2022 was a year FULL of big news and growth spurts. We take the time to write them down for a number of reasons. Most importantly, we want you to feel connected to island farming and all that agriculture entails. As you read on, take note of all the ways Lum Farm enriched your island life: the events you attended; groceries you were able to buy at the farmstand; meals at island restaurants; maybe you even scored our chevre or ground pork at the Food Bank. Island farms and your island life -- it's all connected!
So, without further ado, let's look at 2022
Annie would like to be your tour guide through this year-end review.
The Best News: A Long Term Lease with the San Juan County Land Bank
Lum Farm received an exciting boost of security (and relief) as our proposal for the long term lease with the San Juan County Land Bank was accepted. We've held a year-to-year lease since 2019 while the Land Bank worked with the public to zero in on the best way to keep Coffelt Farm Preserve in working agriculture. When the official call for proposals went out we submitted ours, and it was formally accepted in July. We now look forward to 10 years of farming Coffelt Preserve (pending a review at the five year mark).
The focus on locally-grown and quality food has kept us in cahoots with many local chefs. Here’s a list of island restaurants and pop-ups that featured Lum Farm products in 2022: The Barnacle, Buck Bay Shellfish Farm, Chimayo, Farm to Ferry, Hogstone, Inn at Ship Bay, Island Hoppin’ Brewery, Kingfish Inn, Mijitas, Monti, New Leaf Cafe, Orcas Island Distillery, Orcas Island Winery, Orcas Village Store, Pasta Underground, Roots, Seabird Bakeshop and the Whale and Cabbage.
Our meats, cheese and ice cream were sold in 2021 through Island Market, Orcas Village Store, Girl Meets Dirt, the Orcas Food Coop and our own farmstand.
We posted this pork rack photo online and had an island chef contact us mere moments later.
The Food Bank
One of the things we are most proud of is the amount of food we are able to supply to the Orcas Food Bank. Executive Director Amanda Sparks and crew are doing a remarkable job of finding funding that focuses on local farms, for which we are extremely grateful.
In 2022, we delivered to the Food Bank:
- Over 1490 lbs. of meat (over 150% of 2021’s amounts)
- 92 dozen eggs, the majority of which were donated by our monthly egg subscribers. - 35 lbs. of chevre
Kalea and Noura wrapped and labeled a whole lotta chevre for the masses.
The Food Bank struggles to find sufficient freezer space (a challenge we know well ourselves). This year they were able to procure three chest freezers, which we installed here at the farm for Food Bank use only. We’re always glad when the Food Bank van rolls in, as it’s a reminder of the ways that we are able to support each other.
Kudos as well to Kaleidoscope Child Care Center, who also secured a grant focusing on locally-sourced protein and produce. We are thrilled that our meat is being included in the hot lunches provided to Kaleidoscope kids. Those kids are eating well!
Farming is an all-consuming business; just caretaking the land and animals is enough to keep everyone plenty busy. Farming on a preserve owned by the Land Bank adds an extra element as the public shares ownership of this space. Luckily, community involvement and education are near and dear to our hearts.
We had a number of events this year with that goal of public interaction in mind. Perhaps the most enthusiastically received was “Baby Saturdays”. For five weekends in March and April, we moved our goat kids and lambs up to the north field. With the help of a few volunteers, we opened the gates to visitors.
Kicky McKickface was a surprisingly docile mama, and gladly shared her quadruplets with visitors.
All it took was one little post on facebook, and literally hundreds of folks flocked to the farm (pun intended). Together we snuggled babies and soaked up the sun after a particularly challenging island winter. It was a time of reconnection – with the new season, the land and each other. We plan to make this a yearly event, celebrating spring with our community in this way.
Caramel became the celebrity kid of the year. He was named by a Baby Saturday participant, and now lives his best life at a farm on Lopez Island.
Other events included the “Goat Baby Prediction Poll”, in which participants predicted which of our dairy goats would be the first to give birth – guessing the date and how many kids. Kudos to Nancy Stillger for choosing BBG Smooth (yes, that’s her name), who had twins (Smoosh and Gigi) on January 25. (Goat Baby Prediction Blog Post)
As you can see, our petting zoo kids of all species specialize in hugs.
The annual San Juan County Farm Tour was another big event. We were better prepared this year – and good thing, because we had somewhere around 700 people come through. There was cheese and ice cream tasting, the goat petting zoo, self-guided tours into the heart of the farm, and a sheepskin pop-up. We were on top of signage and volunteers, and the event went smoothly (no parking fiascos!). Click here for the Farm Tour wrap up post.
Ice cream samples and Crystal's smiling face were the best Farm Tour welcome ever.
