Stunning Day!

The pond is not quite finished but it has been filled and is circulating as a trial.

It really is awfully pretty.

My big black cow Tia has been sent to a bull to be bred – Aunty stayed home, much to her disappointment, but I am not breeding her again. As well as losing that calf last time, one of her quarters never really kicked in. So, she will probably always present with mastitis now and I don’t want to risk it again. She can be the companion cow.

I am a weekend farmer now, baking bread and writing to my kids on the weekends. Growing my vegetables and herbs on the porch. Puttering about making pig beds.

I am still putting in 12 hour days at the mill. They have moved me into sales at work which has left me floundering, actually. I have never worked in sales but it is the quiet period in the baking world – too hot to turn on the oven so the online sales are quiet. So I am out drumming up sales in stores. Where did that expression come from ‘drum up’ maybe it comes from the beaters who would scare the forest life into one space so the rich people could shoot them from their chairs without actually going hunting.

People will start to feel the pinch here soon. So, it is going to take some thinking outside the square to succeed in sales, in the middle of a pandemic.🦋 Selling without a handshake and a smile will take some doing. I go out armed with masks and sanitizer but it feels a bit stupid to be going in and out of stores at this time. I am meeting lots of people though.

I must think right outside the square to get our good food into grocery stores around the Midwest. I will focus on small/organic grocery stores – the big supermarket chains are a huge proposition that will take a big set up. Many establishments are not even accepting samples due to the pandemic. And it is hard to meet anyone face to face because faces spread the virus.

Sorry to go on – but you all have always been my springboard for ideas. Now that I am out of the tunnel and roaring along again – this change in job description feels a bit like being broad-sided. Then upended. Then pushed out the door!

If you owned a cool little boutique grocery store /organic store during this period how would you like to be approached? All I know for sure is that my personal approach will not be like the slicked back professional approach. I cannot be who I am not.

I need to look back and see if I have any decent photos for you.

The following week!

I am in the same spot, writing from the sunny coop, that used to be an Airbnb in the olden days. But a week later. I went out looking for photos and never came back!

It is another sunny Saturday. While California is being scorched, we are once again having a mild summer with just enough occasional rain to keep the fields green and verdant. John is bringing in so much hay he is selling it!

We are babysitting two cows and their calves now ( Tia is with their bull) because we have so much grass and our friends lost their rented land. When Tia comes back she will join the others Across the Way and the visiting cows are here by the house.

I am going to post this now before it becomes a novel of epic proportions. I still write to you every Saturday! Now it’s the lack of farm photos that hold me back.

I dream of Sheila often you know. They are not sad dreams but I wake up with such a sense of loss. I know that Sheila is a symbol of all we have all lost. Our careless care-free world is gone. I think we are all suffering from differing degrees of loss. This persistent anxiety that will pass into normalcy as time goes on. But the extra care we must all take to keep our families and friends healthy and safe has to become the norm.

I think we are all thinking outside the square.

How are things in your part of the world? In your corner of the Forest?

As pertains to the Virus and the Social Discourse.

Let’s have another go ’round. This is an incredible time in the history of the world – full of immense change. We need to talk about what we are seeing – not so much to comment but to document as objectively as possible. Though objective is almost impossible, we can try. And if you have a friend somewhere we don’t have a Member of the Fellowship invite him or her to write in.

I saw three little boys walking to school the other day- in Chicago – back packs and new shoes, jostling and fooling around – all wearing slightly different masks. I wonder if some masks are perceived as cooler or more fashionable than other masks!

I love you all! We are so important as a group – the Fellowship of the Farmy- I need to write more! Let’s hold onto each other.

I am going out to change WaiWai’s bedding then Tima’s bedding ( they still hate each other and refuse to sleep together, which is fine. – for the summer!

So, talk amongst yourselves – I will be back.


PS sent without editing!

51 Comments on “Stunning Day!

  1. I’m sure your way of selling is far better for small grocery stores. Going in and talking without pushing something on them will probably get better results.

