Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bucket List: Start a farm - CHECK!

If you were on your last day to live and you could pick any one thing to do, what would it be? I honestly didn't have a clue. I guess I would want to get a chance to see and hug and speak to my loved ones for the last time. I would want to make every moment, every second count and not waste time apologizing for all the stupid stuff that has happened in life but instead thank the person for all the wonderful moments and the love they have given me.

If it was your last month to live and you could do what you want, what would it be? I guess that is a little bit easier, there is more time to squeeze things in, try to narrow down that bucket list. I guess I would make sure that I not only saw my family and loved ones but I would also try to get to see my friends, those who have been beside me and those I lost along the way that I always missed. I would take the time to tell them how they had touched me, helped me and express my appreciation and joy for having known them. 

If you had a year left to live and you could do whatever you want, what would you do? Now things get tougher. You might think, well, I have a year, so that is time to do it all, but first, I have to whine and complain and wonder why me? There would be anger, denial, fear, depression, all of the emotions that overwhelm us and bring us down. I think a lot of us would waste half or more of that year just feeling sorry for ourselves, being angry that we can't be there for our kids, watching our bodies waste away, losing control of our lives and being neglectful of the gift we have, to use that time wisely.

I know some movies have the premise that you can live life to the fullest, shoot up that debt, head out on trips you could never take before, eat what you want, nothing matters because you are going to die anyway; I don't think many people do that though. First of all, who gets stuck paying the debt? Your spouse maybe? Second of all, even though it might sound fun at first to get those things done, what's the point? What will you really accomplish? 

Movies like the bucket list help us think about what we want to do, why, what is important and what do we want to leave from this life when we are gone? I am going to list some of the things that I want to leave behind and I think it is probably quite similar for a lot of other people. 
  • I want to leave behind children that are kind, loving and feel that they can cope in the world as well as contribute positively to it.
  • I want to leave behind friends and family that I have been able to hold up and help when they needed it.
  • I want to leave behind  a world that maybe I have contributed to in a positive way, where I have hopefully given something back that will help others.
Yes there are probably lots of other things we could come up with to leave behind, but I am going to go with the top three listed above. I guess all of these thoughts have really swam around in my mind over the past year. Only one year ago, Len and I had finished our trip to the Atlantic and purchased a new home to start our new life. I feel sometimes like we just got caught up in a whirlwind and last April, May and June were so busy we had no time to really think about what we had done. On the other hand, it seems like it was all we thought about.

Then we had our C R A Z Y trip across Canada which was three weeks but felt like three months. The next three months we were consumed with trying to get things done to prepare for winter. The next five months were winter and now here we are, back full circle at the end of March one year later. Yes, I love that we moved. Yes, I would do it again. Yes, my life is fresh and exciting and I like meeting all the new people. I like exploring and finding new communities. I like learning so many new things. I like that I am not bored at a desk, stagnant in a job I don't like, no one controls my time schedule and I get to discover whole new parts of my personality.

Yes, it is weird to crawl into bed at night, look over at my husband with a gleam in my eye, while he wonders "What does she want now?" and I lean over and giggle "I LIKE making bread! Making bread is FUN!" and he laughs at me. It is weird to wake up at night and think about my future vegetable patch, bread making plans and livestock that will wander around "on the range". I never thought that taking a morning to go on a tour of a local organic grain mill would be fun and I would get psyched seeing how they dealt with every part of that grain and had little to no waste. It makes me happy though!

I never, ever, would have thought, 20 years ago, that I would end up in rural New Brunswick, baking bread, driving an hour to town and discuss the benefits of manure and compost, BUT I am! This is my life and I like it. 

No, it is not for everyone and I wouldn't recommend it to all that many people I know back home. However, if you enjoy long cold snowy winters, days where you can't leave your home, hard work, packing wood, getting excited about the chickens and goats you will have to care for; If you can deal with bugs and flies and mosquitoes and bats; If you enjoy cutting, cooking, canning and serving food that YOU created; If you get excited when you see a black bear or large moose coming at you when you are driving; If you enjoy meeting people when they feel like coming over or not seeing or talking to anyone for days... Then this MIGHT be for you!

I guess I have met my bucket list. It isn't the list I would have thought it would be. I am not where I thought I might be. I started to climb that management ladder at work and then walked away from everything I ever knew... and I am OK with that. Some people think I ran away from my life, but I think I ran to my life. Now, don't send me emails "Are you OK Sarah? Your not going to die are you?" No! I am not going to die! (I wouldn't tell anyway!) On the contrary, I have only started to live!

So, think about this, if it was your last year to live, what would you do?

Our last DAYcation to Victoria, Len and I alone, escaping for the day!
Last thing! Synergy has asked me to write a follow up story to the March/April edition.
So watch for the continued saga of "New Beginning" coming up in the May/June edition!
Yes, when I get it I will post it online!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Extra! Extra! Read all about US!

