the things in life you are passionate about are not random :: they are your calling

Now that flower & bee is in it’s second year, I no longer feel like I have to explain to people what I do.

I just say, “I’m a flower farmer”.

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Sure, there are lots of things I could say to fill in that picture…I’m also a floral designer, I use organic practices, I grow over 200 varieties of flowers, I have a business partner, I used to grow vegetables, I used to raise animals, I used to milk cows, sometimes I feel guilty that I don’t produce food.  I went to school for art, I grew up in the city, no its not my parents farm.

And they always want to know, ‘how I became a flower farmer’.  I think they assume I grew up doing this, or that it’s what I always wanted to do and I just had to learn the details.  But really its been such a journey.  Sometimes I tell them all about it…but usually I feel like they don’t believe me anyways, all the twists, and the reason for the decisions or moves I made.  So I usually just keep it short.

I’ve tried all versions of these the last few years, but now, I don’t feel the need to explain all that.  This is what I do.  And that’s that.

And I DO.  That is what I do!  It has fully consumed this last summer, nearly everyday, and just about every waking hour of my thoughts.  Sometimes I get tired of the ‘figuring out’ of it all, and than I feel liked I’m being lazy, but than I look back at all these pictures from the season, and I’m like…oh yeah!  That was a lot of work and a lot to figure out!

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We grew and arranged flowers for just over 20 weddings this year, provided a bouquets each week to 20 people, provided arrangements for a few pop up dinner in Milwaukee, and a few farm to table dinners in the area.

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We’re trying to do more installation work for these weddings.  They really fulfill a part of my creative soul and also help to make each wedding extra unique and special, because often times we can’t really even predict how exactly its going to turn out until we get there.  The space may not be quite what we expected, the structure not as sound as anticipated, a different combination of greens working better than others.

It’s a good challenge, it stretches that part of me, and most often results in something original.

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It requires our clients to trust us.  And mostly they do.

There are still things that are mind-blowingly scary to me.  Each year we spend more and more money on seeds, on bulbs, on irrigation equipment, and compost.  The plan I have for our future peony field…I don’t even know if I believe it, and yet, I’m the one who is going to make it happen.

We pretty much have this poppy thing figured out, which is AWESOME!!!  Dahlias proved much more challenging than last year, which is a bit disheartening, seeing as last year we grew them without too much trouble.  And I have GOT to figure out how to get them through the winter.

I planted a good amount of bulbs this fall…totally scary to me, they are way more expensive than seeds!  I’ll be anxiously watching the patch starting in March, I’m sure.  You won’t even believe how much fritillaria persica ivory bells cost me.  Only to have a very experienced and successful flower grower in my area tell me they don’t do well around here.  HA!!!  Well…we’ll see, won’t we!

I suppose it wouldn’t be the first time someone told me what I was doing wouldn’t work.

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I’m so stubborn, which is both a blessing and a curse, and so I’ll keep growing whatever I damn well please.  Take for example this experiment from the summer.  CARNATIONS!!!  And you know what, they bloomed!!!  And they smelled like the freshest cloves you ever did sniff.

One variety never bloomed; unfortunately they were these black ones I was really looking forward too, because who doesn’t love black flowers?!!!  But hey, there’s always next year.

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And it’s crazy to me what a person can do.  What I can do.  About two years ago at this time the life I knew ended, and I had no idea what to do with myself.  I think I had to prove something to myself, and I think I have.

So maybe I’m not living the life I thought was ideal five years ago, but you know, I’m doing something else, and I’m pretty good at it.  I can’t do everything I want to do, but I can do this version of me the best I can, and when I reflect on the last two years of my life, I think I’ve done pretty well.

I suppose we’ve all heard that saying, something about instead of doing many things, do a few things well.  The stubbornness in me says, don’t tell me what to do.  But the me of this year, the me now, says yeah…yeah that makes sense.

And apparently I listen to country music now.  So there’s that too.

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transplants, perennials, covers crops, and hedgerows

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so many of our plants are safely tucked into the ground.  feeling so grateful for this lovely spring and such a wonderful spot to grow.  things are blooming everywhere, the cover crops, some perennials i brought over from our old field, the hedgerows.  some lupine seeds i saved while i was in maine have transplanted well and its nice to a have part of my journey alive and well with me in this new field, growing, going on.  some sun, some rain.  it could not be better.

soaking up june.

nurse cow herd

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This is the nurse cow herd at the Heidel Farm.  They are a 100% grass fed and organic dairy.  Most of their calves are born in the spring and taken right out to pasture with their mothers when they fields are ready for them.  In the nurse cow herd, a few cows with excellent mothering instincts are chosen to stay with the calves all summer.  They ‘adopt’ the other calves.  Currently the ratio is about 1 mother cow to 2 calves.  The farmer, Dave Heidel, has found this method to raise the healthiest, heartiest, largest calves he’s ever seen.  And he’s been a farmer his whole life.  Which is 70 years.

flower & bee planting party !

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Many hands carefully tucking our dahlia tubers in.  

They also tucked in many others including; cosmos, snapdragons, cardoons, iberus, marigolds, feverfew, tansy, and so many others!  

We are so grateful for everyone sharing the lovely day with us and their good spirits.  

A lovely tucking in for all our new plants!