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Dancing Shoes

We're getting anxious for Spring's arrival at the homestead. Actually, we've been impatiently waiting for Spring since we attended the Central Michigan Fall Seed Swap in October! We left the seed swap with helpful tips, new ideas, and plenty of seed for the season. In fact, we came home with three times as many tomato plant varieties as we had agreed on before we left the farm. Though, honestly, the infamous "Tomato Jim" was there with more tomato seeds than you could imagine. You may not have heard of Tomato Jim but he's an heirloom grower from Indiana who maintains a collection of 1,200 varieties of tomato plants. 1,200! Therefore, I've decided the tomato seed indulgence was justifiable.

Since the Fall Seed Swap, we've been hibernating inside, reading up on new growing techniques, and taking care of the five pear tree seedlings that we're growing under lights in the basement. However, we really got into the growing mood this past weekend.

Dan and I spent last weekend attending the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference. It was an awesome event! We had been looking forward to it for weeks, which is either a sign that we truly love homesteading or we need to get out more. Maybe both. The breakout sessions were extensive. There were 35 sessions to choose from during the four time slots on Saturday. Dan and I picked our top 8 sessions and then took a divide and conquer approach to learn everything we could. We both came away with ideas to implement on the farm this year, which was the goal. We were so looking forward to the conference that I was actually a little concerned that it might fall short of our expectations but it definitely did not. I was motivated to start germinating lettuce seeds next month to plant in the hoophouse in March for a May harvest. We're going to see how long of a shoulder season we can squeeze out of an unheated hoophouse. Wish me luck (and mild weather)!

When we decided to go to the conference, we were particularly excited about the social dance taking place on Friday night following the keynote speaker. Okay, by we, I mean, me. Again, we don't get out much. We weren't familiar with the band, The Hardy Dam Ramblers, but that's a great name and a "social dance" just sounds like it would have to be fun. We went out to dinner before the Friday night keynote and had on our dancing shoes in anticipation of a wild night with the Hardy Dam Ramblers! Honestly, neither of us own "dancing shoes" but we weren't wearing muck boots...which is something. We had a delicious Cajun dinner at Pearl's in Elk Rapids, then we headed to the conference where we talked to vendors at the event's trade show and listened to the keynote speaker. The speaker finished up at 8 pm and the band was scheduled to start at 8:30 pm. When you think about 8:30 at night, it really doesn't seem late in the evening. 8:30 pm?! Of course, we can go dancing at 8:30 pm! We're (fairly) young able-bodied homesteaders! But, then again, we had had that filling dinner (Creole food is much more filling than you probably give it credit for)...and our first session on Saturday morning was scheduled to start at 8:30 am...and we had a 40 minute drive in the morning. So, we got home about 8:40 pm on Friday night. Hopefully we can catch the Hardy Dam Ramblers at another venue...when they're playing at a decent time. ;)