Maybe you would believe how busy I've been? It's been just a month since I found out that Curious Farm was accepted into the Beaverton Farmers Market, and one month from today I will have survived my first Saturday there.
Overall, we're ahead of the schedule I mapped out a couple of weeks ago. Engineer D has been a huge help -- solving all sorts of spatial, storage (at different temperatures), fermenting, business and logistical problems. There is no way I could do this without him. And it's not like he doesn't have a hundred other things to do that are important, too.
I was doing pretty okay keeping my nose to the grindstone about it all until I looked online and found out my booth space at the Market. When I was able to visualize where I'll be, it all became much too real. As I've said a few times, I wish I had three months to prepare instead of two.
We've been figuring out the booth, getting tables and a canopy, finding eco-friendly containers that won't leak, making signage and other collateral, remodeling our house, figuring out new ways to ferment vegetables in larger quantities, marketing the booth and talking to media folks, mapping out production schedules, building relationships with other farms that can grow vegetables for us, product testing, connecting with new customers, integrating new hens into our flock, and planting up our garden.
I already have begun producing sauerkraut for the Market because it takes two months to ferment. The pickle lab is working very well, by the way. Right now more than a hundred pounds (ahem... all shredded by hand... have you ever heard of "cabbage elbow?") of vegetables are fermenting in the pickle lab. I'm excited by how these long ferments are turning out, and I can't wait until a week or so from now when I can begin working on some spicier products that take less time to ferment.
I've been trying to get nonsense and details done so that I can feel more relaxed as I make the products. That was my goal with the schedule I hammered out two or three weeks ago, and it seems to be working well. We've accomplished *so* much, and -- as I turn more to production -- I feel more centered because I know how the product will stay safe and vital all the way from sourcing it from our farm and other farms to handing it to our customers.
But it's been hard, too. I haven't slept very much. Neither has D, and that's way worse for everyone.
For me, though, the hardest thing I've had to do in this process is what I did today: clean out the pickle fridge. This is where we put most of the jars of pickles that I made last year, organized carefully by batches. I don't know... it's complicated... The refrigerator of jars represents failure on some levels. I didn't sell those pickles last year.
The refrigerator of pickles represents opportunity, too, because I identified the problem with my business down to the *jar* and found another way to sell my pickles. I'm proud of that. It's the right way for curious farm.
However, one of the reasons I lost confidence in selling my pickles in refrigerated glass jars is that twice I found jars with issues. Other jars in the same batches were fine so I couldn't pin the problems on anything specific, but it made me really worried. And I knew that the longer I held the pickles locked up in the jars, more textural problems might surface.
Last week I sold my last jar, from a dependable batch.
Today I cleared out the fridge of all jars, from all batches. I opened up every single jar of pickles, filtered and saved the brine, and then threw away the pickles.
But I tasted a bit of pickle from every jar. 6 - 4 months later, they are amazing pickles. Only two pickles in all of the jars were structurally unsound, and I understand that now as a problem in the cucumber's development on the vine.
I'm thrilled that my pickles could handle being locked up in glass jars for six months and still taste great.
I'm thrilled that I figured out that I hate having pickles locked up in glass jars so much that I wanted to figure out another way to sell them.
I'm thrilled that my "other way to sell them" turned into this.
But I just put 70 pounds of still-fantastic pickles (all homegrown) in the garbage because it's time to get ready for what's to come.
Bring it on, Universe!
--cathy, covered in sour-cucumber-fermenty-spicy-summery wonder right now, dreaming about what's to come.