Hello one and all!  Sometimes I long to meet the faces of all the lovely people I write my thoughts out to. I truly hope you are all well and happy.
In this blog, I have decided to do something different. Instead of giving a basic overview of our family and every day life, I feel inspired to share some of the finer details in the farming aspect of who we are, what exactly we do, and what that entails. This may be a long blog post, but if you love a homesteading lifestyle or are interested in farming in any way, this is the right place for you!
First off, for those of you who may not know, my name is Amy and I love to write. I have decided to keep a blog of our family's happenings and life since moving to our small modern day homestead in 2019. My husband is Travis and we have three kids, Trevor age 19, Blake age 16, and Megan (M.J.) age 12. We have a love for home grown foods and animals. That pretty much sums us up!

A Bread Story
Here is a quick story of why I feel compelled to share some of our more factual information:
Last Friday night I decided to post a question to a Homesteaders group on Facebook.  My question was this..."I am baking home baked breads to sell at my husband's produce stand tomorrow, but I am having a hard time pricing them. I have no idea what to charge. Any ideas? I am in Oregon if that helps. Thanks!"
Then I shared a picture of some of my banana breads lined up on the counter.

I went to sleep excited for the next morning, and feeling our products would be received well, knowing how how much love, care, and positive energy had been put into it all. I was feeling so blessed beyond words and woke up feeling happy before we even got started. 
It wasn't until we got to the market and were setting up that I started to wonder again if I had the right prices on my breads. Was I asking too much?  Was I asking too little?  There was so much work and recourses used in the baking of these breads...I decided to glance at my post from the night before.
I was shocked to see that it had 759 likes, and the comments went for miles and miles, and they just kept coming!  I tried to click a 'like' back to them all. I answered as many as I could, but the shoppers started arriving to the market so I got busy.
Because of some of the good advice I received from the Facebook post, I decided to raise the price of the loaves of bread from $6.00 to $8.00 and if they didn't sell, I could always lower the prices later. Since we have an on-line store, Travis had to use his phone to sign into the store and change the price there as well because we didn't want to get caught with false advertising. There are so many important little details to pay attention to when it comes to selling foods! (As it should be.) 
Here is my update to the Facebook post: 
"UPDATE: Thanks for the advice my fine friends. I have put it to good use. The banana breads are flying off the shelves at $8.00 per loaf, cinnamon bread at $6.00. Yeasted breads at $8.00 a loaf because they take a lot of time for me. We also have fresh salads, spinach, radishes, swiss chard, baby kale, arugula, eggs, and a few other goodies. 
We are abundantly blessed!"
The final update soon after said, "2 hours in and all breads sold out. Taking orders for next week."

Never, ever in my wildest dreams would I have thought so many would respond to my silly last minute question. The point of sharing this story is that I have come to realize how many people are eager to hear more of these details!  It's not enough for me to say my husband and I have both quit our jobs to work from this homesteading/small farming lifestyle full time.  I need to share HOW we have accomplished this, goes.

Gardening and Produce
In order to share more about the breads and how that all came about, I must start with Travis's role. For years, we learned as much as we could about homesteading and farming when we lived in our house in town.  In fact, it was so much so that we basically lived this way, even in town. We just did it and provided for our own family, and that was it. We worked diligently and in harmony at our jobs until after many years, and after getting our credit scores perfect (this is a big one), we bought our own little property. It is not even quite three acres, and the manufactured home is small, but we had a vision and could see this working for us. The great thing about where we chose is that all around us the land is deemed national forest land, so no one can build anything more than what is already here. 
This next sentence is going to sound funny but it is literally life changing, so it's an important group of words. 
Are you ready?

Travis read a book.

Ha ha ha and LOL!  Yes, you read that right. First of all, Travis does not enjoy reading.  Second of all, when he does, it is only detailed and factual information to feed his brain. 
The particular book was about how to grow a market garden on little to no acreage. It can even be appeal to a city dweller who loves gardening produce, and is interested in selling and sharing it with others. The goal is to work with other like minded people and use other spaces and/or lots of land to grow a variety of produce on. Well, something clicked in the geniuseness that is Travis's brain, and the ideas in that book basically brought us to where we are today. Travis loves both making money and gardening, so putting the two together seemed like a pretty natural idea in his mind, and he liked that this book gave him a plan to work from. The name of the book is, "The Urban Farmer by Cutis Stone."

