The Weblog

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From vendor features & product spotlights,
to other important information,

including reminders of market closings,
upcoming classes, and events!

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Fall flavors in Bakery, Favorite Fall Produce

Wait til you see all the new Fall Flavors across our Market when we open tonight!!

Pumpkin Maple Glaze or Pop Tarts

Pumpkin Spice Brioche Donuts and Apple Cider Cake Donuts

Maple Nut Blondies and Carrot Cake Cookies

Pumpkin Gelato and Maple Pecan Brittle Ice Cream

Plus cool weather staples such as Black Beans, Red and Yellow Onions, Acorn and Butternut Squash, and even the freshest Greens! :-)

Happy Shopping – and Thanks for keeping your food dollars local!

Part Three: You never know where life will take you

I always teased Lee that we were lucky we met – I from Michigan, he from Kentucky, to meet in Ohio in the middle, where neither of us wanted to be or intended to stay!

And early in our marriage, our naturopathic doctor told Lee his asthma and breathing complications would not improve while we continued to live in this area – that his body was unaccustomed to such things as the molds in the corn, and the best thing he could do for his lungs would be to move. Needless to say we didn’t take him seriously in the least. Not then, anyway.

When he got a call that the full-time farmer position at Carriage Hill was open, he went back to work there in June of 2018. It was a place we both loved – not just from the historical aspect and because it was fun for the whole family to volunteer with Daddy, but because we’d met there, he proposed there, we took our wedding pictures there – it felt as if we’d grown as a couple and a family all over that farm.

And if he’d been looking for a job to make actual money he’d have gone elsewhere, but 1880s farming at Carriage Hill meant a lot to him, and he went back, intending to save up his salary so we could afford another few acres around Fletcher and expand our livestock. Things went smoothly until his newly appointed manager in late 2020 refused to honor Lee’s Federal Holidays or saved up vacation, sick, and personal days, actually telling him to his face the work at Carriage Hill was more important than God, his health, his family’s health, and his own farm work at home; that if Lee used any of his many weeks of saved up and earned time off, he’d take it without pay and be written up.

So when I continued to have complications from a difficult pregnancy and delivery of our last child, hemorrhaging again, Lee called in to stay home with me and the children – only to be told it was an unapproved use of a sick day, he’d have to take it unpaid, and was being written up. No matter it was only the second sick day he had used that calendar year, the first being for his grandmother’s funeral because no one told him he got five paid bereavement days. It was the beginning of the end for his involvement with Carriage Hill, and the end of my support of a union.

We knew he was having more regular breathing attacks – we also knew we were under a lot of stress, he was working too hard on both farms, not getting enough sleep, had plenty of environmental airborne complications that negatively affected his breathing if he wasn’t careful, as we faced this past summer…

When he was hired, Lee agreed to forgo his nine Federal Holidays, working seven of them if he was guaranteed instead three religious holidays off – Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. His former manager thanked him and accepted his acquiescence. His new manager, himself a father of four and supposedly a Christian, refused and told Lee he’d work a full shift on Christmas, regardless that the park was closed. When Lee suggested he simply drive in to feed the animals and go home as was past practice, he was told he’d work a full shift – the manager’s concession was to allow Lee to bring his family to work with him for the day. Christmas Day.

Needless to say, when he quit just before Christmas 2020, we were all done with the stress of the previous year and got serious about actually moving out of state. Land being cheaper in Kentucky than Ohio or Michigan (since we agreed to at least look where my family was), we were Blessed to find a farm – further away than we expected, South of Lexington, but things work out, not always how you expect!

So yes – we are in the process this year of consolidating our farm, moving lock stock and barrel 200+ miles south to a new farm – more secluded, more land, more possibilities for our homesteading dream.

