Rewind…14 years…

Does your mind work like mine?

It’s kind of like Facebook…but I had it going on LONG before Facebook thought of it!!

The “On This Day” memory is one that my mind seems to be able to spring on me quite regularly.  Maybe it’s because of the seasonal weather patterns…I don’t know.  I’m certainly no psychology major!

I just know that I love it when it DOES happen.

Today, we’re going back to 2006.  

Miller’s Bay Farm – and the Miller family – looked quite different then…

Lauren in barn with cattle

“Little Lauren” with one of our favourites, ‘Cutie’.

We had a barn full of milking cattle, two other barns housing our replacement heifers (milk cows to be…) and a beef herd – who would have been in the midst of calving season.  Besides that, it was maple syrup time…just a typical spring.

In terms of family, we were in “that phase” of parenting.

You know the one.

The one that when people who are 10+  years ‘ahead’ of you survey your young brood – with a certain amount of pity (and maybe a hint of smugness??), they smile knowingly and say something like, “Well, well, you’re BUSY, aren’t you?”

I suppose we were…but it was all good!

There was Lauren, in the photo above.  She would have been about 3 and a half.  Kendall was likely sitting quietly somewhere off to the side in his stroller, taking everything in.  He was 19 months at this point.

And Tyler was getting set to make  his appearance in less than 2 weeks!

The excitement of the day though, and the reason for the vivid memory, etched in my mind is this photo…..

 

Lauren ready to host our guests

Lauren, the ‘hostess’ …all ready for company!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now as you might guess, a table full of coffee and snacks is NOT a regular occurrence in a dairy barn.

On this particular day in March of 2006 we were all ready to host the local ‘Holstein Club Car Tour’.

Yes, that IS a thing!

(As you can see, somebody was quite excited about the whole idea!!)

A car tour (in the farming world) is a chance for your farming colleagues and neighbours to hop in their cars (more often trucks though…not sure why it’s labelled a ‘car’ tour…) and visit a handful of pre-arranged stops within a certain county.

It’s a multi-purpose event, really.

It’s a chance to see how others have things set up; how a certain piece of machinery, a style of construction, a different milking or feeding system, works ‘in the real world’ rather than at a trade show or farm show when ‘sales’ are the main objective.

It’s also a chance to check out the herd themselves…which genetics are (or aren’t!) working for whom.  Farmers are generally pretty open to share among themselves, actually, about their successes AND failures.  (Refreshing, I know!)

There is lots of ‘comparing notes’, ‘question and answer’ and usually plenty of encouragement too.  In a business where your ‘day-to-day’ can become fairly ‘routine’, and often quite ‘solitary’, the encouragement piece is pretty significant!

And of course, we can’t forget the food!  It’s basically a progressive dinner consisting mainly of cookies, donuts, squares, coffee and the occasional fruit, veggie or sandwich tray.

Because … well…. we all know that food brings people together… EVEN while standing around in a barn!!

So, that was our life ‘on this day’ way back in 2006!  

What were you doing?

Funny how life goes…little did we know then, that in less than 6 months time, we would finish our final milking in that old barn!

Wonder what things will look like 14 years from today…

 

 

It Starts Here.

Hey Folks,

It’s Shannon.  You may find this post to be a little more reflective than some of our posts, AND it really has nothing at all to do with Miller’s Bay Farm, or farming in general.  It has more to do with being human…and our own individual responses to this place in which we have suddenly found ourselves. 🙂

If you don’t feel like reading it, that’s ok.  It IS a long one…but then… it’s not like any of us have anywhere to be right now…

I just know that I’ve found myself aimlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed WAY more than I’d like to admit over these past few days…and honestly, for the most part – I’m no better off than when I started.

Yesterday (Friday, March 13th) I was in a funk.

I knew it.

My family knew it.

Probably even our dogs knew it.

Why? 

Well, I think I know that too.

 

This is ‘my corner’.

 

It’s nothing fancy…some candles, a lamp, a super-comfy old chair, my Bible, journal, pens… you get the idea.

I usually spend a little time there each morning – alone –  reading, journaling, reflecting, often praying.

Yesterday I did not.  And it showed.  All day.

 

You see, here’s the thing about me:

I crave certainty.

