The Homestead Weekly

The Homestead Weekly, 24 March 2024

Years ago on my other blog, I started a series called The Homestead Weekly, which basically was just a little weekly peek into various areas of our “homestead,” like the kitchen, garden, and so on. It was one of my favorite blog series of all time, so I decided to bring it back, but on this blog this time (since my other one is now exclusively about flower farming).

Whew, this week was a little bit of a roller coaster! A lot of really great things (mainly because the weather was GORGEOUS and we were able to spend a ton of time outside, which we all love), and then some pretty stressful things with the business.

Let’s do a little breakdown, shall we?

In the Kitchen

This last week was definitely reminiscent of how things get when we’re in the busy part of the flower farming season because we were outside working about every hour we could. It means that dinner tends to sneak up on me, so we’re usually favoring the quicker, not-quite-as-nutritious options a lot more. I also tend to get quite sporadic with my own meals, often skipping lunch entirely and just making up for it with a little cheese and crackers snack in the afternoon.

I probably would do well to try and figure out a solution now since I know things will only get crazier as we actually get into the swing of the season, but I don’t know that I’ll have the bandwidth to come up with much of a solution. In an ideal world, I would meal prep a bunch on Sundays so that we could have easy dinners throughout the week, but since Sundays are one of my few true rest days, I doubt I’m going to want to do that.

I’ll have to ponder on that…

On the menu this week: uh…I don’t even really remember. We did slow cooker sweet salsa chicken on tacos when my in-laws and mom and stepdad came into town (basically just 4 chicken breasts with two cups of salsa and about 2/3 cup of brown sugar all dumped into a slow cooker all day), frozen cauliflower crust pizza from Costco, tortilla chips and our favorite chip dip (one lb. ground sausage, one block cream cheese, and one can Rotel tomatoes), Korean BBQ ground beef over rice w/ broccoli, and leftovers with a fresh side of my favorite summery salad (cucumbers, avocados, and tomatoes all tossed with olive oil and feta cheese).

In the Garden

The long string of sunny days this week meant we were able to get a LOT done around the farm, including planting our 8 new bare root roses, starting to prep several of the raised beds in preparation for planting in the next couple of weeks, ordering all the necessary irrigation and infrastructure we were needing, and more.

I’m also pleased to report that the ladybugs have definitely been doing their job in the high tunnel — the aphid population has seemingly been reduced by about 90%, and almost every anemone I’ve harvested this week has been totally aphid-free. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late when it came to our ranunculus crop –even though they’re largely free of aphids now, we’ve been reduced down to only about 50 plants (out of an original 400). Pretty big bummer, since that’s a very expensive crop that we’ve been babying since October — I’d estimate that due to the aphid infestation, we’ve lost around $4000 in sales, not to mention all the hours and hours of labor we’ve put into it.

So it goes.

Blooming this week: anemones and violas in the high tunnel, pansies in the front pots that came up from last year’s, the first daffodils

In the Business

We had a couple, uh, encounters this week with people that made business this week pretty stressful. One of the great things about living in a small town (and a small county) is that small businesses can gain traction pretty quickly through word of mouth, especially if you’re the only one offering something (or one of the very few). However, because small town life tends to mean people are much more involved in, well, everything, you sometimes get some pushback or some strange confrontations over things.

That’s basically all I’m going to say about the issue, but this week wasn’t my favorite.

We’re also at the stressful tipping point of the season where all the spring bills have come due, but almost none of the income has come in yet. The loss of one of our most expensive crops definitely didn’t help.

Matt and I have had a lot of good conversations this week about the farm though, which helped both of us to calm down and look forward with optimism. Running your own business definitely isn’t easy, but we absolutely love flower farming and love being entrepreneurs (usually, anyway), so weeks like this will just toughen us up so that we can be in it for the long haul.

In the Playroom

Some sweet moments to savor from this last week:

  • All the kids except Naomi (who was napping) enthusiastically jumped in to help us on Saturday with bed prep (me) and mulching around the newly planted roses (Matt). They so obviously delighted in helping out and feeling useful that it made the experience a sweet bonding experience, and it was one of those moments where I thought, “THIS — THIS is why we’ve wanted to do flower farming or homesteading for so long!” It definitely was one of those golden afternoons where everyone is getting along, working together in unison, the breeze is in your hair while the sun is at your back…pure bliss.
  • We hosted Matt’s parents and my mom and stepdad on Thursday when they came down to attend the Manti Temple open house (and it was our kids’ first time seeing the inside as well). Living so far away from family and long-time friends, we definitely appreciate more fully when anyone is willing to make the trip out to see us, especially since we’re definitely not “on the way” to basically anything. In a week that held some low moments for us as business owners, it felt wonderful to feel taken care of by our parents — my mom and stepdad had treated us to a ton of groceries, and my in-laws had saved us a couple hundred bucks in shipping costs by picking up a ton of farm supplies and toting it down in their truck for us. The visit just made me feel supported and loved, and it was exactly what I needed. And the kids were positively AWED by how beautiful the temple is. Truly, it is a masterpiece of architecture, and the fact that it was built by pioneers over 130 years ago with very limited funds and tools is truly mind-blowing.

Some other bits about this week — we started night training Hyrum (again). Our last attempts have been super hit and miss, and we finally just resorted to putting him in a pull-up at night because we were too tired to keep dealing with it. However, I don’t want to wait until he’s any older to address it (and I especially don’t want to try it again in the height of the growing season), so we’re attempting it again. It’s still proved a challenge, but I know it’s not going to get easier the longer we wait, so we’re just muscling through.

I also took Raven with me to my specialized massage therapy guy this last weekend so he could look at her ankle, which has been bothering her for awhile. He guessed that she’d actually sprained it several months back, and that it had healed slightly lopsided, which is why she kept re-injuring it and rolling it frequently. Anyway, he took half of my appointment time to work on her, and it provided her a TON of relief. I only wish I would have thought to bring her in sooner.

In the Home

Um, pass? I don’t feel like I did basically anything in the house this week, at least not anything of note. I can think of about a billion things I really NEED to do, but as the past three growing seasons have taught me, the house largely tends to get ignored in the spring while planting and farm prep take priority, and then I descend upon it and do All The Things come June.

In the Soul

This week was interesting — it was one of those times where I had the painful realization that I still have a lot of growing up to do (as a business owner, especially), but at the same time, I could look back and see that I have, in fact, come a really long way.

This week was also a good chance to step back and reflect — Are we building our business in a way that is sustainable for us, emotionally and physically? Are we taking the long view in our business, rather than letting the fears of the immediate NOW overshadow our best judgment?

In general, both Matt and I came to the conclusion that we’re proud of the business we’ve built up and are continuing to build, and that we trust that everything will work out, one way or another.

How are you doing today?

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