Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 in the Rear View Mirror

2016 was a crazy, wonderful, intense, hectic year. My farm blog writing fell apart in the last few months, and I didn't even always have time to take photos.  As I start the new year, I resolve to resume photographing and posting more regularly,

So, I am starting with a retrospective of some highlights from last year, in somewhat chronological order. Lots of photos ahead! (But I will  keep the text to a minimum.)
These are breads from our first batch of wood-fired sourdough  in 2016, when our commercial kitchen was  only a month old.
All year, Rog baked twice a week for delivery to the co-op (plus we baked extra in summer for the Farmers Market) --over 100 days of bread baking!  (That's on top of his real, full-time job as an architect, farm projects, pizza nights and being a musician.)
 I started making mead (wine made with honey)--this was my first batch of raspberry melomel in progress.  In February I  took a mead-making class for commercial mead-makers at UC-Davis. I learned I would love to do this someday on our farm, but  we are nowhere near ready yet.
Every spare minute of winter and  spring was devoted to completing the greenhouse. First, Rog installed a wood stove to keep it warm enough to work, then hauled in loads of sand and laid bricks and cross sections of  logs, then made tons of  clay-sand-portland cement  mixture for the  most beautiful cordwood and clay floor.
After finding a huge round window at the ReStore, I created a mosaic window for the peak of the greenhouse with vintage glass dishes. The tricky part was hanging it--we estimate it weighs almost 400 pounds.
Lots of seedlings were started.
Our talented friend Darin created this spectacular stained glass window for our barn restroom- with sunflowers, bees, and a chicken.
At the end of April we hosted the "ReBlossom Boutique" as part of the community's Earth Day activities, featuring recycled, upcycled and  handcrafted items.  We were blessed with unseasonably warm weather and were stunned when a thousand people showed up to shop!
We were honored to host a dinner in the greenhouse for the speakers of Rochester's first ever TEDX event!
In a  marathon effort, we also baked 1200 assorted  turnovers, both sweet and savory,  for the audience members at the TEDtalks. What were we thinking?
This project inspired us to acquire a used dough sheeter, which has also been wonderful for rolling pizza-dough.
The greenhouse was next the venue for a fun Christmas in May celebration.

In 2015, we hosted Mae as a WWOOFer on our farm for part of the summer.  She was so wonderful,  we invited her back as a paid intern last year and she lived and worked with us from April to October. She especially loves animals and one day rescued this fawn that the dogs stumbled upon while we were planting a Food Forest. (Yes, we were so tempted to keep it, but  no, we let it go and believe its mom found it.)
 June was our month of weddings.
Tori and Izaak.
Amy and Aaron.
 Shannon and Christian.
We closed the farm for a weekend in July for a Nelson Family reunion and celebrated the life of Roger's mother, Ruth.
In July, the book Dishing Up Minnesota by Teresa Marrone came out - in which Squash Blossom Farm is featured!  We hosted an author day with Teresa, as well as authors Spike Carlsen (Cabin Lessons) and Lucie Amundsen (Locally Laid)- so much fun.
Of course throughout the year we had chores and the regular farm operations going on.  Our veggie garden was spectacular this year, thanks to a great growing season and especially thanks to Mae's devotion to planting and weeding and mulching (see her weeding in this photo?)
Every Tuesday we packed up CSA boxes. This year we offered  veggie shares, egg shares and bread shares!
 Every Sunday, June through September, we opened the farm and farm store, had live music and served wood-fired pizza.

By the end of the summer we had  our pizza system down pretty well!
We have become pretty darn adept at making delicious wood-fired pizza, too!  We fired up the oven for 20 Sundays at Squash Blossom pizza and music nights and other special events last year!
 A professional photography association held a day-long workshop at the farm culminating in a photo shoot with models in a zombie theme.  LaFonda got to model, too.
We hired our friend Eric and his son Ethan to re-roof and re-side the 100-year-old chicken coop and to re-fence a section of our the pasture. (Can you believe it? We actually did not tackle this project ourselves! Well, Ruth and I did  prime and paint the siding.)  It is beautiful - ready for the next 100 years, Hope we can do the loafing shed this year.
In a return visit, Mixed Precipitation Theater performed their delightfully wacky picnic operetta at the farm.
This year was "Don Giovanni in Cornlandia" with, what else, an election year theme.
We installed a Little Free Library (thank you Rochester Public Library!) Come get a book to read!
The 6th Annual Cow Puja & Farm Fair was spectacular!  I have lots of colorful photos but have not had a chance to post them until now.  Look for a Puja post  this week!
We rented  5 goats from Surin Farms for a month to do weed control along the south edge of the pasture. They were so sweet, we just might have to acquire a few goats!
Bob McNeely taught several Bent Twig and Willow furniture classes in the fall. The most wonderful garden furniture was created by the students! We will be hosting these classes again this spring.

 All of last year was a preparation for this event: Nature - a Walking Play.  It was the most remarkable theatrical production, based on the friendship of Emerson and Thoreau, with fabulous music and moving throughout the landscape of the farm. I cannot do it justice in a few sentences-please see the photos and read about it in my post later this week!

Almost year ago I was invited and agreed to participate in an art exhibition at the end of October at the Grandview Gallery with my paintings and wool coats made from felted sweaters. Nothing like a deadline to get me to accomplish something!  I have been having great fun sewing these coats. I have made four so far, with more in the works.
Thanksgiving was held in the Greenhouse this year!
Then we whisked away Thanksgiving and decorated the  greenhouse, barn, store and farm for the Holiday Fair that weekend.  We had vendors, food and music - our last big farm event of the season. Whew!
It was an incredible year. We had such wonderful help from friends, WWOOFers, musicians, artisan vendors, our daughters, our intern Mae and our farm assistant, Ruth.  We  could not have made it without you.

We are also  deeply grateful to all of our supporters - CSA members, Farmers Market Customers, Sourdough Bread Buyers at the Peoples Food Co-op, Farm Store shoppers, SBF Wood-fired Pizza Lovers, Workshop Students, Wedding Couples, Farm Event-Goers, Egg/Veggie/Honey Purchasers, Mitten and Sweater Customers, Festival Attendees, and  folks just giving us encouragement along the way. Building a dream like this crazy, diverse little farm is rewarding (well, not financially rewarding), but also very hard work, and we so appreciate you! 



Doreen Auger said...

Thanks for sharing a snippet of your incredible year!!! I'm so thankful our paths crossed many moons ago (another lifetime???). You both are the perfect "caretakers" of that beautiful rural corner of the globe and I know that many will be blessed as they have opportunity to enter your fantasmical world. Kudos to you both for all your hard work and pursuing your dream/vision!!!!! Hugs..........

Marcia said...

You have had an incredible year. Wish I lived closer so I could have attended some of those events. Look forward to more posts from you.