I find comfort in routines.

I love the predictable.

Lists…plans….schedules…I’m all over them – to a fault.
In the absence of those things, I am prone to feeling a bit lost, lacking purpose.

Sometimes, when my mind is not locked on a task, it can begin to wander…and wander it will!  Those wanderings can often lead to the weedy territory known as worry.

That’s not a nice place.  That’s not a helpful place.

Just like a dog that’s followed a scent in the wrong direction and needs to be beckoned back to its master, it’s at those times I need to be intentional about the path that my mind is on … being sure to ‘take every thought captive’ .

Because…

Right now, not much is certain.

‘Normal’ routines are irrelevant.  (Oh we’re making some new ones…just ask the kiddos!!   I’m not sure everyone is as pleased with them as I am, but in the interest of sanity….there they are!)  

And the only thing that’s predictable, is that things in our world are changing hour by hour!

So today, I started the day in ‘my corner’.  As always, it was time well spent.

I was reminded of a few things… I’ll share them with you, just in case you’ve been a bit distracted too, and haven’t made it to ‘your corner’ (whatever that looks like for you) in a little while.

  • Worrying won’t make anything better. 
    Plus…most of what my mind conjures up never ends up happening anyway!!
    (Do you know … I mentioned the Bible earlier in this post… throughout those pages, we are instructed not to worry 365 times?!?  Talk about making sure we get the message!!)

 

 

  • I can choose joy.
    …to have it for myself…AND to share it with others.

    Choose Joy Quote

 

 

  • I am not the boss of this (or of much)!!
    …and because I’m not (y’all can be very thankful for THAT one!!) …it’s all going to work out EXACTLY according to plan. 
Everything is going to be OK

 

So where do we go from here…in the meantime…while we wait?

Well, I will be the LAST person to start spouting off advice.  (Seems like there’s PLENTY of that already going around.)  We’re not going to discuss hand-washing, grocery store pandemonium, self-quarantine, or any of the rest of it.

What we ARE going to do is intentionally seek out the good, the encouraging, the normal (even mundane) stuff, to remind ourselves that we are all in community (albeit from a distance…) and that ‘this too, shall pass’.

Then, we’re going to share it with you…mostly on our Facebook page, subsequent blog posts, and maybe the occasional email to our Farm Fresh Family.

…Recipes…Quotes…Inspiring stuff…Silly stuff…Little-known facts…

…and we hope that whatever ‘starts here’ will be a wave of encouragement that spreads far and wide…

Who KNOWS what we’ll find!!
It should be fun.  Join us whenever you feel like you need a break from ‘the rest of it’. !

Be well, and please know that we are thinking of you…now and always.

Shannon

 

Just a little side note…

…before you go…we wanted to mention that we’re going to take a break from ‘selling’ you anything for a couple of weeks.  We’ll leave our on-line registration for the Bountiful Baskets open, but you’ve got other concerns these days.
It just doesn’t seem like a priority right now.
There’s plenty of time for that later, when everything settles down. 

 

 

 

 

She Did It!!

We are really excited for her!

We are so proud of her!

We think she’s just amazing!

….. and she’s not even ours!!

WELL – she is…kind of…

You know them, and you love them too!  Each summer, we are blessed with a pretty incredible team of Freshness Fanatics who are the face of Miller’s Bay Farm to the world.

This is a ‘first job’ for many.  We consider it an honour to start these enthusiastic young people off on their journey into the world of work.  And to be completely honest…we usually learn as much from them as they do from us along the way!

Do you ever wonder where they soar off to once they leave us?
It is pretty neat to keep track of ‘our kids’ and their adventures…and after 20 years of summers…as you might imagine, there are quite a few ‘adventures’ to hear about!!

This post is about one such adventure…

The year was 2013.

A lovely young woman by the name of Erin MacDonald dropped by ‘just to see if we were needing any help at the stand.’

 

(We didn’t do a very good job of getting photos way back then…so I stole this one from her Linkedin profile…hope you don’t mind, Erin!)

 

 

 

The rest – they say – is history.  Erin worked with us for a couple of years, and then she was off to the University of Guelph (an excellent choice of school, if I DO say so myself!) for a Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management degree.

