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…

 

 

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?  

“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 ❤

 

 

 

 

 

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!    

Tax time made me tear up.

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.

IMG_20160412_115856

 

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.

 

The Story Behind the Stones

 You have waited so patiently to find out what this….

…was all about.

 

I have finally stolen a few moments to let you in on the whole story.

But first – a disclaimer…

You should NOT bother to read this post IF:

  • you are only interested in news about the farm/strawberries/vegetables.
  • you only like short blog posts.
  • you don’t “do” sentimental.

Still with me?

Okay, but don’t say you weren’t warned!!

2014 has held some significant milestones for our family.  In case you missed it, I (Shannon) became a member of the “40+ club” back in July.
Far more impressive than that, my Grandma Hunter (my Dad’s Mom) just celebrated her 90th birthday last week!

We had been rolling this particular project over in our minds for a long time, and it just seemed that this was the year to  make it happen.

You see, Grandma was born and raised on a farm not far from here – just outside of Perth (Wildlife Road, for those of you who are familiar with the area).  The farm buildings there still stand today, and are lovingly cared for – and enjoyed by – their current owners.

Something that Grandma had always felt sad about though, was the fact that many years (and owners) ago, the once-majestic, stone gateposts had been left to crumble.

Once Upon a Time...

Once Upon a Time…

 

We had always hoped to add something similar at the front of our property…

… and we were fairly certain, that seeing them finally reconstructed would make Grandma pretty happy!!

And so began what became known between Robert and I as the top-secret…
“Operation 40-90”!

After the preliminary talks with the owner of Grandma’s home farm (and thus the stones),
discussions with, and quotes from the Stone Mason,
we sprang into action…one hushed step at a time.

Step #1 – Bring home the pieces….without raising too many questions….

Those things are...HEAVY!

Wagon Tires….please don’t fail us now!

 

IMG_20140929_132149

“Home” safe and sound.

 

Steps # 2 – 4

– Unload wagon
– Wait for the Masons to be ready (and for things to quiet down out by the road)
– Shhh!  Don’t let anything slip!!

 

November… the guys from Keystone Traditional Masonry are ready to work their magic!
(Jim and his team are absolutely the BEST!!  Incidentally, they also re-bricked our house when we renovated back in 2000)

Steps # 5 – 287 (a.k.a. completion!)

The actual building of the posts only took about two weeks, and most of it  happened under the large, very orange, tarps.  (as you seem to have noticed)

(We can’t get away with ANYTHING around here!  We don’t mind.  We’re flattered that you folks keep such a close eye on our shenanigans!  Your guesses regarding what was under the tarps ranged from…
…”a new fence/gate” … “a Nativity scene” …
…to … “a broken down tractor” and “a permanent farm store”.)

Of course, the main purpose of the tarps was not to create a commotion, but rather to keep the stones, mortar, and working area warm (yes, Hydro One is loving us this  month!).

The (seemingly excessive) height was necessary to accommodate the electric hoist system used to set each of the stones into place.

 

…..You’re STILL reading along??

Thanks for sticking with me.  I promise I’m almost through!

 

Now…the second-best part:

 

The End Result

The End Result

You may ask, “If the end result was the second-best part, what was the BEST part?”

That’s easy….

 

Grandma's Reaction...

Grandma’s Reaction…

"Are those "My Gateposts"? "

“Are those “My Gateposts” ?”

 

“Yes, Grandma.  Yes, they are!”

She could scarcely believe her eyes.  She was thrilled…even called it, “a dream come true”…

 

…and that, friends, is a memory you cannot put a price-tag on.

November 25, 2014

November 25, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flashback Friday…

Once in a while it’s fun to look back….

 

Young Robert

 

Whoops!  Not quite THAT far back.

How about 20 back years to the Kingston Farmer’s Market at just about this time of year…

 

Dad at Market

If you look closely, you’ll see potatoes…squash…pumpkins…and, yes, Maple Products (that’s a whole other blog post!)…but no SWEET CORN!

Fast forward to today…here at the farm….

Corn October 31

…as always – freshly picked today.

We’ve had several customers report back that it’s been among the tastiest corn of the year!  We had some for dinner earlier this week, and while we might not go that far, considering that it is the 31st of October, it still is very nice corn.

Who needs Halloween Candy Corn when you can have the real thing??

Check our Facebook page or your Farm Fresh Alert email for special end of season pricing!

 

 

 

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