I often switch wording of our lifestyle between homesteading and farming because we literally live both ways, I guess. I originally wanted to just grow our little homestead lifestyle into the real deal.  For us.  For our family. Travis's idea grew it into farming and a business. 
He loves to garden and grow fresh produce!  He always has.  I knew there was no stopping him with this newer dream so we have been living it, and rolling with it ever since. We, meaning the whole family.

Now, after working on fixing up our property, growing our own garden, keeping the kids going, getting through the pandemic, improving this market garden business, and taking in a few rescue horses along the way...I can confidently share our process with others. 
First and foremost is that Travis has always worked in I.T. and is brilliant with figuring out technology. Any of it!  Even if he disagrees with me about this, his brain is literally wired that way whether he likes it or not. He is good at problem solving and creating solutions. The cheaper the better!  He built our on-line store, website, You Tube channel, and more. He is currently working on getting organically certified and earning a pilot's license to fly our drone. We don't HAVE to acquire these details, but it makes what we have to offer that much better. He got 3 Corners Farm registered with the state of Oregon as a business because without this we could not join things like farmers co-ops. We created a Google business account so that people can find us easily when they search us up on-line. We also opened a 3 corners Farm business bank account. We updated our food handler's certificates and purchased insurance to cover our products as well.
To give you an even deeper look into what goes in to the produce, I am sharing some photos.  I will list the process Travis goes through to make the produce market ready and safe for consumers, leaving out the actual growing process because otherwise I would be writing a whole book here! But I will cover the topic of planting in another blog if people are interested in learning more about that. 

Step #1 Harvesting
Big Garden Lot
Travis drives to his separate field space where he does the market garden growing, and harvests what he has mapped out that he needs, and what is ready to be pulled at the moment.  His main produce focus is on varieties of salads and greens because he can make bulk money from having an abundance of one product, and that is one that is not abundant to consumers in our area.
He also visits markets in our area to see what others have to offer and what is missing, then he makes a plan to grow what's missing.  He grows some produce here on the homestead, (which is mainly for our family) and some there, because what might not make it here has better chances there, etc. etc. and vise verse. He has offers to use more spaces of land from other farmers, in exchange for business, but doesn't want to get too far ahead of himself. 

Step #2 Cooling
Before Travis can do anything with the produce, it must be cooled in the walk-in cooler first, which he built himself. The cooler regulates a temperature of 37 degrees Fahrenheit.
Walk-in Cooler

Step #3 Washing
Travis washes and rinses the produce twice.  All of the set-up you see in the pictures are made and designed by him at low cost, but it is all very efficient.
Step #4 Spinning
Travis started with a little hand spinner, but now has a used washing machine that he purchased, and it is hooked up to drain and spin the produce. It works like a charm!
Salad Spinner

Step #5 Drying
Travis uses a fan set over mesh wiring to blow the rest of the water from the produce, that the spin cycle could not get. He sifts and sorts through the produce while the fan blows down over it, taking out any produce that does not meet his standards. All of this takes much patience and time. The kids call it the assembly line.
Drying Rack

Step #6 Bagging and Weighing
This part is basically as simple as it sounds, but we also have made labels for everything, so once weighed and bagged, the labels with our logo are added to the bags.
Bagging Station

Step #7 Keeping Produce Cool and Fresh
Next up, all of the bagged produce are neatly organized in lidded totes and placed back into the walk-in cooler. The outside of the buckets are labeled for anyone who pulls them out or is searching for a particular item. We also have an extra refrigerator if needed for more cold storage.

Step #8 Selling!
We go to a local farmers market every Saturday during the summer, but we also have our on-line store and make local deliveries. Travis signed up to a Gorge Farmers Collective as well, where he makes up boxes of extra or surprise produce and takes it to the co-op once a week.  People will purchase that on-line for a hefty price so it works out very well. Prices of his produce are listed below but are subject to change at times.

