I sit here at my laptop, gazing out the window at a scene very uncharacteristic for January. I can see the bare ground that surrounds my blueberry bushes. I'm reminded that I've yet to line the ground with weed barrier so I can put down a fresh layer of mulch. My issue is, I'm not supposed to be able to see bare earth. In North Idaho, it is far more common for us to have at least 1-2' of snow on the ground this time of year. The sun is shining and the temperature is struggling to get above 28 degrees. It's 11:09am. Where is the snow? It is dangerously tempting to go outside and prune apple trees, or take care of that blueberry patch but it's not yet time. It's January 22nd.
While many have become familiar with the Athol Orchards name because of the syrups or caramel they may have received for Christmas, or perhaps by seeing our displays at the store wondering what the story is behind that wooden stand and bottles, there is an authentic farm life that exists behind the name. A busy yet unrelenting family farm life that hums here up in the woods East of Athol. Our seven Nigerian Dwarf does were just bred, the younger hens have begun to lay gorgeous dark brown and olive green eggs for us, and the apple trees rest in a deep dormant slumber until about April/May. Our honey bee hives are also wrapped snugly, bees tucked away deeply inside waiting for that first warm breeze of Spring to let them know it's safe to wander out into the world. Mason bees slowly develop in their little cocoons, also waiting until the warmer temperatures of May to emerge and begin their life in our orchard.
What tasks do I tend to first today? Madelyn's Baby Yoda birthday invitations sit unfinished on the table. The baby Yoda's still need their black felt eyes. There's a pathetic poinsettia struggling for life, the final holdover from Christmas. I'm honestly surprised it's lasted THIS long. I just completed the design on a brand new product label that we plan to launch either today or tomorrow. It will go up on our website and be available locally, most likely for web order pick ups or in our farm-stand once we get that item crossed off the list. The product is a compilation of many things. A product not produced BY us but rather for us so that we can share it with the world. A product we ourselves enjoy daily. Supporting other local businesses is a creed for us. If they thrive, then we thrive. This product is also a fun representation of what our farm represents, what we grow, and the history we share that makes our crop so richly important. I can so easily find ways to incorporate my favorite things into what we are doing here on our antique apple farm and am so excited to share it with you.
My oldest daughter is making crystals in the kitchen while I sit here and talk to you ( her school is closed Fridays, lucky for her, and lucky for us getting an extra couple hours of sleep!). She is waiting for me to close the laptop and head to the "big kitchen" as we call it, to begin assembling the new product. Erreck left for the great outdoors donned in his lined Carhartt bibs. No telling what he's up to. Likely cleaning the property of all the pine branch drops from that last wind storm. Our alfalfa stores are getting low so we will also be heading out to stock up for the remainder of winter. Plans have been underway for our permanent farm stand which will be built entirely of our own milled timbers. With wood costs going up, it's a blessing to have the wits and motivation to do these things for ourselves. I also believe it adds a certain richness to our farm, knowing the additions we make literally have our own blood sweat and tears poured into them.
My time is up! I hope to add more posts to our blog, it's something that does not come easy as time is precious. I hope that by sharing my daily life once in a while, it shows you the humility and simplicity of our personal life despite the highly demanding business that was born out of a small pan of syrup I once dreamed up in my kitchen.