It’s been so much back and forth, working here and there, wondering how long it’d be before we’re ready to sell and move, finding someone to continue the Market, not knowing what, when or how to tell anyone – it’s been a heck of a year for us. And harder each week to think about being permanently gone, wanting to hold off saying anything to anyone until I couldn’t wait any longer. When my in laws asked questions about a timetable for our move, and we tried explaining we’re day by day trying to keep our heads above water, I mentioned the Market, that I wasn’t sure how I was going to leave you. My father in law acted as if it should be no big deal. I realized how little they understood what it meant to us to have built this business from scratch that was less business and more network, more family of like-minded people – people who chose to support each other, their neighbors and family farmers – who’d grown closer to us than most of our family members, offering to babysit and help on the farm, bringing flowers, gifts, snacks, flower and plant seeds you’d saved, diapers when our babies were born, and more than anything smiles, kindness and generosity. I can’t tell you what this Market has meant to me, and my whole little family. I can’t even write without getting emotional – I just could not tell it in person.

The moment it hit us we were moving… when we sold that beautiful orange combine. It’d never survive the trip down or be safe on the gentlest of our rolling KY hills. Lee drove it down the driveway the final time as I stood at the window bawling like a baby, pulling myself together so my wet face wouldn’t freeze when I went out to see him load it on the semi in the frigid air. It felt right that that ended the Ohio chapter of our life together. I no longer would need my Allis to look at when we disagreed or times got harder than normal, to remind us we could survive anything. Maybe I matured so my memories are enough, or maybe we have enough other instances to point to and say, Yes, see? We can make it.

Lee was hospitalized in July for his asthma. We then ramped up the move. When he flatlined on the table for a full ten seconds I, yes I, was speechless. I felt it was a wake up call we must heed, that a permanent move to the clean mountain air, where he knew he felt better, was best. ASAP.

While I know the Market will be in the good hands of our friend and customer Erin Harris as of the Christmas Break, I’d be lying if I said the thought of leaving wasn’t oh so hard. My parents are in Michigan, Lee’s family is in Kentucky, and my scattered brothers we only see sporadically. The Market has been a constant in our family’s life each week, more family than just friends. And part of me has had a very difficult time wrapping my head around leaving. Yet when we go down to Kentucky every Tuesday after Market to be ready for work on the new farm Wednesday, whether it’s moving gravel, building fence, clearing hedgerows and trees, fixing barns, painting the house, ripping out carpet or making it our own in a million other ways, it’s so peaceful and quiet in our corner of the Daniel Boone National Forest that when the time comes for us to pack up and head back to Ohio, all seven of us are truly sad to leave our newfound serenity and peace. And are excited to be starting anew, together.

With four of our five children now in school (plus two year old Anna thinking she is as well), and so much to learn and share together, I’m glad I have the ability to stay home full-time, as I can look at how much they’ve grown since yesterday and know any hour that slips away we can’t get back. Just as true, Lee and I aren’t getting any younger, and goodness, if there was a big difference having the last baby at 36 compared to our first at 27, I hope if we’re Blessed with more they come soon before I get much older! A mischievous older gentleman told me last year after I’d come back from having Anna that he’d read older mothers were more susceptible to twins, so if I was planning any more I’d better get on it before I was too tired. I kindly showed him the door, of course, wondering how much more tired we could get. And I do look forward to that final trip south, when we as a family can sigh, rest, look around and know we’re home, ironically just on a new road that dead ends on our new farm at our End of the Road.

Part Two: Our End of the Road

When you purposefully choose to live further under the poverty line than the IRS believes possible (I don’t wish an audit on any of you!), making money is not your priority. That the food we grew and raised was fresher, cleaner, and more organic than anything you could purchase at the grocery store was true – it was also true that our consciences wouldn’t let us sell for their exhorbitant prices, especially to customers who’d become friends, when we couldn’t have afforded it even when we both had good paying jobs. As I’ve always said, we may be bad business people but who cares if we’re happy? And a major perk of making little is how little they can take in taxes for programs we don’t support! Woohoo!

We’ve set up at various area farmer’s markets including downtown Piqua, downtown Troy, and the virtual market in Urbana, and had a wonderfully fun CSA program where customers came to the farm to choose their produce and proteins for the week before I started as manager of our Miami County virtual market. We continue with our 100% grassfed raw milk herdshare which I think is misleading, because any grass farmer will tell you alfalfa and clover is so much higher in protein than simply grass, and we can get a high butterfat content in our milk and beautiful marbling in our meat “just” from our good grass because we are committed to caring for the soil providing the cows’ food.

