What a wild year, 2023! Whew... out like a lion but not necessarily in terms of the weather.
We had a record year here at the farm and we are so incredibly grateful for our friends, family and community. This was our first year not participating in a Farmers Market and put a supreme focus on our on-site farm business and it was inspiring for sure.
I want to take a moment to reflect on our year; the good, bad and ugly. It was a year of growth, loss, sadness, energy, renovations and BIG plans!!!
Enjoy our recap and help us Welcome 2024 with a big smile!!!!
Enjoy this exhausting month-to-month recap of 2023:
January: We started off 2023 with a restart on my horse, Penny. I took my first re-ride on Jan 17th after a terrible fall the previous year.
This was a monumental experience with the help and support of great friends, Denise and Amanda. Little did we know how special our training bond would be and how it would end so abruptly in April 2023. Penny suffered a traumatic wound to her leg and was laid to rest on our farm on April 7th, 2023. Moments from our January training session will live on a legacy to the amazing horse she was growing up to be.
We also moved furniture into our new log cabin in the woods and enjoyed our first sip of whiskey with candle light.
February: An extremely controversial month for me personally and for my farm business. I officially added my name to the Town of Barnstead's March Ballot for a 3 year term on the Planning Board as a member. I had already been the Planning Board Clerk for a full year and was very knowledgeable with the existing board and the boards contribution to the town. Around the same time I began my marketing campaign a group of locals in and around my town began an extremely slanderous and defamatory campaign against me and my business. They used a podcast I recorded in 2022 entitled "Small Town Snobs" as a way to ruin my reputation. Ironically my podcast was a nationally played and highly revered message to women in small business and women farmers to protect their businesses from those who will try to take it away from them. Even more ironically, the same people who attacked me locally were former "friends" and professional colleagues in our small local farming network. These were people who I purchased product from for my retail store or even had as a guest on my podcast. Also important to note: some of the names listed are people I have never met or done business with. This is not a random list. These people very publically participated and instigated the entire charade.
Some of the names of those who participated in the dangerous slanderous and defamatory social media attack consisted of:
Amy Lemire, owner of Journeys End Maple Farm in Pittsfield, NH
Jenn Forest, owner of Half a Penny Farm in Barnstead, NH
Tess Vaillancourt ,owner of Tess' Treats in Barnstead, NH
Tricia Ayers, owner of Naboth Gardens in Chichester, NH
Alan Williams, failed farmer of Berry Pond Farm in Pittsfield, NH
Amy and Brian Matorazzo with Lorren Joyce Farm in Barnstead, NH
and ladies I have never met or know:
Heather Tower, Beth Lynn Lewis and Marie Rauche.
These people went beyond to harass my personal friends and business associates. Heather Tower even went on to attack my husbands barn building business by offering a 1 star google review. (She has never had any business dealings with my husband) and created a campaign to boycott my farm store.
As shocking and unsettling as this was to experience, I won my election and garnered even more support and farm business from their attempts to take me down. You might find that some people with maturity and ethics are turned off by bullying. Our local community was not happy with the petty behavior that was being broadcasted on social media and showed their support for my business by coming to see me in person, sending me messages and cards, and buying from my store. Goodness does prevail.
We chose not to respond to any of the petty behavior online and just went on about our business. I had proven to be collaborator and supporter of local agriculture. They proved to be the latter. Do what you want with the listed names. I know I will never support their business' ever again and learned a valuable lesson: forgiveness and moving on are two totally different things. I have chosen to move on.
February was also a fun month of continued horse training, moving in to the new log cabin and snowshoeing at the farm.
March: Our breed sow, Mabel-line, had her first healthy litter of piglets. We welcomed 3 new breeder rabbits to our rabbit barn. We continued to focus on fresh baked items at the farm store, hot soups and snowshoeing.
Renovations continued at the log cabin. Planning for Barnstead's Old Home Day started as well. I joined as a board member to help kick off the return of the traditional town event.
Our farm was preparing for the our Open Farm Day event for August 2023 as well. It was the busy time to get stuff done before the busy summer season.
April: Jared packed up his building business and made a trip to Ohio to begin building a custom home for a personal friend. April 7, 2023 was the day I said goodbye to my best friend and horse companion of 6 years, Penny. April was on the saddest and loneliest month of the entire year.
