Well it's March 7th and time keeps flying by. I did a Facebook Live with an update and our plans, CLICK HERE if you wan to listen to that show. Or just follow along here.
Well our 13 ducklings became the Lucky 12. There are a few theories about how unlucky 13 met his demise. My money is on a cat attack. So the ducklings are 11 weeks old. The males are almost as big as Henry now. As a group they are eating a 40# bag of feed every 3-4 days. Along with free ranging 12 hours a day. We are trying to build our Muscovy flock. The plan is to sell of 3-5 of the duckling males for Easter Dinners. 2 are already spoken for. If you are in the area and would like to order one. Please contact us. Will probably bring in another 2 females from other flocks to help get us on a good diverse genetics footing.
I have been shooting a 1 Minute Video of the ducks a few days a week and publishing with #1minuteduck if you are interested in relaxing duck videos check this out HERE.
Our Greenhouse fill out project continues. Our goal of 10,000 starts by May 1 was looking good, until the late February snow. But we are getting back on track. Finding free wire racks on craigslist was going too slowly, so we went with cinder blocks and 4x4 posts. So 8' long shelves, 3 layers high + the ground level (can be used in the greenhouse - outside it's duck territory). Since we didn't get the mass heater finished yet, we moved a bunch of racking inside to help start the more heat needing seeds. So far we have started oregano, thyme, sage, parsley, broccoli, garlic, onions, a few different tomatoes, 5 or 6 kinds of different peppers, borage, bee balm, California poppy, fennel, marigolds, a few different lettuce, and the list grows by the day.
Our Coffee Business continues to grow. I spent a day at the UNIC USA HQ up north of Seattle. Working with Chris Ernotte testing a few of my Espresso Blends on super automatic and old school manual machines. By the end of the day, our Harmony Espresso Blend was born. It produces beautiful crema, with a faint cherry citrus back flavor. Chris was also gracious enough to bless Candice and myself with tickets to the SCA Coffee Expo in April. We are going to spend the expo making contacts and reconnecting with all my old Specialty Coffee World pals. Our goal is to start a few direct trade relationships. Certifications are only a substitute for a true direct trade relationship.
We are moving from a specialty add on menu to the main page at The MILL. With the Spring menu our French Press Single Origin Gold Cup Standard Coffee Service will get top billing. Please stop in and enjoy a personal pot and some incredible locally sourced, from scratch made to order food. The line caught Steelhead Benedict was my favorite on the winter menu. Can't wait to see what else spring brings.
The Kickstarter that ended in February crashed and burned. But we learned a number of useful lessons. Our logo was not good enough to be used in anything real. So we paid a pro and got a redesign in high def files. Now shirts, hats, mugs, and everything else merchandise can now start to exist.
Harmony Blend Espresso
We developed this Espresso Blend for our local drive through shops. This is a 3 bean post blend that was optimized for professional espresso machines. It produces beautiful crema, intense flavors with bright citrus notes. A perfect base for making Mochas and Lattes of all flavors. Enjoy.
The biggest update is I was interviewed on The Podcast "Living Free in Tennessee". This gal is a homesteader, website builder, business coach, and coffee roaster that I met at a workshop in Dallas. LISTEN HEAR. Well that was a good enough interview, I have been offered a weekly produced Podcast Show on a new NW Podcast network that is currently under construction. The super cool thing is the network is owned by a Not For Profit Charity. Out of The Grey. They are dedicated to help the 1 in 5 people in Washington state who are full time care givers. So I'll go into the studio and record about 4 shows at a time. They will handle all the production, editing, hosting, publishing, etc... We are looking for show sponsors and advertisers. You will get the first 6 weeks free as a proof of concept. Will also give me practice reading ad copy. Stay tuned. I'll let everyone know when we start recording.
And lastly, the Air B&B project is rolling. We are creating a 1 bed - shared laundry/ bath space. Should be rentable by June 1 if anyone wants to visit Seattle roast some coffee and see the farm.
Well it's been a super busy fall.
We had a raccoon attack that took out all but 1 of the ducklings and 1 of the moms. We learned another good lesson and rebuilt the coop out of cinder block inside of our greenhouse. That still didn't stop the coons. We heard something going on in the greenhouse, so I went to check in the middle of the night. Seems the coon figured out the doggie door into the greenhouse. We had a little chase about for a few minutes. He made a break for the doggie door and I got off 1 good shot with the air rifle. We haven't seen him since.