We continue to add various pieces to our diet, whether sorghum syrup as a sweetener after multiple disasters with bees (no one will ever tell me our neighboring farmers’ spray did not cause us to lose hives three different years), to popcorn, sunflower seeds, jerky, dried fruit, and peanuts as snacks, as well as yogurt, buttermilk, cheese and butter after we started milking in 2016, plus whole wheat flour, spelt flour, cornmeal, oats, potatoes, and dried beans as our staples.

As of last year, Lee and I have now taken down nine different barns and buildings, some timber-frame, some more modern, either to rebuild in their entirety on our farm or simply (ha) to use for pieces and parts in fixing our existing structures. The shop is the most sentimental to me since it was a unique first date, but the 24’x45’ building that has been our CSA, herdshare, and meat customer pickup room in the front, and chicken coop/milking parlor in the back, is dearest to my heart because it was 100% salvaged materials – not just the lumber as is our usual, but even the sheet metal roof, tar paper, windows, tek screws… there are so many times I laugh to think of what is “normal” to our children and how off their sense of reality is, when our then three year old watched my husband jack up our old garage using large timbers, knock the foundation out from under it, set it on our flatbed trailer, and drive it across the yard to park it in it’s new home next to our old Shop as his new and improved Blacksmith Shop. He creates himself so much work simply because the children have seen there’s nothing he can’t do. The sky is the limit, Daddy!

One goal with our animals, whether it be the chickens, pigs, cows or sheep, was similar to our gardening goal – breed our own replacements so we don’t have to purchase new feeder livestock or new seeds every year, because if we’re intending to live on as little as possible, we need to avoid spending money unnecessarily. We started small when we married, both in the livestock and gardening department, and have grown to saving over 64 varieties of fruit, herb, vegetable, and field crop seed as well as letting our broody hens raise replacement chicks, keeping two boars and several sows to raise pastured pigs, and the bull Little Boy Blue for a yearly crop of calves from our cows. Happy animals taste better – we want them to enjoy sunshine, fresh air, quality pasture, and as stress-free a life as possible, and we want to be sure the end of their life is going to be instantaneous… you can taste the difference when there’s no adrenaline rush, no fear being handled in a strange place by strange butchers who prod you with electric shocks… I don’t care how cost-prohibitive and back-breaking it may be – I’ll continue to raise and process my own meat.

Butchering is still and will always remain one of our favorite farm jobs – it’s how we met, we truly enjoy its variety and necessity, and although our hand-crank grinders get a mite tedious (or just show me yet again how much stronger he is than me!), we’ve worked hard to perfect our ideal recipes when it comes to curing and smoking the meat in a way that will both preserve it for a long time and taste delicious. We use our sorghum syrup to cure the bacons, hams, corned beef, and dried beef, and save our apple and maple wood prunings for smoking the meat. We can hang it in the smokehouse until we want to use it or I can a lot of ground and chunked so we have ready-to-go fast food available, and food stored which doesn’t add to a freezer or fridge costs.

I saw a study put out by Ohio State University detailing how difficult it is to farm with children – trying to get your work done and make enough money to live. I always want to smile when people tell us they can’t afford something. Can’t? Or are unwilling to do without something else to be able to afford it, so in effect choose not to? I told Lee they should’ve asked us. He said it’s better they didn’t as we’re not the norm. Bah! If part of our reason for living this way is to provide a healthy lifestyle and future for our children, how could we not make them a part of everything we do? They need to understand where their food comes from, so they’re not like my former students who didn’t know that cellophane-wrapped burger on Styrofoam came from a bovine. Or who’d never tasted a truly ripe fruit or vegetable they’d picked – no comparison to a store or restaurant. I don’t want them to be like the professional who worked in an office all day before his wife sent him to pickup her Market order, and when I commented “Sure has been wet, huh?” he looked up at me curiously and said, “Has it been raining?” I thought, raining so much so our potatoes rotted in the ground, our high tunnel greenhouse flooded for the first time, and the farmer behind lost most of his corn crop when it swept away with the flooding into our pastures. I want them to be aware of the changing of the seasons, and the life in the gardens and field, and know how they can adversely or positively affect everything around them. Lee and I are just weird that way.

