We’ve been watching the weather quite closely the last couple weeks. Between wanting to have the windows open during the day, making sure we close them before the rain starts, to figuring out if we need to add more straw to the coops to help keep the birds warm, there is always some reason one of us will check the weather 73 times a day.
We knew there would be a storm last night, and we knew there would be wind. We made sure stuff that could blow away was put somewhere safe, and there wouldn’t be trash blown around the yard or something annoying like that. We woke up this morning and found nothing out of place, other than a few small twigs blown off trees, which is normal for any amount of wind here. And then I looked out the back window…
One of our shelters for the sheep and goats was blown onto its back side. Somehow, the wind was strong enough to blow something over that we couldn’t move without a tractor. But nothing else blew around or blew over. I am a little bit convinced the goats just had a raucous party, and knocked it over.
Thankfully, no one was injured, and nothing was damaged. You can even see an intact goose egg near the base of it! It was VERY close to hitting the fence, and we were quite worried we would have some urgent fence repairs to take on this morning. We got very lucky.
Thankfully, the fence was spared. The corrugated roof managed to hold up the weight of the shelter, plus the addition of some naughty goats bounding around inside.
We are very lucky that nothing was severely damaged. We hope all of you fared well during last night’s storm!
Picture this: A chilly winter afternoon, I decided to make a batch of turkey chili, with some of our delicious pasture raised turkey that we ground and froze. I get half the ingredients into the dutch oven, grab the container of chili powder, and it’s empty. SERIOUSLY? You can’t have chili without chili powder!!! What was I supposed to do? I was really looking forward to this chili. So to Google I went to see if I could find a substitute for chili powder. Lo and behold, I found several great recipes for home made chili powder. I combined them together, and made some tweaks, and came up with this deliciousness. It will keep for a long time if you put it in an air tight jar.
Ingredients -1/4 cup paprika (regular, not smoked) -1 Tbsp garlic powder -1 Tbsp onion powder -1/2 Tbsp oregano -1/2 Tbsp ground cumin -1 tsp cayenne pepper -optional: 1/2 tsp Old Hickory Smoked Salt from Spice Islands (See note at bottom of recipe)
Combine all ingredients in a container that can be sealed. We put ours in a canning jar. Put lid on and shake to combine. Use like you would store-bought chili powder. Will keep for up to a year.
Note regarding Old Hickory Smoked Salt: This isn’t just your regular smoked salt. It contains cocoa, which adds an extra level of flavor. It can be omitted entirely, or replaced with a dash of smoked salt and a good sized pinch of cocoa.
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The Marshall Area Farmers Market happens every Saturday, year round, in the City Of Marshall. From May through October, it is in a parking lot on West Green Street, and November through April, it’s located within the Calhoun County Fairgrounds. We at Frontière Farm House have been vendors for three years, and we thoroughly enjoy the atmosphere, the vendors, and the wonderful customers.
To improve the quality of the market, and lower our collective impact as shoppers and vendors, we have decided to start a Market Bag Sharing Program. Everyone is eligible to participate, all vendors will be a part of this if they would like to be, and there is no cost!
“What is the Market Bag Sharing Program?” Many of us are familiar with the Have A Penny, Leave A Penny cups at cash registers all over the place. This is a similar concept, but for shopping bags. If you are like us, you have tote bags, and reusable shopping bags shoved in corners in your home and vehicles. Most of us have far more than we could ever need, yet we never have them at the right time. We will have a shared pool of market bags available to shoppers at the market whenever they are needed. Once you are done with the bag, return it. And you can return any extra bags you have laying around for other folks to use.
“Why are you doing this?” We want to lessen our collective impact on the environment by lowering the demand for single use plastic bags. This will have the added bonus of lowering expenses for the farmers and other vendors.
“How much does it cost to participate?” Nothing!
“How do I participate?” All you need to is borrow a bag when you need it, and return it when you are finished! There will be a couple locations to acquire bags at the market. Grab one at the beginning of your shopping, and grab more as needed.
“I love the idea! I want to buy bags to donate!” PLEASE NO! As much as we appreciate your enthusiasm, we are trying to lower the need for more physical items to be made. Please do not purchase bags to add to this program. There will be plenty of bags circulating, and we will put a call out for more bags to be donated if we start running low.
“I am a participant at another market, can I start this program there?” Please do! The more markets that participate, the better. We would love if you let us know about your market participating!