So the Mommy Muscovy that survived just hatched out 13 new ducklings last week. We just need to add in 1 more male to help mix up the genetics. The restocking begins. Hopefully by spring we'll start moving them the new Food Forest Farms property the Key Peninsula. We just need some basic infrastructure.
We are hard at work starting seeds and getting ready for the spring markets. Our goal is 10,000 starts in stock on MAY 1. Will take a ton of work. We are hunting stainless steel racking on craigslist. We are expanding as fast as we can create the space. If we Max out our greenhouse, my neighbor has agreed to a hoop house in her back yard. So anther 400SF of temp controlled space for starts.
Candice has been hard at work making a few new soap recipes. Her newest creation includes organic local honey and oats. Check out the soap page here.
The coffee roasting business has really taken off. We are now being served in a French Press service, to Gold Cup Standards, at our favorite Farm to Table bistro- The Mill of Milton. We also started hunting down lots of vintage coffee mugs, and sourced some nice bamboo baskets. Check out all of our gift baskets in case you need a unique hand made present.
We are adding a new Organic Nicaraguan bean this week. Very smooth, chocolate and hazelnut flavors. Can't wait to get a few roasts into it and find out what kind of roast sets it off best. Other than that, we are just shipping, and spending the week before Christmas with family. Happy Solstice! They days start getting longer this Thursday. Stay Warm.
Well the weather cooperated for us on this last day for the Federal Way Farmers Market. We met a lot of great folks. Seems super fresh roasted coffee samples brings a crowd. We were across from the entertainment booth. Liefy Greens was playing some soulful guitar. We are going to have coffee next week and discuss a private label venture.
Investing in the generator to ROAST LIVE is going to be a big hit come spring market. We also received great feedback on all of Candice's Hand Crafted Soaps. People really liked that at least 1 ingredient in each bar came directly from our farm.
Had an interesting discussion with the Puget Sound Energy rep that thought he knew a bit about LED lighting. He knew the costs, not the real uses and benefits. The newer 5watt chips are truly commercial grade lighting for a much smaller electric foot print. ALWAYS wear your safety classes when working under them. The UV chips can do some damage that adds up.
Much interest in the Duck Eggs, since we put up the real banner. Had to let everyone know about the raccoon attack and the loss of most of our layers. We will rebuild the flock ASAP and try to get ready for the opening of the Market in May. From the feedback, we will sell as many as we can bring.
We are also looking for small espresso stands or restaurants that would like a World Class Coffee at below Starbucks pricing. So anyone using 20+ pounds per month. Make us an introduction and we will reward you handsomely in beautiful fresh coffee.
Brian & Candice
Food Forest Farms
new Ok - as predicted, fall sped life up a bit. For pictures please see our facebook page.
Last weekend we did the Federal Way Farmers Market Bazzar. We sold products from all categories. Potted plants, Fresh Roasted Coffee, hand made Soaps, and permaculture Catnip. I posted a quick pic up to a regenerative Ag site I'm on, and got some awesome instant feedback. Made a few booth changes and, traffic picked up. It was a great day connecting with new clients.
Then Monday I drove over to the other side of the state to pick up our new coffee roaster, and visit an old friend.
Thanks for the really nice and comfy bed brother Karl. Love the new house. Good Luck on your new Real-estate path. If you need a home, farmland, or BOL near Spokane WA or Couer d' Alene ID. Hit Karl up He is 100% about focus on the details.
After a nice farmland breakfast at a local diner, I drove over to Eastern Washington Coffee Crafters to meet the team and pick up our new Artisan 2.5 roaster. It will roast about 15#/hour. We chose the Artisan 2.5 because it was a non computer controlled roaster, to maximize the art of micro roasting, that utilized the abundant hydro-electric power of the pacific NW. We will also be able to roast at farmers markets and local events, with the help of a new generator. So, if you can think of any events that are vending friendly near Seattle/Portland. Let us know.
Well August and September went by in a blur. We did take 3 days off for a trek to Dick's Stadium in Colorado to refresh and recharge our soles with 8000 of our favorite Phish phriends. It was an awesome 3 days of nothing but Music, Dance, Eat, Sleep, REPEAT! Can't wait til they come on back to the Gorge. But that's another day. Time to buckle down into the fall.
