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Farming is a profession of hope.

Farming is a profession of hope.

I’ve debated whether to publish this post, but here I am doing it. Farming is a profession of hope, and it is not easy work. We have invested time, money, and our whole hearts into a vision of beauty, health, and wholeness. I want to be honest with you and share our struggle so far. I haven’t slept much lately, knowing that we have 5000+ Facebook fans eagerly anticipating our opening this summer (for which we are bursting with gratitude). We are heavy-hearted here at Hillside Lavender.

This past week, Bri and I walked our lavender fields to learn that many of our plants are showing signs of Phytopthura Nicotiana. It has happened quickly and is wide-spread. We sent two plant samples to Clemson University Plant Diagnostic Clinic along with some soil samples, and hope to hear definitively within a week or two. Phytopthura Nicotiana is hitting lavender farmers hard across the nation. Unfortunately, once a plant shows signs of infection, there is no cure.

Please know that we are going to do everything we can to keep our lavender babies alive so that you can come here to experience their beauty. For now, we could use your positive thoughts.

With BIG LOVE,

Amy and Brian

By | March 25th, 2017|Farm Life, Lavender Farm|2 Comments

14 things the books didn’t teach about moving from the suburbs to the farm life

 14 Things the books didn’t teach about moving from the suburbs to the farm life

  1. Just keep everyone alive and healthy. When you care for animals, whether it be livestock or poultry, your main job may just be trying to keep everyone alive. Your goats will get worms, your doe will get mastitis, your chicks will get pasty-butt, and predators will test your fencing.
  2. Be ready for dirt… Everywhere. “Mud Room” has taken on a new meaning. No one prepared me for the amount of dirt that living on a dirt/gravel lane would bring. The scary part that my suburbs self would have been aghast about, is that you actually get used to it.
  3. There are no “sick days” on the farm. I did not imagine the level of “tired” I would experience after moving to the farm. In the summer, there are morning and evening chores, after working all day off the farm. Every summer in free time working in the lavender fields. The physical demands were much more than I anticipated. That said, there are also no “sick” days on the farm. The animals need to be fed, goats milked whether you feel good or not.
  4. Stuff happens. Things will break, falling trees will land on your pasture fences, the tractor will always need repairs. Try to keep a sense of humor.
  5. Your priorities will change. You will get crystal clear on “wants” vs. “needs”. That new pair of shoes, or a trough heater for the goats? I never thought I would get excited about that, but not having to haul water every few hours in the winter makes that decision an absolute no-brainer.
  6. When you lose power, you won’t be able to flush the toilet. And you will lose power, maybe even often. No one ever told me that when you are on well water, the pump doesn’t work unless you have a battery back-up (which we don’t)
  7. Know where the water is. When you determine that you want animals, or if you want to plant crops and utilize drip irrigation, make sure you know where the water sources are before you buy your property. We didn’t do that, and when we went to plant our field plugs of lavender (which need to be watered a little every few days), it would have cost near $15,000 to dig a new well and install electric. Luckily, lavender likes it dry and only needs water the first season. We used our Ranger Polaris and put a 65-gallon water drum on the back and hand watered our 8,000 plants.
  8. You will be paralyzed for a few days when it snows, and when temps drop below freezing. Snow has taken on a new meaning since we moved to the farm. Our “snow days” are now spent plowing, shoveling paths for ourselves, for the chickens, ducks, goats, and peacocks. Snow = lots of work. Invest in a good plow or blower if you purchase a farm in an area where it snows. When temps dip below freezing, you will be hauling water out to the livestock and poultry. Even some trough heaters don’t work when the temps dip far below freezing.
  9. Friendships look different. One thing I really miss about the suburbs is having my girls over and drinking wine, laughing, and telling stories until early in the morning since I could sleep in a little in the morning. Now that we live on a farm, we must be home by twilight for evening chores, and we get up so early that those late nights just don’t happen anymore. I still have my girls over to the house, but it’s a little earlier than it used to be, (and I put them to work with the farm chores).
  10. You are probably going to buy an old house. I know you will want to improve everything, but you won’t (at least not right away). Be comfortable with the way things are now. You won’t have the time to fix and repair things your first year (or two) on the farm (if ever).
  11. Not everyone will love the farm as much as you do. Some friends or relatives may not want to visit your farm. Maybe they don’t like the odors of farm life, or the dirt, or the noises. That’s okay- it is your story to live. Research the zoning ordinances in your area prior to moving in. Neighbors will love the view your farm provides but may fight you when you want to make a profit on your hard work.
  12. If you can broaden your skills, do it. Learn the basics of plumbing, building, wiring, butchering, canning. If you can find a mentor for a trade, even better.
  13. Be clear on your “WHY” before you buy a farm. When the tractor breaks down in the middle of plowing, when you visit the newborn doe several times throughout the night hoping she survives, when you haul water out to the animals every few hours during a cold spell, when you spend several hundred dollars to replace fencing and removing trees, you will be tested. Keep your reasons for moving to a farm at the center of your thoughts. Being clear on your “why” will get you through the tough times.
  14. Living close to nature will change you. When we moved from the suburbs to the farm life, I vowed to be a good steward of this land… to restore its beauty, to improve it, to breathe life into this beautiful place. What I did not realize at the time, was that the farm would breathe life into me… and I will never be the same.