I just can't say enough about how great our experiences with people here have been. They are so wonderfully kind, supportive and friendly! Please read the Farm Market report from today's local paper. I thought the nice couple buying from us the past few weeks were JUST nice people, BUT, they are also very great promoters and have kindly profiled our 'little' operation out here in Fosterville! Thank you Keith and Ellen Helmuth for your suport!

I have also included a couple of new pictures of baking products and garden stakes that we have made to sell this week at the market! ENJOY! (Plus, if you were unable to open the Synergy article I posted, see the posting from this morning where I entered a direct link to read my article!) Ciao!

Cheese filled and topped Breadsticks

Peanut Butter Raisin Bread - Special Request!

Garden Stakes Len made $2 each or 6 for $10

My barn! 

Farm Market Report for Tuesday March 22
Keith Helmuth

Whole Grain Bread and Sticky Buns

One of the important functions of the Woodstock Farm and Craft Market is serving as an incubator for small business development. For many creative people, turning out a product is the natural and easiest part of going into business, but the marketing step is harder to figure out. Setting up in the Farm Market is a good way to “get your feet wet” in the marketing game.

Sarah and Len Sherman are the newest entrepreneurs in the Farm Market, but you can tell from their products and display that they are old hands in marketing their creative work. And they have a development plan. Sarah has started with items that pick up on the heart of the Farm Market tradition – home baking.

Just one look at her products and you can tell that Sarah knows about making good bread – rich brown whole-wheat, a hearty multi-grain loaf, and that perennial breakfast favorite – raisin bread. Then comes the down home flourish – giant sticky buns with cream cheese filling and lemon glaze. The breads cover the nourishment detail and the sticky buns satisfy the sweet tooth.

The Sherman’s plan for Golden Unicorn Farm includes a market garden, chickens and goats. They plan to add vegetables and eggs to their market stall products as the season advances.

Meanwhile, Len Sherman, an artist, writer, publisher, and former sailor has a variety of his products on display and for sale. He has two books on the adventures of high seas sailing and a large rack of lovely cards featuring his original artwork. One of Len’s cards will add a valued touch to your correspondence the next time you write a “thank you” note, or present a gift to someone. Hallmark cards may cover the waterfront of occasions, but there is something extra thoughtful about a personal note on an original art card that mass-market products cannot convey.

The Shermans add another element of value to the Farm Market. They are great conversationalists. Most people who regularly come to the Market are there for more than this or that product. Conversation is also the “bread and butter” of the Farm Market.

Farm Markets are the original “hangout” place, the place to meet friends and neighbors, catch up on the news of local doings, review the weather, talk crops and seasons, swap recipes, jaw about the economy and world news, share stories of adventures old and new - whatever comes to mind and strikes up interest. That’s the thing about the Woodstock Farm and Craft Market on Friday’s; you’re bound to meet someone you know, but then you might make new acquaintances as well.

If you have an interest in sailing, stop by the Sherman’s stall and talk to Len. Pick up some bread and buns, ask Sarah about their plans for Golden Unicorn Farm, and get a forecast on the products you can expect to see on their table in the months to come. The Shermans are at their stall on market day – Friday. The Woodstock Farm and Craft Market is open six days a week, 10 to 4. The Market opens at 8am on Friday.

Re-Posting link to the article I wrote in Synergy

Synergy Magazine - A New Beginning - By Sarah Sherman

For those of you who were unable to read the previous link to my article in synergy, here it is again with a direct link to the website! Have a great day!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"ATTENTION: All you rule-breakers, you misfits & troublemakers, all you free-spirits & pioneers... "

I saw a video online yesterday that gave me an "A HA!" moment. (I love those!) It was a video that was actually a manifesto on why some of us are different. Yes, I know everyone is different, but sometimes  there are those of us who just DON'T ever quite fit in. Let me explain and later I will share the manifesto with you.

I was always extremely shy, timid, hid behind my hair, my mom, didn't try to stand out in anyway, sat at the back of the class, was invisible, had friends but was a follower, never spoke my mind, was never popular, never looked like the crowd, never really understood school all that well, felt stupid, ugly, lonely and depressed. This was just always part of me as an elementary child and preschool child. I was even like this with relatives - cousins and extended family. 

Later as I hit junior high school those feelings increased ten fold. I was told by a group of "close child hood friends" at the beginning of grade 8 that they didn't like me anymore. They didn't want to be my friends, they were moving on - without me and to please leave them alone. They told me that I was too sarcastic, difficult and didn't fit in. One even said "I want to climb the social ladder and be something and you will never be that." Of course I was devastated and proceeded to spend the next school year hidden in a corner in the library behind a book, hoping no one would see me. This happened at the same time that my parents had moved us out into the country and we had a bout a 40 minute bus ride to school, no friends, no cable TV, lived on a farm and everyone on the bus hated me and bullied me relentlessly... daily. (Yes, I do see a parallel in this situation with me and my kids! However, please continue to read on!) My own brother (yes I forgive you!) even told me that he would not be my brother at school and not to tell people I was related to him.

