Always Learning…

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

There’s a lot more to this farming business than just planting, waiting and harvesting!

We are always seeking out ways to improve on what we do.  From the seeds we plant; our production methods; and then (my personal favourite…) the ways in which we connect with YOU, our valued friends and customers!

Today’s agenda included not one…but two separate meetings for Robert and I.
He was off to Lanark for a Seed Fair/Information Day.

I, on the other hand, spent my day at the Two Rivers Food Hub in Smiths Falls at OMAFRA‘s ‘Selling Food to Ontario’ Workshop.  Here’s the proof…

(Maybe my next workshop should be “how to manage a half-decent selfie” ?!?!?)

We heard from the experts on topics such as

  • Market Channel Opportunities
  • Costing and Pricing
  • Food Trends
    ….and more…

Keeping on top of the current trends, regulations and Best Management Practices takes time, for sure.  We will be the first to agree though, that it is an essential piece of the local food production puzzle.

Producers  understand the responsibility we have in producing safe, quality food for your (and our) tables.  Canada enjoys one of the safest food supplies in the world, and we are more than happy to do our part to keep it that way!

AND IN OTHER NEWS….

…..the seed order arrived today!  Spring is one giant step closer now!!

 

 

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We ALWAYS prefer good news…

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

…but we’re afraid that this time, we have to be the bearers of bad.

Many have been asking when the pumpkin patch will be opening for picking this season.

After much deliberation and careful thought,

we have chosen to save the pumpkin patch fun for next year, in hopes that the crop will be more plentiful in 2017.

We know…it IS disappointing.

(Believe us, nobody is more disappointed than we are!) 

As we’ve said in the past, there is nothing we love more than welcoming you and your family to our farm (which is also our home…) to have you enjoy the fresh air and everything else that goes along with some time spent out in the field.

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Pumpkin Patch 2015

 

As you know, this past summer we have experienced the most severe drought that any of us ‘young’ folks can remember.  It was DRY…and still is, if you want to know the truth.

While we won’t get into all of the scientific details of how and why…suffice it to say that early on, the pumpkin (and squash) plants shifted into ‘survival mode’, and produced a pretty nominal crop.

It isn’t that the pumpkins failed completely.  If you’ve been by the roadside stand, you will have seen a few piles of pumpkins there that we’ve picked for you.

We certainly have ‘some’, but a look across the pumpkin field is not nearly as impressive as the ‘sea of orange’ we all enjoyed last year (2015).

So come on out and see us at the Roadside.  It’s still open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 – 6:00.  We’ll try to keep the pumpkins coming as long as we’re able, but we’ll do the picking this year.

We would still love to see you!  Bring the family anyway.

And throw in the camera – just in case.  Pumpkin PILE photos often turn out just as well as pumpkin PATCH photos.  Feel free to take a few minutes and snap some anyhow.  We don’t mind a bit.

Pumpkins

 

Thanks for your understanding.

Oh….and because we can’t leave you without SOME good news….

There is no threat to your pumpkin pie!  For some reason, the pie pumpkins did just fine…no shortage there.  You can pick those up (the pie PUMPKINS that is….not the pies…!!) at the roadside stand too.

Phew!!! Thanksgiving dinner is saved!!!

 

 

 

 

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Count us IN!

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

 

TRFH

Perhaps you’ve heard, or read about the Two Rivers Food Hub.  Maybe you’ve even been out to the Gallipeau Centre and seen it with your own eyes at some point within this past year.

It’s quite a place!  But it’s not only about the ‘place’.  It’s about the whole concept of a ‘Food Hub’.

 

What’s a Food Hub?  Essentially it’s just what it sounds like.  If you picture a wagon wheel, the Hub is the central part, joining together each of the outer parts which feed into it.
That is what a Local Food Hub is meant to do…to join together ALL of the parties who have a stake in local food.  That encompasses – at the very least – producers, processors and buyers (both wholesale AND retail)…in other words…anyone who has a desire to grow it, or eat it…or provide food (in various forms) to those who do!!

JoAnnes pickles

Many people have asked us what we think of the whole idea.

If you are a savvy reader (which we know ALL of our readers are!), you’ll already have figured out our answer.  The title gives it away…

“Count us IN!!!”

From the very beginning, 3 and a half years ago (Wow…it’s been THAT long already!!), we have been 100% behind this idea.

Why would we NOT be eager to throw our support behind a concept that promises only to strengthen and connect the local food community…not only within the agricultural sector, but also to connect agriculture as a whole to those for whom we are growing these products?!?!

