Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Small Business Helpers

      There have been a few tools that have helped us keep our costs down, even if they have not always been terribly efficient. Starting out, dreams are often bigger than the pocket book, so sometimes flexibility and low out of pocket costs are the way to go. As we get the hang of things, we will certainly streamline the operation. But here are a few things that gave us a leg up.

        One tool we use ALOT is our little Brother label machine. It makes the barcodes our stores want and when we are experimenting with cheese types, ingredients, or names we can easily make a custom label. This gives us a lot of flexibility and allows customer feedback before we invest in full on production and labeling!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Maid-N-Meadows Spring 2018 Update: Special Announcement!

        Though spring is sliding into summer, I wanted to just check in and share what has been going on in our little world! We are working with the bees, cleaning out the barn, prepping for hay, and of course, making cheese.
       Earlier this spring, Daniel and Jacob captured two bee swarms. Having lost 2 last year, we are now back up to full strength. We are still new to bees and have a lot to learn. Hopefully we can provide these girls with plenty of wildflower covered fields this summer.

        Both swarms were in trees and took some finagling to get. In the last one, we had to put a ladder in the tree trunk so we could reach the branch. Thankfully, swarming bees are pretty docile...
       The boys have been cleaning out the goat barn for the last month. They are nearly done and I think relieved. It has been a lot of forking! The upside has been that they get to drive the tractor! What teenage boy would turn that opportunity down?! They are looking forward to clipping the weeds off the fields and cutting hay. Actually, we are probably all looking forward to cutting hay!               Calving season is in full swing with six bulls and five little heifers! You may have seen some of them on Maid-N-Meadow Mondays on our Facebook page. My favorite is Copper's daughter, of course! Copper has such pretty coloring and the calf's sire was a French bull of the Montbelairde breed. (This is a breed which works well for cheese making.)
         Victoria just had her calf a couple of days ago, but true to the unique nature of each cow, Victoria left her little bull to fend for himself. After 4 hours of searching, the boys found him. It is a good thing because he was starving! He is super little but super cute.
           Molly also had her calf! We rescued Molly out of the slaughter pen last year. On grain her milk production was so high that her udder was swollen and hanging just inches off the ground. Due to her weight, the auctioneer figured she was worth more as meat than as a milker. On grass she has done so well! She is a real milker and has birthed a fine bull!

        We may have 17-18 cows on the line, milking this year. That is great for cheese production! But we are struggling to manage everything. Energy levels are pretty low as we struggle to make cheese at a facility that is a 3 hour round trip from home. We must somehow build a facility this summer and feel exhausted just contemplating it. Small businesses are a lot of work, but combine small business and farming and it will just about lay a body to waste. A person can only function on 22 hour days for so long. We are not sure how to restructure to make life more fun and less exhausting. But rest assured we are exploring our options! Which brings us to our SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!
         The Showalter family is expecting a new member, Lord willing! Arrival is expected sometime in October. We are weary and worn, but excited about this new child. May he or she bring something special to this world and may we be worthy of shepherding this next generation.

       That is all for now! See everyone on Facebook or at our farmers market, Hip Donelson, in Nashville!