Well, 2014 was a grand year. We had grand expectations, and generally, they were pretty fulfilled! Here it is, in a nutshell (you all know how I can summarize so succinctly):
January 2014: Who cares. January sucks.
February 2014: Troy and Michelle fly off on their first real holiday since starting the farm. They escape the brutal Manitoba winter to bask in the Mexican sun for two weeks, and accidentally get engaged during a failed snorkeling adventure. Troy eats all of the seafood.
March 2014: Calving [accidentally] begins, just a bit too soon, on some very cold March days. Troy and Michelle are reminded why they love calving on pasture in the late Spring….also, the bees emerge on one fortunate day above 0 degrees, for their mass hive cleansing after a long winter (read: bee poops)
April 2014: Michelle and Troy make yet another rash decision and buy 20 bred ewes to begin a new sheep flock. The animals arrive sheared and alien-looking, yet pregnant and endearing. They are accompanied by Bea, a livestock guard dog puppy who considers herself to also be a sheep.
May 2014: Regular (non-surprise) calving season begins, and the joy of newborn baby calves is felt in the hearts of all. It is still, however, really cold. The gardens begin to be prepped and planted.
June 2014: Baby lambs begin to drop (sploosh!) and the excitement and challenges involved with lambing are learned. The garden continues to be prepped and planted, but it is yet another late Spring. Troy is fencing like a mad man, to accommodate the new intensive grazing paddocks for cattle. Troy and Michelle’s first-ever WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), Pedro and Kristyna (from Spain, Czech Republic), arrive to a busy, chaotic, lovely madness. They fit right in.
July 2014: The CSA program commences, with an abundance of delicious vegetables (especially lettuce)! Pedro and Kristyna travel on their way, and new WWOOFers Nicolas and Marie-Anne (from France) join the Fresh Roots Farm team. They arrive just in time for the heat of ‘weeding’ season in the gardens…oh yay…
August 2014: Thirty students from the University of Manitoba visit the farm as part of the ‘Living Rural Communities and Environments’ course, based out of Clearwater. They get a 5-minute lesson on how to harvest vegetables, then descend on the garden and are sent home with food for their course meals. Everything is in full swing, and in the midst of it, Troy and Michelle, WWOOFers, and friends and family all collaborate to make the backyard the gorgeous site for a fun-filled farm wedding. Somehow it is all pulled off, and fun and frivolity ensues. Love is all around, and memories are made for a lifetime.
September 2014: Kristyna and Pedro generously return to help Troy and Michelle until the Harvest Moon Festival. Fresh Roots Farm sells many jars of honey and some herb-infused vinegars at the Sunday Farmers Market!
October – December 2014: Michelle collaborates with Carissa from Make-Do Farmstead and the team at Harborside Farms in their first-ever ‘shoulder season’ vegetable and preserve CSA. Troy is hired on to do crop insurance work with MASC (Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation) and Michelle gets more hours at her father’s ranch supply store. Shorter days are relished for the inevitable decrease in farm work hours, and many fires are stoked in the woodstove. The first grassfed beef and grassfed lamb are finished and sold direct to eaters! Planning for 2015 ensues…
Here we are, in 2015! I will know much better this year than to impose unrealistic expectations upon myself, such as completing weekly blog postings. I am still in awe of Kristin Kimball from Essex Farm…
As I mentioned, we are now selling grassfed beef, and grassfed lamb! And, not to brag, but it really is so delicious! Find out more about how you can order, in our latest newsletter, here. We’re also happy to announce that we have a few new retail outlets in Winnipeg that are carrying Fresh Roots Farm’s Raw Honey! (see newsletter) I have to mention my newfound love for baking bread…after a year of eating gluten-free, we are experimenting with sourdough bread as an easy-to-digest bread option. If you want a great recipe, try this one from Nourished Kitchen (the new cookbook is amazing), or if you just want to eat it, stop in to buy some from our friends at Sleepy Owl Bakery at 751 Wall St. in Winnipeg. They bake some of their breads, like the Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin, with Fresh Roots Farm honey! AND (bonus), you can buy our honey there too! Wh’bam!
There’s lots of exciting things coming up in 2015. Another year wiser as sheep farmers, a new grazing plan for the pastureland, more expansion on the beekeeping front, and a down-sizing of sorts in the vegetable world. I am sad to say that we will be discontinuing our CSA vegetable program for this year, but hope to instead focus on growing a less diverse, though better stock, of major staple and storage vegetables for sale here on the farm. After a very busy year working the market gardens, even with the amazing help from WWOOFers, I have decided that I would like to be able to dedicate more time to other activities on the farm (like caring for the sheep, assisting with honey extraction, and maybe sitting down to reflect on the day), which is basically impossible to do with the market gardens requiring my full-time attention, and more. Troy is quite happy to see this change, as he is convinced I may have actually gotten married to the garden, and not him.