Our only requests when you participate is that when you return bags into circulation that they are clean and in good condition. We also request that you try to return as many bags as you borrow. We understand forgetting them occasionally, but we would like to keep the bags cycling as frequently as possible. In addition, please only return reusable bags into circulation, not single use bags. Our final request is that you keep this program positive. Don’t ruin the fun for everyone else!
Since starting the farm, we have had folks from all over the place follow us on social media. We regularly get comments and messages asking how people can support us from afar. And we’ve finally come up with a solution!
Over the course of the last few days, we’ve signed up for Patreon!
What’s Patreon? Basically, patrons (people like you!) sign up to support us. You can choose the level you support at, and that determines what kind of benefits you get. Extra behind the scene photos, sponsoring a feeding, sponsoring a blog post, and more rewards are coming soon. It’s an easy way to support artists and creators and other small businesses without having to be nearby.
So what does this mean for the blog, and all of you? Well, if you don’t want to send us a couple bucks a month, that’s totally fine! Nothing here will change other than seeing the occasional “This blog post was sponsored by *whomever*” on a few posts.
Why did we sign up for Patreon? Well, in short, farming costs money. We spend time and resources sharing our content with everyone, and some people want to support us. This just makes it easier! No one is obligated to support us, but we would be very appreciative if you did!
Finding inspiration from a bunch of other blogs, we decided to work on an “Uberlist” for Frontière Farm House. These are mostly my (Nicole) goals, with some that are for both of us to accomplish together. I am hoping that by sharing them with all of you, I will keep myself more accountable, and follow through on them. I may not update about the progress on each one, especially the more personal ones, but I will do my best to keep everyone updated on the ones that are farming related
My four categories are Self, Farm, Fiber, and Home. Those are four areas that I would like to see more personal growth this year. I will give more information on why we chose a goal, or what exactly it means, when we start updating. So, without further adieu, here is our 2020 Uberlist:
SELF get a drivers license
FARM blog 2x/mo for the farm
FIBER share another free knitting pattern
SELF/FIBER/HOME get her office functional
HOME put up closet door curtains in her office
HOME get his office functional
FARM get all the rest of the business licensing squared away for selling other meats
FARM get lamb in the freezer
FARM get another meat consignor
FIBER keep one Jacob fleece to play with
FIBER start playing with a spinning wheel
FIBER knit something for me with OUR YARN!!!
FIBER knit something for Bob with OUR YARN!!!
FIBER get other fleeces processed in a timely manner
FIBER make dryer balls
HOME get all the freezers organized
HOME get rid of upright freezer and replace with chest freezer
SELF go on at least one good walk with Luna weekly
FARM get to ??? posts on Instagram
FARM continue Tomorrow At The Market posts every week
FIBER finish up as many unfinished knits as I possibly can
FIBER frog any unfinished knitting projects that don’t spark joy/lost their needles/etc
FIBER knit enough items to do shows in the fall/winter
FIBER do at least two non-farmers market shows
FIBER consign knitted stuff somewhere
HOME get garage park-able
HOME get saws back to Todd
HOME organize spare barn stall
HOME/FARM get shelving in barn organized
SELF get eyes examine
SELF get teeth cleaned
SELF get tea cupboard under control
SELF drink tea at least once a week
SELF make cold brew coffee at least a handful of times in the warm months
FARM sell gravity wagon
FARM sell hoop house OR put it up
FARM get birds in movable layer coops
FARM re-seed south pasture
FARM/HOME build raised beds for personal gardening
FARM/HOME grow herbs on front porch in pots
FARM build new shelters for fuzzy beasts
HOME clean all the crap out of the attic
HOME insulate the attic
HOME fix moldy spot in ceiling from leaky roof
HOME finish painting the spots we never finished
HOME acquire baseboards and install them
HOME get all the art framed/mounted
HOME get all the art on the walls
HOME investigate new trash collector options
FARM get round pen cleaned up
HOME get two stupid trees in front of house cut down
HOME get junk pile at end of driveway cleaned up
HOME use gravel to repair driveway
HOME get new mailbox
FARM raise 20+ meat ducks
FARM raise 80+ meat turkeys
FARM raise 200+ meat chickens
FARM raise 5+ meat geese
SELF earn $1000+ through Amazon Affiliate marketing
FARM do another CustomInk campaign
FARM order another batch of StickerMule stickers
FARM figure out how to package and sell smoking wood bundles
FIBER attend two or more fiber festivals
FIBER vend/co-vend at one or more fiber festivals
