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!)



Anonymous said...

Good for you Sarah...keep up the good work! I loved doing all the baking for people when I did it and I do miss it. Sometimes we still get calls, it is so worth it. I love it! Best of luck and keep up the good work.
Your New Brunswick neighbour :)

.........Sarah Sherman said...

Thanks Neighbour! :)

Debra and Faith said...

Loved your story of market day and can just see you, determined to get to market come hell or high water! Sooo happy for you, not only doing it, but enjoying it and getting to know your fellow New Brunswicker's. Keep the stories coming... love and peace from Vancouver Island

Anonymous said...

The baking looks delicious! Praying you both do really well with this new venture. Such fun reading about Pioneers in 2011. You should get the whole family involved with the baking. Can't wait to read your blog when you get bees and goats...........
a fanxx

.........Sarah Sherman said...

Thank you Debra and Faith! We are MAKING it happen! Not easy all the time but we shall prevail! :) ... Thank you to Fanxx as well! Yes, we are 'modern day pioneers'! Perhaps that should be the new name of the blog, eh?

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog, will check in again.
Dean R.

.........Sarah Sherman said...

Thank you Dean!