A Monday Morning Musing

Disclaimer:  This post is just me…putting down my rambling thoughts ‘on paper’ because…well, sometimes it just seems like a good idea to share.  I’m not fussing with the fonts, or the layout.  Just being real, on a Monday morning.

 

Sometimes Monday mornings are hard.

5:20 AM:  Today when the alarm rang, I think that both Robert and I tried to sqeeze our eyes shut hard enough to chase this particular Monday away…far, far away.  It didn’t work.  And our hearts were so anxious, we couldn’t have fallen back asleep if we’d tried.

We’ve been waiting for this – a sunny day, a sunny forecast, for more than 36 hours in a stretch.

But, now that it’s here, things feel completely overwhelming.  All of those things that ‘should’ have been done long ago ‘in a normal year’ still scream at us from the lengthy ‘to – do’ list.

We knew what we had to do…we just weren’t all that crazy about doing it…today.
Surely you feel this way too sometimes?

So, we rolled on out of bed and began the morning routine…one slightly heavy foot ahead of the other.
(I’ve read recently that what you do in the first hour after waking up sets the tone for the whole day, and over the past month, we both have found it to ring true.)

Robert made his way to his favourite chair, journal and Bible in hand, for his morning chat with God.
I laced up the runners headed out for my own morning quiet time.  Often that’s where I too find myself in conversation with The One who guides my steps and urges me along when I’m starting to drag.  (Like most dads, He is happy to meet with us anywhere, anytime!  Thank goodness!!)

6:30 AM:  Back home…still a little apprehensive…but knowing (…although not yet fully FEELING…) that ‘we CAN do this.’

The kids are starting to stir…they’ve got their own ‘stuff’ going on too.  High school exams, after school commitments, end of year excitement.   While they are in-tune enough to sense our anxious thoughts, we are careful not to burden them with our ‘grown up’ concerns and worries.

Hugs and ‘I love you’s’ as they head out the door… a welcome deposit to the ’emotional bank accounts’, hopefully going both ways.

Shower ….. breakfast …. COFFEE …. 🙂

9:00 AM:  Things are moving now…the team arrives to clock in and get started…
After a flurry of ‘Good Mornings’ (and today – introductions as well, as we have 2 new guys starting their first shift.  No doubt they’re feeling a little apprehenive too!!) those first jobs get knocked off the list, or delegated with the confidence that they WILL be by day’s end.

Breathe.

We’re doing this.

We really are.

And we STILL love it.  How can that be?

Honestly, as I type this with tears in my eyes, (okay,  they may have overflowed just a little….actually…since we’re being totally honest….), I’m not sure of the reason.

I think maybe it’s this….

 

As I walked back into the house to tackle my own ‘to-do’ list (which incidentally did NOT include a blog post today!!) it hit me like a 2 x 4 to the side of the head…

This is our passion…  farming is what we have BOTH wanted to spend our lives doing since we were kids.

As often as we ask ourselves, “Why on earth do we keep on going???”, we are reminded that it is what we love…even when it’s hard….especially when it’s hard… and it’s a privelege to have a calling and an occupation that we are fully invested in.

It’s now shortly after 10 AM, and I’m finding myself feeling excited about this week (…and I don’t think it’s JUST the coffee kicking in)!

Next task…a walk through the strawberry patch.  Must try to figure out some sort of an answer to the ‘question of the week’   ….. “When will those strawberries be ready???”

Stay tuned.

It’s going to be a great day!

No,  It already IS a great day!!

 

 

It appeared nearly 3 weeks ago…and you’ve been so very patient to wait and find out…  

 

“What’s up with the new shed?”

 

 

Well, first of all…

  • It’s NOT ours, and no…
  • We’re NOT replacing our trusty old Roadside Shed just yet.

 

 

It’s always kind of cool the way things work out…

The wheels (of thought…) had begun turning waaaaay back in the winter.  We were wondering about how we could do a little more ‘collaborating’ this season with  our fellow small business owners in the area…farm…or otherwise.

 

Enter North Country Sheds.

David gave us a call wondering if we’d have a spot to showcase one of their cabins here at the farm.

We knew right then that this idea was ‘a go’!

STEP #1 – The “Lakeside Bunkie”  arrives.  It’s there for you to see…inside and out.  Feel free to poke around, go inside…have a look!