(Whew!  I’m struggling to keep this one short….there is so much to say….and we’re so excited to have this network in our very own backyard…..)

Winter basket

Have we peaked your curiosity?

Hope so!

Here’s what you can do now….

    1. Explore the Two Rivers Food Hub, online or on Facebook
    2. By joining the mailing list (send a request to info@tworiversfoodhub.com )
    3. Become a supporter.  (TRFH is a not-for-profit social enterprise and relies on support from those of us who think it is a fabulous initiative!!)

 

Or Better yet….

 

As you have likely guessed, we would be thrilled to continue the dialogue, but we’ll leave it there for this particular post.

We’ll be at the celebration on Wednesday and hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

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If ONE picture is worth a thousand words….

Friday, May 13th, 2016

…..then that must make 41 pictures worth … way too many words for me to put here!

It seems that we’ve mentioned it before, and it’s really no secret that….

Our customers are THE best! 

Just in case you need more proof, read on:

A few weeks ago, one of our Bountiful Basket customers sent us an email to let us know she had photographed EVERY basket last year – and was offering to share her photos with us!!!!


….and not just every basket, but what she did with EVERY basket!

 

Naturally, we are thrilled to let you take a peek at them too.  Click on the photo to hop on over to the gallery and take a virtual tour through our 15 week Bountiful Basket program, as Carol saw it last year (2015).

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Warning:  Viewing this album could lead to mouth watering.  We will not be held responsible for resulting damages to your keyboard!

There are still spaces available for the 2016 program, (although our Perth pick-up location is now full.).  Act quickly to avoid disappointment.

Click here to go directly to our online registration and payment.

 

 

 

 

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Tax time made me tear up.

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

It’s funny how things hit us out of the blue sometimes, isn’t it?

I mean, if I were to tell you that organizing our income tax files left me a little misty-eyed, you might think I’d finally, truly “lost it”, mightn’t you???

Let me explain…

Each April, as I ‘switch over’ my files to the current year, there is always the 8th year back to dispose of.  (We only have to keep 7 years of records on hand, right?)

So, being just a little bit nostalgic, and prone to being a little bit forgetful, I like to leaf through the receipts and records from that 8th year.  I pick out the historically significant things….invoices for major purchases, the going rate for certain price benchmarks (fuel, hydro, labour, etc.)….and keep a bit of a record from year to year….just because.  This time, it’s 2008.

Maybe someday our successors will look back and find it interesting, who knows?

What I’m finding interesting today though, is that it’s not the numbers making me feel wistful.  It’s the names.

Don’t get me wrong.  Just like you, I’d love it if our hydro rate was still $0.05/kwh, or student wage was at $8.20/hr.

But those are just numbers.

What makes me pause is not the cost of labour. It’s the names of the student employees who are now married or engaged, raising families, or running their own successful businesses…all of whom we remain in contact with, and consider dear friends.

It’s not the prices for the last remaining dairy cattle we sold.   It’s the name of that one special cow, who went on to live out her years at the farm where I first learned to love the farm life, now owned and operated by my brother and his wife.   Dear old ‘Abby’ is no longer a part of the herd there…but her progeny carry on her legacy.

The cost of equipment rented is trivial. The fact that the man we rented it from in the next county is no longer with us, makes me sad.

The ‘young lad from down the road’ to whom we paid a one-time, lump sum of $37.25 for ‘weeding’ is now a knowledgeable, apprenticing mechanic. He happens to be outside with Robert as I type, working equipment, getting it ready for the upcoming planting season.  (We’ll pay him more than $37.25 today!)

 

And so it goes. Today’s exercise leaves me with much more than a bin full of papers and an empty file drawer, ready for the coming year.

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It leaves me with some worthwhile reminders;

….that change is not something to be feared. The past decade has held many changes for Miller’s Bay Farm.  2008 was our LAST year to sell Maple Syrup and our FIRST year to sell strawberries.  As Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the  new.” 

… that what we do here is more about the people than anything else. We’re not in this to get rich (in the monetary sense).  If we were, we’d do something else!  As it turns out though, our lives are made rich by each of the people who walk through our lives in a year….and that’s worth far more to us than any dollar figure that we submit to Revenue Canada by the end of the month.

And I can’t help but wonder….7 years down the road, when 2016 becomes “the 8th year”….which names, events, and memories will make me pause and reflect, all over again.

 

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I’m Still Smiling…just thinking of it!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

I had the most enjoyable experience just the other day!

