Thursday, May 31, 2012

Adventures in Sheep!

The beginning of this year we were talking about raising some pigs for meat getting them in spring and butchering them in the fall for meat. Dad has been saying for 2 years now that he wanted sheep. We all just kind of kept brushing it off. But this year we got some. We got 2 lambs one male and one female from West Creek Family Farm. They are a merino cross, I can't remember exactly what she told me they were but either way they are so cute.

The Vanvorce's dropped them off and we had their little shelter made and they went right into the pasture and checked things out. Well sure enough we went back up to the house and just as it was starting to get dark we got a call from mom and dad telling us that the sheep were gone. Oy! So we headed out the door loaded the kids in the car and started searching. I drove up and down the road to check to make sure they had not traveled down the road. Eric headed up into the woods in search of them. When I got back from driving around I headed into the woods with him looking for them. Eric Jr went in with Grandma and Julianna was sound asleep in the car.

Not long after I had headed into the woods Eric had found them.  He got one back in the fence and was herding the other one back in when the one that was in squeezed right under the bottom line of barbed wire. There is 4 strands of wire with the lowest one being only a few inches off the ground. How in the world that lamb squeezed under there we aren't sure.

Now silly me in the hurry that I was to get out the door put on sandals....yes, I was crazy. The pasture where the sheep are is a hillside. The hillside has numerous fresh water springs on it so it is continuously wet. So here I was traipsing through the mud with shorts and sandals on. Eric finally got a hold of one and started carrying it down the hill. The other one wasn't following. Then it finally heard the other start crying and headed down towards the shelter.

So I continued my walking through mud to get out of the woods loosing a sandal here and there and having so much mud on my feet that I might as well not have shoes on.

Dad and Eric got them into the shelter and closed them in for the night. They had decided that maybe until they got used to things we would close them into a smaller area.

Covered from head to toe in mud, Eric and I gathered the kids and headed home to clean up and go to bed.

The next morning we noticed that they both had some red on their coats which meant that they probably got cut at one point. Wasn't too bad but still enough to make sure that we took a look. They were fine.

Two days later we had to go to Cornell Orchards to get some more apples.  We were headed back and we got a call from dad saying that the sheep were gone. UGH! So we flew back to the house to find the sheep.

We got home and asked dad how long he thought they were gone. He said he was weed whacking and looked up and there they were in the pen nice and quite just hanging out. Then he weed whacked some more and looked up and the gate was wide open and they were gone. He had no clue which way they headed. 

Eric headed into the woods in search of the sheep again. I had both kids with me and was searching the lawn and the side of the road to see if I could find some droppings or some footprints. Eric Jr the whole time asking where they were and not wanting to search for them. Julianna was fussing and not understanding what we were doing. Dad was driving around the "block" which for us is huge, looking for the sheep. Thinking maybe they had tried to head back to the Vanvorce's.

After a few hours of searching with no noise and no sightings we gave up. Eric had seen footprints in the woods headed into State Land which meant that we probably had lost them for good. We all came to the notion that they were gone. They would either be attacked and killed by coyotes or they would soon return. We called around the neighborhood telling people that the 2 sheep had gone missing and that if they saw them to give us a call.

So the next day Mom and Dad's neighbor called asking if we had sheep. When Eric said yes he then asked if we had a pasture in back of his house. Eric said no and the neighbor then said that the sheep were behind his house headed towards the house.

YAY!!!!! The sheep had returned!!!!!!

We all decided that night that this pasture was just cursed. When Eric was little his parents had animals in pasture back there and they tended to get out quite a bit. The cows we had a few years ago continuously got out. We double dutied and put barbed wire and electrical wire around the entire pasture. Did not stop them.

So now here we are again with sheep and they have gotten out twice in the 4 days that we had them.

They are now happy and content where they are. The little girl has a sore leg from her gallivanting all over the countryside, but hopefully it will heal soon.

We asked Eric Jr what he wanted to name them and he still hasn't come up with any names yet.

So we have two little lambs with no names who are just as mischevious as ever. They are getting used to us now and get excited when they hear the tractor start up and come out looking around when grandma and Eric Jr head over to see them. Eric Jr picks some grass before he heads over and as he starts getting close he yells, "Here sheepies, have some delicious grass for you!" Too cute!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

I have had numerous people asking me if we will be having the Otsiningo Farmers Market and the Newark Valley Farmers Market this weekend because of Memorial Day Weekend.

YES!!!! We will be at both.

One way I described it to someone was this.

When you are asked to work on say Thanksgiving at your "normal" job, what do you do? You work because that is just part of the job description.

