Last weekend we had our winter open house at the farm. Leading up to the event we were trying to keep up with making soap so we didn’t fall too far behind for the week. There is always something that needs done with cold process soap making. If we don’t stay stocked up at least a month in advance we run out and have to wait six weeks for it to cure. So, the weekend before Eric and I made six batches and spent the early part of last week cutting and stamping soap. We also pulled what had been cured off the rack and boxed and labeled those before putting our new soap on the drying rack. By Wednesday we were ready to move everything out of my studio/Eric’s former garage, and get ready to set up for the event. In the meantime, we were out of charcoal scrubs and low on rose clay masks. However, the time had come where we just had to stop making and start setting up.
I truly look forward to having the open houses before Christmas and in the spring, but there is a certain amount of stress that comes with getting everything ready, as well as always having something to make. This year I just was not feeling stressed about it. Eric had requested pulled pork from the last bunch of pigs that we had sent and was ready to cook. I had everything ready to go by Friday and was just genuinely ready for the open house. I couldn’t wait to show the farm and the studio, as well as the animals to everyone. I enjoy explaining how we make our product and showing where it is made. I love when folks that have not been around farm life or animals stop in and get to see how friendly all of our goats and pigs are. I get excited for our vendor friends that set up in my studio to show their products to new people.
In preparation, Eric had started to defrost his pulled pork and had it rubbed down with seasoning and ready to go onto the smoker. I had my stand set up and ready to go. My mother-in-law, Barb, had spent the entire day making cookies. By Friday afternoon two more vendors had set up and were ready for Saturday. The weather forecast was rainy and turning colder, with snow accumulation by Sunday. I thought that the weather may have everyone staying home and we would be eating pulled pork and Christmas cookies until June.
Saturday had finally arrived. Eric had fired up the smoker at 4 a.m. and put the pork on at 5 a.m. He had done a practice run on the pulled pork a month earlier and did not let it cook long enough. It had a good flavor but was as tender as a boot. Apparently, three hours on his smoker with pork that had not been fully defrosted was not long enough. This time he had it thawed out and rubbed down, and planned for a full six hours cooking it “low and slow”. The other vendors had arrived by 8 and were quickly setting up. By a quarter till nine, everyone was set up and ready. The coffee was on and the cookies were being sampled. Everyone was catching up on their holiday season preparations and different shows they had been to. We were all set and ready. It was now nine, the official starting time, there was no one coming in the lane. My stomach sank, usually a car pulls in five minutes early, while I am making some final adjustments and am just not quite ready. This time I was ready, really ready, ready since the night before ready. I always worry about the turn out more for the other vendors than for us. If we get one person all weekend that stops out, but they want to see the animals, and talk soap, I am happy. I want to see my guest vendors do well. I want them to feel like it is worth their time to come out and for everyone to see their truly unique products. Five minutes had passed and I was keeping my eyes locked on the drive way. Just like turning a switch, the cars and trucks started coming in. Thank goodness! As it turned out with the weather being less than perfect, an open house at the farm was a great way to spend the day.
Jordan couldn’t decide what she wanted to do more, show off the goats and pigs or explain the soap and lotion making process. She always amazes me how she can switch hats so quickly and cover all aspects of farm and soap life. She has helped with the delivery of baby goats and pigs, she can sniff all of the essential oils and come up with her own blends, and can rattle off the ingredients of the different soaps like she is reading the label. There has to be something to being young, able to retain information and fearless. I have enjoyed watching her flourish the last couple of years in all aspects of this adventure.
As Saturday wound down, the general consensus was the first day was a success. The food had turned out really well, there was pulled pork, beans mixed with bratwurst, bacon, pork, and sausage. We also had hotdogs and sauerkraut, trays of Christmas cookies, and a meat and cheese tray. Plus, buffalo chicken dip and the most divine cheesecake bars! The open house was the perfect way to spend a foul weather day! After the open house had finished, Eric and I decided that a short power nap was in order to recharge. Four hours later we woke up. Apparently, we had both been a bit more nerved up than we had thought. It was time to get some barn work done and get some supper on the table. The left-over pulled pork was just as delicious! Everyone in the barn was good and we were all ready to go for Sunday.
Sunday morning, I started the coffee and was ready for a repeat of Saturday. I was anticipating the traffic to start rolling in shortly after nine. I was wrong. I always think everyone else has the same schedule we do. Yes, it may be Sunday, but the barn chores need done and we get up at the same time. Not everyone has to do barn chores. So, again I was nervous. I did not want to see my vendor friends disappointed. I wanted folks to see what great products they had. Most of the morning we spent talking amongst ourselves about the day before and how glad we were the snow that was predicted did not make it. By about ten thirty, the time I would prefer to get up, we had traffic coming in the lane. Perfect! The food was ready, the cookies had once again been sampled for quality control purposes. Eric had the time to take some folks into the barn and show the goats and the pigs. One little boy commented, “I like the goat that looks like a pony.” Yep, it was Misty, the pony. In typical Eric humor, Eric said, “Did you see the chicken that looks like a pig?” The interaction with the animals is always a big part of our events, showing folks that animals that have lots of space to run are happy animals.
I am always grateful to be able to open the doors and have people take time out of their busy schedules just to swing in and say hello, grab a bite to eat, and see us. I am passionate about what I do and love to share all aspects of our lives, and the adventure we have been on. Another open house is planned for the spring and would love to see even more folks be able to make it. Of course, it is not always practical to make the trip, so I will do my best to keep the blog updated. There is always something new and exciting happening at the farm. Sometimes there is so much new and exciting I simply cannot find the time to write. But then again, I have twenty-four hours in the day like everyone else, it just seems like some days I could use another ten to get everything done.