We also provided Springtime Field Trips for island organizations supporting all ages of residents. We hosted island preschools and gradeschools, the Orcas Island Senior Center, and a group of teens from Compass Health. We invited a wool-focused Orcas Island Parks and Rec. class over for a shearing demonstration, and provided a spot for the OIPR's summer art camp. We hosted the Road Scholars "educational travel" organization, leading tours of traveling seniors who asked the BEST questions. With all these field trips and the Baby Saturdays, we bumped up against constraints of what we can afford time and employee-wise. Even with all the visits, we STILL didn’t get to everyone we’d hoped.
Thank you to Brook Meinhardt for this lovely photo from the kids' art camp table.
The Lum Farm Dairy
Lum Farm Cheesemaker Crystal, makin' Bloomin' Hazels
Our goat dairy continued to be a source of change and excitement in 2022. Perhaps the most heralded event of 2022 for Lum Farm was the unveiling of our Goat’s Milk Ice Cream!
It was just last June that we introduced our ice cream to islanders. The ice cream features Lum Farm eggs, milk and chevre. For seasonal flavors, we haunted Skagit farmstands for blueberries and strawberries and spent afternoons picking blackberries. We realize that many folks haven’t had a chance to taste ice cream THIS fresh… it makes a difference!
Clockwise, starting upper left: Maggie, Shannon, Amy, Lucy, Mandy and Crystal obviously had a terrible time picking blackberries together.
Aside from reprimands from our favorite business consultant warning us about eating up the profits, we’ve been thrilled with how this new product has been received. Visit this blog post for a deeper dive into how it all started.
An Ice Cream photo shoot was really just an excuse for more taste-testing.
Mandy drew portraits of a favorite goat for each flavor. We've already chosen who is getting their portrait done for the next new flavor.
Ice cream wasn’t the only new item in our dairy. In 2022 we installed a brand new milking stanchion. It involved a little remodeling and a lot of training of goats (and milkers). Now that we’ve all got the hang of it, the milking process is much more streamlined, not to mention ergonomically friendly.
In which Mandy finds herself in a tight spot while training the goats to trust the new milking platform.
For the first time, Amy took our cheese off island to showcase our dairy at the Seattle Cheese and Meat Festival, sponsored by the Washington State Cheesemakers Association (WSCA). Our chevre, feta and cajeta were very well received, and we've had a number of inquiries since (even though we currently don't have the capacity to sell off-island). The WSCA chose Lum Farm for their Cheesemaker Member Spotlight for the month November, which was a sweet little boost.
Amy and our cheese in the big city!
Our Dairy is set for another giant growth spurt in 2023, and we are ready. We’ve been riding the momentum since the dairy opened in 2020.
The Farm Stand
The Lum Farm Stand continues as a hub for the farm, hosting locals and tourists and creating an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality. Folks swing by for self-serve eggs, to pick up their online order, or simply to grab a half-pint of ice cream to snack on while goat-watching.
Emmy Gran turned the farmstand into a fresh array of color each week.
The farmstand features the arts and crafts of Bossy’s Feltworks, Mandy and Lucy Troxel, Shawna Franklin, Crystal Mossman and Reeb Wilms. Most recently, we’ve been pleased to offer meat pies made by Shannon O’Donnell of Tangled Orchard Epicure. Salish Sea Yarn Co. hosted knitting nights at the farm, and created kits featuring Lum Farm yarn.
Mandy, Katie Gaible of Salish Sea Yarn Co and Amy pose with the final knitting circle of the season. We're looking forward to more in 2023!
Partnering with other island farmers kept our farmstand stocked with fruits and veggies. Niko of Buck Bay Shellfish and Jule from Wise Owl Wellness both contributed fresh veggies to the farmstand for sale. We hosted Emmy Gran of Fabled Flora, who sold bouquets and used the farmstand as a pick-up point for her flower CSA. Girl Meets Dirt jams completed one stop charcuterie board options.
The farmstand porch became a sea of tomatoes at one point...
Sourcing from slightly further afield, we carried sockeye, cod and rockfish from Matt’s Fresh Fish out of Friday Harbor, and Brownfield Organic Orchard of Chelan Washington brought us apples, cherries, nectarines, pears and peaches.
Mandy works hard to come up with mugs, tote bags and other items to help supplement the farmstand sales. As a result, the farmstand has become a place where you can nab dinner, dessert, gifts and even some animal cuddles, if you time it right!
Leroy will forever be referred to by this individual as "the napping goat"
It's a special moment each year when we turn on the Christmas Tree Sale lights.
The Christmas Tree Sales at the farm had another bustling year. We sold over 400 trees, and donated another dozen through the Orcas Island Community Resource Center. The snow event the week before Christmas put a damper on sales and the closing of the season – but the goats were quite pleased with a few extra tree snacks at the end of the year!
