. I know he is only a kitten but he has become very important to me and I knew his life would be better if he lived in a home with a little less confusion than ours. Everyone, say prayers for “Baby” and wish him well in this new journey. Some times it takes something like this little kitten to make us realize how valuable our lives can be when we are blessed with the opportunity to love and take care of something so small in helpless. My emotions are so mixed with happy and sad.

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!