|April 7, 2007|
Opening day of the Market
As evidence of our total naïveté, when we decided to take our chances doing the Farmers’ Market, we didn’t reckon on the weather.
April in the Valley is cold.
Spring is just a date on the calendar.
It has been known to SNOW on opening day of the Market.
No…we didn’t reckon on the weather.
We also failed to realize that COLD weather and vegetable farming don’t work well together.
With no way to get a jump on the season, (to have any sort of produce, you must do some serious advance planning...and a greenhouse/hoophouse (that we didn't have) really helps) we did understand that our Market offerings would be sparse. For quite some time.
Which led the Boss to utter the infamous words…
“So…could ya just bake ‘till the veggies come in?”
I mean…how long could it be?
Try ten years and well over 15,000 loaves of bread.
More than 15 thousand loaves of bread from our little kitchen here on the hill.
We started off with a couple loaves of bread and a few cakes.
|Opening Day - 1998|
The next week we made a little more bread. And so on and so on.
Soon, my Fridays were taken over with flour and yeast and potholders.
|just a little bread|
We baked our way through FOUR ovens and countless heating elements.
The weight limit on our minivan was tested more than once as we hauled flour home in 50# sacks. Something like 12 at a time (plus oatmeal and sugar and yeast and…)
Cinnamon rolls and white icing threatened to take over my life.
|just the thought of cinnamon rolls makes me cringe|
Somehow, I had become a professional/commercial baker.
Hmmm, that really wasn’t the plan.
While the gardens got larger, so did restaurant sales. There just wasn’t that much produce left for Market…and it seemed everyone loved that bread! The bread sales became the "golden handcuffs" and even after we quit restaurant sales, we were just making too much money to quit and turn our attention elsewhere.
Somewhere along the way, the Boss found a BIG mixer for sale. (yes, I was still using the 4qt. KitchenAid we got shortly after our marriage) One of the market vendors was expanding his operation and opening a storefront. He decided to sell his mom and dad’s enormous mixer for an amazing price. He got something even bigger and better.
We became the owners of “Big Mo”.
|"Big Mo" took over the kitchen|
*For years afterward, every time I saw the elder Mrs. Yoder, she would say “you know you got a great deal on that mixer!” Yes ma’am, I KNOW we did. …and thank you very much!*
The 30 quart mixer was built like a tank. It was so heavy that the Boss put it on rollers and every Thursday evening we would roll it into position for Friday’s all-day bake-a-thon. It made dough mixing a breeze, but clean-up was a major work-out. I certainly didn’t need any trips to the gym for upper body workouts after swinging that big bowl around!
|Friday bake-a-thon in progress|
But, quite honestly, being a baker was NOT my life dream. (I’m still not sure what my life dream IS, but I do know baking was NOT it) Flour hung in the air constantly, it felt like I never went outside, and there was always something to clean. …and I was getting fat from all the very necessary taste-testing.
So, I was just a little relieved (and totally freaked out) when flour prices tripled in the course of a week. (eventually they would come back to somewhat “normal” levels). YIKES! There is not much profit-margin in baking anyway. And, we certainly couldn’t triple our prices. Perhaps it was time to re-think this whole thing.
After much deliberation, we decided it was time to hang up the potholders and focus strictly on the farm. That meant I headed outside to work. (YAY)
Big Mo found a new home. (YAY)
While our Market customers were sad at first, they eventually got over it and found bread elsewhere. Blondie took some of my recipes (and added a number of her own) and started her own baking business. (YAY Blondie!) Check out Country Rhodes Produce and Bakery.
…and I’m glad to say…
The veggies FINALLY came in!
Before agreeing or volunteering, check the terms of agreement. (wink)
You would be amazed what you can do with just a little perserverance!
Kitchen choreography is a real thing. I can tell you how to run 75-100 loaves of bread through a single oven and get them ready for Market in a single day. (really)
The original KitchenAid mixers are awesome. Mine is STILL going after 30 years.
I will never look at a cinnamon roll the same way again!
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