2022 In Review
~ 2022 ~
This past year was filled with tremendous growth in every way, and so, doing a recap felt important. Lessons were learned, decisions were made. I tried to keep things as concise as possible and in chronological order (ish). But oh man.. what a year! Let's dive in!!
The one where we re-branded
Before The Potter's Homestead, we were known as HR Ceramics. We had gone through a big glow-up as HR Ceramics in 2021 with the help of DaniTee design studio, where she set our branding on the right track. As the business evolved from being solely about pottery to combining agriculture and pottery into one vision, we began to outgrow HR Ceramics. That's when we were due for a re-branding all together. We worked closely with DaniTee again in early 2022. It was incredible how her ability to bring "skeleton" ideas to fruition was organic and seamless. We couldn't be happier!
If you like what you see, here's her website: https://danitee.com/
The one where we were in the gleaner
After the re-branding, I was interviewed by the wonderful Katie Martin, who is an incredible farmer and writer for our local newspaper: The Gleaner. She wrote a piece about The Potter's Homestead and our upcoming CSA box subscriptions! The title read "Franklin potter expands earthy offerings". You can find the article here: https://the-gleaner.com/franklin-potter-expands-earthy-offerings/ . Ahhh, I couldn't believe it!
The one where we offered CSA boxes
Excited, terrified and equipped with various levels of success with our family garden, we dove into our first year of CSA boxes. The learning curve was steep on this one, from managing weeds to succession planting, we learned so much. I'm really proud of our first year. A sincere thank you to those who chose to invest in us and this adventure. Each box consisted of 1 dozen eggs (unless a vegan box was selected), 6-8 veggies and 2-3 herbs. We got feedback from many clients that this format was great to fully use all the contents of the box!
There were two drop-off locations, one in NDG and the other in the old port of Montreal, as well as a pick-up option at the farm. We are thrilled to be offering CSA boxes once again in 2023!
2023 CSA box info: https://thepottershomestead.com/products/csa-box-2023?variant=40059052556343
The one where we got pigs
At the end of March, we got the call that our pigs were ready to be picked up, they were about 3 months old. Throughout their time here, I hesitated to post too much detail about them on social media, as every photo unfortunately lead to me being bombarded by.. err.. passionate animal activists.
Overall, I really loved raising pigs. It was important that raising any meat here on the farm aligned with my values, and so they lived a muddy, happy life in the back paddock. They foraged all day long and napped under the pine trees and took long mud baths in the sun. Every day, we said "thank you, pigs. good pigs!".
When it came time to butcher them, they were huge. Perhaps a little too huge? I worried that the cuts would be fatty. Did I wait too long? Are we only going to eat sausages for the next year? Did I mess this whole thing up? To my pleasant surprise, we got some gorgeous pork. (whew!!) The butcher even commented on it!
The one where Cowboy & Buckwheat came home
The kids stayed home from school one day and we headed out for a drive to pick up some beautiful Copper Maran hens from a nearby farm. I thought the kids would be excited, but it turns out they had gotten used to their crazy mom hauling farm animals in the van. "Let's go get some chickens!" I said. They just looked at each other, shrugged and buckled themselves in. Oh well. As we packed up the hens in the barn, the kids found two orange kittens that would later be named Cowboy & Buckwheat. Next thing we knew, we were driving home with two hens and both kids had a kitten in arm. I remember it being April 1st, because I called Lucas saying "I promise this isn't an April fools joke, but... we got cats". Nearly one year later, they cheerfully greet all who come by the farm and are great at keeping the mouse population at bay. Thank you, cats.
The one where an old RV became a chicken coop
As I prepared for our first year of CSA boxes, one item that was included in the box was 1 dozen eggs. I needed to grow my flock by a fair bit, which meant they needed to relocate to a bigger and better space on the farm! I ended up finding an old ice fishing trailer for a reasonable price. It was in rough shape, but the bones were good. We brought it home (that's a story for another time- pretty sure I got a few new grey hairs from that trip alone), cleared it out, painted and put in roosts and laying boxes. Shortly after, the chickens moved in!
The one where Gus joined the farm
I had been wanting to grow our goat herd by a wee bit and needed a buck. I was looking for one that was laid back and would blend in really well here at the farm. My friend Shannon from Ross Farm sent me a video of a sweet little buck who was the most relaxed and snuggly fluff ball I'd ever seen. In early May, she knocked on our front door with little Gus in arm. He joined us in hopes that by early 2023, Poppy could have her first kid(s). He fit in rather quickly and we discovered his favourite snack / activity was eating every single dandelion flower on the property. We love him.