 

(But guess what?   There’s more to this than ‘just’ a demo cabin…  read on!)

It seemed too bad to just leave that lovely building sitting there only to look pretty!

That brings us to:

STEP #2 – “Friends at the Farm”

As you know, we don’t grow everything here.

(Yikes!  Could you imagine us trying to do that?!??! )

We thought,

“Why not invite some of our farming friends to come, and meet our amazing Farm Family (that’s YOU!)?”

Invitations were extended, our kind friends chose to ‘humour us’ … and…. it’s all coming together!

We’re so excited!!!!!!!!!!

The plan is that we will host a different ‘guest’ EACH THURSDAY AFTERNOON throughout July and August. They will bring their wonderful products right here, to the farm for you.

It will be a great opportunity to meet the producers, try a sample, make connections, and of course – purchase their products!

We’re still finalizing the list, but at this point we can tell you we have confirmed the following guests:

 

 

So, keep your eyes open for more news about this.

We will be adding a few more names to the list in the coming weeks to make sure that July and August are filled up.  We’ll also be posting a schedule, so that you’ll know who’s coming for which week!

There are so many really wonderful, local products available … not too far from home.

The trick sometimes, is knowing where to find them.

Hopefully this will help!

Thanks for reading,

Keep tabs on us:

  (We love to hear from you!  This was some feedback from a returning Bountiful Basket Member that we wanted to share.  We suspect that it may answer some of the questions a lot of folks have about the program. )

… the only one that had comparable selection to yours was the first one I joined…and it was quite a bit more expensive. I appreciate that a lot of CSAs include unusual crops as a fun introduction to new foods, but I found those would oftentimes be wasted if we didn’t like them or didn’t know how to use them in our regular cooking routine, plus I felt they took space in the box from more practical veggies.

I love that yours has all the tried and true standards and I can count on the whole basket being used by week’s end – and at a price that has other CSAs beat.

I also really like that you offer large and small basket options; for my small family I would always buy the “half-share” option at other CSAs, which was a full-share box but picked up every other week instead of every week, which meant less-frequent fresh produce and a challenge to get through everything before it went bad.

The small basket is the perfect size for our family. “

S.L.

  There you have it!  In summary…

  • Varied selection
  • Not too many ‘unusual’ (aka puzzling!) items
  • Reasonable price
  • Size options to fit differing needs
  • Fresh supply EVERY week (regardless of basket size)
    …and of course….
  • ALL local, home-grown, right here at Miller’s Bay Farm!

 

Have we got you thinking about it?

 

 

Sign up is open until May 31st!

 

 

A Perfect Match???

Remember those crazy quizzes in the Teen Magazines of long ago???  (…when we actually read PAPER magazines?)

 

…not gonna lie… I’ve certainly completed a few of them in my day!
I’m happy to report, however, that I have never based any major life decisions on the results of said quizzes!!

 

This very day, we have a similar quiz for YOU.

 

No. No. NO!  It’s NOT about dating. 
(We love you…but you’re on your own where that’s concerned!!  )

This one’s about our Bountiful Basket Program, you know…our weekly basket of Farm Fresh Goodies?  (sometimes also known as a ‘CSA’ program…)

 

You see, we fully understand that this type of thing is not for everyone. We have members who would NEVER dream of skipping a year…

…and then we have folks who have given it a try once or twice and found that it just wasn’t a good fit for their family…and that’s OK!

So we thought…maybe it would be fun to put it in the format of a little quiz.

Just to be clear – it’s NOT statisically correct…by ANY stretch…but it may help you to decipher whether or not you consider joining the program this year.

(And hopefully it will be fun – regardless of your result!)

Want to give it a try?

 

 

Enjoy!

By the way…if while taking the quiz, you get to wondering… about ANYTHING (well maybe not dating…or other ‘matters of the heart’…but ALMOST anything …)

 

 

…please drop us an email, or give us a call.  We’d be more than happy to chat and help you figure it out!

 

 

Do you have people in your life who make working together so much fun that it doesn’t feel like work at all?

Don’t you just LOVE that???

Roger and Lianne Sands (Arranel Studios) are some of ‘those people’ for us!

From our VERY first family portrait…

…to our latest project…our updated farm website…

..these two…

 

 

 

…are ‘Our People’!