    I hope the black cow has a good time and comes back blessed!

  2. Good morning to you Celi and,our collection of people. I do miss seeing the farm and the goings on. Your blog was part of my normal morning and now nothing is normal old normal anyway! Personally I now work at home as an insurance broker and absolutely love being at home instead of the five. Must less stress and also less negativity as no one is bitching about things as they do in an office environment. So this part of my new normal I love. I worry about catching the virus and passing to my mom who is 92. So I limit as much contact With others as possible so I can visit her and keep her safe. Just a new normal. No travelling far but it is what it is. Have a lovely day wherever you are. Del from Alberta Canada

      • Hi Celi, I sell all personal insurance like for house, cars, boats, quads, farms. Anything that is personally owned and used. Tips would be have a great broker that you know and make a relationship with them so you can trust them and they have your back and best interests at heart.

  3. i would say face to face for selling to these little stores, you have such a winning personality and your warmth shines through so i would think those would be your best tools

        • LOL Celi! While pretty masks would likely help to cheer you up, even the ugliest mask couldn’t cover your obvious love for your product and passion for growing good food; ) so don’t worry about this new turn in the road, ‘cause you’re a Natural!♥️♥️♥️

    • Lovely to hear from you again. Things sound quite settled on the farm, long may it last. I think your job will be perfect for you. “Meeting” people and being your true self, you will wow them and sell to everyone I’m sure. But, look after yourself and stay well.

  4. Try your luck in Minneapolis/St. Paul–we have a wonderful network of organic coops that are extremely popular. May be worth exploring online. And yes, along with the always-present anxiety, there is tremendous grief about what we’ve lost or are in the process of losing–that sense of childlike care-freeness, our country’s integrity, a kind of democracy, the myth of equal rights, human beings (and animals) that were friends and family, and the health of the earth. It’s a lot. But we can take hope from the thousands of different groups who are working at these issues from different angles with all their might. And those of us who are doing every little thing we can to show compassion, realign our societal values, and demonstrate our human inter-connectedness. That certainly includes YOU! Oh, and remember–you’re selling a great product. That counts!

  5. I find myself becoming annoyed (and maybe a little angry!) with people who keep saying that they are looking forward to getting ‘back to normal.’ Oy! There will not be the same ‘normal’ ever again! I am trying to embrace this new world, but being 66 with asthma and cardiac issues, I don’t go out a lot and see very few people. As for selling, I am not a great sales person unless I am speaking with someone personally, so I think what you are doing, Celie, is a big job that would frustrate me. I don’t like to approach people with something to sell, but if they approach me about something I have for sale, I can sell pretty well! I think you are brave to take this on and I hope you are feeling successful! Our smaller stores herein coastal Maine are really thriving right now; some have been doing deliveries, and most are still doing curbside pickup sales. I think it’s great, and folks seem to be watching out for their neighbors and helping out.

  6. Good Morning. So wonderful to read your words again….and I’m following the Jane’s Mill Baking Group, so I get to read even more of your words !…and a lot of others’. I’m not a bread maker/baker, but I’m itching to try as soon as the Texas weather cools a bit. There is a “boutique” grocery store nearby that I frequent as often as possible, that I can see carrying JM flours….don’t know how to go about asking, but when you’re ready, I’ll approach Linda (owner) or give you her info. As much as I miss the “old” world, I am beginning to embrace this new reality…I never would have had the impetus to try making sourdough bread in the old world ! So glad I’m part of this Farmy ! Stay safe everyone.

  7. Good morning! Lovely to see you pop up in my email feed. You’ve had quite a few changes this past while. I think your disposition will be your best tool in approaching small stores. In our area ‘shop local’ is a big deal. Especially in these Covid times people are very aware of trying to support local farmers and artisans. Perhaps that would be a good argument for people to carry products from your mill. Good luck!