You can imagine how depressed and suicidal I felt that whole year. At a time in my life when my hormones were changing, 12 turning 13, my school life changed from safe elementary to big junior highschool and I had no one... I turned to food or away from food however you choose to look at it, it was the beginning of my eating disorder. Back in those days there was no healthy lunch system at school, so with the little money I had, I would throw away the lunch  my mom gave me or just pick through it and then get a bag of Hawkins Cheezies, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and chocolate milk for my sustenance. Of course I didn't realize that by putting my body in starvation mode and then binge eating I was setting myself up for a lifetime of body issues as well as the dramatic mood changes I felt daily.

At the same time we were living a hobby farm life while my dad continued to work. My only socialization was at church and this was a part of my life that was equally tormenting. I had always been belittled there by a group of girls that made me feel like I was nothing. At the same time the stuff that was being pounded into my head as true and that I accepted although questioned (which was definitely not encouraged) was confusing me when I went to school. At school when we were asked to write reports about North America or the Middle East and history, I would intertwine the information I received at my church and the teachers would look at me funny. Why? I would get a fail or just pass for actually doing the work. I couldn't understand what was wrong, how could what I was taught at home be different than I was taught at school and if it was, who was write? You can imagine what a confusing time this was for me.

I was never a good student. I hated the "how many G's did you get?" system in elementary school and the "I get paid for my A's" system some parents had in highschool... All this was more to make it difficult to comprehend when I could barely pass. I read books voraciously, I understood what they said, I had a great vocabulary, I had an understanding of much that happened in history, yet I was stupid? How come? I just never fit in. After about a year or so on the farm we moved into town again. The experiment of living out in the country hadn't worked for us kids (I think it had more to do with location and the community than it did with country living.) Now that I was in town and in grade 9, I managed to make a couple of friends that I still have to this day. (I love you girls!) I also managed to learn how to skip out of school or show up to class for attendance and not finish the period. 

I spent a lot of time at home with my mom watching soap opera's while she folded laundry and watched the foster kids. My mom is not dumb and I am sure she knew that I didn't always have a spare class or study period, I think she sensed how miserable I was and she knew that I needed to be home, not at school. Thank you Mom for getting that!

I also had no social life. I went to school, came home, helped with the housework, foster kids and attended church activities. I hung out with my couple of friends at school and sometimes out of school, but I didn't really fit in with their other friends so didn't always get included or participate. At church I knew it was wrong for me. I couldn't understand how I could be sinning when I was a teen who didn't do ANYTHING! I was a goody goody as my daughter says. I didn't swear, drink, smoke pot, party, have sex, nothing! Yet I still felt distant and wrong. (I later learned a lot about our religious leader and evil he was doing and guess that my feeling left out of his inner circle was in fact a good thing! At the time though, it felt like one more slap in the face.)

I spent many hours contemplating what was wrong with me, going on crash diets where I ate 300 calories a day, competed with a friend about how little we could eat, going for days with 2 saltines and a dill pickle and lots of water... I still felt ugly and fat. I couldn't speak up in school, I couldn't answer a question if asked, I would start to cry at my desk and tremble in fear if I thought I would be picked out by the teacher. I learned to sit, head down, hair tumbling down the sides of my face, staring at my paper, looking at my watch as the minutes ticked by and hoping to get out of there as soon as I could. I was so naive I thought I had NO sense of humour because half the class went out sullen before break, came in after break and were laughing hysterically at nothing... It took me years to realize they were stoned when they came back - hence their "sense of humour". 

Between my living under a patriarchal system at church, at home, in school, I did not learn to think for myself, have an opinion (because when I did it was wrong) and struggled to survive day by day. I was terrified to walk down the halls of my old school - eyeball alley - was a long hallway that had kids sit down each side of it and stare at each person who walked by. I was never one of the kids on the side and I would panic at the thought of walking the gauntlet alone. I would wait for someone to walk down it and walk near them so that I could blend in. I was average height, a little chubby, big boobs, no butt and told that my long arms looked like a monkey swinging so was completely paranoid about them. I was so scared that in Grade 12 English, I begged Mrs. Petch NOT to make me give my speech to the class and I told her that I would take a FAIL (from my A grade - I liked English) instead. She finally agreed that she would let me give my speech with one friend and the teacher present but my grade would drop from an A to a C. I was thrilled. How frightened was I? I even cried giving the speech in front of my best friend and teacher... but I did it.