(Ok, well to be honest, our relationship started  a LITTLE bit before that family photo up there…but I’m certainly not going to be the one to share some of the very vintage portraits that they may or may not have taken of ‘yours truly’ in her much younger days…. at least … not today…)

  Whether they are helping us to

  • Celebrate our Life with portrait photography
  • Celebrate our Business through commercial photography or advancing our family business via…
  • Video creation
  • Graphic Design
  • or – as we’ve already mentioned – Web design

…their 40+ years of experience and know-how shines through it all.

The very best part though, is that their fun-loving, quirky personalities, matched with an unrivaled sense of humour, means that our meetings generally include more laughs than a visit to a comedy club!!

Get to know them better by having a look at their latest “Boost-Letter” right here.

…or have a browse through the extensive (but super-easy to navigate!) portrait gallery on the Arranel Studios website(There’s a pretty good chance you’ll find some folks you know there…)

Once you’ve seen some more of their work, you will DEFINITELY want to enter our spring ‘Find The Flowers’ contest for a chance at the awesome prize that Roger and Lianne have been so generous to contribute!

Click the Flower to go to the contest…

 

Happy Spring!!

 

Contest Time!!!

We’ve got the April Showers!! Let’s not wait until May for the FLOWERS….

What in the world is going on???

As you may know, we’ve completely re-vamped our website.

We love it.  And we hope you will too.

Roger and Lianne, over at Arranel Studios have done a tremendous job (as always) of making what we’ve envisioned in our minds appear (almost miraculously) on the screen!!

In order to give folks a little extra incentive to have a look around, we decided to run a Spring Contest.

There happen to be a couple of pretty amazing prizes (EACH valued at over $200!!)

Have we peaked your curiosity? We hope so!!

What do you need to do?

Just head on over to our Contest Page for instructions and more details. (That green button below will take you there.)

Hint:  We’re not going to ask you to do a bunch of ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ and other Social Media shenanigans.  This contest is a little bit different…

Now let’s go and have some fun!!

If you’ve been following us on instagram this past winter, you’ve seen some of our posts about ‘what farmers do in the winter’. Glamourous things, like…

  • repairing broken appliances
  • tackling the mountain of clothes to be ironed
  • filling up the woodshed for next winter …and so on…

We would be misleading you though, if we let you believe that nothing we did over the winter was fun!! We had a fabulous time with the whole family over March break, escaping the snow.  Man, did that warm southern sunshine feel amazing!!!

At the risk of boring you with ALL of the details… (those can be the topic for a roadside chat later on this summer…), we DID want to share just ONE of the trips’ most memorable moments with you.

As we meandered around downtown Belize City with our brand new friend, Dan.  (How that came about is also a story for later…) imagine our surprise and delight when we saw this! CORN!!! “Guess you can take the farmer out of the cornfield….but….”

Well… we HAD to try some. The gentleman in the red ballcap had just made his way down the street with a fresh pot of ‘Street Corn’. To dress it, we could choose between ‘Regular’ which was sea salt and fresh lime or ‘Creative’.  (The name still kills me!!)  Creative Corn is the ‘interesting’ flavour combination of ketchup, mayo, and Cheez Whiz.

Not feeling quite THAT adventurous, we went with the ‘Regular’! It tasted, as you might expect…. a little –  ahem, ‘more mature’ could we say – than what we’re used to here in Ontario, but we didn’t care.  It was an experience none of us will ever forget!

Always Learning…

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!

It’s meeting and seminar/webinar season.

Both Robert and I have been like little sponges lately…absorbing all sorts of useful information to keep things going – and growing – around here!

In February it was the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Niagara Falls.

 

 

 

Of course…we made sure to take a couple of extra days to play ‘tourist’ while we were there!!

 

 

Other topics we’re brushing up on include:

  • Our Environmental Farm Plan
  • Food Safety Regulations 
  • The Employment Standards Act
  • New software at our fingertips (literally) to track and manage crops
  • Mental Health & Stress Management on the Farm
  • 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 that EVERY item listed above is an essential piece of the 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! 

The best way we know of to do that well, is to keep the ‘big picture’ in mind and take good care of the health of our team, our resources, and ourselves. 

The balancing act continues!!!

