Often times we’re asked how we manage two full-time jobs in the city, a family and running a small farm. My answer is usually something like, “lots of organization and a good support system.” Nothing paints the picture better than when I take the blog time to write “A Day in The Life of Rolling Bay Farm”. Here we go:
I got up this morning and Bryn had already done her new chore of going out to feed our barn cats. On my way out I saw that Petunia (runt pig in our mud room) had drunk all her milk over the night. She was frantically hunger and grunting up a storm at me. I heated up her bottle and she started to guzzle away, happily! I then went out and turned on the lights in the farm stand and opened up the chicken’s nesting boxes and gave them their greens for the day.
Back in the house to make a batch of blueberry pancakes. After breakfast the kids went to watch some Saturday morning cartoons while Mark and I had coffee and did some business talk. This was after he took an online Food Handler’s test so that we can proceed with our licensing under the new Cottage Food bill to produce and sell homemade goods. Part of our conversation on this was around how much we are spending to get all of our various licenses and how much that is driving up our farms’ breakeven point. The Cottage Food bill permitting will end up being $230 a year. We talked through what that means in term of work to break even. The talk went like this:
Let’s say we sell a “unit” (loaf of bread, jar of jam, etc.) for $5. The cost of goods for that unit will be around $1.50 meaning a profit of $3.50 per unit. The license is $230 so $230/$3.5 = 66 units sold before there is a profit. I gave Mark a skeptical look. That is a lot of bread baking! To look at it another way, Mark will have to make and sell 132 loaves of bread to have a profit of $231. Mark wants to try it and see how it goes.
We also sat down and using an online service mocked up tee shirts in different colors with our farm logo on them. They are ordered and will hopefully be here by next weekend!
I threw in a load of laundry and went out for the morning with the kids in tow. Mark picked a basket of strawberries that are now ripe. I unloaded the pickup truck from all the produce that Mark had collected from the grocery store. Mark is now back from the garden and setting up the piglets with their new “baby” waterers and feeders. Mark also starts slopping the pigs with veggies and fruit and gallons of goat’s whey from friends of ours who make goat’s cheese.
While we’re out two cars pull up. One is a customer with his two kids. The other is a couple who has heard about our place. Both want to ogle our too cute for words piglets! Who can blame them? I send our customer up to the house with his kids since our girls have Petunia out in the yard and I know it will make their day to play with her. All the while Mark and I are doing small things and showing everyone the different litters and just chatting in general. This is the sort of casual farm interaction that totally makes our day. Our customer lets us know how much his family has been enjoying the pork and gets some more for tonight’s BBQ.
I go in and take out the chicken’s 10 hole nesting box and clean it out. Then I turn over all their deep bedding. Lastly, I muck out about 200 pounds of manure. I don’t want to whine, but I HATE cleaning up after the chickens!
At this point Mark takes the truck to the feed store to pick up the 2,000 pounds of turkey feed he ordered. I go up to the house for lunch. I put the clothes in the dryer and wash/put up the eggs that I had collected the previous day.
Now, I have been pretty sick for the past few days and at this point I’m feeling pretty urpy! I have a very light lunch while monitoring Bryn who is learning how to cook in the kitchen by herself. She is mastering the fine art of macaroni and cheese making. From turning on the stove and handling the pot of boiling water. I think she’s ready to go to scrambled egg making!
My Mom has stopped by and while I put Cailinn down for her nap Mom takes Bryn out to get some needle pointing supplies for a new project. I get a phone call from Alice Hamm (just love her name). She was our original supplier for weaner pigs and feeder lambs when we started out 6 years ago. Nice farm related chat. Mark and I toddle off to take a power nap.
Up! It’s now 2:30 PM and Bryn is still out with Grandma and Cailinn still napping. I put in another load of wash and do the dishes while a cup of tea is brewing. Mark goes out to unload his turkey feed. I quickly go out to count the ewes in the pasture and to look at Mark’s turkeys. They grow so fast!
At about 3:30 PM Cailinn is still napping. It is late so I go and wake her up gently with a bit of a snuggle. As she is straightening up her bedroom and having a snack I fold laundry. Mark pops in and says he’s going out to castrate our sweet little piglets. Umm, no thank you. I say ,“if you really need me I’ll be there, otherwise I’ll pass”. I give Petunia another bottle of milk. Cailinn and I walk down to the store with the freshly washed eggs. I lightly wipe out the cooler and put in the new eggs and collect the days cash. Lastly, I close up the chicken nest for the night after collecting eggs.
Mark is still in the process of castrating and despite myself I end up helping. Don’t ask, I find it nerve wracking. The good think is that only one of Betty’s piglets is a boy. Anyone interested in a lovely purebred Berkshire gilt? And only 4 of Rosie’s are boys. I help Mark sort the piglets and make sure we have all the boys. The moms get soooooo upset with Mark grabbing the piglets and even more agitated when the babies squeal with his handling. Bryn shows up to watch the last castration. She seems unfazed by it. After the castrating Mark let’s the boys sleep quietly for an hour in a crate.
The girls and I then stroll down our long gravel road to check the mailbox.
The girls then help me make soap. Really, all we are doing is adding fragrance to unscented homemade soap butter. We then squish it into jars for sale in the store. The girls get to pick a scent of their choice and we make a special cup of soap for each of their bathrooms.
I then get a bit OCD and vacuum the kitchen, foyer and living room floors very quickly as we head out the door for a relaxing family dinner down at the harbor.
When I look back at this typical Saturday I think a few things. One, that Sunday will be much more slowly paced. Second, that while we got a lot done there is a long list of things that didn’t get taken care of. Third, that I unusually feel a bit guilty on the weekend that we work more then we spend time with the kids. But the reality seems to be that they are solidly interwoven into our “farm flow”. From showing friends their piglets, to helping run our household, and during family dinner they are by our side. Happy and busy and contributing. A busy day. A family day. A farm day.