News & Updates

January 2020

Hey, friends!

Happy New Year!  Happy New DECADE!  Despite being two weeks in already, it still seems weird to say/type that.  Someone recently said that we are as close to the year 2050 as we are from 1990, and I actually had to do the math because that just didn’t seem right to me.  Does anyone else seem like the year 2050 is way off in the distant future?  Like there should be Jetson’s style flying cars, or something, by then?

I love this time of year.  Partly because I survived the holiday sales season and things are now a little more restful and relaxed, and partly because it feels hopeful and energizing to have a clean slate, so to speak.  The last few weeks have been spent crunching numbers, reflecting on 2019, and planning for the year ahead.  I still have more numbers to crunch, but I did figure out, and submit, my 2019 Maine sales taxes early this year (take that, procrastination!).  As a data nerd who holds a master’s degree in Evaluation, Measurement, & Research, I really want to know what’s working for the soap biz and where improvements need to be made.

What I don’t like about this time of year, is that I find myself less productive.  It’s kind of ok considering I just worked my butt off making and selling soap for the past few months, so I allow myself this luxury of rest.  BUT, then the guilt sets in.  I feel like I should be utilizing this time better, because once spring is here, I’ll have less and less time available.  This is the time of year where I can accomplish all of the projects that get put on the “winter time” list.  Projects like: organize EVEYRTHING, paint the kitchen cupboards, finish the bathroom remodel project, clean the garage, wash wool and practice making wool roving, make tons of soap (especially the types that are more time consuming), learn new soap techniques, re-vamp the website, create more content for the blog/social media, etc., etc., etc..  The list is so very long!

I feel motivated to tackle those things, but I also feel super tired by 5pm.   I believe the darkness and the cold has a lot to do with feeling this way.  During the summer months, I’m usually working until 9pm.  Lately, I just want to be in bed by 6pm and feel cozy and warm under a pile of blankets.  Also, as I type this, I’m realizing my vitamin D levels are most likely low and I would benefit from a boost (I often forget to take them!).  Just putting that out there in case you need that reminder, too!  It helps with your mood, and it’s also great for your skin.  Ok, I just took my 20,000 IU dose!

Looking back, last year was filled with so many highs and lows.  Here’s the recap:

January: Enjoyed a few day-drinking get-togethers with friends, in 90* temps in the sunny greenhouse!

February: Fulfilled lots of custom orders.  Started our luffa seedlings.  Gained a nephew!

March: Selma, our pregnant ewe, and her unborn triplets died.  One of our chickens was badly injured, so she moved into the house with us for a couple weeks.  Steve built all the raised beds in the greenhouse.

April: We welcomed new sheep (Juniper, Olive, Bucko, and Squirtle) to lomah!… and then discovered they had a very contagious and difficult-to-treat infection.

May: We spent the month treating our sheep for foot-rot.  Learned how to shear a sheep (and we apologized profusely to Poppy for the terrible haircut).  Our chicks arrived!  Discovered our first morel mushroom in Maine (on our property!).  Steve’s hip replacement surgery was cancelled, and put off for another year.

June: Started our 2019 outdoor farmers’ market season.  Planted in our greenhouse!  Made 4 beehives from our only hive that survived the winter.

July: Steve and I celebrated our 7th anniversary!  Steve wired the barn for lights, outlets, and electric fence.  Started rotationally grazing our sheep in our orchard rows.  Harvested, processed, and canned all of our lomah pastured-raised chicken.  Dined at {the} Lost Kitchen!

August: Welcomed our god-daughter, Scarlet Cookson, into the world!  Learned to felt soap! Best month for market sales (5 Saturday markets).  Water glassing our eggs (eggs preserved in lime-water solution) to prepare for the “off season”.

September: Traveled to MI to visit family and attend a wedding.  Milked sheep for the first time!  Made sheep milk cheese, butter, and yoghurt for the first time.  Harvested over a gallon of honey. Turning Page Farm roasted one of our mangalitsa suckling pigs.

October: Made lots of soap for holiday sales!  Started breeding the sheep!

November: Harvested our luffas!  Planted garlic. All of our bees died.  Harvested 4 gallons of honey. Highest sales for a single day/weekend at the Maine Harvest Festival.

December: Steve wired the greenhouse for lights and outlets. The indoor winter farmers’ markets began.  Olive and Juniper are pregnant (we’re expecting lambs late March 2020)!

As challenging as it was at times, we are nothing but grateful.

Grateful for the opportunities we have been given.

Grateful for the love and support we’ve been shown.

Grateful for all the lessons in the hardships.

And… Grateful for another year to enjoy this beautiful life!

I have a lot of hopes for our business and farmstead this year.  There are a lot of changes that need to be made, so that we’re running the business, and it’s not running us.  Last year it was challenging to keep up with both the business and the farmstead.   This year is going to be all about working out a balance.  Thankfully, I’m taking a course in hopes it will help me to be more efficient and effective with this business.  We’re also applying to a new market (which would be our third market), and another large craft fair this year.  If we are accepted into those, it will just about double our workload.  Either I need to figure out how to make the majority of my soaps before fall, or it might be time to think about hiring a helper!  What excites me is that I know there is room to grow.  I never feel like I have a hard time selling my soap, or that I can’t move my inventory.  It’s more like I have a hard time keeping my inventory stocked at certain times of the year (like now, for instance).  This year is going to be a lot of learning and growing for us!  We’re excited!  If there’s any way we can serve you better, please let us know by commenting below or by sending us a message.  We’re here for you!

Thank you for being a part of our journey!  Your support is what makes our farmsteading dreams possible.  May we walk gracefully into 2020 and remember these wise words from the recently departed Ram Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

Warm, bubbly wishes for a joyous 2020!

Brooke (& Steve)

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