I said in last month’s goals round-up that August would be the month where we were drowning in flowers, and . . . I was right. I put in crazy hours this last month harvesting, prepping bouquets, and then marketing those bouquets (or directly selling them at the local flower’s market), and I can definitely see why some flower farmers call this time of year “Slog-ust.” While late summer is basically the time you plan for and live for as a flower farmer (because it is the time of maximum abundance), it’s also a super tiring season. I didn’t know your arms could literally get sore from harvesting and arranging flowers for about 10 hours straight, but they can!
Even though it was hard work, don’t get me wrong — there was still a whole lotta satisfaction that came from it. While I wish I would have had the leftover energy to really photograph all that beauty coming in and going out, I did try and take some moments to pause each day just to savor all the colors, fragrances, and liveliness happening all around me, especially because I know that in about 4 months, I’ll be missing it desperately and doing all I can to conjure up the warmth and the memories.
August was also a pretty good month for completing other goals too (not just flower farming goals!), which was surprising (mostly just because of how much the flower farm kinda took over my life). Here’s how things ended up looking last month:
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- Take family photos
- We had it all set up to do a photo swap with some friends of ours (I take their family pics, they take ours), but then they ended up getting Covid, so we had to push it back until their quarantine was through. Rollover goal!
Have the first meeting of our new book club
- Not only did we have the first planning meeting of the book club (where we planned out most of the next year’s worth of who’s hosting and which books we’ll be reading), but I’ve actually already finished September’s book, which is a first for me! I’m usually finishing it literally the day of the book club or maybe the day before, but this time I had it done a whole two weeks early :). (For the record, the first book we read as a club was The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes.)
Invite friends over for potluck
- At the very beginning of the month, we hosted a little potluck with a few friends from Matt’s work and their families. It felt wonderful to be entertaining again, even if it will probably be the last time in awhile with the recent surge in Covid cases where we’re at. This was also the first time we had people over since we finished the kitchen floor, and it was fun for us to see how well the house works for parties now. We thought this new place would be good for entertaining, and we were right!
Set up and fill sandbox for the kids
- We just squeaked this one in at the very end of the month, and the kids have been LOVING it so far. (We ended up going with this sandbox kit from Wayfair, which seems to be holding up well so far.)
- Make 72-hour kits for each member of the family
- This might have been a bit on the ambitious side (especially considering that I’m basically in the height of the flower farming season), so I’ve broken it down into smaller pieces for next month. I *did* buy some inexpensive backpacks for this though, so I did make at least some progress!
- Clear out the rest of the boxes from master bedroom
- Nope, nada. (And to make things worse, I actually ADDED boxes to our room since we got yet more kids’ clothing from our family that I need to go through and put away down in the storage basement.)
Finish putting down kitchen floor
- Matt got the final piece laid literally hours before we had friends over for potluck, and it has been INCREDIBLE to have a kitchen floor finally!! It makes me way more motivated to keep the house clean since it actually looks good now (whereas before, it still looked dirty because of the subfloor situation no matter how clean it actually was), and it also has reinvigorated me to finish off the last of the little house projects we still have left for the year.
- Do caulking in kitchen
- This was the one kitchen project that didn’t get finished this month that was on the list. Rollover goal.
Put laundry doors back on
- Matt put these on the same day that he finished laying the floors, and once again, it was truly incredible how much of a difference it made to the space since it allowed us to shut away our laundry for once (rather than have it be literally right next to where we were eating). One of the doors is kind of broken though, so we’ll need to repair it soon.
Move fridge back into kitchen
- We took advantage of our friends coming over and asked them to help us move this from our front entry back into the kitchen. The fridge has literally been the first thing you see in our entry room for the past 9 months, so believe me when I say that I was crazy thrilled to finally be able to check this one off the list!!
Host an event for CSA members
- Although I seemed to have picked the worst night ever to host this (since the vast majority of people who wanted to come couldn’t make it due to vacations or other commitments), I did host a bouquet-making night for four of my CSA members/friends, which turned out well enough. I think 6-8 people would have been about the perfect number to do something like this in the future — and the verdict is still out on whether I will — but it was good to get a sense for how it would go and if I liked doing it or not.
Put down silage tarp to expand back bed
- We didn’t technically move the silage tarp from the front bed (more on that below), but we decided instead to put a heavy-duty clear plastic down on the back to see if we could use the heat from the sun to burn the grass up. Verdict is still out on which one will end up being more effective (black silage tarp or thick clear plastic), but both future beds are at least one step closer to being plant-able.
- Plant cover crop on extended front bed
- Whenever we peeled up the black silage tarp to see how things looked, some of the grass seemed to still be hanging on and not quite killed off yet (no idea how that’s even possible). To be safe, we’re going to give it a couple more weeks and then try and till under what’s left (along with the big load of soil we just bought), plant our fall bulbs in it, then cover it until winter hits.
