The Love of Spring!





Spring weather is here at last!

Cool, sunny and the perfect path to summer.

Although my garden is not yet fully planted, I am excited every morning and evening to see the progress.

There's nothing like nature's beauty during this amazing season.

Hoping Spring has sprung in your neck of the woods as well!



Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Weekend

Looking for worms!
Coop Girl Lori enjoying a dust bath

Coop Girls Eve and Deb



Emerson

Oliver
Can it possibly be the end of May already?  Between the high temps and the busy days, it seems Summer has arrived at the blink of an eye.

J was mowing the grass tonight and it was like a dust bowl all around our property.  The poor guy was covered in dirt when he was done.  It's been so warm and each time it's predicted to rain we get none or very little.  Fingers crossed we get a good soaking rain or two this week.

The Coop Girls received a very special treat last week.  When we sell eggs at the farmer's market, we spend "their" egg money on them.  You should have seen them when we brought the big ol' bag of deliciousness home.......the largest bag of freeze-dried meal worms they've ever seen.  They went from chatting up a storm to absolute silence within seconds.  That tells me they were really good.  They get bits of them every day and let me tell you, that makes them pretty darn happy despite the warm days.

Our garden is providing us with loads of scrumptious asparagus.  I have been able to get a good majority of the remaining veggies planted so they should be producing in  no time.  Can't wait!  We'll be canning in no time.  :)

We will be picking up 30 chicks this week.  They will be our next batch of meat birds.  We keep them separate from the layers since they have different needs and are much less active.  This year they'll be penned in a nice, shady area allowing them to stay cool on these unusually warm spring days.

The farmer's market has been going unbelievably well.  So well that we are expanding our booth as of next weekend!  We'll be paying for another space so we can double our "store".  We have been so fortunate to have tripled our business from the Winter market, which we did very well in, so we are busy bees trying to keep up.

Here's a few photos from today's market:







On the menu this week:  Grilled Brats with Potato Salad and Green Salad with Apples and Bleu Cheese; Smoked Chicken Quarters with Rice and Asparagus; Teriyaki Flank Steak with Baked Potato Bites and Broccoli; Red Snapper with Mango Salsa, Mexican Rice and Grilled Asparagus; Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast with Creamy Orzo and Green Salad with Fresh Strawberries; and Grilled Burgers with Potato Salad and Baked Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers.

Hoping you've had a wonderful weekend!





Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

We Have A Magazine!



We have a magazine!
The magazine itself does not come out for a few weeks, but if you would like to receive it {p.s. it's FREE!!} in your inbox, we hope you'll subscribe.

A little about the mag:
Modern Farmstead Magazine is a lifestyle magazine for anyone looking to create a simple life from scratch.  Whether you live in the heart of the city, deep in the country, or someplace in between, if you have a desire to add a bit of homemade and homegrown to your life, this is the magazine for you.  We celebrate simple everyday beauty and encourage readers to create the life they dream of.

The magazine features articles written by me as well as a few amazing bloggers.

We sincerely hope you enjoy it!!



Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Weekend

we are outside at the farmer's market!
the supervisors - Oliver and Emerson


blueberry bush

Coop Girl Dorilla

Coop Girls Hattie and Betty enjoying a dust bath

Coop Girls Stephanie and Danielle enjoying a dust bath

strawberries are coming!

Elderberry bush

Well, the weekend has flown by.  Partly because we made product all of Saturday - from 7a.m. to 11p.m. with only a break to make dinner.  And partly because it was such an unbelievably beautiful weekend, and those always seem to fly by.  I had hoped to make it out to the garden at some point but that will have to wait until tomorrow evening.

What is so exciting, in addition to the weather itself, is looking at all of the plants and seeing green, green and green!  Strawberries, blueberries, elderberries, asian pears, scallions {from last fall}, beets {from last fall} and more are starting to show their color.  We will be picking, canning and enjoying them before we know it!

The Coop Girls have been very generous lately.  We've received 8-12 eggs per day on a regular basis.  Not bad for 16 chickens, 4 of which are not laying anymore.  Despite their generosity, they have been officially kicked out of the garden until the plants are large enough to stand their own against a flock of pecking ladies.  This news has not gone over well at all.  What has gone over well are the 70+ degree temps and a whole lot of dust bathing and sun bathing.

