Sunday, January 31, 2021

A Different World

From April 2020:
Did I pick a crazy time to try to return to writing on our website! The world is upside down with fears running wild. In nearly 50 years of living, I have never seen anything like *this*. Schools are closed. Bangor has mandated all non-essential businesses to be closed for the next two weeks. (UPDATE: The State of Maine is under a "Shelter in Place" order until April 30, 2020) Restaurants are "Take Out" only, with doors locked against would-be customers wandering inside. Many people cannot return to their regular workplaces. Some can work from home; others are unemployed for the near future. We are doing the best we can, like many other micro-businesses- we're taking what comes day by day, uncertain if this pandemic is what will cause us to shutter our doors for good. There is no use worrying. Whatever lays at the other side of this will come and we'll adapt to it- even if that means we cannot homestead anymore. We hope that won't be our reality.

We are taking steps to change with the current state of things. Instead of hosting classes in person, we filmed two live demonstrations and offered incentives to purchase soap and lotion from us on Facebook. Additionally, we offered an online lotion making class via the app, ZOOM. I hoped to sell 12 tickets for it. We sold those within 18 hours and went on to sell another 6 besides. In this way, hay was paid for, grain purchased, and the humans living here purchased groceries.

We were blessed richly in other ways, too. The first blessings came from our hay supplier. Generously, our hay guy (who will always be nameless- homesteaders guard their hay source as if they were a hidden treasure- which they *are* in many ways...) offers us credit through the winter months; we settle up in the spring. Each year we hope we won't need to avail ourselves again come winter. It hasn't been the case yet- like many farms, late winter is our hardest time. That extension of credit, in itself, is a rich blessing. When Sean brought a gift of cheese and eggs and paid on our account a few weeks ago, our supplier unexpectedly informed Sean that he cancelled some of the debt because he wanted to help. Stunned by the offer, but not the generosity behind it, Sean declined, but our hay supplier insisted. Then, the folks of Mudpuppy Farm, who are adopting four goats from us this year, picked up several bags of goat grain to help us feed the herd. Their goats are still living on our homestead, and providing grain and hay is our responsibility until the goaties move to their new home. This gift was also unexpected, but no less appreciated. It took some pressure off our shoulders.

Sean is using the forced time home (first inclement weather and then Covid-19) to make real progress on our goals. He built the interior wall separating the milk room from the creamery and installed a couple doors; one to the new breezeway entrance and the other from inside the breezeway leading into the milk room. Sean also installed the new metal roof on the breezeway.

Last weekend, we worked outside. A dear friend, Kathy, donated a 25 foot long piece of metal from when a new roof was installed where she lives. It was the perfect size to replace old, rotting OSB walls in the duck/goose yard. We'll buy another section for the 3rd side, but it looks so much better and will provide a much nicer shelter should any of the birds choose to use it. A spring storm caused the fencing near the roadway to be damaged, but Sean is replacing it, too.

Times are uncertain. We're strictly obeying the Shelter in Place guidelines, but we are also planning for the immediate future, just in case, you know, the world doesn't end just yet. :) It's a rare thing that Sean has extra time at home to work for us. We are going to do our very best to capitalize on that. To move forward with our dairy, creamery, and commercial kitchen licensing, we need to:
(1) Order the new metal roof for the milk room and creamery (April 10th)
(2) Pick up the insulation, plumbing & wiring (April 22nd)
(3) Install the sheet rock for the Creamery (April 29th)
(4) Lay the tile flooring in the Creamery (April 17th)

As of right now, I figure we can spend $1200 on the inside of the creamery. That will just about cover what it will cost in materials. The roofing is another matter. We have our thinking caps on. It's going to be a challenge to come up with an additional $1000 for the roofing materials. Challenging, but not impossible. And when we are through and the Covid-19 is contained, we can't wait to host a party to celebrate with all of you!

I never completed this post to share with you. The world indeed turned upside down. The creamery progressed, but we weren't able to finish it in 2020. Still, the roof was installed, tile flooring finished, walls and cabinetry completed, one sink was dry fit and our heating oven was set it place. And that is where we are today. Still here. Still moving forward. Still uncertain for tomorrow. 

Please stick around, friends. I am thankful for your generous support and am working my way towards once more sharing the stories of our lives with you. 

Sean & Sonja