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2011 - Remembering an Epic Year

If there's one thing I'll definitely remember about 2011 it's the over-use of the word "epic". It drives me crazy.
 
Ok, that's not completely true, 2011 was full of many wonderful memories and significant events. So much so that I want to recap some of it.
 

Winter

 

 
This time a year ago we were stranded in D.C. due to Snowpocalypse 2010 (Click for Photos). I was just finishing the book “The One Straw Revolution” and Sweetbreads was knitting me an alpaca wool cap (which she has since commandeered). Luckily, we have family in D.C. and were graciously hosted by Sweetbreads' Aunt and Uncle, along with their boisterous chocolate lab. At the time we were starting to formulate our plans for the future and over the course of 2011 it would all start to come together.
 
We spent most of the winter reading and brain-storming. We weren’t quite far enough along in our planning to really know what we should do next. It was still a lot of research and uncertainty. An unending number of farming books and magazines suddenly filled our shelves. So much so that Sweetbreads got me a bookshelf for Valentine's Day.
 
In the evenings I honed my beer-making skills and we started making our own sausage. Sweetbreads’ Christmas present last year was an electric meat grinder and my present was a homebrew kit. One of our goals was to work on as many skills as possible while remaining in the confines of the city. We stocked our window units with pots and planters full of herbs, experimented with eating the offal, and began a year of self-restraint. It took all our power not to up and leave right then! 
 
I also started volunteering with our CSA, assisting in weekly distribution and list management. We wanted to get some experience with operating a CSA in case we pursued that distribution channel down the road. It turned out to be a fantastic way to meet new friends and learn new skills.
 

Spring

 

 
Springtime was full of farm visits, a few of which we detailed in our Farm Hopping posts. Among others, we visited our friends at Nature’s Harmony, Grady’s Farm, and Lewis Waite. Around the same time we started thinking about how we would operate our farm. What animals would we raise? What products would we sell? What were the foundational values of our dream and how could we accomplish it?

Through that process the idea of cheesemaking came up. Sweetbreads toyed with making some fresh cheese at home and we visited several farmstead cheese facilities. Pretty soon the kitchen was full of cultures and cheesecloth and the fridge overflowed with milk bottles.

By the end of Spring we knew we needed to start chronicling our journey and we decided to start a website with a blog. Little Seed was officially born. The name being symbolic of our goal to use a grass-based production model focusing on the land and utilizing humane and sustainable farming practices. With the blog our dream was on paper and it was up to us to fulfill it.
 

Summer

 

 
At the beginning of summer we launched the site and committed ourselves to a name (go Little Seed!). Blogging isn't quite as easy as it looks, so it took us a little while to get in the groove of writing again. Learning code and other fun website stuff was also an unexpected learning event (although it was pretty obvious it'd be coming).
 
Sweetbreads initiated her slow departure from the workforce and started transitioning into full-time cheesemaking and farm/wedding planning mode. In no time we had a new site and our very own mini cheese cave

In the middle of August we got married and went to Italy. Contrary to what we were led to believe, the wedding was ridiculously fun. Band and food were awesome. Guests were drunk and dancing. The officiant surprised us by starting off with "Marriage. Marriage is what brings us together today". The forecast called for rain, but it ended up sunny. We immediately went on the honeymoon, which was our first long vacation together in three years. It was a road-trip adventure full of small towns, amazing food, rural mountain farms, handmade cheese and a couple beaches thrown in. Couldn't ask for a better end to summer.
 

Fall

 

 
Clearly, the biggest event in the fall for us was closing on the farm. In October it all started to coalesce and we knew we had found the perfect place. Negotiating, inspecting, visiting, and stressing about the farm comprised the vast majority of our time this Fall. I started homebrewing again once the temperature dropped and somehow over the summer my brewing skills magically got much better. Some of the beers coming out now are really pretty good.
 
Sweetbreads began an apprenticeship working deep in the caves of a local cheeseshop, learning the ropes of proper cheese aging (affinage) and tasting studying cheeses from all over the world.
 
Now the year is coming to a close and we got our work cut out for us. After we tie up our loose ends in the spring we'll make the leap to Tennessee and 2012 promises to be even more eventful than 2011. 2011 was a great year and we can't wait for what comes next.
 
Thanks to all our wonderful readers for making it fun to share this experience. We've enjoyed meeting those of you who leave comments and send emails. For those who don't, please do. We want to know who's out there and we love hearing your thoughts.
 
Here's a to a great 2012 all around!

 

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