Mrs. Cunningham’s Kindergarten class, at St. John’s CES in Perth invited me to come and share with them about what we do here on the farm and how it relates to our community.

Shannon Miller

These young folks were genuinely interested, eager to (politely!) share their own experiences and just simply enchanting.  I could have stayed and chatted with them all day!

Their personal anecdotes, and well thought out questions served to me as an important reminder that it’s never too early to gain a good understanding of where our food comes from.

As food producers, we feel a huge sense of responsibility to be open and ready to share what we do, how we do it, and why we love it with anyone who will listen…of ANY age!

To Mrs. Cunningham and her lovely students, may I just say,
“Thank you!” once again for the warm welcome.
It was my pleasure to meet you all!

 

 

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How much do people LOVE our Bountiful Baskets???

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

It’s Bountiful Basket packing day here at the farm.

An email I received last week keeps springing to my mind (and each time, it brings a smile!)

The message came from one of our faithful customers – a member of the Bountiful Basket program since it began in 2013 (and yes – she said it was ok for me to share her thoughts with you!).

In the message she remarked,
“So sad we are on holidays for the next few weeks, and our daughter will be picking up the great stuff.”

Did you catch that?  She is SAD to be going on holidays because she’ll be missing her baskets!

They must be good.

Hopefully she’s being a trooper, and doing her best to enjoy her vacation…in spite of what she’s missing out on at home…

Week 7 2015

(One of our Small Bountiful Baskets from earlier this season)

 

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When it’s over….it’s OVER!

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

How do you know when Strawberry season is truly finished?

Well, once we make a run through with this machine, there’s really no mistaking it!

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Yes, that is a mower, much like a larger version of your lawn mower.  And yes, we are chopping off ALL of the tops of the strawberry plants!  (Don’t be confused.  Robert is moving backward down the rows, so it’s the plants in front of the tractor that have already been mowed down.) 

Seems rather harsh, doesn’t it?
It’s called “Renovation”.

Now, if you’ve ever lived through any other type of ‘renovation’, you will know that it almost always means that things are going to look worse before they look better.  It’s the same with the strawberry patch.

This video does a decent job of explaining the ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ of renovating a strawberry patch.

When the mower has passed by, this is what we’re left with…(the row on the right)…

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It doesn’t end there!

We will still have to do the tilling and narrowing of the rows.  Then in the late fall – after a frost or two, we will apply the straw mulch over the whole patch and ‘tuck them in’ for the winter.

Until then….we’ll be in the vegetable patch!

Never a dull moment!!

 

 

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It’s not over yet!

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Although it is now Week #4 of the 2015 Strawberry season, we’re not finished yet!

Here is what we’re seeing out there this morning.

July 6 2015

…lots of green berries on our later varieties, just waiting patiently to ripen up!

What does that mean to you?

It means that you still have time to enjoy some fresh, flavourful Miller’s Bay Farm strawberries before we wrap up.

Now, whether they’ll be picked by us, or picked by you, is still up in the air.
Since this last variety that we’re working on is only a percentage of our patch, we need to be careful about opening up for public Pick-Your-Own again.

(What we do not want to do is announce that PYO has re-opened, and have such a tedious pick for you this late in the season that you get discouraged and never want to come back and pick with us again!) 
That’s why we’re just taking the PYO situation one-day-at-a-time for this week.

If you are content to let us do the picking, we are aiming to have a steady supply of pre-picked strawberries at the Roadside Stand at the farm every day (Mon. – Sat.).
As many days as the supply permits, we will also be at our Perth Wagon for your convenience.

So, please stay tuned…to our Facebook updates, our website, or if you really love the sound of my voice THAT much, you can call 613-283-0205 and listen to our regularly updated voicemail greeting!

We’ll see you soon,

 

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We did it!!! We made it a “5-Berry Day”!

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

 

It looks like we’ve arrived!  We’ve just changed our Berry Picking Rating to 5 out of 5!

5-Berry

 

 

 

What do you think?

We think the photo says it all.
(I snapped it just this morning in the patch.)

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In a row like that (and there are many of them) it won’t take long for you to fill a basket.

 

 

 

 

 

Based on previous experience, the picking should be incredible for about a week, since this is – believe it or not – nearing “mid-season”.
Then it will (sadly) start to taper off, and before you know it, we’ll be left with nothing but memories (and hopefully a freezer full of strawberries, pies, and jams) until it all starts again next year!

Pick-Your-Own from 7 AM to 7 PM (sometimes later…call or email to inquire) Monday through Saturday.

We’ll see you at the farm!

 

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