The problem with building up an old farmstead while farming full time is that it takes a lot of time just to grow everything both your young family and your animals eat. And there’s only so much money and time left every season to squeeze in the infrastructure projects you’ve been planning. Rebuilding the bank walls of the barn, replacing the hay mow timbers and floors, building stalls, pens, and fence, clearing fencerows and perpetually beating back invasives, replacing electric, plumbing, insulation, floors and windows in the house, and heaven forbid the basic and unexpected maintenance any of you with older homes understand – it’s been a productive road we’ve been on since we married in 2010.

But we’ve said since we’ve met, if we like each other, and our home, and prefer to be home together than anywhere else, we’ve got all the time in the world, and it’ll never be the same as going to an off-the-farm job for more money. We choose to live, on one hand, simply – even in such terms as no microwave, computer, dryer, dishwasher, tv, toilet paper, with cloth diapers, etc. On the other hand I’d say it’s a more complicated lifestyle than most, and we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it. Our children don’t want for anything, have never known hunger, are spoiled when it comes to good food and homecooked good eating as a family three times a day, or the fun of family cooking, reading, playing, and general togetherness. That’s the way we like it. And when we searched for a farm name, and hit upon End of the Road because First Street in Fletcher literally becomes our driveway and we ARE the end of the road, we knew it also fit because this was our end of the road, where we always intended to happily live out our days. Or so we thought. God knew He had other plans.


Part One: End of the Road Farm vendor feature

“Honey – we’re farmers!”

I’ve had a ball writing feature stories on my vendors since Market opened in August 2016, and in that time I’ve shared plenty of anecdotes and misadventures of our own farm family. I finally decided it was time to share an extended, true vendor feature on our own End of the Road Farm in Fletcher for the first time!

While my Dayton students and I were expanding each other’s vocabulary, them with all things historic and agriculture, me with all things ghetto and colorfully unrepeatable in polite circles, Lee was patiently expanding his farming, historic knowledge and skills with things as varied as masonry, old-fashioned carpentry, blacksmithing, and draft-horse farming, while working to rebuild the abandoned, dilapidated homestead he’d purchased four months prior (he joked when we met that the house and outbuildings on his farm were in such a sad state of disrepair they devalued the property enough for him to be able to afford our 21 acres)! He was a welder by trade, and had studied with master blacksmiths and been the blacksmith at Fort Boonesborough in Kentucky before moving up to Ohio to farm with horses at Carriage Hill Metropark, what was an 1880s living history site in Huber, with the almost 70 year old farmer who would become his (our) best friend.

Enter the infamous Butchering Weekend at Carriage Hill – I had just begun volunteering there, thinking it’d both be fun and give me something to take back to my students, most of whom had never been out of Dayton. My job that weekend was to render, in large kettles outdoors, lard from the pig the men were butchering – stirring, stoking the fire, keeping it from burning, explaining what we were all doing to the public – not rocket science, but a load of tedious fun.

All of a sudden, I turned around and the youngest of the butchers, covered in blood, carrying a big chunk of something and grinning slyly, asked if he could deep-fry his ribs in my kettle? Even better, when he took the wooden ladle from me to stir as we talked, he finally declared them ready, scooped them out, sliced them in half with his pocket knife, and we shared our first meal – I couldn’t have guess that 13 years later we’d still cook meals together (not always that rustic), be married going on 12 years, have five children, and he’d still be as romantic as that first time.

It was immediately evident he was simple in worldly terms – since he didn’t own a phone, he borrowed a co-worker’s the following week to call, and I swear it sounded over the high wind blowing behind him like he asked me if I’d like to go to a bar. I may not be a teetotaler, but to anyone else I’d have said no, not my idea of a first date. When I agreed and he gave me directions to his house, and told me to be there at 6:30 the next morning (Saturday), of course I needed clarification – found out he’d said BARN, not bar, and we were going to spend our first date working on taking down the barn he was hauling back to his farm to put back up as his two story mechanic/blacksmith/carpentry shop. I could never say I didn’t know what I was getting myself into on Day One. And no wonder when he took me to meet his family less than three months later, his grandpa hugged me and said he’d hoped but didn’t dream a woman existed for his grandson.

