Like any good fan of Christmas, and the holidays in general, I took time off from the blog to spend time being a total goober. It started with Halloween which for me is the start of the best time of the year! I watched all the Halloweentown movies with my youngest step son Jaxson. I got to see his school parade, and then the five of us, Rebel included, went Trick-Or-Treating. I even brought a bag of candy with me to pass out along our walk, something I think would have been a hit in the city, but maybe not so much in a small town. I immediately felt awkward and like I was luring kids to me. So I decided to just eat the candy instead, next year I'm getting better walking candy. We then moved into the Thanksgiving holiday, which I’ve honestly never been a huge fan of. My sister Brittany and I started a new tradition years ago, champagne and black friday ads. It has been my favorite part of Thanksgiving ever since. But this year we started a new tradition. We camped with my whole family! My Aunt and Uncle were there, my nieces and nephew, mom and stepdad, stepsister and her fiancé, it was my favorite Thanksgiving by far. Chris and I flew down to Silent Valley, CA and we all had RV’s that my mom rented for our group. They had a fishing tournament, a Christmas parade, and the movie Elf playing on the big screen outdoors. There was a special visit from Santa, hot chocolate and S’mores. But the biggest surprise for my family was that my cousin Melissa, the daughter of my aunt and uncle we had Thanksgiving with, went into labor a couple weeks early. Since we are spread out all over the country, it was such a blessing that we were able to all be together not just for the holiday, but when she gave birth.
This was also the first year I didn't do any Black Friday shopping, and while I wasn't able to participate in my first small business Saturday sale, It was truly wonderful to take a step back and just enjoy being in the moment.
When we got back to Michigan, the kids came back to the house and we set out to get our Christmas tree. Something we have started doing the weekend of Thanksgiving, but this year, we had to wait until the first weekend of December. So Jaxson and I were chomping at the bit to get Christmas started. Typically we cut our tree down from a local tree farm, but this year we missed out on the ideal tree selection by waiting too long (December 4th). So instead we supported our local Boy Scout Troop and purchased a pre-cut tree from them. Then, it was on! Christmas had officially started! We did Christmas movies by the fireplace just about every night. I baked so many Christmas cookies, with the intention of passing them out to everyone, only to realize I didn't bake enough. So naturally we enjoyed them. The most unfortunate part of Christmas this year was that we were unable to spend it with Chris' family. We've learned some lessons and will never miss a Christmas with family again. So now Christmas is over and 2022 is here, it's time to look forward, set new goals, and change the things that didn’t work, so we first need to look back at 2021.
2021 took us on a wild ride, we were focused on expanding our goat operation, trying out the farmers markets, and I took a week of coffee roasting classes. We upgraded our website, I started blogging, which is harder that I first thought, and then we upgraded again. We started off Spring at both the Bedford Charter Township and Richland Farmers Markets, but soon ended up adding Plainwell, and Otsego to the list. We met some amazing people at the markets who have really given us some great tips and we've even developed some great friendships. The farmers markets are where I learned that my coffee roasting skills are good enough to earn back repeat business, which was when I decided to take some classes and really start learning more about what I’m doing. Since then, I have upgraded my roasting machine and we are currently working on finishing our commercial kitchen so we can start shipping coffee!! I was also fortunate enough to sell my coffee at Calico Rabbit in Plainwell, it's a darling consignment shop with the most amazing woman running the show. In 2022 I plan to start a coffee subscription with local pick ups from our farm stand, and from Calico Rabbit, with the goal of shipping across state lines.
Another goal we accomplished, well maybe two goals. We are officially USDA certified to sell chicken, pork, and goat meat! Hopefully we will be adding rabbit to that list next Summer. For now, word of mouth has sold us out of goat stew meat. And Chris and I tried our first goat meat meal, I was blown away by how tender the meat was, it was delicious! We currently have chicken and goat available and our pork meat, which is a heritage breed, will be available at the end of January. We are working on our packaging before we start selling meat online. Our chicken eggs have been selling fast, and we keep hearing how amazing they are, so buttery and delicious, we'd like to add a subscription service for these, but winter is here and so the girls have slowed down a bit. Our second accomplishment in 2021 is that we were able to have our farm MAEAP Certified! This is a volunteer program where farmers seek certification from the state to show that they employ safe and environmentally friendly practices. Classes are involved as well as a few visits from the state to certify the farm. We're very excited about this certification!
We may have mentioned that we have joined forces with Goats On The Go®! Something that seems to be opening so many doors for us. We will be attending their training event in March, and we already have a list of potential clients started! Chris' dad and my stepdad have excitedly jumped on board and will be attending training with us in March. We’re looking forward to starting this next adventure and putting the goats to work. My favorite part of watching them eat through the thick brush, is hearing them, but not seeing them. It’s amazing how fast they work!
So now that we’ve looked back, it’s time to look forward, the best part of ringing in the New Year! All of our goals are inspired by feedback we received from customers, and potential customers last year. Chris and I sat down and put a list together of the things we each heard at the markets and/or the classes we attended. Our first goal is to get our commercial kitchen approved, having this available to us not only allows me to ship coffee across state lines, but it allows me to sell a cup of coffee at the markets we attend. This was something I heard at every single market I attended, so we made this our first priority. Speaking of the markets, we will be rolling out our new look this Spring! So keep an eye out for our new logo!! (Not based on feedback, just a personal desire).
Next on the list, we are hoping to have our goats booked for 75% of the season, or 20 weeks. Goats on the Go® started with Chris looking for places on our property to feed the goats. Then a neighbor wanted the goats on his property, then we moved them over to another property. Then someone mentioned Goats on the Go® to us, and the next thing we know, we have people on a waiting list. When the goats are home, we are planning to give farm tours, and have a small petting zoo with the baby goats. We've met a few people wandering our property to see the animals, so we decided it's probably safest to schedule tours while we’re home. I’ve mentioned a coffee subscription already, this also came from many customers asking where I sell coffee other than at the markets, and they even suggested having a subscription service. So we’re going to give this a try. We also added internet sales for our meat since we’ve had some requests. So we are currently working on the packaging and will make that announcement once we are confident not only in the shipping, but the presentation of the product as well. I’m a big fan of the personal touch a small business sends in anything I order, it makes me feel like my order mattered and I really am supporting a small business. That’s something I want each of our customers to feel, because we cannot do this without you!!
2022 here we come!