It's early December, so for us that means the farm stand season has finally come to a close. We're so thankful to everyone who stopped by the farm and supported us over the past season...without folks like you who believe in what we do, we wouldn't be able to do what we love!
One question I get frequently as the season winds down is "...so, what are you going to do all winter while you're closed?" It truly amazes me how many folks think I'm going to have a leisurely winter holiday in Florida or somewhere warm. (Well, maybe the Keys...if some relatives would be kind enough to move back so we have a reason to visit!) The truth is much less glamorous. Dan and I spend the winter doing lots of things, but soaking up sun generally isn't one of them. There are more animal chores this time of year than any other, as the horses, cows, sheep and goats need to be fed hay while the pastures lie dormant. The horses spend a lot more time in the barn, so there is more manure to move. Keeping fresh water in all the pens of birds, bunnies and other critters is extremely important, and when it's bitterly cold, something that may have to be done 3-4 times per day.
There are, of course, lots of "inside" projects, too...this is the part of the year where we can paint a room in the house or take up a new hobby. For all the things we do here, we're always looking towards learning more to make ourselves more self-sufficient. This winter, Dan & I hope to get started in leather crafting a bit. I'm also hoping to play with some of his newer woodworking tools and make some signs & other decorations around the farm. I haven't really mentioned him in the blog, but we got a young horse, Montana, earlier this year, and I hope to work more with him now than I did in the summer. It's also a time to review what worked over the past year, what didn't, and what we want to do in the coming year. The seed catalogs starting arriving before Thanksgiving, and after the holidays I'll devote quite a bit of time inventorying what seed I have, what I want, and then trimming that down to what we can afford, both in terms of money and garden & greenhouse space.
It's also a time to do more of the hobbies we already have...Dan looks forward to more blacksmithing, while I'm excited to have more time to devote to stained glass and jewelry. The farm stand is closed for the year (tomorrow will actually be my first Saturday off since May 19, and I have to say that's pretty exciting!) but I am trying to make more of a go of our online store. This week it's been a major project to upload lots of new items to the store. I have a selection of some of the more popular canned items, plus a couple gift baskets, and now I've got a nice selection of listings of my handmade jewelry, and I've even got a few stained glass items up! All handmade by me here at the farm, of course.
I am extremely fortunate to be able to pick and choose what I do each day (at least after the animals are taken care of!) and this time of year means far more leeway in what HAS to be done on a given day vs. what I FEEL like doing. It's a luxury that makes all the hard work of being self-employed worth it. On this gloomy, damp day I'm making room in the freezer by making spaghetti sauce from the tomatoes I ran through the food mill & froze, when I had more canning to do than time to do it, earlier in the garden season. I don't mind having the stove on for hours today, and it's pretty amazing to me that the only store-bought ingredients going into the pot today are salt, sugar, and vinegar. (Although I make vinegar, too, it's not tested for acidity and therefore not safe for canning.) Everything is boiling now, and in the next few hours when I just need to stir every so often, I'm working on more jewelry plus a new decorative hop vine wreath idea I have...if I get ambitious, I'll list some more items online. It's great fun to be making things like jewelry and stained glass, and I'm really hoping to have more of a supplemental income this winter from it as well. The hardest part so far seems to be resisting the urge to keep most of it for myself!
If you're shopping online this year, we'd love it if you took a look around our virtual store. I ship nationwide! Visit our online store at: www.etsy.com/shop/pleasantvalleyfarmpa/. We wish you happy holidays and stress-free shopping!