 

AND IN OTHER NEWS…. …..the seed order has arrived!  Spring is one giant step closer now!!    

Reason to celebrate!

I (Shannon) have been feeling particularly nostalgic this past week.  We both have…but I’m more the ‘remember-er’ in this relationship.  I’ve always been that way.  My mind has a funny way of holding onto significant dates and bringing back the associated memories each year as the calendar rolls around. What was it this time? Well, it was 20 years ago this past weekend that Robert and I went out on our very first date.  It seems nearly impossible, but it IS true! Perhaps I should have read a few advice columns or articles like this one… but having come from a farming family myself, I had no false expectations of what dating a farmer would be like! It was pretty average, as far as dates go… just out for dinner…no skydiving or anything crazy like that, but it was memorable…for a few reasons:

  • The first impression – Not that I’m all about the ‘things’, but he showed up at my house in a sporty black Mustang.  A pleasant surprise, considering that I had been expecting a smelly farm truck, or ‘Dad’s car’!
  • An impromptu passenger – We were not 2 minutes down the road before we spotted a neighbour in need of assistance.  Seems this poor fellow, in the midst of his spring field work had blown a hydraulic hose – right in the middle of the road.  Of course we picked him up and gave him a lift home.  There was no other option – we both agreed on that.  (I must admit, I was a little fearful that the ‘farm-rumor-network’ might have had us engaged before the end of our first date, but I need not have worried.  He later told us that he had not breathed a word to anyone.  Thanks Ron!)
  • If at first you don’t succeed… – It was a bit of a struggle to find a spot to eat.  On a weeknight… in Perth… after 8PM… the options were limited.  Following two unsuccessful attempts, we landed at Pizza Hut.  Robert, with his easy-going attitude (on the outside at least!), just laughed it off and told me, ‘Well, I’m nothing if not persistent!’

It turned out to be a great evening and…as they say…’The rest is history!’ It’s not all been easy!  There have been ups and downs…some years more ‘downs’ than ‘ups’ – to be perfectly honest.  That’s marriage.  It takes work…and it’s worth it! Maybe that’s the reason that April 29th is just as special as our wedding anniversary…because it was truly the VERY beginning of this crazy, wonderful story.  A story not only of two people falling in love and making a life together… …but of two farm kids with a passion for what we do… …building on the legacy of the generations before us… ….making a contribution along the way (hopefully!)… …and leaving that legacy to carry on with the generations to come – should they choose that route.

A few things HAVE changed since this photo was taken all of those years ago;  more gray hairs, the odd wrinkle, a few more pounds…or some middle-aged spread perhaps!?!  (On the bright side…we seldom ‘smell like a cow’ anymore!) Many things HAVE NOT changed.  We’re still enjoying the adventure.  We wake up in the mornings thankful for the opportunity to get up and spend our day doing what we love to do. We’re looking forward to the next 20 years with just as much optimism as we had then. However you fit in, and whenever you joined it, we thank you for being a part of our story!    

We think we speak for everyone when we say,
“For crying out loud…could we just get ON WITH THIS already???”

We’ve tried to be patient, as have you, but this is enough to test the mettle of even the most resilient among us!

We typically expect corn to begin around the 25th of July.

Did you catch that word?   “Typically”

As you may remember, this past spring was anything but “typical”!

Although…we can’t blame the tardiness of the sweet corn entirely on the spring.  (Our first patch was actually planted in very good time).  The fact that June and July were so uncharacteristically cool seems to have contributed much more to the situation.

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.  Corn needs heat!

So now that you have our excuses…what’s the prediction?

Soon!  Very soon!!

2017’s First Pick…just enough for dinner

We had our first taste last night.
The verdict…sadly…not quite yet.  Although the cobs look fairly good, once they were cooked, it was pretty clear that they were not quite mature.

With the sun shining today and forecast for through the week (mostly…) we SHOULD be good to go for the weekend.  We sure hope so anyway!  Could you imagine the August long weekend without corn?

No, neither could we!

Thank you for your patience and understanding.  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again…
“Our customers are the BEST!”

In the meantime, you’ve still got to eat!  Check out our ‘Featured on the Stand‘ page to see what IS ready for your table.

Looking forward to seeing you soon,

Robert, Shannon & The Family.

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