The dogs spent most of Saturday outside in the glorious sun.  I was making and packaging product inside while J prepared the tent, tables, new soap boxes and signs outside before moving in to help me.  Well he clearly needed a LOT of supervision while he was outside because Oliver and Emerson were all up in his business.  They barked at him when he went out of their field of vision, and relaxed and slept when he was within it.

They joined us for a couple of hours at the market today but it just got too warm for them to sit in the sun.  Poor Ollie was panting and Emerson really wanted to take a nap but there was just too much going on to sleep.  J took them home and said they fell asleep the moment they pulled out of the park.
It was a beautiful day for the farmer's market and we went through a TON of soap, body butter and deodorant.  We brought 12 dozen eggs and sold every single one.  The Coop Girls have voted on spending all "their" money on tubs and tubs of meal worms.  They will definitely get a hefty share of them.

Here are a few photos from the market.  I believe we will have 67 vendors once all the veggie vendors start coming, which should be in the next week or two.







on the menu this week:  Smoked Pork Shoulder with Mac & Cheese and Asparagus; Chicken with Cheese Tortellini with Mushroom Cream Sauce; Baked Tilapia with Wild Rice and Green Beans; Grilled Steaks with Homefries and Salad; Baked Chicken Breast with Risotto and Sauteed Greens.

Hoping you had a wonderful weekend!





Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Weekend

it's an iced coffee kind of day.....
daffodil's are coming!!

Coop Girls Hattie and Dorilla

Coop Girl Hazel

Rosehips are coming!!

Jack

Oliver

Emerson
Happy Sunday!  Another glorious weekend around these parts, although we were wondering by late in the week if the weather forecast showing a nice weekend was correct since we were getting snow flurries until Friday afternoon.  Thankfully no flurries Saturday or Sunday.  It was the perfect weekend to break out the iced coffee and take a quick break {or two} to enjoy the weekend.

Next Sunday will be our first outdoor farmer's market for the year. Woo hoo! We are excited - there's a different vibe when you can be outside.  So far the weather is looking nice.  Fingers crossed it stays that way.  Oliver and Emerson will join us for as long as Oliver can keep his good boy pants on.  If his pants change to his naughty boy pair then their father will take them home to spare everyone the sheer volume of his bark.  We've been thinking about bringing a couple of the Coop Girls one of these Sunday's too.  We'll see if anyone volunteers.  :-)

As we enjoy warmer days from time-to-time, bits of greenery finally appear.  Daffodils, rose hips and strawberry plants seem to be the first popping up in our yard.  The azalea bushes are also loaded with buds.  A few more weeks and the front yard will be graced with their beauty.  The garden beds are prepped and waiting for consistent above-freezing temps.  Next weekend we'll start adding the more cold hardy seeds, and then every weekend until the beginning of June adding those less cold hardy until everything is planted.  I usually wait until the beginning of June for tomatoes, peppers and eggplant because our weather just can't be trusted....

We ordered 30 meat birds to raise the end of May.  We made the decision last year not to raise them in the high heat of the summer and instead, the beginning and end only.  We just get too much heat and humidity, and watching them struggle as they get near the end feels inhumane.  So, we'll raise 30 in Spring/Summer and another 30 or so toward Fall.  We'll be purchasing a second freezer soon too so that between all the chicken and the garden bounty we freeze, we'll have plenty of space.

Hoping you had a wonderful weekend!

On the menu this week:  Smoked Chicken Quarter with Mac & Cheese and squash; Grilled Honey & Soy Korean Cut Ribs with Mushroom Risotto and Asparagus; Baked Cod with Mango Chutney, Rice and Broccoli; Handmade Veggie-Bean Burgers with Potato Salad and Pickles; Grilled Pork Chops with Slow-Cooker "Baked" Potatoes and Broccoli; One-Pot Southwestern Chicken and Rice with Corn.








Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Making Money On The Homestead: How To Sell At A Farmer's Market, Part 2


So you've decided to sell products at a Farmer's Market!  Based on our experience and those we've spoken with, you'll have a wonderful time being surrounded by talented and like-minded people.  We went through some of the basic first steps in Part 1 of this 2-part series.  In this post we'll talk about the actual set-up.