College came after high school. I had thought I would like to go to a church college in the States because it seemed like what I was supposed to do. (I don't know how I thought I would pay for it.) It didn't matter though, I did not pass the SAT's - I had a score of about 750 when others got twice that. I was too stupid even for church college, no wonder I felt like a failure. I was getting heavier and more depressed, angrier, sullen, disrespectful to my parents and did not like what I was seeing in life. I ended up going to the local college in the city next to us like lots of the students did but had no path, no career goal, no idea of what to do and to top it off, I was considered a remedial student. I was put into remedial math and English classes to bring up my grades before I could start college courses.

At the time I thought, thank GOD I had started drinking! I managed to completely blow the 3 months I spent in school, partied too much to forget my pain and get evicted from my bachelor apartment. Life sucked! I am not going to go through it all, but I faced many years of feeling incomplete and lonely even around people, I would feel like I was floating above them and didn't understand what was happening. I knew that what I was doing had nothing to do with me or who I was. Later I realized I suffered from anxiety, depression, no self esteem whatsoever. I would believe whatever you said to me, about me. 

Later, I took a college program that interested me and although I still cried if I had to speak or present and felt excluded, non-existent, I actually managed to get straight A's and B's. WHAT? I am NOT stupid? How is that? My theory? I did something I wanted, was interested in, teaching methods were interactive, not blackboard ,blah blah blah work and I excelled. What a trip!

Suffice it to say that through my twenties I continued to grow but was never seen as a leader or strong person. I was still incredibly shy, battled with my body, drank to forget things and grow courage and was devastated that my church dumped me and excommunicated me from their records. I couldn't understand that at all. I made lots of bad choices and was not always in great relationships, but I survived. I lost friends that were dear to me and have never gained back.

It took me into my early thirties to start to stand out, get a voice, gain confidence, begin to question authority and the norm. I started to be seen as someone of value, insight, worth knowing. It continued to shock me. My career was on an upward swing and I was in the running for bigger and better jobs, with more power and authority. I was seen as a person who both staff and management respected and that was rare. Sarah finally started to emerge. I also started to gain back some of those childhood friends that had dumped me in grade 8.

Why do I recite all this? I guess because I never fit in. I was a square peg in a round hole. I was invisible and quiet. I learned that we all have something to contribute and we can find a way to stand out in this world. I was and am, easily distracted, prone to depression, procrastination, fear of success and I have great ideas. The problem is, that the world, society, the norm, is set up for those who maybe cause a few waves and are noticed, those who adapt well to school and jobs and don't think for themselves, those who don't say "Wait a minute, this isn't right!" I learned to be that person. I do think from what my friends, acquaintances and colleagues have told me that I have a voice. That I am respected and that I can help create change.

In 1990 I would never have thought that in 2008 I would argue via the media with the government over ineffective policies and win. I never thought that with the help of others and working together as a team that we could take on the big guys and create positive change, but I did it. I never thought I would be someone who would write down words and people would read it... Even people who aren't my friends or family and being nice to support me!

I saw this YouTube video yesterday via a friend on Facebook and it is sent out with the message via a manifesto... Now you don't have to get into the self-help or other stuff this guy has to say, but just listen to the words in the message and think about whether this has ever been you? Or someone you know? Maybe this helps explain the personality of a loved one better. It hit me, hard and meant a lot. It confirmed to me things that I have learned about myself, the positive and negative. It is also empowering to watch and see the people profiled in history and think "WOW! We share traits? That is amazing!" 

I invite you to watch this, just click on the link and be prepared to spend the next ten minutes thinking a little bit differently. This doesn't mean putting aside your values but it does mean reevaluating what you think, about yourself and others. After you do so, if you think you are one of the people I referred to in this blog, don't apologize, just know that although I moved on, I forgive, I don't forget. I think the saying "Forgive and Forget" is meant to allow us to be strong and go forward, but not to forget in the way that we let the same things happen to us again.

Now, it is a beautiful sunny, New Brunswick day. It is warm and I have things to do, so I bid you, adieu!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Start your day with a quick, great read!

The long awaited issue of Synergy Magazine! You may recall about 2 months ago I mentioned that I had an article that would be printed in Synergy Magazine a Vancouver Island publication. Well it is out! On the streets! If you don't get it in your neighbourhood you can subscribe and have it mailed to you anywhere in Canada! Great gift ideas! I have written for them before and I am pleased to be in this month's issue. It has been a few years! Please click on the link below and you can read the article that is in the current issue! Thank you everyone for your ongoing support. Now that this is out I need to get my stuff off to Our Canada, Harrowsmith Country Life and Today's Parent magazines... The articles are in the can, I just have to get them out! Now, WHERE did I put that darn flash drive???

Good Bye Nanaimo and Hello to a New Beginning! By Sarah Sherman
Apparently there is a bit of a problem with this document.
You can open it if you use Google documents, but otherwise it won't open.
I am attempting to fix that problem, but if not you will have to wait
until it is posted on the Synergy website.
Sorry for the inconvenience!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Simple pleasures are the best...