May: Jared was still in Ohio so not much was happening in terms of renovations at the farm. I purchased 200 meat birds, moved the piglets outside and started raising quail. My other horse, Tango, was going through some health issues and paddock buddies after the loss of Penny. We focused on ground driving and light riding around the farm. May was also the month I met Ryder, our new mustang horse.
June: June was all about horses!!!
My friend Nikki and I planned a fun trip to Upstate New York to camp with our horses. Tango had a blast!!! We already have plans to return in 2024.
Our garden was finally planted. Over half of my baby christmas trees were accidentally mowed over by our landscaper. We got zero peaches from our tree and a chipmunk stole all of my cherries.
June 30th we brought our new horse, Ryder, home. I also finalized a settlement with the butcher facility that burned down with our pigs in it from April 2022. It felt good to finally get that behind us and move on.
July: I enjoyed July 4th at my friends house. Jared finally came home from his building project in Ohio. He had been gone since April! He surprised me with a 1964 Corvair Monza (my dream car) that he picked up while in Ohio. July it rained and rained and rained. I lost several truck loads of footing for Ryder's new paddock. I did have a healthy harvest of lettuce though!!!!! I also attended a ranch cow clinic in Maine and got to try my hand at moving some cows around. It was a bit different from the time I was in Montana in 2022 moving hundreds of cows around on my mountain cow pony, Cob.
We installed the large parking lot in place of the former barn foundation from the big old barn we tore down in 2020. We focused on big landscaping plans around the property including new fencing and interior roads thanks to the new excavator machine we purchased.
August: BUSY MONTH of Barnstead Old Home Day and our Open Farm Day!!!! Our Open Farm Day event was the biggest event we had hosted since we began in 2016. This year we were excluded from participating in the "new" version of the Open Farm Day event that was taken over by some people in town (refer to February's list for reference) but that didn't stop us from hosting a fabulous community event and making tons of new friends!!!! Site work started for my new outdoor riding arena, Ryder wore his first saddle and we attended our friends wedding at their new horse barn.
September: September.... what happened in September? Oh yeah!!! I remember!!!! Tango fell down a rocky ravine and broke a tooth, broke her jaw, managed a large puncture wound to her top lip, front knee, back stifle and dozens of superficial wounds. She was not okay. I was not okay. Her wounds were extensive and treatment was invasive. She was treated same day at the emergency equine hospital and was able to return home for treatment only to be readmitted again for swelling and infection.
We finally finished the outdoor riding arena and began doing a lot of ground work with Ryder and rehab for Tango.
October: Bean Harvest, Fryeburg Fair, antique truck, log cabin sleep overs. All great ways to try to forget about the whole week Tango was hospitalized for her infection from her fall in September. We were finally starting to see recovery for her in sight and just kept busy with the farm and building barns.
November: November 8th we said goodbye to our dearly loved dog, Hex. Hex would have been 15 years old in 2024. She was our first dog together as a couple and was a huge part of us seeking out this farm. It was all for her so she could roam and bounce around through the tall grass and weave between the tall trees in the forest. Hex had been showing her age the past 2 years and we knew to listen to her when she said it was her time. She was crystal clear and we helped her as she passed peacefully. Losing her was devastating and opened a very fresh wound from the loss of my horse Penny just months earlier. We buried them next to each other in the field facing due East.
December: Its hard to even imagine how much we have already accomplished in all of the months prior but our plans to expand our farm business was trucking right along!!! We broke ground on the new event barn and the building materials arrived and the post starting going up. WHAT AN EXCITING TIME FOR THE FARM!!!! Our plans are limitless with this barn design.
We also returned to Podcasting and decided not to let some mean girls ruin my opportunity to share with other women in small business and farming.
I finally bought the dream horse trailer with a camper in the front. I started riding Tango ago and layed on the back of my mustang Ryder for the first time. We started the month with the help of two local girls, Emms and Dalis, and also welcomed 2 healthy litters of baby bunnies.
If you're feeling exhausted after reading our year-in-review then you have literally just flown through the short version of the everyday life of us farmers. The work is endless. The energy is fleeting but the excitement never dies.
Our plans for 2024: EVENT BARN!
Our barn build will take some time but once it is complete we anticipate being able to offer so much more to our community.
And speaking of Community. We do all of this for you! What started as a small hobby farm for us has turned into a large farm production with a goal to get as much of our pasture raised meats to you. We could not do this without you and for that we are grateful.
No doubt 2023 presented us with some challenges but the support we felt from you made it all worth it.
We can't wait to host you in 2024.