My husband and I began selling our Apothecary products, eggs and veggies last year and we've really enjoyed it.  We've become friends with many new people, have a great little following and truly enjoy the vibe of the market and supporting the other vendors.

Once you've gone through the process of determining what you'll sell, have applied and been accepted, now you'll need to think about your booth and placement of products.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're trying to lay it all out:


Get Organized And Stay Organized
Organization will help you tremendously through the processes of loading, transporting, unloading and displaying your products.  When we first started it felt a bit overwhelming the morning of the market.  However, once we developed a rhythm it got much easier.  If you come up with a system in your first couple of weeks and stick with it, you'll find it easier to get out the door in the morning and no forgotten items. 

We designated a bag that always goes with us.  It includes our cash box, calculator, receipt book, notebook {for jotting down special orders and ideas}, pens, credit card reader, phone charger, business cards, brochures, scissors, rubber bands, paperclips, tablecloth weights {farm themed of course...}, banner clips, tape, and our sales certificate.  We re-stock this every Saturday but never actually remove items from the bag, so it's all set to go each week.  We are able to leave our canopy, banner, tables and chairs in our vehicle so we never have to load/unload them.  Sunday morning we simply have to load products, the bag, and our lunch/water/snacks!

Define Your Sales Area
Your booth is your store.  Make sure shoppers know where it begins and ends for ease of shopping.  If you're outside, you'll likely be allowed to put up a canopy.  This is a great way of not only protecting your products from the elements, but also defining your space.  Think about traffic flow and ease of movement for your booth.  The first time you set up your booth, do a pre-market walk through to test out the flow.
You will be challenged by the small space, so will you set up your tables toward the front of your space and allow shoppers to view your products as they walk by?  How about an L-shape with 2 tables?  Or a U-shape with 3 tables?  For our Winter market we went with a straight run of tables because we had to sit at one side or the other.  For our Summer market we are going with a U-shape, inverted, so we can sit on the backside of the center table.  We have a field behind us as opposed to back-to-back vendors making this a great option.


Make Good Use Of Vertical Space
With a smaller footprint, a great way to showcase more products and make your booth look fuller is to add a few vertical elements.  Stacking crates, a small shelving unit, or a wire rack with attached baskets is a nice way of offering products at several levels of view.  Make sure you have your products displayed so all customers can see and reach all products without stretching, bending or stooping.


Label Everything
If you have items that are not labeled they will not sell nearly as fast as those that do.  People do not want to ask prices, rather, they want to evaluate the product and price as they walk through your space.  Whether you use a large sign, small signs {blackboards are great and if you use opaque paint pens for those items whose price doesn't change, you don't have to keep re-writing the sign} or individual tags, try to stay consistent with all products.

Rotate Your Products and Keep Them Well-Stocked
Filling holes as items are purchased will make your booth continue to appear full and attract shoppers.  Rotating products to keep them out of the sun will help them remain healthy looking.

Pricing
This is a balance.  You want to remain competitive with vendors around you, but at the same time have your own control over pricing of your products.  Consider also offering a quantity discount, particularly for those items you have an abundance of.  Additionally, consider a vendor discount.  This helps encourage vendors purchasing from each other and is a nice little "thank you" for their support each week.  And if you are open to bartering with fellow vendors, it's a nice way for each of you try out new products!


Keep Your Products Safe
Coolers with thermometers to gauge temps for eggs and meat are required for food safety.  If these are products you are selling, you'll have to get creative with the signs since your products will not be displayed.  Large, easy-to-read signs with cuts and prices are great for the meat.  Photos of the eggs or of the chickens who have laid them are great visuals for egg sales.

Greens don't need to be refrigerated, but misting them and other veggies from time-to-time, and not tying plastic bags of greens on warm days will help them look nicer and last longer.

Although not required, we keep coolers for our lotions and deodorants as well since the extreme heat or cold will eventually compromise the product.


Develop A Cohesive Look
There's no need to spend a lot of money on this, but instead of throwing a bunch of different containers, coverings, etc. together, decide on a look and stick with it.  Whether it be wood containers/crates with a red tablecloth, metal containers with a black tablecloth or a burlap and wicker basket combo, whatever your look, making it all match brings about a uniform look.

