Dr. Maze’s Farm is no more.

Dr Maze sunsetDr. Maze’s Farm is no more. We will not open the farm to the public this year. We are selling off our equipment, supplies, and all the odds and ends that make up the farm.

Last year was our best year ever when considering our visitor numbers and the financial success of the farm. So why step out now?

Over the years we have gained much joy and satisfaction from the farm and our visitors. The decision to give that up was difficult and took some time and reflection on my part.

As many of you know, last year I fell down a flight of concrete stairs, fracturing my spine and partially collapsing one of my vertebrae. I feel fortunate that there was no obvious nerve damage. With persistence and commitment to following my physical therapy routine I got back onto my feet and dove back into the farm work. While in some ways I feel stronger and more able than before, the effects of the injury still linger. Last year I dug down deep and pushed through the farm season with a lot of support from family and friends. Some long-term staff stepped up and took on new roles. I found new staff that did outstanding jobs. I came to the end of the season relieved that we had all done so well and feeling optimistic about the following year of farming.

At the beginning of this year I fully intended that the farm would come back better than ever. I selected a number of new activities and projects to build to add to the fun. I started ordering seed and updating my supply ordering lists. I built my work and goals calendars for the year.

Part of the farm planning is taking a realistic view of how much work would be needed, how much I could expect to carry out myself, how much I would have to hire out, and who would I find to help fulfill my vision and create the Dr. Maze’s Farm experience our visitors have come to expect.

The deeper I got into planning, the more I came to realize how much the success of last year depended on guts and luck and coasting on the success we had built up over the years. This is not a long-term successful business strategy. Neither is it a joyful or satisfying way to live my life nor is it fair to my family. I finally came to realize that I needed to release the farm dream while it was still a positive.

So what is next for the farm? We rent the land and I fully expect there will be one or more farmers doing something else here next year. I look forward to seeing what is grown here in the future. Meanwhile we will be selling stuff. If you want that big “How tall are you?” signs, some fence posts, or something else that caught your eye during a visit then watch for upcoming sales announcements.

What is next for “Dr. Maze?” I have already started preparing for my next career. I am joining my wife Carol’s tax preparation and representation practice. This past Saturday I took the first of 3 four-hour exams required to become an Enrolled Agent, admitted to practice before the IRS. This may not be an obvious next step from farming, but then farming was not an obvious next step from my prior career as a scientist.

I greatly enjoyed farming these last seventeen years. I expect that the tax practice will keep me going just as long.

Thank you for all your support to the farm. You will never find another place just like Dr. Maze’s Farm but there are many other great farms and farmers. I urge you to seek out and support them this year.

Roger Calhoon, “Dr. Maze”

Spring Seed Swap Startup

Don’t miss this event!

Spring Seed Swap Startup
Sunday, May 3 from noon to 5 pm
Apple Farm Village
14525 148th Ave. NE, Woodinville
Gardeners, join with us as we start up the Sammamish Valley Seed Swap.
squash seed in hand
squash seed in hand

Try a new vegetable or flower variety. Find a home for your extra seeds or plant starts. Hang out with us and other gardeners to swap and talk about plant varieties and seed saving. We hope this Startup event will grow into a community.

We will have seed for you to take home to your garden. If you have extra seed, bring it along to share with other gardeners. If you have plant starts or cuttings to share, bring them too. Maybe they will find a new home.
We will have seeds available to take home.
We welcome people to trade or donate seeds, small plants, bulbs, or tubers..
        We welcome excess seed purchased by gardeners.
        We especially encourage seeds saved by gardeners.
Some rules:
    No GMO seed or plants.
    No treated seed.
    No seeds from the Noxious Weed list.
    Plants and plant material must be disease-free, healthy, and in good condition.
    Seed and plant material must be clearly labeled.
    Trades and donations only. No seeds are to be bought or sold.
Dr. Maze’s Farm and The Herbfarm are seed sponsors, donating seed to get things going. Apple Farm Village, the host sponsor, has shops, art, and wine tastings to distract you from the seeds.
The Seed Swap is part of the Sammamish Valley Spring Celebration (SammamishValley.org). There are nine additional farms and other stops participating in the Sammamish Valley Spring Celebration, so plan to spend some time exploring the valley. We hope to see you there!

Starting the new year with a tumble.

It has been some time since I have written here. I have been on a long recovery from a severe back injury. I am now working to catch up and get a new year started once again.

For those of you who are wondering, falling down a flight of concrete stairs and fracturing your spine is an experience that I highly recommend that you strenuously avoid. It is now more than eleven weeks since my accident. I still have a month or more before I can expect to be functioning as usual. The good news is that I do expect to heal and get fully back into farming. I will just be a little shorter than I was last year.

I have had help with the animals from some wonderful volunteers. And I would still be lying on my back without the non-stop support and aid of my wife Carol.

Winter Squash seedlings - Carnival
Winter Squash seedlings – Carnival

Our field crew is back at the farm and has started preparing the ground for planting. The greenhouse is starting to fill with flats of seeds starting to sprout.

As part of my strategy to successfully reach the end of the farm year, we will be reducing our hours during the summer.