Me and Luki
Our Great Pyrenees 2 Yr Old Male

Our Display - Woodstock Farmer's Market
    Bobby McFerrin says in the song "Simple Pleasures" ,
 Simple pleasures are the best, Yes they are, I'm so happy , 
I'm a happy man, Yes I am, Yes I am

I'm so happy, Simple pleasures are the best, Oh yeah
 (You may remember Bobby McFerrin from "Don't Worry Be Happy Now")

I don't know if I should even bother to tell you why SIMPLE PLEASURES came to mind today, since Bobby said it so well... But since you are still reading, I guess I have too! Poor, poor you! OK since you are here, I may as well start to say something!

I guess I am not sure how to adequately express  how I feel right now. The last few days have been so great, so rewarding and fulfilling and I still marvel that I am at this place in my life. I was saying to Len yesterday, the feeling of accomplishment on doing something simple well is awesome. To know that I can make bread from start to finish and have success, makes me HAPPY! Knowing last fall that I was able to preserve and can food for my family was exciting. I feel proud every time I open a jar and serve it I feel warm and fuzzy knowing that I made it happen for my family! I actually sit at the table now and point out every item made from our little homestead! (It might be getting annoying for them but it makes me feel great so they have to put up with me if they wish to eat!) 

Friday was our second day at the Farm Market! The market was slower this week. Apparently in New Brunswick people will drive outside in a blizzard but if it is a bit rainy they stay home. Of course being from BC we didn't consider the light mist outside rain, but we understand it was more damp so I guess that was part of it. Spring is most definitely in the air and I think things will pick up in that regard very soon. We can see the ground as the snow is rapidly melting. Just feeling the mushy earth under our feet is so beautiful! Ground, dirt, grass... the snow is going! 

We went to check out an amazing place called The Jolly Farmer Farm... WOW! www.jollyfarmer.com Ever since we have moved here we have heard about this operation and been told to check it out because they are grow organic food and raise responsibly grown livestock. The reason we finally made the trip there was to check out a dog for our farm. We have been researching what type of dog to get for our needs, climate, expectations and to best help care for our livestock. After months of research and speaking to owners we decided to get a Great Pyrenees dog.  Since the dog is a shepherds/livestock dog we have heard that if you let the dog do it's job it will be a great working dog and this is what we were looking for. This is a dog that has been around since the early 1400's.  
"The Great Pyrenees is a very old breed, and has been used for hundreds of years by shepherds, including those of the Basque people, who inhabit parts of the region in and around the Pyrenees Mountains of southern France and northern Spain. " (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyrenees
I had so much fun! The lovely Lora gave us an amazing tour. First (after we found the office on the giant operation of about 450 acres!) took us to see the dogs which were in the barn for the winter with the sheep. Amazing! First, I must say that they keep an impeccable place, none of the barns smelled bad. Yes, slight animal odour, but that is to be expected, not a terrible poopy smell or crowded livestock. The barns were well laid out, had ample space for the animals that are used to foraging outside but had to stay in due to the 6-8 feet deep snow outside. The air was clear and I was SO impressed! I hope I didn't look to green with all of the questions I asked! The poor woman had lots of questions to answer. Me, with my little bit of knowledge had to ask, ask, ask! Lora, thank you for the tour and your patience! The lovely little Sophie (Lora's 2 yr old daughter) was lots of fun too!

We saw the dogs and asked so many questions, how much feed, medical issues, life span, breeding, etc. We fell in love with the female puppies that were available who were 3 months old and also with Luki the 2 year old male who had proven himself able to work with livestock and knew how to live in the barn. We entered this huge barn and on each side were sheep in indoor paddocks, maybe 25-30 sheep in each pen, with lots of space. There were also two pens with the dogs. The side pen was mama Susie and her two remaining female pups who were 3 months old and fuzzy and little (comparatively). Then in the centre pen, with sheep on either side, were about 5 or 6 Great Pyrenees dogs from age two up to the sire. 

I knew Rachel wanted a puppy and I thought Jessica would too, but she actually bonded more with Luki the 2 year old. We went back and forth to the pens, looked at the dogs, hugged, cuddled, let them lick us, rubbed their heads, saw how intelligent they were and how they watched us and struggled with what to do. We weighed the pros and cons on a puppy and a 2 year old who has proven himself with livestock. We couldn't pick up the dog for 2-3 months because we need to have the barn and some fencing in place first so the puppy will be a lot bigger by then. The puppy was not fixed so we would have to do that but the 2 yr old was... OOOH! What to do? We decided on the puppy and that was not what Jess wanted to hear!

We then thought about it more, went back and forth to the pens, took more pictures... Finally, we did what any educated, intelligent, reasonable parents would do who had researched the dog and knew that we were looking for a good working livestock dog. Len reached into his pocket and pulled out a twoonie and we called Heads - puppy, Tails - dog... Luki won! Jess was thrilled! You can see a picture of me and Luki above.