Now if you’ve never been to Celina in early February with a high wind on a clear, 14 degree day without a tree in sight, try to imagine the old farmer who wanted the barn off his property stopping by, asking Lee when his crew would show up. When Lee straight-faced looked at me and said, “She’s right here,” I can only say love makes you crazy and keeps you from laughing at poor old men who you’ve innocently confused and shocked. I also knew Lee wasn’t kidding when he’d said he was broke yet would take care of lunch – we took a break, climbed into his truck, and instead of driving to pick something up like I expected, he whips out the brown bag lunch he had thoughtfully (I am biting my cheek and tongue) prepared – an apple and a peanut butter sandwich sans jelly apiece, and two Vanilla Wafers each. And oh, he was on a serious budget so no turning on the truck for a little warmth on break (I would soon learn how long it takes an old diesel to actually warm up).

We agreed on several things immediately – we loved reading, history, and gardening (probably in that order), enjoyed working together, didn’t see a point in dating if we couldn’t envision a future together, wanted as many children as God gave, intended to homeschool, and wanted to live as self-sufficiently and simply as possible on a small farm. Our only point of contention, him being Reformed Baptist and me Traditional Catholic, seemed workable. We both thought it a successful first date.

He talked about marriage right off, and looking back I laugh at him testing me, never hoping I’d enjoy slinging chains, stealing his tractor jobs, and helping turn the old farmstead into a home as much as he did. Isn’t he lucky?

The real test came when he found a combine for sale, necessary if we were going to provide our own grain in large quantities – she was an old Allis Chalmers 60, pull-type combine from 1947, in Indiana for $300. We got there early morning, fell in love, and waved at the two old men staring incredulously as we pulled out, intent on pulling it back to his house 115 miles away. They told us we wouldn’t make it. We were young and foolish enough to believe we could, as is the case with most of what we’ve done in our marriage. Well we only stopped every 30 minutes to grease the old bearings and hung dangerously out of our lane as we were over 14ft wide.

Being the two least technological people in the world, we had literally mapped out our travels on paper, of course never assuming how unreliable our maps would become – so much so we got lost in Oxford (poor college kids would never be the same), unable to turn around (whew!) and kept plowing (literally) on. When we thankfully got out of town, he looked at me and said, “If we survive this day we’re definitely meant to be, and should get married tomorrow.”

That was before I was intently studying the map and giving him directions yet again – “Ok, you’re going to come to such and such a bridge, cross it, pass such and such road, and keep going straight until we get to such and such town.” I could feel the truck idling yet was pouring over the map for the next direction to give. “Um, Dear?” “I’m telling you, just keep going straight yet.” “I don’t think that’s right, Jennifer.” “Will you trust me? I’m looking right at the map.” “Well look up a minute.” “What? Oh.” And I was staring at a dead end that ran into a cornfield. “See, just go straight, it has to be better than Oxford!”

Needless to say, we survived. Fastforward past our perfect little wedding with just our parents and my brothers, a glorious honeymoon at Biltmore (our first and only vacation to date), our first child being weeks premature and all those scary NICU weeks, and our commitment to each other and our growing family that we’d add a new staple to our diet each year from our farm, until we were raising 100% of our food. Lee quit his job at Carriage Hill to farm with little Lucy in the backpack while I taught at Wayne – our plan was for me to keep teaching and carrying the insurance at least until she was ready for first grade, while Lee built up our farm and business.

When Lee, Lucy and I visited a beautiful farm tour in Bellefontaine of full-time farmers nearing retirement age who would become dear friends in the future, the wife candidly talked of how little they made farming – it was hard, yes they loved it, but they made it work grossing $11,000 a year because they had no children. She said, “You could never live this lifestyle farming full time with children.” Yes, my competitive, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer side came out because I whispered to Lee, “Oh yes we can!” And we did.

