Sunday, May 19, 2013

Running Back Home...The Little Farm

Have you ever thought about running away from home? Just leaving and trying a different lifestyle? I had this gift given to me two years ago when we decided to move forward with The Brown Barn Company retail stores and marketing. At the time I didn't realize that Brown Barn would take me so far from home for so long and it certainly was not my intent, but away it did take me.

I call this time away a gift because I truly did not appreciate my life on the Little Farm before I was called away. I felt I was slowly spinning my wheels, that no matter how hard I worked, I just could not get the Brown Barn brand and products out to enough people fast enough using the Internet alone. I had procrastinated the decision to really jump in with Brown Barn as long as I possibly could but a turning point had occurred, it was either shut it down or ramp it up. I chose to ramp it up and have not regretted one single moment of the time and effort it took to do this.

Most people would not choose to leave their home to "go out in the big world" and spread the message of their business in the manner we did. And I certainly do not recommend it as a choice for everyone - it was the right choice from me though. I needed to throw my hat in the ring and Brown Barn deserved the effort to become a "real" business in the greater market-place. I also knew that the only way the Little Farm would be productive as the Brown Barn Company was for us to establish the Brown Barn business first, then come back to the farm. It seems backwards - but this was the only way we could make things happen. We'd tried other avenues and all had come to dead-ends. So out into the world went the Brown Barn Company, taking a break from the farm.

Now that the Brown Barn Company has taken another turn in its life, going over to primarily Wholesaling and Internet sales, I have suddenly found myself at home again on the Little Farm - back where I started and joyful to be here.

I am loving being home again but this time with a more focused purpose. The farm will be the location of our second lab, where we will be producing bar soap, candles and infusing herbal oils to be sold individually and used in the popular Brown Barn lotions, sugar scrubs and massage bars. I will also be conducting the business portion of the wholesaling, updating the web-sites and more from there. By leaving I was able to learn and come back with a fresh, new purpose for myself, Brown Barn and the Little Farm and will hopefully breathe a new, more focused and productive life into the place and my own world.

Like all home-comings, mine is filled with joy, exclamation and raised eyebrows. When I left to start and supervise the retail stores my yard had been my pride and joy. After running the greenhouse as a business for many years I'd accumulated an expansive variety of perennials and had spread wood mulch around every bed, tree, shrub and building in approximately a five acre area. We'd built a "micro-climate" fenced garden for lavender and roses and had put a few years into dedicated organic herb production. Our small orchard was just beginning to produce fruit and I had neat rows of canned fruit spreads, jams and garnishes on my kitchen shelves. Whole whiskey barrels overflowing with flowers decorated the landscape.

The fenced "micro-climate" garden for Lavender and Roses.
The retail stores had unexpectedly taken up so much of my time so quickly and unexpectedly that I literally was here one day and gone the next, never feeling I could take a moment to come back to the farm. We were left with no choice but to abandon the farm for awhile in favor of pushing the Brown Barn brand name forward with the plan of eventually coming back to the farm and implementing greater production from it. While I was gone the Little Farm became a "work space" for my husband's Wastewater business (for those of you who do not know what this is - it is spreading manure, whey or liquid waste from large manure/waste lagoons pits at the large Wisconsin farms and cheese factories - a dirty but important process for dairy agriculture).

I thought, okay, he's one man, alone in the house and on the farm for awhile, how much damage could he do? Oh Boy!! While my husband did his best, he is uber-focused on his business and business is all he is focused on. The lawns were minimally mowed by hired hands, the greenhouse is now weedy and the house - always in a state of half-renovation is worse than ever. I have so many projects going on right at home I am not even sure where to begin or when I'll be able to leave guilt-free again!

Yesterday I did the first of what will be many "mows" of the large yard, gardens and orchard. I found left to go wild, Mother Nature has made a big step forward in reclaiming the little farm. All of the trees and shrubs are in need of trimming, weeds are rampant - grown into the flower beds so tight I fear giving up and mowing off is the only way to deal with them, "weed trees" have grown up among the shrubs and a "gift" from a neighbor of wild bamboo has invaded the entire front yard. My beloved fenced garden is so tight with grass and weeds I cannot imagine how to even begin to proceed in that area and my lovely whiskey barrels have been used as garbage cans for some of our employees! I also realize I will need to focus more on the business of the Little Farm/Brown Barn than on the decorations (and like most women, I do love to decorate!)

But as bad as things have been let go there are still some beauties fighting their way thru the weeds and the farm is still pretty in its state of wild disrepair. Here are some pics from yesterday's first Spring mow on the Little Farm.
Plum trees in bloom this week.

I watched these Fritallarias grow almost overnight!
Pictures do not do justice to how very large these tulips are, I was pleasantly surprised to find that even without proper mulching and feeding they are happily growing and multiplying right thru the weeds.
Weeds weeds weeds in the background of this "Peony" tulip.

I'm not sure how to approach the weed issue, I might have to actually dig out all of the bulbs and replant.

Lola, our son's Border Collie has come to live on the little farm with us as our son has joined my husband in his business. She's like having a child on the farm again and loves to jump in my garden pond.  
The barn is slowly being re-claimed by Mother Nature - just like all of us!
Today is calling for rain and candle-making is calling my name. I hope your Sunday is productive, lazy and restful all at once. If any readers have suggestions for how to deal with the weeds in my garden please share them...I need every ounce of help I can get!!

~Chris Untiedt, Owner, The Brown Barn Company llc