Salad Mixes and Greens are bagged in 1/4 pound bag and sold at $4.00, or 1/2 pound bag sold at $6.00.
Radishes, $3 a bunch.
Swiss Chard, $3 a bunch.
The produce changes throughout the season, but Travis also offers Arugula, tomatoes, zucchini, some potatoes (if they make it), and a few other goods like cucumber and asparagus.  Keep in mind that it is better to rotate fields if you can. In fact, I believe that is a requirement in order to be organically certified because it is a good way to keep bugs from invading the crops, therefore no spraying is needed.
The Dalles Farmers Market

Complementary breads and Extras
Now...onto the breads and extras. We of course offer farm fresh eggs, and if we don't have enough, we get some from neighboring homesteaders and compensate them.  This way our consumers are happy and everyone gets a profit. The price of farm fresh eggs is very competitive and I never knew how much people would pay for them!  We sell ours at $5.00 a dozen.
I have always loved baking home made breads for my family so I enjoy doing it for others. I usually spend Thursday and Friday baking for the farmers market.  I like the breads to be fresh for the families who get to enjoy them. They are also are packaged with our labels and a simple list of ingredients. We refrigerate them if needed. Monday through Wednesday, I bake and deliver for those who order from our on-line store, but I have found that way to be busier during the fall and winter. Other than getting the proper credentials, managing time very carefully, and sterilizing the kitchen constantly, the only thing left to share about the breads are the recipes. I will make a separate blog post for those recipes if anyone is interested, however, there are many great recipes on-line nowadays.  
I will get to experiment more with cinnamon rolls and cookies during our off seasons when we are not selling produce and I am already looking forward to that!

Rules and Regulations

These are going to vary according to states and where you live, but all of our products are insured and we have had to take food handlers classes and earn some other credentials and/or classification's too.  MY main intention and purpose is to continue complimenting Travis's produce.  I am not interested in opening my own bakery business, so I will probably keep my part as is. 

Loving the Animals
Another aspect to consider in what we do are the animals, their cost, and their care. Right now our little farm of animals consists of three senior dogs (all former rescues), a cat, a bunny, 10 chickens (all hens), 2 goats, and an old rescue horse. Once we get through this first big year of selling our produce, I plan on adding more Nigerian Dwarf Goats for milking. I am excited to make cheeses and soaps. We had Nubian milk goats in years past so this will not be totally new to us. We may also try some meat rabbits and meat chickens in the future.  

Since our old horse is lonely after loosing her rescued pony pal in April, to Cushing's Disease and a host of other health problems, I am considering getting more mini ponies because they can live amongst the goats and horse, and would be a great addition to add a small petting zoo or volunteer project for local youth. I must take into consideration acreage and cost per animal, and am finding that the small goat breeds and small horse breeds have more than enough space here. I probably will never have more than one horse.  My hope is that Willow, an American Paint mare, will live on forever because she is so beautiful in the field, and loves her job of watching over her little cute herd of mixed up minions. (Tee hee.)

Even though the animals can be a great expense, we are so blessed that I feel we must give back to the universe and mother nature somehow! Taking in animals such as Chewy (our former pony) that no one wants or can afford to care for, is my family's way of giving back. It is never the animals fault if it has an illness or an issue that makes it unable to work for humans! I will create fundraisers for the ones who really need a lot of medical care, and I will even do the hardest part of all, which is letting them go, with peace and permission, to a heavenly life of no more suffering or pain. We love the animals unconditionally, care for them, meet all their needs, give them other animal companions, and let them live our their life on our little homestead sanctuary freely.

Soooooo...I think that's it! I feel like I will send this blog post out and remember some things I forgot to add or mention, but I will share more of these types of details in future blogs, especially if people comment with questions, or seem particularly interested. 
We also have our YouTube channel with videos, and updated video blogs, which we get better at filming with every passing month.  It takes a lot of editing, patience, and time.  We have slow internet and so much else to do, but it is a gift and a blessing to be able to share some of our knowledge with others! 
We hope you enjoy the stories, following along in our journey, and all that we have to offer. Thank you sincerely for reading this far and I send you so many blessings and so much love!

Amy E. Darr
3 Corners Farm
Mosier, Oregon U.S.A.