Order load of compost for new beds
- We spent nearly $500 on a gigantic load of garden soil/compost mix to be delivered to our house, which should cover the two new beds we’re making as well as a few of the other places (like the part of our chicken run that we fenced off) that didn’t do as well this year because of poor soil quality. Fingers crossed that all these things will give us even greater yields next year!
Get necessary work done on the Mazda
- We knew when we bought our Mazda from Matt’s parents earlier this year that it would need four new tires soon, and we finally reached that point. Add a gas change on top, and we spent nearly $700 on servicing the Mazda last month. So fun…
- Read two books off of my Summer Reading List
- So I totally thought I’d completed this one, but it turns out that only 1 of the 4 books I’ve finished recently was actually on my 2021 Summer Reading List. Oops. I’m still proud of myself and counting it basically as a win because even though the flower farm is keeping me as busy as ever, I’ve been more intentional about carving out more small pockets of time to read in order to help with my mental health (as my anxiety has been up significantly the past few weeks or so). The book off my list that I ended up finished was A Place to Hang the Moon, which was lovely and a total comfort read and a high, high recommend if you’re looking for a solid middle grade fiction pick that feels like an instant classic.
- Find Buick’s title or send in for new one
- Welp, let’s see how many months can go by and have me not do this, shall we???
Other Notable Accomplishments Not Mentioned Above:
- Started selling our bouquets at the local farmer’s market
- Even though selling our flowers at a farmer’s market seems like an obvious choice for my new flower farm business, it actually was not part of my original business plan at all. However, as my season has evolved and I’ve seen what I like more and what I like less, I started to somewhat consider selling at the the farmer’s market, though I didn’t plan to act on it until later years. Then, when the guy who founded/runs the local farmer’s market actually approached us personally one night and requested that we join (since people had been requesting a flower vendor and there were no other people around who did that), we decided to give it a shot. Our local farmer’s market only runs for 5-6 weeks and so it’s not a huge months-long commitment, and it’s also only $5 a week to be a vendor. All in all, I think it’s been a good thing for our little flower farm, even though it does mean that my weekends are insanely busy and tiring!
- Provided flowers for a major church gathering (Stake Conference) and put together my first custom order bouquet for a 50th wedding anniversary
- This first year of flower farming has brought some interesting opportunities that I hadn’t anticipated, and where I’m able to and can, I’ve been trying to say “yes” to as many new opportunities as possible, just to see what I like. (I’ve also had people approach me about doing funerals and weddings, but I’m not quite there yet. Maybe I’ll feel brave enough/able enough to take these on in the future!)
- Finally posted my first Before/After here on the blog of some of the work we’ve been doing on the house + did an update on which of the house project goals we’ve completed thus far in 2021
- I’ve been promising posts and photos of all our projects since the end of last year, so it felt really good to finally be able to start delivering on that promise. More to come hopefully soon!
- Shot, edited, and sent off my very last photo shoot (maybe ever)
- Since 2014, I’ve run a very small photography business where I did around 10-12 shoots a year for various clients (mostly family and friends, though the majority was paid work). With the flower farm eating up so much time this year, something just had to go, so I decided to only do the one photo shoot I’d already committed to for this year and pass on all the rest. Although I’ve passed up multiple shoots this year (it actually would have been my biggest year yet for photography, and the “busy” season hasn’t even started!), I feel really good about my decision.
- Donated the grapes off of our vines to a friend so that they’ll actually get used up before they go bad
- In a perfect world, I’d want to be able to run the flower farm successfully AND complete my other homesteading pursuits, such as growing a lot of our own food and preserving what we grow. Perhaps in future years I’ll be able to find that balance, but for this year, there just hasn’t been time since the busiest weeks of the flower farm this season so far (aka, NOW) also coincide with the same period of time that the vegetables and fruits are also coming on. I think I struck on the perfect solution though when Matt donated all of our grapes to his coworker, who then told us she’ll let us have some of the finished juice to return the favor. Um, YES PLEASE! I’ll take that deal ALL DAY LONG.
- Got some possibly fertilized chicken eggs for one of our particularly broody hens to see what comes about
- We’ve never had a problem with any of our hens turning broody (aka, nesting on the eggs that her and the other chickens have laid), but one of our hens has been hardcore trying to hatch eggs that will never hatch, so we decided to grab a few possibly fertilized chicken eggs from a friend’s flock just to see what happens. Totally not sure what will come about, but it’s been an interesting experiment thus far. (We won’t know anything for several more weeks, but I’ll try to update you if I remember!)
- Drastically cut down on my sugar intake and lost a few pounds
- This wasn’t super intentional — I just got sick of spending so much money on chocolate (#truth), so I stopped buying treats. I’ll still have little handfuls of chocolate chips whenever I get desperate, but just having way less junk around has meant that I shed the few pounds that I’d put on over the past several months. I’m still not close to my pre-pregnancy weight like I’d ultimately like to be, but I also recognize that this just hasn’t been the season to hardcore focus on it, and that’s okay.
