Friday, February 13, 2015

Mexico and Monkeys!

The same day that we toured Chichen Itza, we stopped at this amazing sinkhole.  The hole is 90 feet down to the water surface.  The water is another 150 feet deep.  These pictures do not do it any justice.  It was so green and lush!  I could have swam all day.  As you can see it's a very popular stop.

We also spent a day at Xel-ha.  It is a huge cove full of sea life and fun activities. It's all inclusive too.  Once we got there we went for a walk on some of the trails.  Then we went underwater cave diving.  By far, the biggest highlight of the day.  Then we tubed part way down the river and then just snorkeled the rest of the way down and floated around the cove, exploring for hours. We also did a Mayan steam bath. Perfect after floating around in salt water all day. They had tons of dolphins there but I'm against dolphins in captivity and the exploitation of such an intelligent creature, so I will not support that.  Even one of the tour guides told us to avoid the dolphins because they aren't truly happy doing what they do.  They only want their reward, fish.  (off my soapbox now)

Our resort was an eco friendly resort.  It was a jungle setting complete with its own Mayan ruins.  It had hiking trails, a small river for snorkeling and tubing, ruins, Mayan ceremonial acts, and of course, the beautiful beach.  We spent many hours lounging on the beach beds and chairs.  It was also the first topless beach I'd ever been too.  No. I did not go topless. Not that there is anything wrong with it.

Our resort had wild monkeys!  They were outside of our room for three mornings.  I fed one of them some grapes (after seeing the hotel employees feeding them fruit).  They are so adorable.  



In January we ran off to Mexico for a week.  It was our first time so we did the touristy visit. What a gorgeous place!  First stop, Chichen Itza!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

First Year As A Small Farm

2013 marked our first year in business as small farmers.  Overall I thought it went pretty well.  Especially since it was such a crazy year.  We bought a house, tons of moving (three 26 foot u hauls), got married at our home, started a business, and worked full time to top it off.

My downfall is that I am a wicked procrastinator.  I will put off anything even though I am fully aware that I will be worse off for it.  I tend to start off okay each spring but then I just fall right off the wagon.  It is a struggle each day.  One that I am going to keep trying to overcome.

Despite that, the garden grew quite well.  I was able to sell lots of pretty bouquets at the market.  I met tons of wonderful new people and networked with other farms and businesses.  In regards to cash in vs. cash out, I nearly broke even.  Not too bad for my first year.  Of course, I'm not counting my hours worked.  That would be mentally painful.

I have lots of big new plans for the coming season.  I'm going to start raising culinary and medicinal herbs.  I have drawn out a beautiful garden plan for the back yard that includes around 16, 4' x 8' raised beds.  I'd like to start offering herbal wreaths, garlands, bouquets, sachets, and eventually, herbal body care products, tinctures, vinegar, dip mix, seasonings and oils.

I also hope to open the farm to private parties such as baby and bridal showers, garden club tours and herbal workshops.  Hopefully this can be accomplished by 2015.

I would like to wholesale more in the future too.  I do love the farmers market but it is very time consuming so I may phase myself out of it.  Hard to say for sure though.

Seed catalogs are starting to arrive in the mail so it is back to dreaming and planning.  Always my favorite time of year!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Big Year

I'm still here!  I do believe this has been the longest I have not blogged.  Wow and sorry for the absence. 

Well, so much has happened this year.  The new house, the farm, the wedding, it has been crazy.

I only have a handful of photos from our wedding but the rest will be finished soon.  A close friend took our photos as a wedding gift!  I wanted to keep the wedding affordable and we did.  Around $5,000 for the whole thing.  Not bad at all.  We spent money on the wedding tent which included all tables, chairs, linens, lights and dance floor.  Food and drink.  Plates and utensils which were all compostable.  My dress and Andrews Suit.  The D.J..  Cake and Bartender.  And last but not least, two bathrooms.

My dress was custom made for me by a wonderfully talented friend.  We used pieces from my grandmother and great grandmothers wedding dresses.  Plus, an antique Victorian skirt and some other found materials.  I think it turned out beautifully.  If only I hadn't gained weight throughout the summer.  Turns out I'm a stress eater.

These guys, let me tell ya!  I have had the pleasure of laughing at their shenanigans for over 10  years.  Each one has a heart of gold.  From left to right: Kevin, Devon, Andrew, Jared, Kevin and Josh.
 Shelly, in the green dress, is my maid of honor.  I met here when we around 8 years old.  All these wonderful girls have been in my life since we were children and I can't imagine life without them. The girls got to pick their own color and dress and these aren't bridesmaid dresses.  Just regular dresses they can wear again.  My cousin did our hair too.  From left to right:  Ella, Nicole, Mandy, Me, Shelly and Tanya.

My most prized photos are the group shots of the entire reception party.  They put a big smile on my face. Even our high school principle and his wife are with us.  I recommend getting one of these during your wedding if you can.  See if you can spot my moms small, crowd surfing dog in the upper shot.
The farming went great too.  It was hard though since I worked full time from June through August.  I managed to take bouquets to the market for about two months.  I could have gone longer but I wanted to be done this this year.  The flowers did really well.  There were some failures however.  Zinnias were horribly diseased so I only harvested them for the wedding but that was worth it. 
The vegetables did great except for the tomatoes, broccoli, and zucchini.  Disease and bugs, ugh.  At least I know what I have to do next year.
We still have tons to do.  I have to wait for a few more good days to get some plants into the ground.  Pushing it a bit late, I know.  I'm a procrastinator, so instead of using the beautiful days of September and October to work, I'm now stuck with November.  There is snow on the ground today!  Learn as I go, I guess.
I have some folks interested in my flowers for weddings next year and a few other sales opportunities as well.  I'll be working part time off the farm so I will have more time next year.  Thank goodness!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Still Here

I'm busy these days!  The wedding, work, the house and of course the farm.  I have been selling at the Saturday market in Traverse City for three weeks.  It is a ton of work but I really enjoy it all.  Here are some photos of our farm stand.  We have sold out all three weeks.  Woo hoo!