 

By | March 18th, 2017|Farm Life, Suburbs to Farm Life|8 Comments

Be Part of Something That Inspires You.

Help us prepare for our HGTV debut!

Be the first to donate, and be the first to earn rewards not yet available to the public! Rewards include bundles of lavender, cold processed soap, yoga mat spray, lavender bath salts, a 30-minute Skype session with Amy, a picnic on our farm, lavender tea party, and MORE!

Thank you for your support, and we can’t WAIT to meet you on the farm this summer!

BIG LOVE,

Amy XO

https://ifundwomen.com/projects/hillside-lavender-farm-barn-restoration

CLICK HERE FOR A REWARD!
By | March 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

We’re Going to be on HGTV!

“Hi Amy, this is Claire from John Smith Realty… would you be interested in being on HGTV?” Brian and I looked at each other in disbelief while listening to the message left from our realtor’s office. “HGTV would like to feature a family who has recently moved from the suburbs to a farm, and John thought you guys would be great for TV”. Ummm… does a bear poo in the woods? YES! Bri’s first response was a firm “NO”, and it took some convincing from me in order for him to consider the opportunity. We had just given up our cushy life in the suburbs to find a farm that would be the perfect location to grow lavender, have our Nubian goats, chickens, ducks, peacocks, and turkeys. “It could be great for our business, babe- to get our name out there as a brand new lavender farm in the Hershey area”. Hopefully, our community will see our episode, and come to visit our farm. He reluctantly agreed, and the rest is history. We are excited to announce that our family and farm will be featured on Season 2 of HGTV’s “We Bought the Farm”.

About a month later, the crew arrived. Stagers came to the house at least a week before taping began, and we began to question exactly what we were in for. We literally did not recognize our house after the stagers were finished with us. (BTW- Sue Kauffman Unger from Sue Kauffman and Co. did an amazing job.) The photo team spent a day at our house before the production crew arrived.  Finally, after a week of anticipation, the film crew arrived. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazingly nice, down to earth, and incredibly talented the film crew was. Every day Bri and I would be wired for audio, and several times we would forget to tell the audio tech that we had to go to the bathroom. Imagine Leslie Nielson in “Naked Gun”. All of the production team with their ear pieces heard every little whisper, every pee break, every sneeze, and every blow of the nose for the entire week. They now know us intimately.

The production crew filmed with us for a week, working from sun-up to long after sun-down all week. Hours and hours of footage for a 22-minute episode. The film crew, directed by Pete Thompson, was a dream to work with. They were fun, patient, and very professional. Having never been on TV before (well, Captain Kangaroo, when I was 6 doesn’t count- that was almost 40 years ago), they were patient when Bri and I would start laughing, goofing off when we were tired, and encouraging when we were unenthusiastic while being interviewed. Even though we were very happy to wrap filming at the end of the week, it was one of those experiences that you will remember forever. We can’t wait to see what the finished product will look like. We are really excited to the drone footage they have of the lavender fields, Bri cutting wood for the fire pit, me milking the goats, all of our animals, and our sweet boy Aedan doing his farm chores.