The one where we posted our first youtube video
I set my imposter's syndrome aside and decided to upload a vlog on YouTube. I enjoyed documenting everything and seeing my day-to-day through a different lens (literally). Filming, editing and uploading took a lot more time than I anticipated, but my goodness was it ever fun. I hope to do more of this sort of thing in 2023.
You can find our channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4JXV08FsdjVQIV_5gr8CvA
The one where we raised meat birds: year 3!
Raising meat birds is something we take a lot of pride in, and it was the gateway to raising other animals for meat as well. While chicken is generally easily accessible, finding small-scale pasture raised chicken is almost unheard of unless you buy directly from the farmer. Our focus will always be on the wellbeing of the bird first. Anyone who has tried our birds have commented that the flavour and texture is notably different!
The one where I quit my job
My last day as a medical operations manager was September 2nd 2022. It was a really difficult decision to leave the comfort of a team I knew and loved, and a healthy bi-weekly paycheque. I had it good. And yet, my mental health was plummeting. I couldn't fill my cup fast enough before it ran dry again. Lucas and I had talked about it extensively, I hesitated more times that I can count before I took the plunge. But once I jumped, I have never looked back. I now know it was the best decision not only or my career, but for my mental health and ability to be truly aligned to what matters to me most: my family, ceramic arts and developing our little farm!
The one where the kiln broke in the middle of pre-orders
Shortly after I quit my day job, I launched pre-orders for items that would be ready in time for Christmas. I was brought to tears watching the orders come in. My community came through in a way I could have only dreamed of! I felt validated. Lucky. Things were off to an amazing start... right?
During the first couple of firings, the kiln was taking longer to reach temperature, until one day it read an error message and did not complete the firing at all. After a fair amount of troubleshooting, we had to replace one relay and all the elements. The timing of all of this was comical. I cried and cried and apologized to clients a whole lot, Lucas changed everything that needed to be changed and the show went on. Moments like this are humbling and force you to embrace the process and all that comes with it (even the setbacks).
P.S. everyone got their orders before Christmas!
The one where I bought wheels & launched pottery classes
Being able to offer pottery classes has been on my list of milestones for this business. I absolutely love sharing knowledge and witnessing others discover a new creative space- there's nothing like it! I had been saving up to purchase a handful of wheels for a little while, but was feeling discouraged as I had barely made a dent in what I needed. I was aiming to buy Shimpo wheels, Brent perhaps, as they are generally considered the standard when it comes to choosing a potter's wheel. They're also about 1,200$ each bought new, and rare to come by second hand.
So what now? After a ton of research, I came across some no-name wheels online, with all the same general specs as the aforementioned brands (with the exception of a few minor details that I can live with). Was I willing to find out if they were worth it? Yes. I bought one to test it out. It did the job: it spun in both directions, it was light to move around and wasn't noisy. Great. So I bit the bullet and bought four more to then launch pottery classes to start in February 2023 shortly thereafter! (ahhhh!!)
The one where Duckie & Tulip joined the farm
After our pink pigs left the farm, I missed having pigs around. I really loved raising them and the presence they had here. Before I knew it, my friend Sophie and I packed up the van for a road trip up north, with my youngest son in the back seat next to a large dog cage. We loaded up two female Berkshire piglets only to turn right around and head home. They will be bred in the spring if 2023, and we'll hope to welcome litters in the late summer. They were timid for the first week or so, but I insisted we be friends. I sat with them for every meal, until around week 2, Tulip came to nibble on my shoelaces. Things improved from there.
The one where I collaborated with Anika Schachtler
This has been the year of internet friends. Anika and I live only 20 minutes away from each other, yet had never met. She is an interior designer, and a great one at that! We collaborated on a series of design tips when it came to styling your home with pottery. I think it's safe to say that this won't be the last time we work together!
You can check our her blog post here: https://www.anikaschachtlerdesign.com/blog/displaying-pottery-with-the-potters-homestead
The one where my dinnerware went to le serpent
Working with chefs and restaurants is one of my favourite things and is something I hope to do more of in 2023. Chefs have dishes in mind, visions to carry out, and the plate on which that happens is an important component. Seeing my work in action, brought to life by another artist and their team leaves me starstruck every. single. time.
The one where I did in-person holiday markets
Since covid rocked our worlds, I hadn't done any markets. I was selling my pottery online while also still fully immersed in my day-job, as demands for telemedicine were at an all-time high. This winter I had the pleasure of seeing familiar faces and meeting new clients at three holiday markets. Two were local and one was in Montreal. I hadn't realized how much I missed witnessing clients inspect and choose a piece. You completely miss out on this part of the process with online sales!
Welp, that's a WRAP. I am surely missing some events and details, but I think I did the rounds. If you made it this far, thank you thank you thank you for reading! Big, big love to you and yours.
Cheers to 2023!