As often happens when the summer season winds down and the fall begins, I sort of fell out of the habit of blogging. Resolution: Get back to it! Fall is always crazy busy for me, and I seem to get slammed with allergies or something every fall as well, so the period between September 1 and December 31 flies by before I can even turn around twice.
So a general catch-up. In October, we finally completed construction on our commercial kitchen/commercial coach/food service facility! (What it’s called depends entirely upon what government agency is currently inquiring. They apparently don’t speak to one another, and they all have different terminology, and none of them have guidelines for exactly what we’ve done. I didn’t think it was that outside the box, but apparently so…) Very excited to have the facility up and running, but unfortunately it came about 18 months too late for the bills. So, we’re going to be ramping up actual production slower than I’d anticipated, because I’ve had to take a full time job in the Real World ™ again. But life is funny, because the job I’ve gotten is right up my alley, should be busy and fun and the people are wonderful, and a regular paycheck should ease a lot of stress around here, not to mention regular health care again! And if it means I have to focus more sharply and take it a little slower on the food production, well, that might actually be helpful anyway. I was feeling a little unfocused, and now I have to really narrow it down and get organized, which is how I operate best.
In October, we also went to our biggest show ever, the Tacoma Holiday Food and Gift Show. It was both a great show and a bad show. It was great, in that I sold more product than I’ve ever sold anywhere. I met a lot of great customers, gave out a lot of cards, and got some wonderful feedback on my products. I learned a lot about what did and didn’t work for my packaging. I got a banner for the booth, and learned a little more about display techniques specific to food, and got a handwashing station built. I got easily transportable containers filled with necessary equipment for sampling food, and for administrative purposes. I’ve learned a lot about the shelf life of my non-preserved food products (and it’s all good news…remarkably long shelf life for having no preservatives beyond sugar!) On the down side, we spent more than we took in, largely because the show was insanely expensive to enter, and we had to drive about 100 miles each way to get there, one of us towing an RV, and the other of us making the trip twice in the same week. I won’t be doing the show again, but it was a good experience.
So. Coming up in 2012, lots of changes. We have a greenhouse to start plants for the first time, so I’ll be out poking around in there earlier than I used to be. We’ll be getting new chickens later in the spring, though we’ve nixed the idea of Blue Andalusians because they’re so loud and Jersey Giants because they’re kind of boring. Still hunting Lavender Orpingtons! We’ll be reconsidering the idea of a very small CSA locally, with a slightly different, non-subscription model including canned fruits and jams. And we’ll be posting old-fashioned, small-batch, handmade foods to our website, finally! The first up will be Cherry Almond Vanilla Jam, Ginger Peach Jam, Rhubarb Orange Marmalade, and Blueberry Lavender Jelly. Very soon we will be producing another batch of our sold-out Pflaummenmus, which is a wonderful, lightly sweetened spiced German plum jam which has received rave reviews, even from some native Germans, which was enormously flattering and a bit surprising to me.
Looking forward to a great year with all kinds of changes on the food front and around the Homestead!