Lora was great and took us to see the milking room for the Ayrshire cows, the indoor winter pens for the Galloway cows - beautiful fuzzy curly haired animals and the babies just wandered the pens. Our last stop was the chicken coop. This was upstairs in the barn! What a concept! It was weird to walk up to the chickens, but they had the whole upstairs of the barn, with lots of air, open space, it was clean, smelled just fine and they had some beautiful Australorps and Rhode Island Reds - which are two of the birds we have ordered for our farm!

All in all it was a great day! To stay in farm mode, Saturday we headed to Fredericton to Seedy Saturday. This was the last day of the ACORN (Atlantic Organic Organization) and we had access to booths to learn about organics in this part of the world, opportunities, products, growers and seeds! We had a great chat with a fellow out near Moncton who has seeded all of his own plants and was selling them. We got a great array of organic heritage seed to grow on our property and all sorts of ideas on how to keep our farm natural, healthy and productive. I can't wait to plot it out, now that the melt is happening I can call on the knowledge of a neighbour up the road to work on companion planting and have an amazing garden this year!

To culminate it all, because even organic growers need refreshment, they had full size beer cups of organic beer! Oh ya! We hit that booth! Even when it closed, Len went back to make sure we got to try both kinds! Yes, the fellow at the next booth suggested it might be closed and you can't twist them open anyway... Len, my little practical man said "Oh, I can open it" as he pulled his beer bottle opener out of his pocket and cracked it open for us! Personal preparedness, yes ALWAYS important! (We would have stayed at that booth ALL day but the kids were with us and wanted to hit the mall... and I had to drive!)

So, why do I feel happy? Simple pleasures! 
Feed my family, grow my food, love my new dog and love my new beer! 
Life, it's a good thing!

My NEW favourite organic dark YUMMY beer, made in Fredericton!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thank you!

Just a really short and quick thank you to everyone who has commented on the blog. I write because I need to get my thoughts out, I am trying to hone my skills and I like to share. I am so grateful for all of the positive feedback and support, it really means a lot to me! Have a MOST wonderful day! ............... Sincerely, Sarah :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eh, They say life is different out there?

Natures Glass - Frozen Trees March 8, 2011
Photographer - Rachel Bethell 
Prior to moving to the East Coast of Canada people, friends, warned me "Things are different out there." They tried to explain, but could never really find the words to describe what they meant. The best descriptions I got were "Things are slower", "In some ways it hasn't caught up to the rest of the world yet", "The nicest people you will ever meet". Now, before going ANY further, to my new East Coast friends and anyone reading this, I in NO way whatsoever mean anything in this posting as a negative... Please, do read on!

I was thinking about this a lot today as I drove along the highway to Woodstock. We live in Fosterville, population in winter approximately 40, summer hundreds... Of course there are lots of little communities which all increase in the summer since we are in lake and cottage country. In the winter you can literally drive from Fosterville to Canterbury about 30 minutes away and never pass a vehicle. From the Village of Canterbury to Woodstock traffic increases but never to the rate of a major city. For an urban transplant like myself it can be strange and wonderful. I am getting used to people just popping in (hence my dressing shortly after I wake up rather than lounging all day!)

"Things are slower". Absolutely! However, if you don't mind not  rushing, people taking their time to listen to you when you answer and seeing the same person each time you go to a store or business, it is fine! Of course, this means it is not recommended to mouth off when you get bad service, because there may not be an alternative location to go to OR you may mouth off to someone who is related to a lot of other people and get an unpopular name for yourself!(Keep in mind almost everyone is related to everyone!) It also means that you can drive through town and not hear horns honking at you, getting the middle finger wave or much road rage. (I don't actually miss those things.)

"In some ways it hasn't caught up with the rest of the world yet". I think that the recent call my insurance adjuster from BC (ICBC) made to a NB mechanic explains this well. Let me share! Due to our accident during our move, we had to get some (lots!) of repairs done. Recently I found the 4 wheel drive function was not working properly and didn't think we had been treated as well as we could by the dealership. So, ICBC agreed to have another mechanic review it and give an independent quote. My experience at the mechanic was interesting to say the least, however, he had a great reputation and several people had referred me to him. 

I gave the adjuster the information and had him call the mechanic. The next day the adjuster calls me and says "Sarah, I am not used to dealing with places like this." I asked, "What?" Adjuster: "Are you sure this is a real mechanic? I called, he isn't there, they don't know when he will be back and say he only comes in sometimes, I am NOT used to this!" Me: "Well, I can assure you he is a mechanic, I saw his ticket, went into the shop and I am told they have been there about 40 years." Adjuster: "Are you sure???" Me: "Yes, they just do things a bit differently here. For example, when at the mechanic, he let me watch him sweep the floor for ten minutes before going to my truck, he then drove away with my kids without saying anything, needless to say , I was stunned! He did return (sadly the kids were still there!) and then looked at the truck, unusual yes, but he looked at it and seemed to know what he was talking about." I also explained that lots of people had more than one job here and were very good at multi-tasking. I later heard back from the adjuster that he was very impressed with the mechanic, see? Slow, different but effective!