Taping took place in the fall and finished just after Halloween. We are really excited about this opportunity. You will have the opportunity to see our search for the perfect farm just before we have our grand opening in June. You will get to see the dilapidated barn we are restoring at the end of March and will see drone footage of our lavender field, goat pastures, turkey pasture, duck pasture, and our chickens and Peacocks.

Be sure to sign up for our Lavender VIP Email list so that you are the first to hear when our episode airs and details on our grand opening event that will only be open to email subscribers!

Summer is just around the corner and we cannot WAIT to meet all of you this summer on our farm!

BIG LOVE,

Amy  XXOO

We're Going to be on HGTV!Hillymede Pastures- ACTION!HGTV Production CrewGetting ready for our interview- which one did we choose?
By | February 18th, 2017|Uncategorized|23 Comments

Hillside Lavender Class Content

Hello, Lavender Loves!

I cannot believe it, but we received almost 200 responses to the survey we sent regarding Hillside Lavender class content! Thank you to our email subscribers for completing the survey. It’s our goal to provide you with the content you would like to learn about. With that, I’ll keep my desire to teach chicken and goat keeping to myself until I have enough people interested in it. 🙂 If you are interested in the responses we received, I have compiled them into a pie chart below. We will kick off some of our virtual programs this spring, with in-person classes scheduled to take place in June. Stay tuned!

BIG FAVOR to ask you: We are getting ready to kick off our iFundWomen Campaign to raise money to offset the cost in renovating our dilapidated barn which will soon be home to a classroom and product display showroom. With iFundWomen, when one of our friends/customers donates a certain amount of money we will, in turn, provide rewards. I’m SO EXCITED to share with you the amazing rewards we have come up with, but I need your help with one in particular. I am going to offer 30-minute one-on-one Skype calls to friends who donate a certain amount toward our campaign.

My big question is, what would you donate in order to ask me anything about choosing varieties of lavender/growing lavender/planting/starting a business/homesteading/livestock/etc. So, what would you pay?

Please leave me a comment below, or on our Facebook page.

THANK YOU!

BIG LOVE,

Amy XO

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By | February 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|2 Comments

How Can I Serve You?

Happy New Year, Lavender Loves!

We are in full-speed-ahead planning mode, here at Hillside Lavender. June is just around the corner! Over the next coming weeks I’d like to do something a little bit different. As we plan our summer events, I thought it would be fun to ask people what they wanted to learn about.

If you could take just 5 minutes and tell me what you would like to see in terms of educational offerings, it would a) mean the world to me, and b) most importantly, I’ll be able to use that information to gear my upcoming emails and future events toward topics you specifically want to know more about.
The survey is directly below this blog post.
Thank you!
BIG LOVE,
Amy XO
Create your own user feedback survey
By | January 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|9 Comments

35 Things I Would Like To Share With You

2016-11-26-21-54-03Greetings, Lavender Loves!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. I just poured a cup of coffee, and today I’m reflecting on how amazing and crazy this year has been, so I thought I would have some fun with my first blog post for you. For those of you who do not know me personally, I look forward to getting to know you! Please feel free to leave me comments, or send me an email with feedback. I read all of them.

So much of what is written online today lacks a sense of personal connection. I want to be completely real with you- I am a busy mom, wife, friend, daughter, aunt, colleague, and I’m constantly searching for balance in an effort to keep everything together. I’m a hot mess and 100% human. So, in an effort to be completely honest with you, I’ve decided to share 35 
random facts about me, my own preferences, quirks, habits, and closely guarded secrets.

I’d love to hear more about you! Please feel free to post in the comments with your own facts, secrets, habits or quirks.