  8. I have no clue about sales, but I wish you the best of luck C. My only idea, besides the small grocers is to try to get the product into quaint little shops that focus on things like kitchen supplies, home goods, even garden markets that sell specialty items like teas, etc. I live in a small town and we have many of those. I think about the products they offer in their shops and bags of Janie’s Mill products would be the perfect fit. The entire state is full of these little places.

  9. Things change, it’s life, and not everything is for the worse. I remember you always worrying about not enough hay, and this year you’re selling some! Personally I think you work too much, but I suppose it can’t be helped. Balance is always the most difficult thing to achieve. I’ve been reading the diary of someone who lived through the German occupation then the civil war in Greece, and I can tell you they had it a lot worse than us. The details are harrowing, and it lasted for years. I do thing the authorities worldwide have mismanaged things, and proved themselves not up to dealing with a crisis, which is scary. However, it is what it is, and we must make the best of it.

  10. I don’t know if there are any farms in your area selling CSA baskets. There is one out of the Sacramento area here in California and they include flour from a local mill in their baskets. Something to think about if that option is open to you.

  11. I’m in Southern Illinois and there are still various shortages and limits here. We have a number of places here that sell local products. Do you have anything like that in Northern Illinois? Being your in Illinois it would still be considered local down here. I can send you a few links if you’re interested in coming down here. This area is big on local products. We like to know where our food comes from.

  12. I wish I could help in some way, but I’m not much of a sales woman. It’s a tough sell having to wear a mask, but at least your eyes are visible! They are critical. And P.S. Oh I wish you’d photographed your charges–mothers and babies!

  13. Hello… Why don’t you try have a personalised mask printed or embroidered? Here in South Africa my favourite pie shop, the owner’s mask is embroidered “Pie Hole” Something funny and catchy to attract attention… and you are halfway there..

  14. Hi there! I self isolated when I hurried back from Mexico in March. It seemed so strange driving through a subdued landscape. Then I did my 14 days at home. Only going outside to walk my dog. Very lonely time. Thank goodness for video chats! Now in the new normal, very few hugs and only within my bubble. Waiting, waiting. I hope everyone stays well.

  15. Things here haven’t really changed all that much. Mostly having to wear face diapers (masks) when going shopping for anything which doesn’t happen that much in a month. I am no good at sales, I’m the back office type, busy with ordering, keeping the books, doing the other correspondence and so on. There are a couple healthy food stores that we used to send people to when I had my shop, but I don’t know if they’re even still open since so many small stores and businesses have closed and there’s no knowing if they will open again. That is one of the things that bothers me the most with this pandemic, the losses of small businesses and jobs and the hardship it is for those who owned or worked for them. Best of luck and success with the selling, it’s not the easiest thing to do but I think you’ll do well. All the best!!!

  16. Well as to the mask you could get one of those hood-like ones that have the transparent part over your whole face. Not sure about how cool (temperature wise) they would be but at least your smile would show through. Good luck! Selling is not an easy task at any time.

  17. Hi Celi, lovely to see you here again 🙂 I have been a sales person, getting on the phone, going out to see people, both cold calling and expected. It can be hard on your self esteem, because refusal and rejection of what you’re offering can feel very personal, so it’s important to hang onto your belief in yourself and the product. I have two tips for you: Firstly, always be smiling when you make a phone call, whether it’s a cold call or to make an appointment. You can hear the difference on the phone; you’ll sound warmer and friendlier. Secondly, ask what they think about your product in general; soliciting opinion rather than just telling or going into a spiel about how great the product is, is a great way to gauge how much interest they might have and will give you a handle on the kind of person they are. You’ll then have a better idea how to approach them. I’d also suggest looking at Facebook groups with an interest in baking and perhaps offer a special price if everyone orders something, or propose a ‘flour of the month’ promotion with recipes. I don’t know if there’s an option to print different stuff on your bags, but perhaps a recipe competition you can promote online, printed on the bags with an option for the winning recipe to be featured for a few months? I can go on, but I don’t want to write a major essay in the Lounge of Comments!
    And now I have a request of my own. I need the thoughts and good wishes of the Farmy Family: it looks as if the Bastard Cancer may be back. I’m having an MRI on Wednesday and seeing the oncology surgeon on 3 September to discuss options. Fingers crossed, please, everyone…