Well for us farmers that sell at markets for their income, generally those our only days we make a decent amount of money (unless of course you have a store at your farm and your not in the middle of nowhere like we are). Our paychecks come from those days at market. So we HAVE to be there.

We love it though. We love sharing our products for you to share and take back to your Memorial Day barbecue or whatever you have going on.

Last year we roasted Rabbit on the grill for Memorial Day! So delicious! Something different, something new to try. Or you can do a chicken or maybe Sausages or steaks from Mcrey Farm.

Whatever your choice, remember we will still be there. Stop down on your way to your event!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shockingly Awesome Opening Day at Newark Valley Farmers Market.

In all our worry and stress of getting the Newark Valley Farmers Market going we were pleasantly surprised on opening day. We had watched the weather closely as the week progressed, hoping that we would not have rain and that it would be a sunny day.  And we got what we were hoping for. It was 80 something and felt like it was a 100 degrees standing out there all day.

We left the house at 7 am with the thought that if we got there early we could get our stand all set up so then when the other vendors started arriving we would be able to just focus on getting everyone set before market opened. Well, that was not the case. We were the first ones there and the last ones set up. We have so much stuff it takes forever to set up and tare down.

We finally finished setting up and people were just flowing in. It was very steady. I was hoping to take lots of pictures but that did not happen. Thankfully my Sister in-law and some others took some.

There was always a flow through the market.The customers coming through some we knew, some we didn't. There was a general sense of excitement and happiness from everyone we saw.

Customers were raving over the french fries and fried dough from Boer Bakery. My mom and my mother in-law came over raving about the soap from Woodland Cottage and the lotion bars from West Creek Family Farm.

Eric Jr spent most of the day flying through the market playing with everyone and hopefully not driving the vendors crazy. He made great friends and is constantly asking when we can go back to market again. So not only was it a success for us as a vendor but as well as us with making Eric excited to go to market again.

I will have to say that I was a little upset that I was so busy I didn't get a chance to get my treat from Boer Bakery.

We had originally planned this market to be one that I would go to, Eric would help me set up and then he would go home to get some more work done and I would handle the market. But if it is this busy that will not be happening. I will need his help. Which is not a bad thing.

Grassanova playing on opening day in the Gazebo.

We hope you all enjoyed the market as much as we did. And don't forget we do have 3 produce vendors that will be having produce very soon. Keep checking back to get the fresh produce of the season!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New packaging and Senator Libous Order

Ever since we got the account with Regional access, there has been talk of how we should change our packaging of our fruit butters to a more retail looking package. There has been complaints of how hard it is to get the tops off of the Ball jars. And the label was not a retail label. It was a handmade label.

That being said, we decided to change our label. We started looking at things and trying to figure things out. We then had a customer that told me he would help me out. He designed some labels for us and I really thought we liked one of them. We were trying to figure out logistics because we have so many different varieties.

In the midst of all that we were working on the Newark Valley Farmers Market and met Natalie Mattrazzo from Providence Farm. We were talking about our new design and that night she out of the blue sent a design that just "popped." It was amazing and we all loved it. So after a little tweaking and some here and there we finally got the label finished.

During all of this Senator Libous had placed an order with us for one of his events. 250 jars! Thanks to Tia and Laura for thinking of the small people and referring him to us and Old Barn Hollow. We had to have these ready by May 16th. Today.

We decided when we first got the order that we would use this as our relaunch for our new product design.

So here we go:

 This is a picture of what is called a QR barcode. You can download an application on your phone called QR barcode scanner which is free. You would then take a picture of this QR code and it would take you directly to our website.

I thought this was so cool. It lets you get to see what else we do and who we are besides just Apple Butter. Because as you all know we are much, much more than that! = )

And this is our order for Senator Libous. Packaged, loaded and ready to be delivered!

Getting this order done and the labels and packaging done takes a lot of stress off my back. It was something I was stressing over quite a bit. I don't know why, but I was.

Now of course we are going to be going through our old stock first, but any retail locations will get this newly packaged product.

So if you are looking for it in a retail location make sure you look for this new design! We hope you like it as much as we do.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Newark Valley Farmers Market Opening Day this SUNDAY!

It has been awhile since I have updated you all on the Newark Valley Farmers Market. A lot has been going on that is extremely exciting for this small community.

We now have a total of 9 vendors:

                                                      Anura Liquid Soap- All natural handcrafted
  Liquid Soaps

Berkshire Hills Honey- Honey

Boer Bakery/Downward Slope Farm- Goat meat, baked goods, hot food (crepes, waffles and more).