We will open the middle two weekends in July for our Lavender Celebration, (July 10, 11, 12 and 17, 18, 19), the first three Saturdays of September (September 5,12,19) as Early Bird days for the Sunflower – Corn Maze, and then every day from Friday September 24 to Saturday October 31 for our big Pumpkin Patch and Maze Fall Harvest Celebration.

I thank you for your support over the years. I hope to see you down on the farm again this year.

A year at the farm month by month

Young Cinderella pumpkin
Young Cinderella pumpkin

Each month on the farm has its own character and feel. After a few years, you start to feel the cycle turn. Every year is different, but much remains similar year after year. As the weather changes so do our tasks and workload. As our crops are planted, tended, and harvested, the population of staff and visitors on the farm ebbs and flows. I enjoy each month as it comes, and anticipate the events of the next.

I have selected one photograph from each month in 2014 to symbolize that month. Each year shares the same themes, but the details change. Continue reading A year at the farm month by month

Farm & Field: November & December

This is my final monthly review of the farm for 2014, combining the months of November and December. November starts out with a hard push to get the fields ready for winter before the rains render the fields too wet to enter with the tractors.

Canada geese in corn maze field
Canada geese in corn maze field

After a couple of weeks the workload slows down considerably, and I switch modes to winter maintenance and planning and preparing for the next farm year.

The farm closes on the last day of October, Continue reading Farm & Field: November & December

Farm & Field: September & October

We work all hard year round to prepare the farm for our big season, September and October. On the farm in September we are concentrating on harvesting winter squash and gourds, starting to prepare the fields for winter, and gearing up for pumpkin season.

Strolling through the Maze
Strolling through the Maze

September usually has better weather as Summer transitions into Fall. The maze paths are dry and the big sunflowers are at their peak. Even so, October has the force of tradition that keeps people waiting for their farm visits.

This is a bit of a retrospective look back at some of the highlights of September and October at Dr. Maze’s Farm.

In September we prepare for the big Pumpkin Patch season. We start selling the Jack o  Lantern pumpkins the last week of September for the early bird Halloween celebrants. Continue reading Farm & Field: September & October

Farm and Field Today: August

August is a transitional month here at the farm. The planting is done and we are starting to focus on our big fall season. The days are long and hot, but our minds are looking ahead to October, when most of our visitors come to the farm. In addition to the fall Pumpkin Patch, Corn Maze, and other fall activities, we also greet quite a few kids and teachers to our Pumpkin Farm Tours.

I am writing this in January instead of late August as I intended. Although I took the photographs, I somehow never found the time to write this up. Here is a bit of what happened on the farm in August.

Theodora & Lucy - Angora goats
Theodora & Lucy – Angora goats

We expanded our little herd with two Angora goats, Theodora and Lucy. Yes, these are goat and not sheep. And yes, these are the animals that produce the luxurious Angora wool. Continue reading Farm and Field Today: August

Thanks: One of many

It seems that the more activity we have going on at the farm, the less writing I do.

Visiting the pumpkin patch
Visiting the Pumpkin Patch

We have completed a very busy and eventful season since I last sent out our farm newsletter. On many occasions during that time I have paused to think that I should be writing about this in the newsletter or blog, but then another urgent matter would crop up and I would be off and running again. Now that I have some time to reflect on the year, I am thinking about how to schedule time for writing so it doesn’t always stay near the bottom of my To Do list. You may see more short posts and (even) less polish, but I will endeavor to be more timely with communications in the next year. Continue reading Thanks: One of many

What is all the fuss about lavender?

In the lavender at Dr. Maze's Farm
Lavender up close.

Many folks love lavender. Others wonder what is all the fuss? What makes lavender different from all the other fragrant and pretty flowers? There are many ways to enjoy lavender.  In addition to displaying bunches of cut lavender stems, we find other uses for the stems, as well as the flower buds, lavender essential oil, and the flower water, or hydrosol of lavender.

Lavender has an engaging fragrance that is beloved by many. That is enough reason to grow and use lavender, but looking deeper, we find that lavender is a complex and multi-faceted plant with many uses.
I would like to touch on some highlights here, but many of these topics demand more discussion. Watch the blog for more upcoming postings about lavender. Each paragraph here could someday be the start of a separate entry. Let me know what most interests you about lavender. Here starts our whirlwind tour:

Continue reading What is all the fuss about lavender?

Farm and Field Today: July Edition

This is the first of a new series of articles where I give an update on what is going on at the farm. With one exception, I took all of these photos today (July 3).

Every day the plants are bigger and I find new things to see. Our crops are all planted and now we are focusing on weeding and on preparing for the upcoming Lavender Celebration weekends (July 11-13 and 18-20).

Flower of a large gourd.
Flower of a large gourd.

The vining crops are starting to blossom. We see flowers in the pie pumpkins, Jack O Lanterns, gourds, and the winter squash fields.  Most of these have bright yellow-orange flowers, but the big hard gourds are have these beautiful frilly white flowers. Continue reading Farm and Field Today: July Edition

What is going on down on the farm?