Of course…she ‘nailed it.’
(And I don’t mean in the way that the Netflix series means it.  I mean she really DID Nail It!!)

After graduation….some pretty cool work experiences…and then Baking and Pastry Arts, to really round out her skill set…

We arrive at 2020….and the source of our excitement, pride and awe…as we touched on in the opening lines of this blog.

As of just last week, Erin has realized her dream.

 

The newest cafe in town.  Harvest Social !! 

 

It’s located in the Davidson Courtyard Shops, on Russell Street West, and it’s WONDERFUL!!

Don’t take our word for it though…. go check it out for yourself, say ‘hi’ to Erin and share a memory from her “Miller’s Bay Farm” days when you’re there!! 

Bon Appetit!

 

Here’s an idea…

Are you already thinking about green grass???

….and FRESH, tasty strawberries and vegetables…you know – like the ones you don’t find in many stores right now?

Yeah…us too!

More specifically though, we are brainstorming about how to make it super-EASY – in the midst of your fun-filled, crazy-busy summer for you  to get the ‘fruits of our labours’ into your home and onto your family’s table… WHILE keeping things rolling along here at the farm…and in our family life too…

On that note…we wanted to let you know that we are considering some alterations to our popular Bountiful Basket Program.  (What’s that you ask?  Read about how it generally works here.)

Due to a number of factors, there is a very good chance that we will be returning to our original model of Farm pick up only for the program this year.

THAT brings us to the ‘Question of the Day’ for today:

What if….we offered HOME DELIVERY of our Bountiful Baskets? 

What do YOU think? 

(….before you reply….please read ALL the way to the end….)

Hold on now….we are ONLY in the brainstorming stage of this… but we’ve got to start somewhere.

Of course it would have to be only within a defined geographical area and there would be an additional cost over-and-above farm pickup….and who knows what other parameters would be included…

We’ll be rolling out the re-vamped program in the coming few weeks.  (Don’t worry, it’s going to be GREAT!!) 

We promise to KEEP the features that you love most…the surprises, the Bountiful Basket Bulletin, the sharing table…

AND…we have some exciting ideas to ADD that will make it even more worthwhile to be a part of it in 2020…like maybe preferred pricing for signing up and paying early…. payment plans… Bountiful Basket Member only specials….even the possibility of an added pick up day at the farm…

Remember….2020 IS our 20th Anniversary year… we’ll be celebrating all the way through!!

(…that means specials, deals, and perks for YOU!!)

We wouldn’t have asked the questions if we weren’t ready and willing to hear back from you!

We value your thoughts on this (and everything we do here). 

Please shoot us off a message, email, comment, or give us a call!

Email us – millersfarmfresh@gmail.com

Call – 613-283-0205

 

As I sat yesterday, pondering the beginning of a new decade, it occurred to me that twenty years ago TODAY was a pretty significant day in the story of Miller’s Bay Farm.

See, January 1, 2000 was  the day (on paper) that Robert and I purchased the family farm from Mom & Dad Miller.

 

We didn’t just purchase a business & property though…along with it came decades of REALLY hard work; lessons learned through life experiences of generations of Millers before us… worry…. blood – sweat – tears…. FAITH…. and LOVE …. so much love

for the land

for the lifestyle

for the animals

for the community

…for the Creator of it all, who faithfully provides a harvest (be it abundant…or not …) every season.

A lot has stayed the same over these past two decades…

…but MUCH has changed!

We’ve done a whole lot of growing (literally, and figuratively!)

We’re excited to spend some time this year looking back, reflecting – and celebrating

“20 years in 2020”!  

Won’t you join us?  

Two Words…

Thank You.

    It’s all finished!

Wow! Our 2019 season was one to remember.

As we pack up the Roadside Stand and pull the wagon back under cover for the winter, we can’t quite get our thoughts and feelings into words…at least…not in a coherent manner that you would want to read!!

Yes, this season WAS our ‘best ever’….in many ways.  We’re not even talking about ‘dollars and cents’. (The numbers have to work…don’t get us wrong.  We are running a business here)

We entered 2019 with a fresh, new outlook, and from the very start, everything was just …. so different.