On my first day back from six weeks of maternity leave with our son, Baby #2, I got home and said to Lee, “So I walked into the teacher’s lounge at lunch to find the RIF list and saw that I’ve been cut. Yes, I’m Terminated. Yes that’s how I found out. No, no one let me know. Yes, all the students knew all morning and I wondered why they were acting so weird (on their best behavior). Yes, we’ll lose our insurance this summer. No, Darling, there’s no explanation why I was “cut” and not the people lower on the seniority list than me. No, the union is not willing to step in, and do we actually want to fight this so I can continue working away from home at a place we both hate? No! God is giving us more than a nudge and we’re going to listen. Honey, we’re Farmers!”


Things I never thought my students would teach me

I had a serious brain block when trying to write a weblog for opening the Market today. Then I stumbled upon a draft of one I never sent back last March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, when we first had to go to all-curbside service, if we wanted to stay open, and I was a nervous wreck. So I thought, it may be a little dated, but I’m not sure it’s any less timely. Kindness and family are always important, right? So here goes ????

Ok so those of you have known me these past four (now five!) years certainly noticed how reserved and shy I am about meeting new people :-). Yeah right!! It about killed me to refrain from standing and chatting with you all at your cars!! My goodness I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed your regular Tuesday friendliness until I had to be a take-out delivery girl!! Hi and bye, it’s not my style. I know, some of you are frowning and agreeing – it’s ok and I apologize even if I can’t help grinning.

I hope we can get back to normal sooner rather than later so I can meet all you new folks in a more civilized way, and catch up with the rest of you regulars who always have such good ideas and interesting stories to share… Joe with his liver diet, Chris with her pumpkin chili and mustard cravings, Melissa and her lasagna love affair… or if you’re like Leonore, Judy and Marlene, put up with my tales of our family farming misadventures, or JoAnn who helps me plan that future trip to Disney! Or maybe Tom who sternly looks at me over his glasses like my old, er, former principal when he found out I’ve never taken my kids to Brukner. Ok, I really meant it – I had gotten used to my Tuesday Market fix ;-)

And yet what’s the real dream come true for me? Staying home with my husband and children on our farm. I just couldn’t imagine myself happier if I never had to leave again.

I had this talk with another mother… Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have some extra time at home, with nowhere to be, no clock to watch, just plenty of quality time waiting for you? I’m probably more into projects than the children sometimes! How do we kill an afternoon? Let’s make playdough. Have a paint party. Raid the closets and dressup box to put on a play of beloved stories and nursery rhymes. Read Sarah Plain and Tall aloud in an afternoon. Bake, and cook, together, and taste EVERYTHING. Go on a scavenger hunt in the yard. Have a singalong while we clean the garden beds and discover new buds popping up. Take over for Darling Husband and spread manure (it’d be your dream too if you’d been used to our old tractors and then got a taste of power steering with the new one. I’m in love, and yes he’s lucky I ever let him drive).

And yet each day that I’ve pondered all the ways we can choose to spend a glorious day here at home, I’ve also been heartbroken remembering my former Dayton students who were devastated at Spring, Christmas, and Summer Breaks when they’d have to spend extended time at home, because home was not a safe, welcoming place. I’ve been a full time Mom/Wife/Farmer/Homemaker for 7 years, yet I can picture those many students as if they were in front of me all over again, begging me to take them home with me, or to let them stay at school a little longer, or just silently sitting at the desk refusing to get on the RTA. Would you want to be the person who physically forced them to go? After I’d met some of their parents, I couldn’t do it. And I hug my own children and pray for extra patience when they’re on my last nerve, picturing those children, wondering what in the world this additional time at home would be for them.

Over 13 years ago before Lee and I met, I was a second year history teacher in Dayton, at a school for at-risk middle schoolers ages 12-17. Many had been kicked out of Dayton Public and we were their alternative to juvie; less of a culture shock than it would have been had I not done my student teaching at Colonel White High School, in West Dayton. Coming from a surburbarn white collar family with four younger brothers who ate a homecooked meal every night, prayed together every day, and whose mother would make a turkey dinner on any given weekday, my experiences as a young teacher were surreal. I went through a LOT of Holy Water.