    • Oh darling girl! That Bastard Cancer. We will certainly keep you safe in our hearts as you embark on yet another chapter – don’t forget your notebook. You taught me that! Keep us in the loop. Love love c

      • Thank you, my lovely. Yet another chapter to add to the story, as you say. It’s strange… it’s not the fear of what’s going to happen, I’ve done that before and I know I can do it again, it’s the endless bloody waiting and not knowing what I’m dealing with. I like to know with whom I am about to go into battle…
        “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

          • Thanks, Ardys. It’s one of those scenarios where you put on a madly positive face for everyone else but your gut knows perfectly well there are storm clouds ahead. Nice to have a forum where I don’t need to be politely positive!

    • Kate ! Been there, done that as you may remember. Bugger !!! Thank God these days there is ever increasing knowledge and real options. A case of somehow keeping your cool and trying to make the best choices for you not looking back and not imagining too far forwards. If good vibes sent across the continent help, you have all I know how to muster. If your feeling-world allows, come and have a cuppa and sound off . . . we are here . . .

      • It’s foolish to talk about fair and unfair, but a double whammy is just rude, I feel. I’m having to resist the temptation to dive headfirst into a large cake, that being my happy-drug of choice. Still, Wednesday and the MRI will make clear how bad Little Friend number 2 is, and consequently what kind of crap I’m currently facing. Fingers crossed for some nice clean surgery and not too much else.

        • Fingers crossed for surgery . . . . I would feel the same way but there are a number of newer and kinder things now to go in the vein than the old ‘chemo’. Oh, make a cake . . . . some form of ‘nice’ is called for at the moment . . . . see’ya . . . best Eha

  18. I have never worked in the tiny local grocery stores, but I have spent a few years at a small store in one of the ‘local’ regional chains in central illinois. Pop off an email to the corporate office to see if you can talk to the purchasing agents and division heads. In a small store? Working grocery has been insane the last six months. I wouldn’t be pushy going into the stores, most of us are one more cranky customer away from losing our minds. Email and voicemail are your friends. Be insistent, but not overbearing, I have seen upper management shut down at a moment’s notice because this is just one more situation than they can deal with. The chain I work for does stock local products and advertises them as local. Some of them come in on a regular basis from the warehouses, some of them are special buys, some of them we have a working relationship with and order as needed. Flour was one of those things we couldn’t get for months (we could only get 50 lb bags, so we were weighing it out of the bulk bags for customers). You have an excellent product, and better availability than their regular sources.

    Have you thought about working with the grocery warehouses too? Kohls, unfi, sysco, lipari, etc. They have a string of clients ready to go with distribution networks already set up, and sales reps who make rounds who can help push your products to potential buyers. It might be more than you are ready for now, but it wouldn’t hurt to open those lines of communication for when you are ready.

  19. I’ve so enjoyec your catch up and the comments. I’ve had similar happen with a job, happily doing my non-sales thing one minute, the next I’m selling because without sales the other role is moot. Flour was one of the early staples to become hard to get here in Australia, as people started to stockpile and bake at home. Local bakeries became a source, maybe ask local bakeries if they will stock some flour for their customers… I know it sounds counterintuitive but everything is changing, and we are changing with it.
    Personally, we are grateful to be living here in the village, less immediately affected by the external… as we had factored in resilience before making the treechange leap. But we keep ourselves constantly up-to-date with what’s happening in the greater local and global world… it is so important that we don’t succumb to nimbyism. Even if ourselves are ok we must continue our care of others who are less so. My heart hurts to see so much of it.