FARM add at least three videos to YouTube
HOME get garbage disposal wired in
HOME get outlet on kitchen island fixed
HOME get kitchen wood shelf cleaned off and organized
SELF go on a date once a month and pay attention to each other instead of our phones
SELF see a therapist at least 4 times
FARM run some sort of giveaway on Facebook
HOME get thresholds installed throughout house
HOME get that stupid piece of trim attached to the kitchen island thing
HOME get dining table cleared off consistently
HOME/SELF eat dinner at the dining table 2x monthly
HOME/FIBER empty out current yarn storage
HOME sell/donate all the current yarn storage I don’t need
HOME make 1+ bread pudding a month while we are overwhelmed with eggs
FARM find a business to work with regularly to collect food scraps for the chickens
FARM/HOME organize all the egg cartons
HOME get vent grate for dining room
HOME get hutch into office if it fits/works with layout
FIBER knit at least five items with scraps
FARM get all the animal’s profiles up on the website
SELF get a tattoo
SELF go on a mini vacation (at least one night away from home)
FARM plant garlic
FARM/HOME harvest raspberries from patch/property perimeter
HOME/SELF make something with those raspberries
HOME can tomato sauce
HOME can apple stuff
HOME make five+ batches of sauerkraut
FARM investigate camelid acquisition
FARM have Doctor Walker out to the farm at least twice for general herd health
FARM/SELF write at least one article to be published elsewhere
HOME sell lawn sweeper
HOME clean all the windowsills/windows
FARM get gate wheels under gates that need it
FARM put welded wire on gates that need it
FARM figure out pasture rotation and stick with it
SELF join Jodi in some creative endeavor
SELF get personal email inbox under control
FARM/FIBER register the farm with JSBA
FARM register original three sheep
FARM register this year’s offspring
HOME clean out lazy Susan and re-organize it
SELF attend ??? DCFC matches
SELF intentionally hang out with a friend at least 10 times
SELF bake bread at least once
SELF ride a horse
HOME fill all the holes in the baseboards and trim
HOME fully organize master closet
FIBER make 5+ things on the weaving looms
HOME repair/replace downspouts as needed
FARM get Facebook page to 2000 likes
FARM get Instagram to 1700 follows
SELF take Luna to a pool/lake at least once
SELF read 10+ books
FARM/SELF milk a sheep/goat/cow by hand
FARM/SELF make soap/candles/something similar at least once
These goals may be removed, replaced, or modified at any time. If a goal will no longer assist in moving us forward, we will make adjustments as needed.
As you can see with goal number 2, we plan on blogging more in 2020. I already have a loose idea of what I want to share more of, and I am working on a posting calendar. We look forward to sharing this progress with all of you! And I would love to see your goals for 2020, please leave a link in the comments!
Lately, we have had seen several people asking about setting up at farmers markets, and what sorts of tents/tables/signage work the best. We are in our third year of vending at our local market, but I have been doing handmade markets for over a decade. I have seen many different setups that work, and many more that just… do not… We are going to share some of what we have for our market setup, and why we’ve chosen them. What works for us may not work for you. Consider this a jumping off point for your market booth.
The most important item, for us anyway, is a really good, sturdy tent. We used to have a cheap canopy from Kmart, but we upgraded this year to a 10 x 10 Eurmax brand tent. It’s heavier, but it’s way sturdier, and looks much more professional. It’s available in a bunch of different colors. However, the downside to this is that the sun filtering through is tinted the color of the tent, and can make some of your products look weird and unappealing. You can purchase the tents that come with the side walls, or buy them afterwards. We bought one when we realized the sun was roasting our veggies while still on the table! The only thing we don’t use from this pack are the leg weights. They are heavy! You absolutely need tent weights though. Our “cheat”? Five gallon buckets filled with water! They come to the market empty, and weight next to nothing. We fill them with water at the market, and use a bungee cord to attach them to the top of the tent.
The next most important item are tables. We buy ours on sale from Menards, Home Depot, or wherever we find them. We like to buy them in person so we can see how heavy they are. Folding tables are easiest for us, but standard tables might work for you. They get set up in a T or L shape, depending on where our booth is located, and how much stock we have. Most customers don’t want to enter your tent, so having the tables at the front of the booth is ideal. However, if it’s really hot and sunny out, they will often appreciate the extra shade. Make sure your tables are sturdy, the same height, and able to support the weight you will put on them.