Perhaps it can best be summed up by this quote:  

 

That’s not to say that in every moment and every circumstance we had the proper attitude…

We ARE human… very human!!

It’s just amazing though, when you’re ‘pulling together’ toward a common goal, how things seem so to flow much easier (and are enjoyable!)

For today, as we ‘close the book’ on 2019, suffice it to say that our hearts are FULL. If we were to choose a few words …. Blessed   …   Humbled …. Content  ….. Thankful …. would be the ones.

Speaking of thankful…

Thank YOU…

…if you supported us by purchasing our products from us, or from other businesses who carry them.

…if you are part of our team… providing us with your top-notch goods or services as we run this business.

…if you are among the many who keep the ‘buzz’ going on Facebook and Instagram … liking, sharing, commenting, posting on your own page, taking a minute to give a postive review… You’re amazing!

…if you provided constructive feedback, allowing us to improve the way we do things around here!

….if you told a friend, neighbour or co-worker about us…or even shared your goodies with them.

… if you prayed for us…or with us. 🙂

…if you encouraged us …with words, acts of kindness, treats, hugs, notes, high-fives…. in ANY way…you kept us going!!

Thank. You.  

Like photos?

Here’s a little recap of the year….

Thanks to YOU for making it so!   Funny thing… exactly 3 months (and one day) ago – on the 4th of June, we posted our “Something’s Different Here”  post.  It was outlining our plan make good use of the demo bunkie that had arrived in our front yard from North Country Sheds.   The main purpose behind the whole idea was simply to make some introductions between the local folks who grow and make some pretty great products …. and our pretty great friends who regularly stop by the Roadside Stand to support us and our farming endeavours!   It would seem safe to say that the whole event (all 9 weeks of it…) was a resounding success.  We couldn’t be more pleased!

  Here’s a recap…complete with contact info and links for each Friend who attended. (Hey…there’s no need to stop enjoying their products, just because you only saw them here at the farm once or twice!)    

Week #1 

Oak Leaf Road Maple Syrup

Week #2

Kricklewood Farm Sunflower Oil

Week #3 

Sylvia’s 4th Line Florals

Week #4 …AND #5

Briarlea Farms Blueberries & Baked Treats 

Week #6 …and #8 

rND Bakery

Week #7

Milkhouse Farm & Dairy Sheeps’ Milk Cheese, Lamb & Wool Products 

Week #9

Jiny’s Kimchi

“Wow” just doesn’t seem like a BIG enough word to cover it.

These two ….

 

… are celebrating 65 years of marriage today.

So, when you add it up – 65 years for each – they’ve got 130 years of experience as partners in marriage…in the farming business… and in life.

As Robert and I reflect back over our mere 20 years of marriage, and the journey it has been so far… to think of 65 seems …. well… just absolutely remarkable, to be honest.

As most couples who have been married any length of time at all would tell you, Mom & Dad will admit that it hasn’t all been easy…or fun.  They have weathered their fair share (at least) of storms.

But they’ve done it together, while holding tight to each other, and to their unshakable faith.

In the process, they have provided an inspiring example to their family and all who know them.  An example of what it looks like to live out those marriage vows taken so many years ago, with love and grace.

So, as much as it will make them feel uncomfortable (…neither of them being lovers of the spotlight…), today seems like a very appropriate day to say,

“Thank you Mom & Dad.

… for your perseverance.

… for your love – for each other, and for those around you.

… for your example, your prayers, and your encouragement.”

If it hadn’t been for all of that, the story of the Miller Family  – and of Miller’s Bay Farm – would have unfolded very differently over these past decades.

Although they have since passed the pen to us, we are beyond grateful for the chapters that Donald and Wilma Miller helped to write!

Happy Anniversary ❤

 

 

 

 

 

WOW…and now…

WOW!! Wasn’t that a party?!?

 

2019 has been a strawberry season for the books!  Thank you for making it so great!

Whether at the Roadside Stand at the Farm, in the Pick-Your-Own Patch, the Perth Farmers’ Market, or our Perth Wagon at Penny’s Place… records were broken in every spot, and that’s all because of you and your support.  You are the BEST!

But…guess what?

The excitement is FAR from over, because NOW we move right into vegetable time!