"In some ways it hasn't caught up with the rest of the world yet." Mmm maybe! However if that means that people are polite, stop even went there aren't crosswalks to let you pass or stop in the middle of the street to let you pull out, then I am OK with that! I am glad they are behind a bit on websites since that is my new career and I get a little bit excited when I open the weekly "Advertiser" paper and see a lack of websites because it gives me an IN! I know that sometimes this is a struggle for my teen since she is up on her fashion and style and can find it puzzling as to why other teens aren't necessarily there, but I figure that is not really a bad thing!

"The nicest people you will ever meet." YES! I love you my West Coasters and you are all wonderful, never the less, East Coasters are incredibly welcoming! On the West Coast we were all so busy, hurrying through traffic, to the next event, commitment, job and never enough time in a day. It isn't like that here... I don't think... 

Maybe it is because not a lot of new people move in, maybe it is the heritage, either way I LIKE IT! Last Friday morning as I "rushed" to market and my truck decided to die... The neighbour came out at 7:30am in -28 C weather and helped me out! (No charge! I did give him cookies and a sticky bun!) He even lent me his truck for the day so I am not complaining about my neighbours one bit! (Elaine, please tell Roger I still remember him rescuing me on a cold rainy Nanaimo morning!)

I love that I can call the neighbours and pick stuff up for them if I am going to town or that they will pick up for me if I need something. I love that everyone waves as you walk by or do the steering wheel wave as you drive. I really enjoyed listening to Big Daddy and Bubba on Country Radio today and understanding what they were talking about! Good people, kind neighbours and a bit of a reminder of how life was when I was a kid back on Bell Road behind Sproat Lake School  in Port Alberni.

I do like that life is a bit more relaxed. I know it isn't for everyone but we have chosen to try to relax with it. I do tend to get a bit beyond myself with tasks at times and then peter out since I get overwhelmed but I am working on that. I do find that I have to calm down and speak at a slower pace, not because people don't understand, but because I don't need to rush and if I have my harried hurry face on, it doesn't get me anywhere. I sat at the border crossing today, lake shaking ... hurry up! hurry up! hurry up! Then thought... Why? No worries, right? (Except that I did make it to the next border crossing with a whole 30 seconds to spare!)

The next time you sit at a traffic light and anxiously send a mantra to it to change, just think for a second about what you might be missing if you don't slow down. Sometimes things are right in front of us but we don't see them because we aren't looking or we are looking for the next thing to happen without enjoying what we are doing now. Yesterday, Rachel and I were yet again stuck in a snow bank, running "late" and took time to laugh and take some pictures of the beautiful frozen trees while we waited to be rescued...( 25 minutes for the first truck to come along.) 

Enjoy! And for heavens sake, chill out!
Country Roads, Take Me Home, To The Place, I belong...
Frozen Road to Canterbury - March 8, 2011
Photographer: Rachel Bethell

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Life on the Farm


We have officially put ourselves out there as the "Golden Unicorn Farm" this week! We   made the leap and now we are on our way! Glenn and Edna - of McLean Farms who helped the Woodstock Farmers Market become what it is today - convinced us to try it out! Len and I had been hesitant since we have no produce or animals yet, however, they suggested we start with a combination table - Len's art and books and my baking breads, goodies.

Earlier in the week, I put out a message to some mom's and neighbours who are ordering from me locally as well and I will supply them with raisin bread, mulitgrain, etc...! My mom was so sweet and I heard the pride in her voice when she realized I am doing it all by hand, from scratch and no machines! Yes mom, thank you, thank you, thank you, for your skills, knowledge and education that you gave me. I am now YOU! Baking, canning and working in the kitchen. Now, back to the Farmer's Market!

This week we took the plunge! The Woodstock Farmer's Market has been around for around 30 years and they eventually acquired ownership of a building in downtown Woodstock, located on the river front, next to the Tourism office. Great location and good parking. This allows the market to remain open for 6 days a week from 10am to 4pm.  Each day the market members take turns running the storefront and conducting sales for the group. On Friday's the market blossoms with excitement as farmers, marketers, vendors and customers all swarm through the doors. Vendors freshen up their tables and lay out farm fresh eggs, New Brunswick potatoes, organic fair trade coffee, organic seeds available for sale, local hot mulled apple cider, responsibly raised farm meats, pickled eggs, seasonal produce, jams, jellies, arts, crafts, jewelery and NOW Golden Unicorn Farm baking!

As you can see from the pictures we had a great time. I baked up a storm on Thursday night so it would be as fresh as possible for Friday morning. Being true to myself and the art of procrastination, I was busy all day Thursday and did not start until 6pm Thursday night. I was however, showered and tucked in bed by midnight!