Eric's smiling because he made the ferry with a truck full o' trees.
Hay and Compost
We never know what the hay season will bring! This year, the season was especially challenging: it was hard to get into the fields because everything was so wet, and then difficult to dry the hay because it was so thick. So, with no chance of dry hay, we were especially thankful for the equipment that we purchased in 2021 that made it possible to wrap bales for haylage. Haylage is basically fermented grass -- wet hay, wrapped tight with no oxygen -- imagine kimchi for cows.
Eric broke his own records for quantities (by nearly 30%), sometimes getting over twice as many bales out of certain fields as he did last year. When all was said and done, Eric harvested over 325 tons of hay and haylage, mostly single handed. From this bounty, we feed our own animals as well as supply other island homesteads with food and bedding for their animals.
Eric’s compost continues to be much sought after. Much of this black gold is re-distributed into the soils here at the farm. There is a waiting list of island gardeners who remain hopeful that there will be enough for their gardens too.
Just in case you wondered if Eric was an overachiever.
The Farm Critter Update
Pork was the main protein we were able to supply to the Food Bank. This year, rather than buying piglets from other farms, we had our first litter at home. Sweetie the Old Spot Sow gave birth to 20 (TWENTY) piglets. There was a bit of a learning curve as we suddenly had SO many pigs on our hands – but all is well and we are looking towards getting Ollie and Sweetie together again to start the whole process over. (Click here for a glimpse into the cuteness of piglets).
Sweetie with just a small portion of her 2022 litter.
We have about 65 breeding ewes and a dozen rams. That made for about 120 lambs last spring. In addition to selling lamb through our farmstand and to restaurants, sheepskins continue to be a treasured item at the farmstand. In 2022 we also used our wool to create blankets, yarn, dryer balls and Bossy’s Feltworks items. (Click here for a post about our 2023 Shearing party).
Amy keeps smiling even when faced with a barnful of sheep that need to be sheared!
30 goats were on our milk line (along with four sheep). Those mamas gave birth to around 70 kids. We are committed to keeping a group of goats up by the farmstand for petting zoo antics, as goats seem to be the gateway critter into learning about farming!
That's Fig standing on her mama Newt. Eric would like to point out that this could be called a "Fig-NewtOn". Dealing with farmer puns has been one of the more acute challenges of 2022.
In 2022, Lum Farm raised 32 heritage Dexter, Angus, Buelinga and Hereford cattle. Rotational grazing management and manure are a part of our soil improvement strategy. It takes up to 30 months for our cattle to grow to their desired potential as 100% grass fed beef. We have cattle in all ages and stages, so as to provide a consistent supply of island raised beef for our customers.
That is the look of a cow who would like you to know that someone accidentally threw a bale of bedding hay into the feeder.
The farm is currently home to 200 layer hens (with 100 more ordered). Last year we supplied eggs to Seabird Bakeshop, Ship Bay and Kingfish Inn, and over 40 weekly egg subscribers, not to mention keeping the farmstand porch stocked for self-servers.
Over the year, we raised, processed and sold 300 broiler chickens and 200 stewers. Due to Avian Flu, we ended our broiler program early, and have not yet decided what to do for 2023.
The ladies would like you to know that they are very much working.
Avian Flu greatly influenced decisions about our broiler and layer programs. Wild birds with the virus were detected on Orcas Island, and we had to be diligent about keeping our flocks safe. It resulted in our ending our broiler season early, and we culled our flock of older layers this Winter to reduce the possibility of infection. We kept coops isolated and visitors were not allowed to go in with the chickens. Unfortunately, we aren’t out of the woods yet, so continue with precautions. (Visit this blog post for more information on protecting your own flock from Avian Flu).
This past October's smoke event gave off apocalyptic vibes.
As always, the weather presented challenges. While we gratefully dodged any “heat domes” this year, we didn’t escape some major smoke events. Atmospheric Rivers also blew through, and the timing of them this year resulted in the aforementioned challenging hay season, not to mention a whole lot of mud. Rounding out the year with a snow event and power outages definitely kept us on our toes! (Click here for 2022 snow photos).
When the snow thawed....
The Island Grown Farmers Cooperative (IGFC)
Worker shortage and ferry inconsistencies made for some tricky times for the IGFC mobile slaughter unit, which in turn challenged island farmers. Farmers (and subsequently, farm patrons) saw prices increase as the cost of production increased (The IGFC raised processing prices three times in 2022). The IGFC is now operating in their upgraded facility, which we hope will add a degree of efficiency and ease for everyone. We send huge thanks and appreciation to the IGFC, especially the folks of the mobile slaughter unit who have had to deal with unpredictable ferries and precious cargo. (Click here to visit the IGFC website).