We’re not sure what your thoughts on vegetables are, but around here, we can’t find ANYTHING boring about them…especially when they are freshly picked for you, straight from our fields…still loaded with nutrients and flavour and just begging to be taken home for your family’s enjoyment!

Did you know that you can check on ‘What’s available’ anytime, from anywhere?

 

Check out the handy, newly posted  “On the Stand” page on our website.  You may not have seen that particular page yet, since we have JUST made it active.  We’ll keep it updated at least once each week.  That way, you’ll always have a good idea of what’s coming out of the fields and ready for your dinner plate!

Now…there is one thing we did need to chat about, and we’d love to have your feedback.

If you are one of our Perth area friends, this applies to you even more.

For the past few years, once strawberries have tapered off, we have closed our Perth Wagon at Penny’s Place.

This year, we would like to keep it open, but it doesn’t seem quite feasible to stay there 6 days per week right now.

Can we meet in the middle?

What if we were to commit to being at the Perth Wagon with a full lineup of our vegetables each Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the summer?

(Remember you can also catch us at the Perth Farmers’ Market every Saturday… so that means we would have the Perth area ‘covered’ for 3 days each week. )

If you are (or could be) a patron of our Perth location, we really would love to hear your thoughts on this one.  Please drop us an email at millersfarmfresh@gmail.com , comment below, or pick up the phone and give us a call at 613-283-0205.

 

 

 

Hey folks…can we talk?

Any day now, the sides of the streets will be dotted with a familiar – and welcome – sign of summer … Roadside fruit and vegetable stands.

  • They are most often operated by the farmers themselves, or members of their summer staff team – but not always.
  • They usually sell produce which has been grown at their home farm – but not always.
  • The farms represented are often within just a few kilometers of the town they’ve sprung up in – but not always.

Yes, we happen to operate one of these Roadside fruit and vegetable stands.  It’s located in the parking lot at Penny’s Place Restaurant  on Hwy 7, East of Perth.

 We’re heading into our 9th year there.

 

The point of this ‘chat’ we’re having today though, is NOT to convince you to come and buy from us. Surprised? Don’t be. If you would give us just one more minute of your time, we’ll help you to understand what we’re driving at here.

More often every year, we are hearing from folks who honestly think that they have been buying OUR products…but they haven’t.  We know this because they’ll tell us something like…

“We stopped in at your stand on the corner and bought strawberries….or corn….or….fill in the blank.”

Oh yes, there IS a stand on the corner…but it’s not ours.

And that’s perfectly ok!

Let’s be clear.

The other thing we are NOT doing here is suggesting that you avoid supporting our farming colleagues at the other stands in town.  We know them personally.  Great folks! They do a terrific job of growing fresh, quality produce for your table.

We’re all just making a living, and there’s room for everyone in the world of local food.

As shoppers, each one of us is absolutely free to choose where we spend our food dollars.  That may be at the farm gate, the farmers’ market, the local grocer, or even the big box stores.

As consumers ourselves though, we do find it disheartening to learn that the money we had intended to end up in one pocket actually went in a different direction.

Perhaps we could liken it to the times in a grocery store when we’ve purposely chosen fruit from under the sign that said ‘Ontario-grown’.

 

Upon closer examination though, the sticker on that fruit revealed that the country of origin was actually Chile.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Chile.  Farmers there have to make a living too…but we didn’t intend for our money to go there.

 

You work hard to earn your paycheque, and groceries make up a significant portion of your household budget. It just seemed that this was worth mentioning, having heard from a number of people who weren’t quite sure “who’s who” under the tent…. or in our case, beside the wagon!

 

The shopper is in the driver’s seat.   What can a person do to find clarity?

By Ontario law, baskets over a certain size must be labelled with the packer’s name and where the product was grown.

Read labels.

 

When in doubt, ask… Ask where it was grown …and don’t settle for the stat answer of ‘locally’.  (‘Local’ can mean ANYWHERE in Ontario)

Ask about our farms.

Ask about our families…

…And our teams…

 

Ask us anything!

We’ll look forward to continuing the dialogue when we see you in person.

And – regardless of where you choose to fill up your grocery bags, we say ‘thank you’ for reading, and for your interest in local food.  We’re all in this together!

 

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