Think also about ease of packing the items when you decide on your look.  Stacking containers, lightweight containers, and items that can easily be transported together will make your set-up and breakdown go faster and smoother.

Offer Exceptional Customer Service
I know this should go without saying, but not using your cell phone when you have customers at your booth and giving them your full attention will go a long way.  Smiling, chatting, being cheerful and knowledgeable about your products are things that will help bring customers back again and again.

Sell Yourself
Customers want to know about you and your business.  Offer brochures, if you can, that they can take with, and/or make a sign that features a description of your farm {location, acres, crops, animals, etc.}, you {the farmers}, and your method of production.  Keep this in an easy-to-read location. 

Create a banner to hang high on your booth so shoppers can read it from a distance.  We found bullet points of some of our products, our company name and website all valuable additions to the sign.  Additionally, if you want to advertise specific products you can have small banners that hang over your table made for individual items.


Develop Thick Skin
Be open to suggestions and feedback.  A lot of customers will have great suggestions and feedback and a few will have an abundance of business advice.  Some are better at communicating their advice in a positive way than others.  Regardless, know that it's not about you personally, and find ways to take it and let it go. 


Be open to ideas from other vendors, pay attention to what works and what doesn't, and have a great time!


Other Home-Based Business Posts:
How To Sell At A Farmer's Market, Part 1
How To Start A Blog
25 Ways To Add Extra Income To Your Homestead
10 Tips For Starting A Home-Based Business

Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.

Weekend

Betty checking out the soap photography


Allie not only came up to see what was going on, but decided to take a break while she was here.


An exhausted Ollie

Are you ready for zucchini yet?
My, I hope you had as beautiful a weekend in your neck of the woods as we had here.  Yesterday was just brilliant and today, although cooler, was absolutely breath taking.

Our snow is just about gone.  A few stubborn patches remain but I have no doubt they'll disappear with the expected rain tomorrow.  We have gone through the chicken coop and cleaned it completely out for Spring, which gave the Coop Girls a lot to chat about, and the garden beds are prepped and ready to go.  This also gave the Coop Girls a lot to chat about since anytime we work in the garden they assume there will be fresh veggies coming their way.  No veggies yet ladies.......

While photographing some of the soap this week the Coop Girls decided they needed to know what I was up to and Allie and Betty both photo bombed my shoot.  The very first photo with Betty looking over the soap cracks me up.  I was bent down taking the photo and all of a sudden a reddish brown feathered head was looking right at me.  I think she thought I had food, because before I knew it she was prancing around the table, checking everything out.  Allie enjoyed it so much she lay down and decided to take a rest.  Right there next to the soap.  So while she rested we chit chatted about the day.  Next thing you know she was off and running to look for worms and bugs.

Oliver and Emerson were outside most of yesterday with us, so when we all finally came in, they were completely exhausted.  You can see from the photo above that Ollie started chewing on his favorite bone and then fell asleep mid-chew.  The bone fell out of his mouth and lay next to him while he fell into a deep sleep.  If I'm being honest, I really wanted to get down there and lay right next to him.  But that didn't happen - too much to do.

Today we were at the farmer's market.  One more weekend and then we move outside!  It was a wonderful day and we were so grateful that so many of our friends have stopped by over the past few weekends.  I love shopping while I'm there - there's just so much to choose from!  Our friend Kylie made shaving mugs for us {seen on our facebook page}, and I also bought maple syrup, milk, homemade tortellini, pasta sauce, mozzarella {made fresh this morning}, mushrooms and apples.  Oh, and a DELICIOUS berry lemonade to drink while we were there.  Amazing!

The last photo {above} is of baby zucchini I bought at Trader Joe's last weekend.  I grilled them and served them with just a touch of butter.  Delicious!  To me zucchini says summer and boy are we getting ready for it.

Hoping you had a lovely weekend!

On the menu this week:  Chicken and Pasta with Spinach Cream Sauce; BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Rice and frozen Butternut Squash {down to 6 packages}; Grilled Chicken Breast with Homemade Mushroom Ravioli, Sauce and Asparagus; Stuffed Red Peppers; Tilapia with Butter Bean & Cilantro Sauce, Rice and Broccoli {down to 4 packages of broccoli from last years garden}; Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots.




Disclosure: In an effort to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendations, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and please know that I will only feature products I love.