January February March April
Well the year started off pretty normally. After a busy Christmas period we took our annual break and stayed just outside Port Fairy. The kids loved the surf and we took our bikes on the rail trail all the way to Warrnambool The month ended with everyone getting ready for a busy year at school The kids were going into Yr 12, Yr 10, Yr 8, Yr 6 and Yr 4. As Summer turned to Autumn the world started to shift and our annual presence at the Lost Trades Fair was a little uncertain But the Fair went ahead (this year in Bendigo) and there were crowds and we sold 1000s of Pork Pies - and then everything was cancelled; travel, Grand Prix, theatre shows, weddings, school. It took us all a bit by shock - trying to work out what we could and couldn't do. Wondering if we could keep operating - keep our doors open, keep our staff on, pay the rent. It was exhausting for all of us - sometimes exciting and sometimes forcing a slow down and reevaluation. We had to close our cooking school but were thankful to be under the 'essential services' category We filled our fridges with stocks, soups & ragus. We started selling milk, eggs and flour - and we kept on going.
In a business sense, Easter is the 'Next Big Thing' on our calendar after the Lost Trades Fair - but no-one really knew what this was going to look like - even our own annual family gathering was cancelled. We took some time to work out if we could deliver our Easter products to our customers in Melbourne and suburbs. We offered a small range and you beautiful people responded with such enthusiasm and generosity. So although Easter looked very different, it was special because of its uniqueness. Thankfully Easter Bunny still came and we took some time to work out zoom and have a fun family catch up despite all the obstacles.
May June July August
We took advantage of some of the enforced down time to work on our new website. And by May we were doing high-tech online ordering and home deliveries. The response was overwhelming and we were thrilled to be back in touch with so many long term loyal customers. The home deliveries made up for some of the short fall in cancelling so many of our sold out cooking classes.
We were lucky enough to take advantage of some easing of movement for regional areas and snuck away to the 90 Mile Beach with the kids for a few days - special time for coastal walks, time to read and play board games. And even though it was the middle of July in Gippsland - a high of 12˚C, the kids and Damian still swam a few times.
Winter for us was a time of hibernation and reconnecting with the kids. We (along with everyone else) baked bread and fermented and made pasta and ate and ate and ate. We went on Winter hikes and packed winter picnics and our youngest daughter even made her first Communion in a Covid safe way.
September October November December
Father's Day was a bike ride to Bald Hill. Will's birthday was a socially-distanced, outdoor, number-capped kick of the soccer ball at the Bot Gardens. The kids were finally allowed to return to school - a chance to catch up with much-missed friends above anything else. And suddenly the sun started to shine and the tumultuous year was crashing to an unpredictable end. There were school productions without an audience, Yr 12 graduations that we couldn't attend, there were zoom awards assemblies and there was still a ring of steel. So many loved ones so far away - what was Christmas going to look like? It's very hard to sell Christmas products when you're not feeling very Christmassy. Luckily ringo'steel came down and my most enthusiastic sister made a dash to help us decorate our shop and bring some hope that we could be together. And so Christmas happened - people chose who they would spend it with and they chose their food and gifts thoughtfully. Many of you chose to buy local and support small businesses and makers. Gifts were simpler and fridges were full of special things to eat and drink. We were grateful for the small things - being together and making it through.
2020 wasn't as hard for us as it was for many. Our kids were a good age to navigate home schooling independently (HUGE respect to parents/teachers of preschoolers & preppies ) We could continue to work (and we work in a very gratifying field where people thank us for feeding them) We managed to pay our staff and our rent and although we didn't really achieve the goals we had set, we realised it didn't actually matter. We were given time to reflect and re-evaluate what was important. We were forced to have a better work-life balance and Damian was able to take Will to soccer for the first time in years. We live and work in a beautiful region - in a town with a BIG heart and a real sense of community. But the thing that saved us was having considerate, engaged customers who supported our business when they could.
So we are signing off on an unexpected 2020 that despite it's difficulties gave us so many reasons to be grateful. Please accept our genuine heart-felt thanks for supporting us through this year - especially those who DM'd, emailed, called and checked in, for those that sent boxes of our products to loved ones in lockdown, for those who followed us on social media and signed up to our email list, for those that managed to place their Christmas orders online for the first time ever, for those customers who have been buying our Duck & Mushroom Parfait for over 10 years, for people who let us know our Pork Pies are their dad's favourite, to those who held on to their Cooking School credits - we can't wait to have you back (hoping to restart classes just after Easter) We know how lucky we are to have such loyal, engaged, enthusiastic customers - especially if you've read this far ! Best Wishes for the coming year - Bryanna & Damian
PS We do still have some exciting things planned for 2021 (including launching a re-brand for our business) but we have also learnt we need to be flexible and work with whatever is thrown our way. But first we are taking a week off to spend with the kids ( our little shop will continue to be open )