Friday, January 18, 2008

We had a bit of snow overnight last night - light, fluffy snow that was (fortunately) easy to shovel. When it's so light like that, it can really pile high on leaves and branches and, well, anything outdoors, making for some interesting pictures!

Today it's cold - well, all week actually. The expected high for tomorrow is somewhere around 7 degrees. UGH. :( We hope a few people will come out and see us for Sample Sunday anyway! Picket Fence Creamery are having specials and sales - their cream is VERY much on sale, and they have new flavored butters - garlic, cinnamon, honey, and garden herb (featuring our herbs!). They are delicious and if you buy 3 you can get one free! We have lots of free samples of bath salts and milk baths in our sample basket, and have our Breathe Easy items (see below)on sale both on our website and in the store!

This breathe easy set is really lovely. Even if you don't have a cold or sinus issues right NOW, the thing to do is have this kinda stuff on hand in your herbal "medicine chest". Then you can grab it whenever you start to feel stuffy and alleviate the problem of having to wait 3 days for your natural sinus relief to arrive in the mail! (I am speaking from experience here! When I don't have this stuff on hand in my medicine chest here at home, I always regret it!) These last 2 weeks we've been flooded with people calling or coming in for our Breathe Easy wand, eucalyptus hydrosol and eucalyptus essential oil, becuase they and their kiddos have icky sinus congestion. 'tis the season...unfortunately. :(

So this past week, we've been making stuff like crazy in the shop. It's been quiet, so we have time to go through and re-stock the store in a methodical and organized fashion. We been so busy, we haven't been able to do that in MONTHS! It's really nice. :) Normally we'd do something like this around October. Usually by then the garden is put to bed, and the holiday craziness has not yet hit, so we have a few weeks simply to stock up and get our ducks (geese?) in a row. But this past October was a madhouse. The weather was beautiful and we had not yet had a killing frost, so we were distilling and harvesting our herbs. We had three BIG new wholesale accounts open up, and seemed to be just crazy busy with orders.

You will also start to notice that we have entirely new labels for all of our products. For years, we have printed our labels and handcut them all. But not we've decided to redesign our labels for a cleaner, more uniform look. Plus, they are now pre-cut, saving us ALOT of time and hassle! We are using a waterproof vinyl for many of our labels as well, so we hope they will look nicer, longer. We hope you will enjoy this new look. We're working on all new photographs of ALL of our products....another huge project. We will keep you posted on our progress.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Luxury Soap of the Month has arrived!!

And....we have 2 of them this month!

Due to a weather-related soapmaking problem, Geri was only able to provide us with 2 small batches. So we have a double-header! "Aphrodite" and "Sunrise". We have 16 bars of each...and they're going to go fast. These soaps are amazing! Containing hydrosols, silk, clay, shea butter, organic goat milk and essential oils - well, they're just fantastic. Details on the website!

A Day on the Farm

It's wintertime, and we've gotten past the holiday craziness. I thought I'd try and post a little bit about what a winter day on the herb farm is like.

Donna is an earlybird, so she is always up and about and doing stuff WAAAAAAAY before John and maggie arrive. She usually goes out early to feed the cats and let Beaker the Wondergoose out of his pen (we have to keep him penned up at night for his own safety, due to the neighbor dogs). She usually starts up the computer and does some emailing and pulls some orders before the shop is open at 10.

John and Maggie usually arrive 10ish (heavy on the ISH). We say hi to Beaker and all the dogs and cats (that takes a while...there are lots of dogs and cats at PLH).

The rhythm of our day is changeable, depending on what needs to be done. Filling orders and getting them in the mail are always our first priority. Donna usually pulls the orders, prints them, and answers the emails. This can take quite a while! All day, if it is a busy "order" day. Or only an hour if there are just a few orders.

Usually, while Donna is printing the orders, John will pack them while Maggie makes stuff. Of course this can change at any time depending on what needs to be done. If we need candles made, John will be in the classroom/chandlery doing that. If we are in the midst of making a TON of stuff (thousands of lip balms, let's say), then Donna will help with the laborious task of labelling and shrinkwrapping them. All in all, we do whatever needs to be done.

Of course one of the most important tasks is letting the dogs and cats in and out of the door. Those of you who have pets know what I am talking about!! Maggie has 2 dogs that come to work with her, and Donna has 3 dogs that live on the farm with her. We have assorted cats that live in the shop, Donna's house, or the barn (as they please). We don't let the pets in the manufacturing area, but they are allowed in the shop as they please. So plenty of time is alloted each day for letting the pets in an out, assuring everyone has proper "blankies", and generally spoiling them rotten.

Other things that may occur on any given day: Answering phones, setting up bus tours or classes, ordering the hundreds of packaging items or raw materials we use in our production, cleaning, organizing, bill-paying, filling wholesale orders, making deliveries, shopping, unpacking and putting away delivered items, working on the blog or website, discussing new products/changes/renovations, shoveling snow, researching, creating an enewsletter, taking photographs, designing labels, stocking the shelves, and a million other things that go into running a farm and small business.

We are a family business, and our family is VERY important to us! Donna's dad lives with her, and so of course he is part of the general action too. He likes to make us lunch, and we LOVE it when he cooks and bakes for us! Lunch is a kind of random affair. We are near a teensy town with hardly any restaurants and such....and Maggie is vegetarian which cuts down even further on food options in our tiny town. So we might get pizza once a week, or eat some goodies from our neighbors at Picket Fence Creamery (their cheeseball is a staple of our lunch diet!). Sometimes we don't have time to eat at all. Only one thing is guaranteed: if there is a lunch, the SECOND we sit down to eat, customers will arrive. No matter if it's at noon or at 3 or anytime in between! It's just guaranteed. Murphy's law, right?

Speaking of customers. We are a small store located in the middle of nowhere! So on a "normal' day, we may not have any customers are all. We may have TONS of customers. It is completely random! Generally speaking, Saturday's are our busier days in terms of having customers in the store. But in the winter especially, a day or two or perhaps even three might pass without us seeing a single customer in the store!

Toby, Donna's grandson, gets out of school and off the bus about 3:45, so from that time on, there's extra activity (generally involving action figures, playing in the snow, radio-controlled cars or possibly cartoon watching) that goes on between 3:45 and closing time. He is a good kid and loves to "help" make bath salts and such. :)

4:00 is post office time! The little post office in woodward closes at 4:30, so at 4:00 maggie loads the van with the day's packages and heads into town (about a mile drive). Our postal folks are AWESOME, we cannot say enough nice things about how helpful, pleasant, fun and wonderful they are!

After that, we finish up any projects we're working on (or get to a stopping point), and get ready to close down at 5:00.