The tables will look best if covered. We ordered some inexpensive grey tablecloths off Amazon that look great against our products. Again, you can get something more colorful, but keep in mind that the sunlight might make your products look a little weird. I would personally stay away from white, black, or anything patterned. You want your products to be the focus, and you don’t want them sitting on a table that will look filthy (white cloths) or absorb all the heat and cook everything (black). This seller has a ton of different table cloth options, in different colors and sizes. They are easy to wash, and we hang them to dry. They are polyester, so they dry really fast. We definitely suggest having at least one spare table cloth, or even an extra set. We seem to forget them at home a couple times a season, and having a backup set in your bin of market supplies can be a lifesaver!
Our market banner is from Staples. We used their online design option, and picked it up in store a couple days later. This is something we have been complimented on more times than I can count. We are planning on getting another one made that is a little more colorful, but this one was made in a rush, and we didn’t have time to find the photos we needed. The good thing is, it’s inexpensive enough to just have a handful of them for different markets. We have it attached to the tent frame with bungee cords. We can never have enough bungees on the farm, and both of our vehicles have a handful stored in them at all times. You never know when you need to hold something in place!
We also decided to splurge on a chalkboard sign. It isn’t super expensive, but it’s definitely a nice bonus item that has helped us out a lot. I spent an afternoon putting our social media links on one side of it, and we have the other side as our actual advertising side. At some point, we are going to have someone redo the permanent side, and seal it with clear coat. We also suggest using chalk markers instead of actual chalk. It is easier to read, easier to clean off, less likely to be smudged by people or in transit, and just generally cleaner. The pack we got has colors that are easy to read when it’s bright out, or not so bright.
The rest of our set up changes depending on what we have for sale. We have a couple coolers with ice packs for our frozen meat. We will be upgrading to actual freezers in the near future. We also have a cooler for our eggs, with ice packs. For this one, we made sure that egg cartons would fit in without too much wiggle room. This keeps the eggs secure while driving to the market. We have brought egg cartons into stores to test fit. It looks silly, but the peace of mind knowing they won’t slide around and smash everything is totally worth it.
We have picked up a few wooden crates, canning jars, as well as pots and pans to hold produce on the table. We like to have enough where it looks like a full display, but it isn’t so full it’s going to topple over. Many types of greens do best when kept in water, so we do that as needed.
For our own comfort, we usually bring a chair, and squishy stress relief mats to stand on. This, along with comfortable shoes, makes the market day much more bearable. We are also sure to stay hydrated with water, and try to eat something somewhat healthy. It’s easy to fill up on pastries from the other vendors, but we try to also have some fruit or veg, and protein.
Finally, one of the most important things: SIGNAGE! We have laminated some cards with our farm logo, and we use a dry erase marker to put the prices and item name on them. This looks neat and tidy, and makes it easier for people to see what the prices are and not have to ask us. We either weight them down with the items we are selling, or tape them to the table/cooler.
In addition to all these big things, we have a couple bins with market supplies. Some of the supplies include:
Locking cash box filled with small bills and quarters
Shopping bags (we reuse the ones from the grocery store)
Scissors or a knife
Roll of paper towels
A bottle of water
This is just a little peek into what we bring to the market every week. This changes slightly depending on weather, which market we are vending at, and if we remember to pack everything. We keep everything stored in one spot in the barn, so it’s easy to go out and grab all of it early in the morning before market days. Look at this post as more of guidelines rather than instructions to follow. What you bring to the market will be different depending on what you sell, but this seems like a good spot to start. We hope you find this helpful, and we wish you success at your markets!
Frontière Farm House is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon. If you click a link in this post, we may earn a small commission. This does not cost you anything, and helps us cover the costs associated with farming.
Last week, we got a message online from a writer at the local newspaper. He was interested in interviewing us about the unseasonable weather we’ve had in our area lately, and we were more than happy to have him come and visit.
Brooks Hepp, from Battle Creek Enquirer, came over that evening and we chatted while sitting on some inverted five gallon buckets, in our incredibly untidy garage. He had done some research on us, and asked some great questions. We then walked around the property so he could meet the animals and get some photos.
A few days later, super early in the morning, we received a message via Facebook. We found out we were on the front page! This was way more than we expected, and was really, really cool. We jumped out of bed and headed to the local gas station. We bought them out of Enquirers, and headed to another location as well.