  1. When I was five and we lived in Hawaii, I was on the Captain Kangaroo show. If you are too young to know who Captain Kangaroo is, move on to number two.
  2. I am very close to my family. My Dad was in the navy and wanted to see the world. He took my sister, mom and I along for the ride. Wherever we went, we always had each other. I was raised with lots of love. As a child, I never once worried about food, water, or shelter. I got everything I needed and most of what I wanted.  Both of my parents were (and still are) hard working, supportive, and place family as their highest priority.  The older I get, the more I realize how incredibly fortunate this makes me.
  3. Three years before his passing, I recorded my Grandfather (Poppie) singing several of the songs he has sung to me since I was a little girl. That tape (now CD) is my most prized possession. He had the most beautiful singing voice. I also saved the last three voice mail messages from my Grandmother (Nonnie) so that I can hear her voice again. One of them includes her and my grandfather singing happy birthday to me over the phone, which they did every single year until they were called into heaven.
  4. Even though many years have gone by since they have passed, I still feel the presence of my grandparents. I can still hear my grandmother’s laughter and feel the comfort in her hugs. There was nothing like the hugs and smiles of my Poppie. He instilled a love of gardening in me, and I know he is watching over me so proud that we have made Hillside Lavender a reality. This leads me to number 5.
  5. I believe in guardian angels, and I believe that my grandparents are mine. During the four hour round trip journey to the IVF embryo transfer at our fertility clinic, I smelled my Nonnie’s perfume. Clearly and without question it was her. I believe she was comforting me with hope. That was the IVF cycle we became pregnant with Aedan.
  6. I realized many years ago that I would put my body through just about anything to experience motherhood, and I did try just about everything to have him. I am blessed beyond belief to have my son.
  7. When I was in my early 20’s, I was diagnosed with severe stage IV endometriosis. I was told that due to the extent and location of my endometriosis/scar tissue/adhesions that I would never get pregnant without IVF. Endometriosis has shaped who I am today and has had a profound impact on my life. I’ve lived life in chronic pain. One in four women have endometriosis, and there is no known cure. I am happy to say that we (Hillside Lavender) are partnering with Hershey Medical Center’s Center for Endometriosis and Female Pelvic Pain and a percentage of our annual proceeds will be going directly to my amazing team of doctors, for endometriosis research. More information coming in the spring!
  8. When my grandmother died, I wrote and delivered her eulogy. Our family and friends who filled the church laughed and cried throughout my tribute. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I did it again for my grandfather when he passed a few years later. I was very close to my grandparents, but my Poppie was my special human. He called me “Asmerilda”.  I sense his presence with me often here on the farm. He would have loved it here. I often talk to him while I am walking around our property.
  9. I write much better than I speak. I need to have time to articulate myself, sorting through the ideas and emotions on the page prior to releasing it.
  10. Emojis are right up my alley. It’s hard for me to text without an emoji. It’s my version of providing the reader with the facial expression to go with the words. I feel like text and email can be easily misunderstood/misinterpreted so I tend to go overboard making sure that doesn’t happen over text.
  11. I am probably the only female on the planet that can’t stand shopping. I don’t enjoy looking around from store to store. If I need something, I drive up to the front of the store; find what I need and leave. No loitering or browsing necessary. For the record, I like other girlie stuff like spa treatments and makeup, but just not shopping. Online shopping was invented just for me.
  12. My parents have been married for 46 years, and they still leave each other love notes. They have been wonderful role models to my sister and me. We have seen them work through problems together and always put their marriage first.
  13. When I fall asleep at night, my ear always has to be covered by a blanket. Not quite sure why, but it has carried with me since childhood.
  14. I do not let my food touch on the plate. Seriously… nothing can mix together and cross-contaminate. Watching my husband Bri mix his peas into his mashed potatoes causes me anxiety.
  15. I love the smell of new books. I couldn’t work in a bookstore cause I would just stand around all day smelling the merchandise.
  16. My favorite smell used to be Aedan after a bath when he was a baby…. seriously intoxicating. I used lavender and chamomile soap on him, and the smell still takes me back to my baby boy after a bath. Is that weird? I love lavender and can’t get enough of it. Now that we have five acres planted, I won’t ever have to worry about that again.