September is looking like a mad dash to the end of my flower farming season, and no matter what the weather does (whether we end up getting the first frost as expected near the end of September or whether it comes later), I’ve basically decided that my birthday gift to myself this year (I turn 35 on the 29th) is going to be that I let my season be done, no matter what. That means tying up all the last loose ends (like the bouquet subscriptions that still haven’t run out), starting to prep the new beds for fall planting this month, and finishing out the last of the Saturday farmer’s markets. There will definitely still be some work I have to do in October (namely, planting the thousands of fall bulbs I’ve ordered), but not having to harvest, arrange, and sell bouquets every week will feel very freeing. I’ve absolutely loved this first growing season of being a flower farmer, but there is no denying that it’s ridiculously hard work and that I’m definitely looking forward with a great sense of relief to a major break for awhile.
However, that break is not coming until October, so there is still pleeeenty of stuff happening this month. Here’s what’s on the docket for September:
- Register van
- Get oil change in van
- Also self-explanatory.
- Get and install new car seat for Hyrum
- We should have technically switched out Hyrum a couple months ago from his infant carrier to a more standard rear-facing car seat, but since he is so small for his age, we’ve been able to put it off for awhile. I’ve actually already ordered one (we just went with this basic one that has excellent reviews and high safety ratings), but we still have to wait for it to arrive and install it.
- Take family photos
- Rollover goal.
- Go to a u-pick farm
- We’ve loved every u-pick experience we’ve had as a family (plus we always get some killer photos!), and I believe that there are a decent number of options within about an hour’s drive from us now. We’ll have to see what we can find!
- Size Hyrum up to 18-month clothes
- Because the kids just keep growing, man!
- Change out the other kids’ clothes for warmer things
- Although our days are still getting into the 90’s, I predict that by the end of the month, it will have cooled down significantly (especially as our mornings are already chilly). I might keep out a couple pairs of shorts and summer things just in case, but I mostly want to have their warmer wardrobe completely in place by the end of the month.
- Print out a list of what to put in each 72-hour kit and put at least 3 things in each
- I think baby steps are going to be the way to go with this in order to actually get it done.
- Do caulking in kitchen
- Rollover goal.
- Finish up flooring odds and ends
- We still have a couple transition pieces and a small strip of flooring to put in near the main bathroom and stair area.
- Hang up at least one thing in the kitchen area
- Now that the flooring is finally in and the painting is finished, I notice more and more how bare the walls are. Time to change that this month!
- Wash comforter
- I absolutely love our white comforter that we splurged on several years ago, but it IS a beast when it comes to washing because we have to take it to a laundromat since it will not fit in any standard-size washer. The time has come though, as it’s gotten pretty bad lately (helped along by little sticky/messy fingers constantly climbing onto it).
- Clear out the rest of the boxes in master bedroom
- Rollover goal.
- Ask around about hiring someone to till the new beds or see what machinery we can rent
- We largely do the no-till method of farming/gardening, but with how heavily clay-like our soil is, we really need to till the new compost and garden soil mix we’ve bought into the existing soil to start getting the results we want. As we have several thousand bulbs to plant in these beds in about a month, we really need to start prepping all these beds now.
- Finish delivering pay-it-forward bouquets
- We received a generous donation from a relative to pay for several pay-it-forward bouquets for people around here that need a little cheering, and we did a Facebook post on the farm’s business page asking people to nominate anyone they could think of that would benefit from some fresh flowers delivered to their door. While we’ve long since fulfilled the number of bouquets that were paid for, we’ve decided we want to go through the whole list we were given anyway, and as we only have about a handful of people left, we should be good on this one!
- Finish up CSA subscriptions
- Really, once I’m done delivering bouquets to the people who bought subscriptions, I can really end my season whenever I want. I’ll probably try to push it a little bit past that, but boy will it be a relief to have completed all these!
- Put new load of compost on garden beds
- This goes along with the goal above about asking around about renting a tiller or hiring someone to do it, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can actually complete all this by the end of the month!
- Plant out the rest of the seedlings that need to overwinter
- I wasn’t aware until I read the book Cool Flowers that the whole class of flowers known as hardy annuals should ideally be planted out now and overwintered for spring blooms, but now that I know, I’m super eager to try out this method of planting and farming! I think it will greatly increase my yield and the stem length of my flowers, not to mention give me blooms quite a bit earlier since the plants will already have established root systems. Fingers crossed!
- Read two books off of my Summer Reading List
- Will this finally be the month?!?!
- Find Buick’s title or send in for a new one
- Because let’s see how embarrassingly long I will let this go on without completing it…
Just as always, it seems like from this point on to the end of the year will seem like one mad dash, but I’m excited to soon be closing the books on my first farming season and am looking forward to at least *somewhat* of a break ahead. What kinds of plans do you have for this next month?