Summer is here! And so is our CHEESE! Our journey to farmers markets has finally arrived. WHEW!
Just the process of choosing a market felt overwhelming at first. So many choices! We are so blessed here in the Lincoln/Omaha markets with so many wonderful markets to choose from! I have been a frequent visitor/purchaser at the Lincoln markets but had no idea where to start with the Omaha ones. So, we started checking them out. Fun... all in itself! A new market was opening in Lincoln so it seemed natural to start with that market as it would be smaller and we only had a two cheeses to choose from. Also, I could bake bread.. one of my greatest loves!
So, sporting my new haircut (thanks Linda!), armed with 14 loaves of my whole wheat cinnamon roll bread off we went. I was thinking the bread would be a fun addition and I could talk to folks about healthy fats and introduce them to our cheeses. I spent the better part of a week (or two) carousing Lincoln's thrift shops for everything I thought I needed. I assembled all my goods, brought eggs, meats, cheese, and that bread. All anyone was interested in was the bread. I came home so bummed. I couldn't figure out what went wrong. Back to the drawing board! The market uploaded some pictures of my table on their FB page and boy was that helpful! Something stuck out at me when looking at my set up from that viewpoint. NOTHING! My signs were hidden, all that really stood out was the bread. No wonder that's all anyone wanted! I also realized how bland my color set up was. I thought I was being really nifty ... my whole set up matched my cheese labels... sunflower yellow table cloth with a cute little red and greed plate.. . just like my labels. Boy.. did I have a lot to learn. All this great cheese and it was hardly noticeable. Two things I did do right was to make a big white board poster with pictures of the animals and I was handing out Weston A Price brochures.
Sooo.... week 2! Lost the yellow tablecloth... used Grandma's red and white checked ones. Added another table so we had an L shape. Didn't snap any pictures though.. it was the Grand opening of the market and we were occupied talking to people and listening to the radio station blaring next to us. OK.. so singing along and goofing off a bit. Hannah came with me to this one.. I hate that I dont have a picture of her. I only baked six loaves of bread and set them to the side. Cheese more front and center in a groovy red basket and plate. We sold a bit more cheese and a few meats. Not brillant but better. Learning, learning. I spent a lot of time creating these cute little signs for Ground beef on sale, signs with colors and framing in clear plastic stands... and spent the whole evening picking them up off the ground or table! Pretty frustrating! Looking at my table that night I realized that as much as I love my Grandma's red and white tablecloths I really needed ones that fit my tables and matched each other better... bummer. As usual... my MOM saved the day! In the mail I received some gorgeous bright busy country checked tablecloths! With a matching plastic mat upon which to showcase that cheese! Woo Hoo!
So, week 3 approaches an I think I have it all figured out! (silly woman) I made these great signs to hang from the beams of my tent... got my gorgeous eye catching tablecloths.. what can go wrong?? I should learn not to ask. It was 105 degrees AND windy! My signs flew off their hooks... so I taped a few to the poles. My big picture board kept flying off it's stand and finally broke my big easel ... :-( And we needed table cloth clamps- stuff flying everywhere! It was so stinking hot... after setting up I just wanted to pass out! Very few people at the market... (can't imagine why!). But Jamie was WORKING IT!. She had her little cute self standing outside of the tent catching folks as they walked by giving them brochures on the farm. She even brought in a few folks... one guy said he was just buying those lamb chops because she was so cute! I came home so incredibly exhausted.. it's just too hot in the evenings! So... starting to think about weekend early morning markets. And.. we have more cheese coming ready.
Last weekend we went to Village Pointe market in Omaha. I couldn't believe the difference! People were there to shop! They came prepared to buy groceries! We actually sold meat and cheese! It was awesome! We had our jack cheeses and our cheddar bites (which sold out!). The heat didn't set in till the last hour and it was much more manageable. And.. no bread... as much as I love baking... it was taking up all my extra time and energy.. I was spending two days solidly baking. A week of not baking was certainly welcomed. I was able to spend a little time in my garden... I found baby cabbages in all the grass! How fun! Andy made me this awesome big wood sign for the markets that works great to catch attention and DOESNT FALL OVER!! I have taken to taping my picture board to the tent poles.. still need to work on a better plan for for that. But, we are starting to feel like pros... set up is much easier and we are learning more and more every day! Why just last weekend I learned my tent goes up much higher! Today we attended an indoor one day market at OPPD District offices in Omaha. We premiered our Raw Milk English Cheddar and our Fresh Feta. Both girls came with me and they had a blast. Quite the little sales girls they are making! I figure its a great learning experience for them... talk about real socialization!
On a non-farm note: Ashley Graduated! :-) Not that we ever had any concerns... she is so stinking smart! Nonetheless it was a wonderful thing to celebrate.
We took a day off this month to celebrate our July birthdays. Michael turned 3 and Jamie is turning 9! This is just all going by too fast. It seems like just the other day when asked how old Michael was I said 2... (actually it WAS just the other day!) Then it dawned on me.. my baby is 3. How did that happen? It seems too fast. Anyhoo.. we took a day off from the farm.. Andy milked in the morning and we went swimming all day! Such fun! Andy was smart and left his shirt on.. me.. not so much! I have quite the burn on my back and right now am often imitating the pigs scratching myself on posts and walls. Totally worth it though! We have decided to stick with morning milking... it has opened up all kinds of avenues for family fun! Andy gets more sleep too... which he desperately needed.
my hot cheese date!
Feeling thankful these days for our wonderful friends here in Nebraska. We couldn't do this without your support. Thankful for all the times friends just show up to help or are willing to be my hot cheese date and help me cut up and package cheese late at night.
I still miss my Georgia friends but is is just so great that I have developed some dear friends here. On my birthday my closest friends here surprised us by just showing up with food, cake, and weeding gloves! They went to work on my garden and uncovered so much goodness in there! Plants that were being choked out by grass and weeds were given new life! I can't even tell you how much that meant to me. And if not enough, the next night they took me out for dinner! We had big fun goofing off, walking around the Haymarket and making Facebook mischief by posting we were getting tattoos. Been too long since I have had so much fun!
Artisan Cheesemaker. Lover of all foods dairy..