I was bit, kicked, punched, clawed – being the tallest and youngest middle school teacher among our all-female staff, I ended up breaking up more than my share of battles. I was the only thing standing between a gang who’d suddenly materialized while I rewarded my homeroom with extra playground time (the first and only time) and the boy they intended to send back to the ER. Nothing I studied at Wright State prepared me for what became everyday occurrences. I can still feel my eight little 7th graders everyone picked on who simultaneously tried to hide behind me. And I’m sure you’ve all been at some time in an unexpected situation, one you couldn’t have dreamed prior how you’d have handled it.

If that had been a “What would you do in this moment?” essay in college, I wouldn’t have pictured myself getting up in the leaders’ face with my little mass of bodies behind me, angrily saying “Hit me” and meaning it.

It was hard enough for the little boy they were after to get on the RTA every day and make it home unscathed. Or for the boy who at 13 was built stronger and bigger than most grown men I’ve met to stop crying at Spring Break and go home – school was his escape from his unimaginable home. What would he do being stuck there for a whole week? And what have the children like him done since the pandemic hit? I saw the ramifications of social services being called; in my experience, never a positive outcome for the child.

There’s no way to look presentable to your peers when you’re 14 and living in a van with your mother and two younger sisters. No one told me a teacherly duty would be to talk to her like it was normal to change clothes, do her hair, and brush her teeth at school with things I provided, to start her day with a friendly face and positive energy.

When I can’t sleep or shut off my overworking mind, I write. And as editing is not my favorite pastime, I usually just eventually stop writing when someone else in the house is up. My thought this morning as I looked at the beautiful stars was, among other things, what am I grateful for? A more pleasant work environment at the Market than I’ve ever experienced. You’re kind. You’re generous. You’re easy to work with and for. And when you comment on my own pleasantness, I think every time of my former students. I have a daily choice to be nice. I’m far from perfect but I know I need to try.

I think of the little boy who’s favorite thing to tell me anytime I corrected him was “You’re just racist!”
“And what exactly makes me a racist?”
“You’re white!” (and here’s sarcastic me trying not to laugh and say, “Hey, you’re right! Snot.”)
“So if I’m racist, how am I treating you badly?”
“Making me do this stupid work!”
“I want you to succeed in school and life. YOU are the racist.”
His eyes bugged out of his head and I thought he was about to slug me. One thing I learned in Dayton – the advantage of working in that environment was you could tell the truth and there was no one to reprimand you, and the principal was simply grateful if you kept them from bloodying each other.
“I can’t be racist! I’m black!” he shouted at me. I said, “You look at me and all you see is white. I look at you and all I see is my student. Who’s getting judged and discriminated?” His mother told me she had barely met any white women. I honestly thought, where in the heck am I, and how small is their world? Or mine?

I had a reputation for having a good rapport with the difficult students. My secret formula, looking back? 1. I learned their names quickly, and used them, not just to correct them. THAT threw them off, especially since I didn’t know there were so many “white” ways to pronounce vowels in Shanice, Tajee, Davion, etc. 2. I wasn’t intimidated, nor tried to be intimidating. 3. I was honest to them even when it was ugly. 4. I wasn’t honest with parents and case workers.

The first and only time I was honest with a Dayton parent, the father, who’d come to the school from the shop where he worked to check on his son, learned his boy, who was an old 15 year old 7th grader and built like a college linebacker, was disruptive and disrespectful in my class. No sooner were the words out of my mouth than the father punched the boy in the face hard enough to knock him into the wall and down to the floor. The boy instantly scrambled up, keeping eye contact and not making a sound til the Dad asked, “You won’t give her another problem, will you?” “No sir!” And shortly after, he dropped out, joined the gang his parents feared, and came back as the leader to attempt to assault my little homeroom boy on the playground. And he’d been one of the only students I had with a somewhat stable home, two working parents, and enough to eat. You can bet I remembered this when in later years I made the worst career move of my life and taught at Wayne in Huber, where my entitled, mouthy suburban children with no problems ruled the school because their parents and teachers allowed it. How dare I have high expectations for them, expect 18 year olds to, gasp, take weekly spelling tests in History so they could learn to spell American and Government correctly in American Government class, not change the star athlete’s failing grade so he could play, just because Coach asked me to… No surprise to me at least that I was fired. And I was happier in Dayton.

