Well folks, the secret’s out. Farming is not for the faint of heart. Although to be fair, what in life is?
Yesterday was Friday…the 13th. Now, I don’t consider myself to be the superstitious type. I’ve walked under my fair share of orchard ladders, and I’m rather fond of the number 13. But Friday the 13th was not a lucky day despite starting the morning by donning my lucky underwear. Okay, I digress.
Since moving up here three weeks ago I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants. An expression that according to urban dictionary means “1. to pilot a plane by feel and instinct rather than by instruments 2. to proceed or work by feel or instinct without formal guidelines or experience ex: It’s during a time like that that you must fly by the seat of your pants.”
So I’m flying by the seat of my pants. And as to be expected, there’s been a bit of turbulence. But overall the view from this flight is breathtakingly beautiful.
I am so grateful to be here in Corbett, Oregon. A lovely farming town just outside of Portland. The people that make up this community have been so genuine and welcoming. It makes Lindsay and I wonder why we didn’t move to Oregon sooner. But alas, we were waiting for climate change to warm things up…perhaps that joke is in poor taste (dry humor might not go over well in a drought). But it has been warm here! Since my arrival, I’ve only seen a few frosts.
Our plant babies are thriving! We’re growing over 50 different species of flowers and herbs this year. We can’t wait for our fields to be in full bloom this summer.
In the mean time we’re dealing with oversize puppies and overzealous black labs trampling our flats of baby flowers. Willy the dog is an Armenian Gampr who has yet to heed the words, “No Greenhouse!” We’ve lost some of our stock to his enormous puppy paws.
But I do love that fluff ball, so I’m hoping with a few more doggy obedience school sessions, he’ll shape up into the Fawn Lily Farm Guard Dog Extraordinaire – first generation flower protector. We’re going to need a deer fence this summer & when examining our budget, it looks like Willy the dog is our only affordable option. That or we’ll sleep in the flower fields to fend off the deer (we’ll keep you posted as our strategy evolves).
So far we’ve kept our overhead costs pretty low. We found an incredible care taking gig at the magical land of Ross Mountain just down the road from our farm. And we’re picking up side jobs wherever we can get them. We’re in the process of honing our fruit tree pruning skills to start a winter business of pruning your trees into delectable works of art. We’ll also clean your house, tend your garden, babysit your kids. Pretty much, if you need a handy woman – we’re there.
Right now we’re inundated with the daunting task of finding markets to sell all the beautiful flowers we’ll be growing this year. We applied to several farmers markets, sought out some florists in downtown Portland, talked with some herbal companies, and we’ve found ourselves involved in a couple of CSAs. If you’re in the area and looking for a beautiful bouquet to be delivered to your door every week check out Kamama Flowers. If you’re interested in veggies and flower starts check out Rocking T Family Farm. We’re collaborating with both of these wonderful people!
This is a year of “YES.” We are staying open to all sorts of possibilities to see what works and how to best get our flowers to the world. The terrifying part about all of this is that we have no idea what works. Perhaps that’s too dramatic. We have an idea of what can work..what has worked for other flower farmers.
My first week out here Lindsay and I went to a PNW flower farmer meet-up organized by the incredible Elizabeth of Rose Hill Flower Farm. It was there we were inspired by other sustainable flower farmers, mentored by immensely talented growers, and on top of it all we won free tee-shirts representing the Slow Flower movement coined by our new friend Debra Prinzing.
It was there we met the floral merchandiser from New Seasons. Katie is a hardworking lady who helps bring local bouquets to the grocery store!
This brings me back to Friday the 13th…we had an appointment with Katie at 11am in Portland. So on our way we stopped at the nearest library to print our 2015 crop list. And, of course, we hit up the Dollar Tree that neighbors the Troutdale library where we printed our important documents. With our red vines and $1 candles in tow we attempted to start Lindsay’s car…to no avail. An hour later we watched her car get towed away and found ourselves aimlessly walking the isles of Safeway contemplating how we’d get back to Corbett. We had to reschedule our meeting with Katie.
Perusing the isles it hit us…all we have at this point is a bunch of baby plants with no confirmed markets to sell them at. We actually got rejected from the first farmer’s market we applied to, and we’ve been turned away from other markets who already have flower vendors. Who’s going to buy our flowers?
There we were. In our city clothes with our mascara on, and we had nowhere to go. Nowhere to sell our flowers. But just before we walked out of Safeway to hitchhike our sorry asses home, our friend from Corbett, the wonderful Mikaela, called and said she’d gladly pick us up.
Lindsay’s car will live to see another day (the culprit was a corroded wire in the engine), and we’re staying optimistic that we’ll find our markets. In the meantime we’ll keep breathing, sowing seeds, weeding beds, fixing irrigation, and singing Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in my Pocket”. We’ll keep on keeping on because we’ve been blessed with an amazing community. We have support and love coming towards us in full force! Our hearts our not faint. They are fierce, and they always remind us to stop and smell the flowers.
We aren’t sure what the future holds, but our sweet peas are coming along, so we know the future smells good.
Thanks for reading! Let us know what YOU do to make your dreams come true. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org ~PEACE~