The kitchen was a flurry of busyness as I started my multigrain bread rising; then put on the sweet dough for sticky buns; the cookies had been made and frozen earlier in the week so I only had to lay them out and ice and decorate them; I was cutting cardboard and lining with tinfoil, writing out labels and monitoring the progress as I baked away. When it was time to punch down my double batch of bread, I was cleared away and released some energy as I punched, pounded and rolled the dough. Time to cut, evenly, form and place in the bread pans for the second rise. Then, sweet dough, stretched and rolled to get it as big as possible. I wanted to make nice big, sweet, sticky cinnamon buns drizzled with cream cheese icing and sell them individually - Huge success by the way! 

As I worked away, the kids enjoyed the smells in the kitchen and anxiously awaited the results that would emerge from the stove. I had to pace myself, carefully progress and not get ahead of what I was doing, not make a mistake or miss an ingredient. I also had to make sure that I left some baking for the girls, since it was their first day on March break and they needed sustenance.

Around 10pm Len came in, beaming with a big smile and telling me how proud he was of me, how great it all looked and gave me big hugs and kisses. (You see, I think he still thought I would wimp out, not work and make something awful - I believe he is finally convinced - I do have some baking talent - I just hid it for a LONG time!) Len helped me with labels, packaging and getting ready for morning. He plugged in the truck outside the door so that it would be easy to start and load up at 7:30am.

We live almost an hour to town and the market starts at 8am... We planned to arrive about 8:30 am since it is slower this time of year but in the summer we will have to be there much earlier. I was tired and ready for bed and as I crawled in for the night I thought I might not sleep since I was REALLY quite excited! Happily, I slept deeply and was ready for that 6:30am wake up buzzzzz! 

When we got up, Len made a thermos of tea while I wrapped up the bread and buns that were too warm the night before. We both prepared the baskets and were quite pleased with ourselves. I asked Len to get his camera so we could take a picture of his booth and to start the truck while I quickly put on my "eyes" and finished dressing. About ten minutes later he walked in and guess what? Buddy, my old friend and diesel nightmare, was NOT going to start! I was speechless! I told Len, we ARE going! He suggested I call our amazing neighbours who know when the phone rings and our name appears that we are calling for yet ANOTHER rescue!

Gary came on down and tried to boost our truck while I loaded up assuming it would be successful. It was -28 Celsius with the wind blowing and my toes, fingers and other body parts were quickly becoming numb.After about 20 minutes we realized that starting Buddy was futile and he had no intentions of  going anywhere. I still planned to go and borrowed the good Clark family pickup to get to town and back. I was so happy when we were on the road, heading down the bumpy Highway 122 and turned onto the slightly less destroyed Highway 540 and off we went. I was just so relieved that I turned the truck radio up, as always it was on Classic Country and I wailed away loudly with my morning song "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis. I tried to get Len to sing the part of the black back up singers - but he failed miserably and I had to fire him as I could not let him bring down the quality of my tone.

As we approached Woodstock I just wanted to be at our table and set out my wares - becoming more hesitant as I wondered, what if no one buys anything? What if they don't like what I have? What if they complain about my pricing? What if they think my bread is too small? What if I am stuck with a dozen individually wrapped sticky buns? What if... Stop it! Just get in there, set up and have fun! Put on your town smile and do what you can do Sarah! Pull that charm out of your back pocket and work it girl! (That was my little quiet pep talk to myself!) I had a sample tray ready and was going to break up cookies, cut bread and let people try it out themselves.

I needn't have worried at all. We had the warmest reception from the vendors. The customers were happy to see breads and buns again since no one had been selling them for awhile. The market manager, the lovely Ramona was radiant, welcoming, friendly and our biggest advocate that day. She brought over all of the regular's to meet us, promoted Len's book, pushed my baking and let us feel that we were contributing and they were glad to have us aboard. All the vendors were great and it was like a big family. We had a booth next to Glenn and he helped us out through the day. He gave us the run down, the who's who in the zoo and introduced us to people all day. I do have to say that when the one or two local characters had me cornered and babbled incessantly yet harmlessly, Glenn watched laughing in the background and I struggled to keep a straight face!

We have now met who we need to know to get our bee hives; have received approval that we plan to raise our food organically; great response that we are get dairy goats and will make cheese; general delight, support and acceptance! Amazing day!

The best part was, I sold almost all of my baking, have orders and requests for next week AND I earned enough to cover our day and go buy my laptop cord that I needed desperately so I could get back to what I am supposed to do, which is develop and sell websites! Yes, we still have lots of snow. No, we can't see outside our bedroom window anymore as the snow is too high and YES, I still LOVE New Brunswick and Golden Unicorn Farm - which is NOW open for business! (Website coming soon!)