In the absence of a lovely photo of Jon and I working on the computer to finish up our accounting for the season, here's a photo of something else we grew this fall-- A Samson!!
This week we attended the ACORN Conference in Halifax. This is always a really good way to reflect and re-invigorate about what we are doing, so we finally sat down and finished up our records for the year and worked out our cost of production. We are waiting to sit down with Trish and Josh from TapRoot to confirm all the numbers, but so far with all that we can account for, our cost of production (INCLUDING labour cost for Jon and I at $13/hr) is around $6/lb, and our average price per lb was $7.34/lb, leaving us a tidy little profit margin per lb of about 17.5% (subject to change depending on if there is anything that comes out different than our best guess for cost). Of course, we plan to put all the profit back into the company, as well as our wages for the first season. That leaves us a little egg to start next year with, and so we are thrilled with this result, and excited to continue growing the business next year.
Plans for the winter include looking at farms in the area to buy. Also, I have signed up for a Market Manager course which begins in a little over a week. I am celebrating my 30th birthday in Manitoba in a couple weeks, a trip I am really looking forward to. When I return, we will start looking at the ever-increasing stack of glossy seed catalogs which have started rolling in (yesterday I got a copy of Johnny's latest catalog, hand-delivered by the Canadian rep who was in town for the ACORN conference, woo hoo!). Jon will travel to Calgary sometime to visit our new nephew Caeden -- I would have loved to go as well, but need the break and MB visit more right now. We are sticking around NS for Christmas this year, and I will pick up some extra hours helping in the packing shed at Noggins over the holidays.
We are spending the day building a cat tower for Samson. He's pretty much chewed and clawed his cardboard house to shreds with his bountiful kitten energy, and we can't think of a better project for a cold Sunday in November! :)
I mentioned to our stall neighbour Mary Ellen at Seaport that salad mix had come to an end and she exclaimed "I tried your salad, it's addictive-- like crack, I just gotta have it!" Another happy salad customer, looking forward to the 2015 season.
Photo from last night, our last few bags of salad going out into the world. We ended up going 18 weeks, from July to October, with no gaps and more demand than we could meet consistently. The books are nearly up to date and it is time to sort out our rent and other expenditures, so the job is not yet done, but nearly. :)
It is bittersweet that it is over, but we had a very successful first step this year and were able to pay off all of our lingering debt, which was our goal. More news on next year to come, as decisions are in process!
Yesterday morning we headed 24 minutes west to our friends Dave and Kim's farm- Waxwing Farm in Windermere. They decided to take a break from farming this year, and so they have gorgeous, thoughtfully laid out and well-cared for certified organic farmland for rent next season. They are continuing to live on the land and so we are exploring this as a site for Jon and Teri's Farm to be based for next year-- we would commute from New Minas. There are a number of challenges and risks to consider, so we are carefully considering and exploring markets and what types of crops there is demand for without stepping on anyone's toes-- We are sensitive to the fact that Josh and Patricia at TapRoot have been incredibly generous and supportive of us the past 2 years, so we are looking to complement their organic selection, not compete.
Dave and Kim are great folks, and we know that we have similar values, lots in common, and good communication, so this is a really special opportunity for us. We feel ready to go for it, but it is scary to think about only having one outside farming income next season. However, we think this is a really smart way to get started and begin to acquire some of the needed equipment and infrastructure for our future farm, without having to buy a farm yet. By saving ourselves the outlay of cash that would mean for now, we can work on establishing crops and markets that work for us and be in a stronger place when we find our farm. We know it's out there, waiting for the right moment, and we are hungry to reach our goals.
On a side note, I have been LOVING it at my new job, and have a work blog too: http://nogginsbloggin.blogspot.ca/ It fits well with what I want my schedule to be like, and my personality and energy level is well-suited to it, as is my skill set and expertise. I absolutely LOVE being at market, and I like the driving and logistics and promotion as well. It gives me a good opportunity on the front lines to see what people are after and what sells in NS. And, it offers a lot more independence and flexibility, which is great... a move I should have made long ago!
It's been a busy fall, but when is fall not busy as a farmer?
After a bit of a scare last week, I am taking some time and space and resources to sort out my health. Since finding out in May that I have "IBS" (basically a catch-all term for digestive issues, doctors use it because they aren't equipped to actually help you sort it out), I've been putting off sorting it out until November. Well, I didn't quite make it until then, had a fainting episode and a bad fall last week. All is well, and Samson kept me company for the day and a half I spent in bed (photo left). He's growing so quickly and is such a great addition to our family.
Jon did last week's salad harvest all by himself, and had to take half a day off work to do it. We still have supply and I'm honestly surprised, so we keep filling orders until the snow flies I guess!
Sometimes when we harvest salad we have an audience -->
Luckily, these pigs are smart enough to stay on their side of the fence most of the time, or they would suffer the fate of dear Cheetah! Total of 4 pig escapes into the salad patch this season. We are working hard at plans for next year and hope to mitigate our risks by not being so close to pigs. See their mouths watering over our yummy salad, so close and so tantalizing??
I've been taking a very needed break from social media and email for the past 8 weeks. I of course see the importance of it, I just needed a mental break from the constant and always-on-internet. Not having a work email is great and the way I'd like to keep it. I appreciate blogging because it also creates a record of photos and stories, and is less "out there" than facebook and other outlets. We have more demand for salad than we can meet, and so this blog is really more of a record of our season than it is a promotional piece (and as I planned at the beginning of the season, it will be self-published as a tangible record for Jon and I-- I mean, an actual physical photobook that we will keep forever and remember our first year as husband and wife in the salad patch). My work for Noggins on the other hand, is in dire need of me to start ramping up on social media, so I will soon re-enter that yucky space. When will we come to our senses and start experiencing life in the real world? Jon often talks about new human achievements as pendulum shifts, and I feel like the social media world is all to the extreme and has yet to settle somewhere more realistic in the middle. Hopefully something comes along and wipes it all out so that we realize what a house of cards our precious online lives really are. Until then, I will keep blogging... I guess!