Happy New Year!

We had a great hol­i­day sea­son here at Black Brook Farm. By Thanks­giv­ing the farm was pret­ty much shut down for the win­ter, and we were all able to take a break and spend time with our fam­i­ly and friends. We read, worked on projects that had been pushed to the side, watched the movies we’d been want­i­ng to watch, ate a lot of amaz­ing meals and even slept in!
Black Brook Farm Grow­ers hol­i­day ham get­ting ready to be brined

The one thing we did not do was blog, as I’m sure all of you loy­al fans have noticed, but now that it’s the new year and all the Christ­mas can­dy is gone, we’re gath­er­ing up seed cat­a­logs and get­ting back to work.

Up until now, every month has been a new adven­ture, with new excite­ments, chal­lenges and sur­pris­es. But we’ve final­ly come full cir­cle and are back in the win­ter plan­ning stage (just like when this blog was born a year ago). This year has taught us a lot, and we have a much clear­er pic­ture of what we want Black Brook Farm Grow­ers to be.
Here are some of my new years res­o­lu­tions for Black Brook Farm Growers:
  • Get orga­nized: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, farm­ing requires A LOT of orga­ni­za­tion. That means tons of spread­sheets, lists and records so that you can remem­ber EXACTLY what worked and what did­n’t. Every farm is dif­fer­ent, so as help­ful as books and oth­er farm­ers can be, at the end of the day it’s impor­tant to learn from your own land. Orga­ni­za­tion is not always my strong point, but this year that’s going to change. There’s some great online soft­ware out there for small organ­ic farms, this year I’m going to try using AgSquared, which I learned about in a work­shop at last years sum­mer NOFA conference.
  • Take risks: We want to keep stretch­ing our­selves and learn­ing new things. That means exper­i­ment­ing and being cre­ative, and not being afraid to try some­thing that we think might work. There’s a lot of room for cre­ativ­i­ty in farm­ing, which is one of the rea­sons I love it so much.
  • Make mon­ey: I know it’s not classy to talk about mon­ey, but BBFg is a busi­ness, and it’s impor­tant for Dave and I to prove that we can make a prof­it doing this work. Being able to cre­ate a finan­cial­ly viable busi­ness not only means that we can con­tin­ue farm­ing, it also means that we can show oth­er would-be farm­ers that this is a dream worth pur­su­ing. This last year we saw, and were inspired by, a lot of awe­some small farms that were finan­cial­ly sta­ble. We’re con­fi­dent that it can be done, but that does­n’t mean that it’s easy.
  • Effi­cien­cy: We need to use our time and resources as effec­tive­ly as pos­si­ble to min­i­mize waste on the farm. (This is Dav­e’s res­o­lu­tion and it ties in nice­ly with get­ting orga­nized and mak­ing money).
  • Cre­ate a com­mu­ni­ty around the farm: This year, as you may or may not know, we’ve decid­ed to focus entire­ly on CSA, or Com­mu­ni­ty Sup­port­ed Agri­cul­ture. That means that instead of going to farmer’s mar­kets, or hav­ing a farm stand, we are going to have a lim­it­ed amount of mem­bers that buy into the farm at the begin­ning of the sea­son, and receive a week­ly stipend of veg­eta­bles as a result. Not only is CSA a great way for to help meet all of the res­o­lu­tions I’ve already list­ed above,  it also means that we’ll have a com­mu­ni­ty of peo­ple who are inter­est­ed in local food com­ing to the farm every week. We’re excit­ed to share the farm with our mem­bers, and to use the farm as a space for com­mu­ni­ty events. We’d also like to have work­shops at the farm to teach our mem­bers, and the larg­er com­mu­ni­ty, about cook­ing, butcher­ing, pre­serv­ing and more.
These are just a few of my res­o­lu­tions. I’m sure over the next cou­ple of weeks, as we begin plan­ning, there will be many more.
Before I say good-bye (and get back to all that work I’ve been talk­ing about), I’d like to men­tion one excit­ing Decem­ber devel­op­ment, our ewes have been bred! Eli, a Finn ram, came and stayed at Black Brook and spent some qual­i­ty time with our sheep. He just went back to Bel­mont and we miss him already. He’s a great look­ing ram, and was very sweet with the girls. We are cross­ing our fin­gers that the ewes are all preg­nant. They should lamb some­time in late April or ear­ly May.
Eli. We’re hop­ing some of our lambs will have his coloring.
We’re look­ing for­ward to a great 2012 season!

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