Going forward we have selected Muscovy will be our duck of choice to go big with. Faster growth rate makes it ideal meat bird, as well as their natural ability to hatch and raise chicks without "technology" interventions. They just need a safe place from predators. As we cull out the remaining Pekin/Mallards we have found selling them will not be an issue. Market demand is high for pastured free range duck on the West Coast. A big THANK YOU to Daniel for his patience and steady hand teaching me how to butcher them properly. You are a great mentor in all things wild game, and I appreciate it immensely.
We were able to rent a brush hog and get about .5-1 acre completely cleared. It almost killed me. With all the new "safety" equipment on them, the new brush hog is almost worthless. They climb the vegetation and then do the cutting when you back them up. Took way too much effort. figured we would have to rent one at least 20 more times to get it done. Plan has now changed to working our tails off and stashing cash for a small used tractor/loader. Way easier to get the blackberry cleared and then will be very helpful for all projects in the future.
We just put an ad up on Craigslist and Facebook to try and find a tenant to occupy the farm in the near term. The income will be used to drop in the electric, and then start to build perimeter fencing. We are still thinking and doing research on the best fence system for us. Upcycling is our first choice. Whatever ends up going in needs to be compatible with becoming an electric fence as soon as we get that far. Plan is also to completely clear a good 5' internal and external so we can zip around with a wheeled thing and do maintenance quickly in the future.
Hunting season is also here. We are listing up on HipCamp.com to try and get a few campers in before the end of the year. Happy Fall!
July was a very busy month on the farmstead! We took possession of our new acreage over on the Key Peninsula, also known as the sunny key. The new farm is perfectly on the way to nowhere. Down near Joemma Beach and Penrose Point State Parks.
We were able to dig up 3 limits of clams at Joemma the weekend we went camping to see what the area was like. Currently the property is covered with 6-8' tall blackberry bushes. We are planning on renting a brush hogg and knocking it down so we can get a good look at the ground we now own. So far we have only been able to machete out one path.
As with all new projects in the country side, the old neighbors need to adjust to the new reality of having neighbors. Put up a game cam in a pretty easy area to spot. A 2 legged creature took it down and smashed it up. Going to acquire some better, stealthier cams and see who thinks our land is theirs to use. Week after we put up the first steel cable gate, we rolled up on our down the road neighbor - passed out in his car in our driveway. After we startled him awake, he said he was there because that spot had better internet. He clearly got the message we really meant the NO TRESPASS- just like the signs we posted. We shall see how this progresses. Tweakers gonna Tweak.
Our next July adventure was a week at Mayfield Lake Park. Camping and fishing with the kids all week. Culminating in a fishing derby Saturday night, followed by a fishfry and campfire.
The Muscovey flock had 2 babies. So we are experiencing duck development from the beginning. Our little yellow guy was found dead in the pond. We think a hawk tried to get him and broke his neck. Duck #2, is a yellow and brown duckling. Doing fine and growing fast. More pics in August.
The coffee launch has been going fabulous. We will run out of sample bags a day or 2 before our next scheduled roast day. About perfect. If you have tried it, please leave a comment or 2 here, or our Facebook page www.fb.com/foodforestfarms
Well its been a busy week around the Farmstead. We are now 30 days out from the beginning of Dungeness crabbing season. We had/have a little 16' Arima (fantastic local dual hull boat maker) to go after Salmon and Crab out in the Puget Sound. We named her S.B. Sasquatch. There is much debate as to the S.B. part of her name. If anyone guesses it correctly in the comments - a 12oz bag of coffee is coming to you. I took it in this spring to get it ready and the folks at Auburn Marine told me to scrap her, wasn't worth fixing. A new 50hp was looking like 5k - and I didn't have that! My buddy Nick was a Marine Mechanic in his past and told me to drag it down to his homestead. Motor and lifters have been completely rebuilt for a faction of new. Steering goes in this week. Sea trial next. We will be ready for the harvest.
Radish are all up and rolling. Estimate about a week left before those are ready. Super fast crop. The carrots next to them are all poking along. Lettuce and kale starts need to get potted up this week.
We upgraded both pond pumps to true waterfall pumps from Harbor Freight - with a 2 year warranty. I'm betting they fail before 2 years. We shall see. Visit our FB page and say hello.
Food Forest Farms - Owned and Operated by Brian & Candice Norton