  17. I married my best friend. I still get excited for date night and look forward to him coming home. We’ve been through good times and bad times, and there is no one else I would rather share this journey with.
  18. The sweetest sound on earth is hearing Aedan say, “I love you mommy”. Being a mom is the role that most defines me.
  19. Spinning (studio cycling) is my drug of choice. I am completely addicted and have been since 2000. There is nothing like an endorphin high after an intense sweat-fest.
  20. The more I act silly with Aedan, the happier I am. I enjoy playing with him. Trucks, trains, cars, cards… it doesn’t matter. I believe that play is the source of perpetual youth.
  21. I laugh at myself often. Not because I think I’m funny, but because I am a total goof. Laughter has helped me get through all of life’s challenges- my doctorate program, work, stress, the pain of infertility… everything.
  22. I am the biggest klutz ever. When I was 11 years old, I tripped coming down the steps with hot chocolate in my hand, and stained the walls from top to bottom. I also stumble randomly when walking. This leads me to the next dumb fact about me.
  23. I love really good liquor and good food. Mexican food is my favorite. Tacos and Tequila. Yumm. Anejo tequila and single malt scotch are my absolute favorites. Not that I’m an alcoholic or anything. I just love to sip on the good stuff and have fun. When I have too much liquor, the first thing to go is my equilibrium.
  24. I am very protective of my family… especially Aedan… but don’t mess with my sister either. I am very protective of her too. My family is always my first priority. No exceptions.
  25. I talk to my mom at least twice, sometimes a dozen times a day. It makes me sad that since my grandmother has been gone; my mom no longer has that same comfort.
  26. I whispered to Brian’s grandfather that I was pregnant ten minutes before he took his last breath. Even though he was unconscious at the time, I am certain he heard me. Aedan is a spitting image of him.
  27. I completed my doctoral coursework in Education Administration and Policy Studies at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. I recently defended my dissertation proposal, and my research study runs from May through September 2017.  I’ve been in school for my masters and doctorate since 2010 and can’t wait to be finished. Someday I would love to open a private farm school based on experiential learning.  I want to instill in Aedan a passion for lifelong learning.
  28. Instead of teaching kids to study concepts, we should be teaching them to solve problems and instill a passion for learning. Standardized testing is killing our children’s spirit of discovery and desire to learn.
  29. I absolutely love music, but don’t judge me by my playlist. I swear I was a DJ in a former life. I have everything from Air Supply to Foo Fighters, Jagged Edge, and 112, to Mudvayne, and Fetty Wap.
  30. I worked at a local farm and greenhouse for years while I was in college and teaching. I worked in perennial retail and production, which is where I developed my absolute love for lavender. Growing things and gardening brings me joy.
  31. Fear is my worst enemy and my greatest friend. Whenever I’m afraid to do something new – afraid 
to go outside of my comfort zone – I know I’m about to breakthrough to a new 
level in my life. Creating Hillside Lavender was the scariest thing I have ever done, but it has already brought me so much joy and purpose. The biggest growth in your business always lies outside your comfort zone. Fight through the fear and do it anyway.
  32. We have the sweetest dog in the world. Murphy is an English Mastiff, and he constantly reminds us of the real meaning of unconditional love. That said, living with Murph is like living with a bachelor- he snores loud enough to have been banished from our bedroom, has the ability to clear a room when he is gassy, he slobbers everywhere (yes, those spots on the ceiling are what we lovingly refer to as a “slingers”), and he doesn’t clean up after himself. But you know what? He is one of the greatest blessings in our life and he has us wrapped around his paw.
  33. I take a notepad and pen everywhere I go. In the car, next to my bed, in my medicine cabinet (some of my greatest ideas are born in the shower), at 
my desk. You never know when a great idea is going to strike. I’ve filled
 countless notebooks with product ideas, marketing plan notes, book ideas, course ideas, and to-do
 lists to last me an entire lifetime.
  34. I think ‘Being Yourself’ is one of the biggest keys to a successful business and life.
  35. I am very thankful for my family, my friends and my life. I am so very thankful to have a roof over my head and a humble heart. I am blessed.

Thanks for reading all the way through this blog post. If you resonate with the soul I’ve just bared, subscribe to this blog, friend me on Facebook, or write me an email. If I’ve offended you, thanks for reading anyway.

Have a wonderful week!

Warmly,

Amy

xo

 

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Murph among the lavender on a planting day
Me and my Mama.
Me, my sister and my daddy
Me, Bri and Aedan in Baltimore

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By | November 27th, 2016|Uncategorized|12 Comments
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