(Jayne, Leo may like this one)
Since opening for the season on July 18th, life for us has been very busy (as evidenced by the fact that our blogs went from almost every day to about once a week). The work is fun and we are still learning a lot, but we are pooped at the end of the day. Here is what a typical day in our lives looks like. This example is from last Friday and Saturday.
Sometime between 6am and 7:30am: The roosters are crowing as we roll out of beds, sleepy eyed and fighting the desire to roll back in bed. Kelsey made us some awesome Elvis Granola (peanut butter and chocolate chip! Yum!) that we have been breakfasting on. It goes wonderfully with the yogurt that she made from raw milk from a cow she is milking once a week. (Kelsey milks Irene every Sunday morning. This week, Irene gave us nearly two gallons of milk! Kelsey has already made yogurt, labneh, and is just finishing up some homemade cream cheese. She has plans for more cheese later this week.)
I had my first cup of coffee ever last week. It wasn’t too bad. I had been really tired in the mornings, so I decided to try some coffee. With a boat load of sugar and heavy whipping cream, I actually enjoyed it. Made for a nice day too. Kelsey has always enjoyed coffee, so I decided to give it a shot to perk me up in the mornings.
8:15am: Time to do chickens. There are 3 hoop houses and 2 low pens (one very small, one large) that we move every day. The low pens have the broilers in them (the male chickens that will be butchered for meat) while the hoop houses have the laying hens. Each day, we check for eggs, move each of the pens, and feed and water the chickens. Several mornings have brought unpleasant surprises when we discovered some chickens had escaped. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened too often.
9am: Arrive at Bow Hill. The owners of Bow Hill own another 40 acre farm that we live on where the chickens are housed, the goats live, and the organic veggies are grown. That’s where our trailers are located. So, we still commute to work. It’s about a 5-10 minute drive depending on how many tractors we get stuck behind on the way.
The first thing we always do before we get to working for the day is to have our “White Board Meeting.” Harley and Susan give us each a few tasks or projects each day to work on while also trading off store working duties. , Kelsey was tasked with opening the store, making pickled blueberries to take to the farmer’s market the next day, making lunch for the crew, and making jam. Mine were putting out the bird-abatement kites, moving the kites as the wind shifted, checking the fruit fly traps, working in the store, and bringing the kites in at the end of the day.
The way the system works is once a task is completed, we erase it. If a task isn’t completed, it stays on the whiteboard for the next day. Pretty simple, huh?
10am-6pm: The store is open and the work commences. We take turns working in the store throughout the day. The goal of a You-Pick operation is to sell more than just a product (in this case, blueberries), it’s to sell an experience. When a You-Picker comes in, I ask them how many buckets they want (some single people want like 5 buckets. We had one lady last week, in the span of 3 days, pick 100 pounds of blueberries by herself), then show them where the you-pick areas are, and finally, describe the different varieties of blueberries we have.
This was part of our training in the first week of being open. Most people coming in had no idea the differences between the different varieties (we have three heirloom varieties: Rubels, Jerseys, Stanleys, as well as semi-modern Bluecrop), so we had to explain which is which and how they are different. We are both experts now!
If someone is coming in to just buy fresh blueberries that have already been picked, we run through the different sizes and prices, while also telling them about the Acme Blueberries ‘n’ Cream Ice Cream we sell (that has our blueberries in it) and the blueberry themed chocolates that are made in house. Jam, pickled blueberries, and dried blueberries all coming soon.
Kelsey usually starts cooking for us at around 11. The Soltes have put her in charge of planning and preparing lunches for everyone as part of her job. It has made lunch really yummy! Not that it wasn’t before, but fresh cooked, hot food for lunch is always better than leftovers. Plus, we all get to eat together so it’s a nice little break.
I usually try and get my projects done in the mornings so I can take over in the store for Kelsey when she needs to start cooking. Whenever we aren’t helping people in the store, we have to be building boxes for the berries to go into that are picked by the pro-pickers.
In the afternoon, things usually hum along pretty well. I have to go move the kites around several times so that they don’t get caught in trees or scare the birds away from the neighbors and onto our property. Kelsey, on this day at least, made jam and pickled blueberries most of the afternoon.
Doesn’t sound like hard work, but you are on your feet most of the day and you have to be on, so it is pretty tiring. It’s a fun tired, though.
6pm-7pm-ish: Store closing procedures. This isn’t too exciting. After cleaning up the store, cleaning up the warehouse, cleaning the bathrooms, and closing out the till, it’s time to go home. We have had some longer evenings when prepping things to go to market the next day and such. I think the longest day we had was 13 hours. We come home exhausted, but it’s a good exhausted. We never have any trouble going to sleep at night.
Some of the projects I’ve gotten to do are build frames for the signs that get posted along the road telling people where to go, build a card holder for the recipe greeting cards in the store, build fruit fly traps, and a lot of other little things. That’s the biggest thing we are learning about farming. There are a lot of little things! At the end of the day though, we come home hungry, tired, and happy. That’s the way a day is supposed to end.