We often turn to customers for photos of our food on their tables. Here, Ed Andrews makes a pork butt look pretty darn tasty.
This year we received two grants, which have been instrumental in securing infrastructure for greater efficiency on the farm. The first was a grant via the Farm Fund, in which we added another flock of laying hens and a mobile coop to the farm. The coop is still under construction (nearly there!) and the Rhode Island Red hens that we bought with grant money are laying!
100 Rhodie Chicks exploring their new digs after arriving in the mail.
We also undertook a much larger project in applying for the WSDA Food Security grant. In applying for the grant, we focused on improvements that would hugely impact the security (think “cold chain”) of our products, as well as increase safety and efficiency.
Many snacks and cups of tea were consumed during grant preparation.
To our great joy, we were granted a substantial amount to go towards these improvements. This past Fall, we started ordering and installing equipment. A refrigerated box truck was our very first purchase. Being stuck in the ferry mayhem with tons of frozen food is not quite as scary now. The farmstand has new display freezers that have already increased sales and greatly aided tracking inventory.
Annie is a little worried that Eric will love the new truck more than her (Never!)
Our new display freezers, with some personal touches.
We are also finding ways to use this updated infrastructure to benefit other island farms. Eric has already used the extra space afforded by the truck to transport other farmer’s meats from IGFC. We also purchased a cattle chute system that will be used at the slaughter site for all island IGFC members.
Next on the list is to install the new walk in freezer (!!), the egg-washer, and take further steps towards significant dairy upgrades. All supported by this grant. We could not be more excited!
While we worked on the grant, Resident Farm Artist Damian doodled illustrations of memorable quotes. This one of Darryl is a crowd favorite.
Here we would like to thank Darryl Duke and Pi, who stepped in and spent many hours helping us organize our thoughts around the business of the farm. We could not have taken on the WSDA grant without them. Their input and support has had a direct impact on what we will be able to do in the near and far future at Lum Farm.
Amy, Mandy, and two bottles of champagne! What could go wrong?!
Our Farm Crew
We thought 2021 was the year of the teens? We weren't actually surprised when 2022 turned out to be just as lively! The farm was awash in teenagers, which brought some serious spunk to the works. We offered (and received) lots of love, ice cream, laughter and heaps of hard work from an amazing gaggle of teenagers.
Greta, Amy's niece, returned for a 2nd Summer of working and snuggling!
Our non-teenage farmhands included Shannon O’Donnell, Amie Stevens, and the glorious summer help of Maggie Kaplan. Martha Lum swings through on breaks from WSU and whips our spreadsheets into shape. We bid adieu to Benson Laurie, who has been with the farm in various modes for years, and who moved off island to pursue a career in firefighting.
Benson poses with Ginger's new baby, who he named Penelope after his niece.
While we have yet to get an official volunteer program in place (a challenging process since we are not a non-profit), we have had friends of the farm step in at perfect times. Much love to this handful of wonderful community members for magically showing up when they were needed most.
We also want to thank our neighbors who generously share their pasture with us for rotational grazing: Mary Jo at Lone Cow Farm, The Daoust family, the Eng fanily, the Hughes family, the Stoltz Kau family, and the Land Bank.
Huge thanks to the Anonymous Angel who treated the entire farm crew (and partners) out to a holiday dinner at Norbu. We'd never been all in one place off the farm, and it turns out we all like each other out on the town too!
We closed out the year with a very close knit team of workers: Kyle Jepson, mower, builder of coops and installer of freezers; dairy queen and chore warrior Crystal Mossman; chore warrior #2 and pig ambassador Shannon O’Donnell; singing goatherd, farmstand manager and marketing maven Mandy Troxel. Amy and Eric do everything, but after some business consulting we know that calling Eric the “Haymaker” and Amy the “Shepherd” will make them very happy.
These two both have ties to Vermont, and love a good snow!
The running joke now is that really, we’re just a dog farm. Canine farm companions include Annie, Belle, Fiona, Milo, Lula and Shopdog Toby. We do an OK job of keeping them in check, but this is an area on the farm that can use a little less, um, barking.
Eric, Chief Snack Distributor.
In Closing, Gratitude!
We are continually grateful for the presence of Sidney Coffelt, and to her and Vern Coffelt’s legacy of ensuring that this special part of Crow Valley continues to feed its community.
We are also grateful to the SJC Land Bank for supporting and encouraging local agriculture and land stewardship.
When we look back at the last twelve months, it consequently causes us to look forward to the next twelve with anticipation and excitement. Much of 2022 was spent laying the groundwork for further growth spurts that will set us on the road for greater efficiency and food security for the island in 2023. We are rolling up our sleeves and ready for the task.
With much gratitude,
In which the dairy goats head back to the barn for a second shift.