  20. Loved the picture of the giant leaves! Sales; never done it; but i am a connector of things and people and ideas and relationships and food and why not bread. There is a place outside of Seattle that gives free slices of their various breads, and slabs of butter are available and they sell coffee. You are a wonderful photographer, take pictures; start a contest; Pictures of the journey of bread and how i t gorws, starting from…and ending, (down someone’s throat); Contest: My favorite bread: What does it taste like? Feel Like/ Smell like, sound like, look like, maybe a few samples of writing; keepit simple; Is bread blue or green or applesauce yellow; what does it feel like to knead it; hope i spelled verything okay; a contest, or buy 5 loaves and get 6th one free; can you freeze it; solving problems over bread with a rocking chair and a sharp knife to cut and slather and friends to jabber and jaw, all the while, flakes of light crusty sour dough sliding down your open throat, like a baby bird with heightened expectations. just say’in.

  21. My goodness! Such a surprise to see you in my e-mail! I’ve missed ‘seeing’ you, but it’s understandable with the schedule you’ve got going. Do miss your beautiful photos, too! Please don’t forget us in the whirlwind of your activities! Thanks for popping in to our home… you’re always welcome!

  22. do the cows and the bulls have any say in this stuff? If they don’t ‘mix’ is it called off?

  23. Hello Celi ! Incredibly good to read the post and get up to date with your todays. How life has changed since i first entered the farmy gates . . . ! So glad you have managed to go along with all that has come your way . . . good to read of a sunny summer day and plenty of grass for your animals. *smile* Selling and marketing have always been part of my life and I hugely enjoy the interactions . . . methinks you are probably very much better at it than you think ! As for me . . . I have worked ‘from home’ and studied from here for the last quarter century and bought moist things on line. There have been but few inconveniences that way . . . Naturally being older one has to think of every move outside the house. Methinks it is natural for life to change all the time . . . admittedly stormy weather is shaking the shutters. That too will pass, as the saying goes. I for one do not think of a ‘new normal’ . . . . life will take its own path of which we will only know as time passes . . . very glad to hear you will try and share life with us on a weekly basis again. First things first: have to go talk to the Higher Powers about Kate . . .

  24. Giggle! Eha, was that a typo? I’ve heard of fruit cakes, pies, etc. going through the mail, and the “moist”- ness of them never seemed to bother…………………..

    • Glad to have given you a ‘giggle’ ! Having such a busy day I actually had to slow myself down to find ‘moist’ !! Yes, of course I meant ‘,most’ !! Actually almost ‘all’ !!! Do most pf my shopping about 1-2 am and that suits me 🙂 !

  25. There is a mill not far from us- Bob’s Red Mill. He started out small and I have purchased from him for years. And now I also purchase from “your” ill. Not as much as I probably should, but there is only so much baking I can do- especially in the summer!
    I would suggest contacting local Organic stores . I bet they will happily carry Janie’s Mill products! Have you figured out and designed a display?
    Perhaps short DVD demonstrations on baking bread to go with the display?

    • Was laughing with this typo, too Kathe! There is enough illness in the world with\out having to purchase it – guffaw! Thanks for the merriment ladies…. Hugs

  26. Miss C, I am just undertaking the adventure of selling organic preserves.
    I started at the local Co-op by taking a jar of yuzu curd I made for the tasting team to try and they were so enthusiastic about spreading the word to other organic traders and now anything I want to make the Co-op will purchase.
    They have a twice-weekly co-op box of fruit and veg plus a variety of loaves of bread from the organic baker.
    I would try and visit smaller organic traders or local co-ops with a tasting loaf of bread, buns or pastries made from the flour variety you are selling.

  27. So very pleased to see and hear from you and the farmy again, you have been greatly missed.

    The thought of trying to sell anything to anyone terrifies me, so I wish you luck. At the same time I believe you would have the knack to be very successful. Just look at how you started the farmy and grew it along with our global fellowship
    Lockdown arrived with winter in South Africa and restrictions were really strict. Spring is coming now and some restrictions have been eased but still self isolation is a big strain now

    Still wish I could access your flours. I started a new rye starter from scratch and I really like it. Flour still very difficult to get here though

    Be safe and stay well


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