The number one question John and I get asked these days is “how is the farm doing?” Well the farm itself is doing fine. There has been farming on our land for 250 years and this spring and summer arrived like many of those in the past- green shoots, new life on wobbly legs, and planting seeds with the faith there will be a harvest. Winter storms, high winds, heavy rains, relentless heat, and bitter cold are what affect the “farm”. Now, how the farmers are doing is a different story.
We vacillate between being terribly anxious and exceedingly thankful. We are so thankful that family and friends are well. We are so thankful for all our customers, old and new, that have taken up some of the slack we are experiencing with the loss of our sales to restaurants. We have planted large market gardens to supply some of the produce we plan to offer in our farm store and after a chilly start, plants are starting to pop through the soil. We are thankful that our meat processor, Smuckers’ Meats, continues to operate sending us back our pasture-raised meats on a regular basis and their staff is well too. We know we are blessed in so many ways.
Yet, there are times we feel so many uncertainties going forward. Like everyone else we are concerned about what is the “new normal”? Weeks of not being able to worship in church has not made God seem further away, but we certainly miss our faith community. For a while we had stellar sales. We really appreciate all our customers, old and new. However, I am reminded of a childhood song that said “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” We are hoping a portion of our new customers find their way back to us. When restaurants were forced to close their seating areas, our sales to restaurants vanished in a matter of hours. It has returned at about 10% of its previous strength. It will be a difficult sales loss to overcome.
During this transition time we have been able to revise and update our online store. We have added a “Pantry” section with more staple preparations items. But, our high quality farm meats and eggs remain the cornerstone of our product offering. We are still working to keep the online market totally stocked. Remember that quality takes time. We have also updated and re-designed our farm website. Special thanks to our daughter, Susan Riley, for technical expertise and artistry. We also have plans for fall projects and possible on-farm events depending on the safe gathering recommendations.
We know that many of you have concerns for the future and frustrations for summer planning. Trips have been cancelled, camps are closed, and fairs have been cancelled. The farm will stretch into the summer like every summer before. Calves will grow, pigs will be born, and the chickens gift us with eggs every day. We are working on choosing the changes we want to keep after this pandemic passes. We are recognizing perceptions and material goals we should let go since they probably weren’t as important to us as we thought. Hope you all can do the same.