So as some of you have already noted and pointed out, we took a slight break from updating the blog (a 6 month break to be exact) but not for lack of wanting to keep you posted; however all of our focus and attention needed to be directed to farm operations as we flew through our inaugural retail season.
This summer was our first real retail season, with some limited open hours on the farm, as well as a regular booth at the Sechelt Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market; and although we had originally been reluctant to commit to attending the Farmers Market on a regular basis, we quickly found ourselves thankful for the opportunity and appreciative of the new friendships made.
Our initial reluctance stemmed from the time commitment attending a regular off site market would take up, especially on a Saturday which is generally one of our busier chore days throughout the summer; however as with many aspects of the “learn as you go” farming process, we quickly adapted and found that the networking and sales opportunities more than compensated for a day away from farm life.
During the last blog update I was pretty excited to announce the arrival of bees to the farm, and we were thrilled with having a number of functioning hives and colonies working their magic at the property. Unfortunately after only a few short months, and prior to the bountiful honey harvest we had expected; those plans had to change, and the hives were removed…another learning opportunity…disappointing, but informative for certain.
As we learned, bees don’t poop in their hives during their winter hibernation period, instead holding for release upon exiting the hives in those first warm days of spring. We had noticed the small yellow droplets on our own vehicles and lawn furniture, as did some of our neighbors, however most were still very supportive and realized that this was a short lived inconvenience, and although a little irritating at times, the presence of these pollinators had all the surrounding gardens blooming like crazy so the benefits seemed to outweigh the inconvenience.
Unfortunately one neighbor found the bee poop to be too much, and brought his concerns to our attention. Over the course of a few days we tried to work with this individual, and come up with a middle ground solution that might accommodate everyone; however it quickly became apparent that no solution short of removal of the hives would satisfy his concerns; and at his mention of “documenting his damages” and the “serving of a registered letter” the decision was made that we had neither the time, finances, or desire to take on the legal battle this neighbor was implying.
In fairness to this particular neighbor, the bees did seem to organize a direct flight pattern over his property, so he perhaps received a larger share of the poop in question.
One of the things we are striving for is the fostering of good relationships with our neighbors, and recognizing that our farm borders a residential subdivision, we are constantly cognizant of maintaining our farm in a such a manner that does not negatively impact the enjoyment others have of their own property. That being said we will make another attempt at keeping bees next season as we also have to be equally cognizant to our own needs, desires, and financial viability of the farm itself, and bees will be an integral part of our long term success…perhaps just approached in a slightly different and reduced capacity.
As previously mentioned we had a bit of an oversight in getting our spring order placed with our supplier; however at the time of our last update it had looked like that crisis had been averted. In the end Dad and I made a quick cross border round trip to pick up the plants, and everything worked out as planned.
This spring and summer we had our first plant focused sales, carrying a wide variety of lavender plants, that were well received both at the Farmers Market, and at our farm gate sales.
Although our primary focus remains on our lavender and goat milk based farm crafted products; lavender plant sales will continue to be a growing concern (pun very much intended).
One of the things that kept us the most busy during this past summer, was the building of our new farm structure; and although we have missed several of our self imposed deadlines, and the building is still not fully complete, this Thanksgiving Long Weekend we were able to move a lot of our farm related items out of the house and into the new building.
One of the challenges of a home based business is the blurring of lines between work space and family space, and you don’t really realize the impact the “work clutter” has on you until you begin to reclaim some of the family space that the work or farm has taken over.
Although at this stage we simply reclaimed the garage (aka my “shop”), it was a huge step towards better defining our space(s) and it felt very rewarding to peak into the de-cluttered garage at the end of the day.
As usual the animal aspect of our farm life keep us both busy and entertained…ok they keep Allyson busy and the rest of us entertained.
After last season’s kidding of five our heard grew to an all time high of ten, and plans were made for a trip to the auction….then plans changed, and then they changed again…and after two separate trips to auction, with the sale of four of last season’s five our heard quickly became seven.
Now I know what you’re probably thinking right about now…This guy can’t do math…rest assured I do realize that in “regular” arithmetic ten minus four does in fact equal six…however in goat math (which is surprisingly similar to chicken math) sometimes ten minus four HAS to equal seven.
In reducing our heard, but retaining one buck for fall/winter breeding, we realized we needed to find a companion for Cooper, the stud buck, otherwise he would sit in his own paddock and scream all day…something we couldn’t do if we wanted to keep neighbors on our side…or keep our own sanity; so enter Jacob the wether.
Although we had early on decided we were no longer going to keep goats as pets…they all need to be breeders or milkers...goats are companion animals and don’t take to isolation very well, and although Jacob the wether is obviously not a milker, and no longer is properly equipped to be a breeder, he serves a great purpose in his companion role, and we are grateful that our friends over at Elk House Farm made him available to us.
Apart from the challenge of space when creating a home based business, there is also the challenge of time, and the equitable allocation of that time between work, business, leisure, and family.
Allyson and I have always been fortunate that when it comes to our home(s) and or property there is a real blurred line between leisure and work in that we both quite enjoy most of the work that comes with home ownership. In fact most of our leisure time pre-farm was usually spent on landscaping our yard or other household work projects, so we rarely faced the challenges of dividing our time.
Of course just because we enjoy the work that comes with the farm doesn’t mean that everyone under our roof shares the same opinion, and this summer we had to remind the junior farmers that our lack of camping, beach days, and other summer activities was a onetime sacrifice that we had to endure during these start up months of the Lavender Farm…unfortunately this is a more difficult concept to grasp when all your school friends are enjoying the recreations of summer holidays that you are having to forgo…
Luckily for the Fawcus family we are a pretty close nit group as a whole, and the offspring were granted a week long reprieve from farm life as they took to the sea aboard Nana and Pappa’s boat for their first ever “boat trip”.
This was the first time all three of the juniors were away from mom and dad for an extended period, and the first time they had ever spent a week aboard a boat, AND the first time the three of them had spent more than a night or two with their grandparents without us being there…a lot of firsts to cram into a single trip, but by all reports (from kids and grandparents alike) a fantastic time was had by all; ending with yet another first as the girls experienced their first float plane ride, flying home from Nanaimo to Sechelt.
Amongst the regular farm activities of the summer, we also snuck in a little product development, and The Sunshine Coast Lavender Farm product line continues to grow. As the days grow shorter and the outside chores are reduced, we will be fine tuning some of the new products in preparation for Christmas sales, so stay tuned for new culinary products such as our Lavender Syrup; Lavender Jelly; and Lavender Hot Chocolate; as well as several new products in our bath and house hold items…Lavender Grilling Sticks, and Lavender Fire Starter Bundles just to name a couple.
With our transition into more indoor activities, I’m sure I will be able to make a better effort to keep the blog update as well, and look forward to bring everyone up to speed on the latest happenings at the Sunshine Coast Lavender Farm.