So I stretched the truth after that first Dayton experience giving honesty to a parent – the face of the child standing behind the parent or case worker would go from wide-eyed fear (one particularly nasty girl stood there and wet herself in anticipation of how I’d describe her behavior) to shock as I always found something positive to say, even when the Mom would look at me skeptically and question whether I was talking about her kid. They taught me an unforgettable lesson – you just don’t know how a trivial gesture or smile or comment from you can affect a person’s outlook, day, attitude, etc.

After a while you’d think I’d learn to stop asking questions, but I’m pretty dense. I questioned one exceptionally quiet, brooding girl – “Why do you just stare at me and never say anything? I hear you talk to the other teachers?”
“I don’t know what to do with you.”
I’d heard a lot from my students but that was a new one. “Excuse me?”
“I think you’re fake.”
“What! Why?!”
“No one actually cares that much.”
“I do.”
After a long moment of staring she said, “I know. And I still don’t know what to do with you.”
“Well Honey, no one else does either, so join the club.”
“Miss Pierce, C’mon! You know we don’t go to the same clubs, Whitey.” And she tried to keep a straight face before we both burst out laughing.

That little girl taught me not everyone has had many or any people be kind to them in their life, but every opportunity I had, I wanted to be just that. Kind, because I now knew it was more powerful than I had realized.

I don’t have any answers. I don’t feel like I know anything. My nerves are shot after just being inundated with more Market orders than I ever dreamed of, and a new untested system for pickup that could have been a disaster. Yet because this little local scene attracts the very best people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet, everything worked out beautifully. Until I drove home imagining those faces that haunt me.

Maybe the only answer I’ve found is just to be nice when I don’t want to make the effort. I tell myself that cranky guy SHOULD be a grump because I talk too much, am obnoxious, and often forget his eggs or porkchops. The cold, sullen lady doesn’t like me because I look like her mother, who sold the Christmas presents she got at school from her young, naïve homeroom teacher for drug money. What if everyone who I come in contact with is hard to deal with because they grew up with the kind of home life of some of my favorite students? They have every reason to be difficult. And I have every reason to be kind, to everyone, because you just never know, do you?


Congratulations to our Winners, and Thanks to everyone who entered! Be sure to watch for the next drawing :-)

Breakfast #1 – Phyllis Payne

Breakfast #2 – Elana Morgan

Breakfast #3 – Sandy Brogden

Burger Night – Marlene McDaniel

Chicken Dinner – Maria Crist

Great Grilling #1 – Joseph Leffler

Great Grilling #2 – Julie Sabourin

Homemaker’s #1 – Julie Raymond

Homemaker’s #2 – Jackie Van Tilburgh

Scrumtious Salad – Jennifer Dodd

Special Extras #1 – Debbie Priest

Special Extras #2 – Betsy Smith

Tea – Deborah Brandt

Last Day to Enter our Giveaway!

We close at 9pm Tonight -

Have you entered our Gift Basket Giveaway?!

I’ll announce the winners of the THIRTEEN Gift Baskets tomorrow!

Good Luck, and Thank You for supporting our Local Market :-)

Pumpkin Rolls, Maple Syrup in Glass Pints!

Beloved seasonal favorite Pumpkin Rolls return! From The Farmhouse Bakery and Creamery, these fall favorites won’t be around for long!

And brand new on the Market – Sugar Grove Maple Products now offer their most popular size, Pints, in Glass jars! Same price as their plastic Pint jugs – Wow!

Always something new and exciting!!

Thanks to Walker Cabin Farm!

Thanks to Debbie Walker of Walker Cabin Farm, my great volunteer last night, for all the delicious extras she brought!

She’ll be back next Tuesday as my volunteer again, with more baked extras, so come early if you’d like to snatch some additional yumminess :-)

StudeBaker Returns, Ground Beef from Bair Trax Dairy!

6635 StudeBaker “History in the Baking” returns this week with all her organic baked goodness – everything from Challah and pasta to sourdough and rustic crackers!

Plus back on the Market – Ground Beef and Patties from organic Bair Trax Dairy!