Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It’s 2014 - May I Have This Dance?

Somebody posted this definition on Facebook the other day.  It seemed to aptly describe last year, 2013, at Squash Blossom Farm, which was filled with giant steps forward, inevitably followed by a couple steps back.
For instance:

The Commercial Kitchen
We finally decided to pursue building a commercial kitchen wholeheartedly, in order to sell value-added farm products, expand our Famers Market baking to the co-op and restaurants, and be able to serve food on the farm. It will also allow us to rent out space to other small food entrepreneurs and to hold culinary classes as part of our dream folk school. But it is a very costly enterprise, partly because building a certified kitchen is so expensive, and also because we are also required to build a new well and septic system for it.  So,  in the spring our daughter Cadence  created a video for a Kickstarter campaign, which we launched in August and successfully met our fundraising goal!  We were blown away and humbled by the generous out-pouring of support. One humongous step forward!

The Kickstarter was intended to be one quarter of a four-pronged approach to funding the kitchen. We also hoped to get an FSA loan for the well and septic and use a portion of our retirement funds, all for a 3:1 grant match to  a MN Department of agriculture Value-Added grant.  But then we had to take a few steps back: Everything with the grant and loan got very delayed because of the government shutdown, we did not get the grant, and we didn't get approved for the FSA loan because our appraised property value has declined since we purchased our farm. And then, winter arrived full force, delaying our start anyway.  Deep breath. Soul-searching.

We seriously wondered whether this was a sign we should abandon this project and return all the Kickstarter contributions.  But No, our passion for it is still strong. We believe it is the right path for our farm. We will scale back the project a bit, stage things in increments, scour the countryside for used equipment and building materials, dig much deeper into our retirement account, and make it happen!  In some ways it might even be easier without the  constraints of a grant. And oh, if you intended to make a Kickstarter contribution but did not get around to it, we will still gratefully bestow the posted Kickstarter rewards for contributions made for the kitchen--contact us! (We are  steadily making our way through fulfilling the Kickstarter rewards, so if you haven’t received yours yet, expect it soon!)

The Cows
In the September 2012 we bred our cow LaFonda for a spring calf.  We were disappointed to learn she had not settled (that means "become pregnant," in farmer lingo). But then we had the most unbelievably muddy spring (after a frigid, frozen winter where our farmyard was like a skating rink.) As we worried about the cows struggling through armpit-deep mud, we were relieved that we didn't have a young calf getting sucked into the muck.  Later in the summer we were stunned to find out that LaFonda WAS pregnant, possibly bred by our bull calf before he was sold---but then it turned out to be a false pregnancy.  Once again we were disappointed, but also very relieved that we would not have to go into the winter milking. Up until then we had been considering selling the cows because it was so hard to find any hay for winter, and so expensive when we did locate it. The possibility of a calf made me realize I could not part with the cows, and then, as luck would have it, I sold two huge cow paintings, making enough to purchase the supply of hay. So, it turns out the cows earned their keep! Cha-cha-cha.

So there, two of last year’s dances on the farm.  There were many more--with the Farmers Market, the Aquaponics project, the CSA...and through them all we remained upright, did not step on any toes, and we had so much fun.  Life certainly is a dance --can’t wait to get twirling and swirling in 2014!  

Happy, Happy New Year to you!   
With  love and gratitude, 
Roger & Susan


Marcia said...

Happy New Year to you, Susan. Sorry the grant didn't work out.

Question: I'm signed up for the pizza plants on your Kickstarter rewards. How many of each? It'd be nice to know so I can plan my other plant starts.

Susan said...

Hi Marcia,
These are the plants I am thinking of for the Pizza Garden set- but of course depends upon seed starting success:

2 paste tomatoes - Federle (
2 slicing tomatoes Nyagous? (
2 sweet Pepper – Jimmy Nardello? (
1 small bunch Onion starts (maybe 8-10 seedlings, could also be planted as scallions)
1 Oregano
2 basil (maybe 1 Genovese, one other variety)
1 Garlic Chives
1 Thyme

We have grown the proposed varieties of tomatoes and peppers and loved them. Where are you located? Our transplanting season may be later than yours, but I will probably distribute any seedlings that must be mailed while they are still pretty small.
Isn’t it exciting to be planning the gardens!? A good way to spend such a cold, windy, blustery day. Happy New Year!

gz said...

keep on dancing!