Cross Creek Farm- Turkey, Chicken, Rabbit, dried herbs, herb bunches, herbal teas, fruit, eggs, fruit butters, bedding  plants and more...

Mcrey Farm- Grassfed beef, pork and lamb. Free range eggs.

Providence Farm- Heirloom produce, seed paper

West Creek Farm Family-Produce, fiber products, goat milk soaps and lotions. 

Woodland Cottage- Hand sewn items and bar soaps.

Stray Haven- Pet adoptions.

We also have applied and received the Fresh Connects Grant for the market. Part of the requirements for the grant were that we had to partner with a food pantry in our community as well as some local groups and organizations to work with. This was to help the community through the farmers market which in return helps the farmers and vendors by having exposure and awareness brought to the market and their own business. This also will bring people to the village and help to bring awareness to the other businesses right here in town that some may not have known about. Bringing people to a center locale to meet and get together brings the community closer together all around.

We were very excited to receive the grant. We partnered with the food pantries of Berkshire, Richford and Newark Vally to try to give some sort of donation every week of local fresh produce and goods. Being that we are a low income community and with the devastation that last years flood did to many in our area from Richford to Owego the food pantries were working hard to help support those in need. The community came together at that point to help each other. So it is only natural that our local farms can do some to support our local food pantries as well. Food pantries CAN use more than just shelf stable goods. They would love to hand out fresh produce and fresh goods to those who can't afford to buy them from the store.

We also partnered with Northern Tioga Neighbors Network which is a not-for- profit out of Richford that has volunteers that assist eldery, inbound and handicapped residents of Berkshire and Richford to doctors appointments, shopping and things of that nature. We spoke with them in regards to trying to start a program of them bringing residents to the market. With partnering with them we requested that part of our grant money be put towards gas money to help get them to the market. With gas prices as high as they are it is hard for people to sacrifice that money and Northern Tioga Neighbors Network has funding for this type of thing but not a lot. So we figured that if we could get some money for them that would assist the volunteers which would then assist more of the local community in getting to the market. They may or may not have enough volunteers, but they will try their best to make sure someone is available. Also if you would volunteer they would love more volunteers.

We also asked local groups and organizations to come in and do fund raising events for their organizations. We want to assist in bringing awareness to these groups as well.

Things are coming up so quick. We have been planning and organizing this for quite awhile now and it seems strange that it is so close. We are very excited and hope that you all are too.

We interviewed yesterday on the Village Green with YNN news about the market and the community.

You can view the video here:
The market will also feature live music from local musicians throughout the season. They will be playing in the pavilion and we will have some chairs set up on the lawn for you to sit relax and enjoy. Maybe get some food from Boer Bakery or a coffee or smoothie from Cardinal Cafe and sit and enjoy the music and time with friends!

This will be a destination and meeting place as well as a market. We hope you come and see us and enjoy what we have created as an event for this town!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Stinging Nettle Stings!

Last year when we began our herbal tea journey I was researching a lot of herbs and I was reading a lot about Stinging Nettle. I really had no clue what the plant looked like or what it did. I asked my father-in-law to show me one and the one he showed me didn't sting. So he said that that wasn't nettle. He said we would take a walk through the woods and he would show me. Well we never took that walk.

This year we decided to grow stinging nettle in pots to sell for people that don't have woods and forest areas around them. I have had quite a few people that live in the cities excited that we are growing it. To most country people it is an invasive weed that they just can't get rid of and no one wants to go near.

 We have been having this conversation about how he doesn't want to touch it even if we did find it and he is not working with it to make teas. He thinks I am crazy. I kept telling him it couldn't have been that bad!

Today I was transplanting the plants from our 50 count trays into their individual pots and I got stung! I was lucky that no one but Julianna was in the greenhouse with me. I knew that if Eric Sr was in there with me he would have laughed hysterically.

Either way I recommend you be careful when working with Stinging Nettle. It doesn't sting that bad but it's enough to get your attention. I will be wearing gloves when I am preparing it into teas and things.

Now for a little information on Stinging Nettle:

Do NOT use stinging nettle if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do NOT give to children under 2 years of age.

Stinging nettle has many needle like hairs on its leaves that inject histamine and other chemicals into you.

Nettle is used in treating arthritis and rheumatism. Other uses are: expectorant, asthma, cancer, cough, diabetes, eczema, fluid retention, gout, heart failure, high blood pressure, muscle spasms, nasal allergies, nosebleed, promote hair growth, reduce blood loss, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, uterine bleeding and wounds.

As I always say: