I've been a plant person all my life. I began growing my first garden at the age of 6. I've been doing it ever since and loving it. But, as a parent, you'll do anything for your kids so when our son Adam said he wanted to go into the grass finished meat business, of course we supported his decision.
Little did we know what we were getting into. It started small, just a couple of bottle lambs. The came three ewes which of course led to a ram, then another nicer ram. Then came the first lambs. This was all fine and well as Adam was here on the farm to tend to them. Then the big MOVE happened and Adam moved to Grand Forks for the opportunity to learn more from yet another rancher and to be closer to a larger market for his eventual meat sales.
The sheep of course stayed here on gardendwellers FARM as living in the city Adam had no place for bred ewes or new babies or stalwart rams. The cattle that Adam had worked so hard for went to a neighboring farm to winter and calve and all was well. Being a young and beginning rancher in North Dakota is tough. Land is hard to come by and expensive. Funding is harder to come by and even more expensive without collateral or down payments. So we do what we can to assist our new rancher in starting and growing his business and it's a slow and steady process.
Jump ahead to several months later - now to be exact - and here we are on a FARM but looking very much like a RANCH. My days are filled with the calling of momma sheep to their little lambs, the sounds of rams who would much rather be cavorting with the ewes and a bottle calf named Hellboy wandering my yard and acting very much like another dog.
Let me explain Hellboy first. He was born premature on a very cold day two months ago and then stepped on by his momma. We really didn't think he was going to live past his first few days. After staying at the neighboring farm for a couple days he was brought here to gardendwellers FARM to either take his last breath or survive. Our farm dog and mother of all things alive on the farm immediately took him under her wing and bonded with the poor baby. I never thought he was going to walk, let alone become more than a meal or two of veal. Somehow, with Millie the farm dog to guide him, he has flourished but now sees himself as a dog. He follows his unconventional babysitter AKA Mom around the farmyard. Goes where she goes, eats what she eats and even has tried to sneak up on a few gophers like she does. I've found him peering in my living room window and wandering my orchard in search of something to nibble on. Can't find him? Just call the dog and the two of them come running.
Then there's the sheep. I love the girls. Each with their own personality. Bubbles the party girl, Brownie the middle child in every way, Blossom the kind of neurotic and a little needy but pretty one, and finally Buttercup the most gently and kind soul I know. Between the four of them they birthed 7 of the most delightful babies you've ever seen. One single lamb and three sets of twins now grace our fenced in area behind the barn and give us daily lamb rodeos to laugh at.
Now it's spring and the list of 'PLANT' things that needs to be done exceeds the length of the day. The orchard needs pruning and mulching, and weeding. The production lot needs cleaning and preparing for seed. The flowerbeds need cleaning and planing. New apple trees arrived by mail yesterday and about 60 more trees and shrubs will arrive soon and need planting and care. We have to turn the well on, water what's in the ground, and finish coppicing the west shelterbelt before the neighbors plant their soybeans. Find the moles and gophers and cut down on their numbers (read between the lines here - they must be eliminated) and fill in the holes they have left so they are not a hazard for visitors. There's a Farm To Table Dinner to plan and several bus tours and classes this summer to prepare for.
This plant person is learning to juggle animals and plants together. Plants are so much less demanding. They don't wander away when you're not looking. Plants do stare at you and call to you when they are hungry. If you don't get them weeded right now, plants will wait until you have time or energy to deal with them.
I love the sheep - they make me laugh, they give me peace. But they also demand my time in a way this plant person is not used to. Barry is especially fond of Hellboy and I'm sure would keep him as a pet if he knew he could. But we'll have to work with our new business off shoot gardendwellers RANCH to find a happy medium where the silent plants and the mobile animals all live in peace. I'm going to have to make peace with my own time schedule to be sure nothing and no one gets left behind in this new multi-species arrangement we have. I've learned a lot in assisting our new rancher - like what a good udder looks like, how long it takes to birth a set of twin lambs, what calf crunch is, and just how much milk replacer it takes to make a bottle calf happy. Good things to know, but I'm still much more comfortable with the plants.
Now, out to find Hellboy and Millie and make sure they are not assaulting any of my non-mobile and silent friends the plants!
2018 is going to be a great year. I can feel it.
I've just finished the 'books' for 2017 and I can see it was a great year too. This year, we're going to be one set of hands short as Adam has moved to Grand Forks for a new farming opportunity and to be closer to his Fiance' Katie. That leaves Barry and I to wonder and plan how to do all of the work with less people.
This means CHANGE people! And although I never used to be good at change, I've come to enjoy it over the years. Are we still going to grow herbs? OF COURSE! It's what we do and it's what we love.
Are we still going to have tours, classes, events, and fun? OF COURSE! We LOVE meeting with people and teaching them how to Live Life Well Seasoned.
So what does it mean then? Well, it may mean you will find our products in a new way, new places, and in exciting new tastes. It may mean you'll see more of us and less of our 'in the box' offerings. Any way you look at it, the changes will mean happier farmers and thus happier customers.
We're planning on more plants/trees in the orchard. We're also already planning for the 2018 Farm To Table Dinner - let the recipe testing and phone calls to producers begin!
The herb seeds have been ordered and the herb plants are peacefully resting until spring when we can begin again with new plans, new adventures, and maybe a few new and exciting customers! Watch here as the new details unfold for more information.
May your 2018 be as bright and full of opportunities as ours!
Barry and Holly Mawby
,I have been terribly remiss in writing a blog. We used to have a blog on blogspot and I USED TO do a pretty good job of occasionally writing. Then Google, a new computer, and life at large, turned things upside down and now I can't access the old blog to continue things.
That's a pretty good excuse, but truly, it's life at large that would have kept me from writing anyway. So I'm starting anew. Starting this new blog right here on our webpage in the hopes that by keeping things all in one spot my teeny tiny brain will only have to remember one password instead of two or three.
Truth is, it's time for new beginnings besides this.
This year has been a tough one for us. Extreme heat and pretty dry times, grasshoppers galore, rising costs of packaging, labeling, and boxing materials and a few health issues have made this season seem longer than most and have had Barry and I talking about how we want to spend our 'upper 50's' and into our 60's. People keep reminding us that we're not spring chickens anymore.
After several strong beverages of the alcoholic kind and some long discussion we both agreed that we LOVE our customers, we are still passionate about herbs, that we love tours, our farm to table dinner, holding classes, and even harvesting and sales - but things need to change.
Some things will remain the same. Never fear, at least right now, the new business plan includes a once a year farm to table dinner. The new plan includes us growing and selling herbs and holding classes and tours here at the farm. It even includes a customer component. We're just not sure what the final business and marketing plan product will look like.
What I do know is that it will mean more time for us to be creative. More time for us to have a little breathing room. Right now, it's seems we take a breath in May and don't breathe again until October. We'll introduce our new business plan in late winter, after we've had more time to think about it and breathe.
In other new beginnings, we're pleased to say our family is going to grow by one. Adam is now engaged to the greatest gal and we're so happy to be adding her to our family.
Additionally, we've added new customers this year like With Room Coffee, who has been making some awesome coffee with our spearmint and we're hoping to keep the creative juices flowing and look into new flavor combinations in the future.
We've also worked with Maple River Distillery this year. They're trying some new infused and distilled vodka's, like lemon basil, basil, fennel, and mint. MMMM, can't wait to try them!
So, with just a few more weeks in this season, we continue on...harvesting, delivering, planning, and dreaming. Looking forward to next year and some new beginnings.
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