November 4th, 2016 our 40 year old farm store was burned down. It was financially, emotionally and mentally devastating. If we were going to survive we had to immediately investigate every possible option for rebuilding.
We looked into renting contractor trailers to use as a store temporarily. We looked into pole barns, steel buildings, sheds and came up with designs for rebuilding on the site of our old store. Unfortunately every possible solution came with a hefty price tag and a host of other challenges.
In an effort to utilize buildings we already had we came up with beautiful plans to rehabilitate our hundred year old barn. This too had a hefty price tag. In spite of our efforts to shore up the structure of the barn the harsh winter winds were too much for the long neglected structure. As much as Bejan wanted to save the old barn it was just too costly. Between the high cost of rehabilitation and pressure from our insurance company we were forced to demolish the frail structures.
Meanwhile, having spent all year weighing options, without a long term solution in place we had to get ready for the coming harvest. We purchased a mobile kitchen so we could start making cider donuts in time for the Harvest of 2017. After many late nights and some creative problem solving we managed to reconfigure our cider press operation and make room for a small “temporary” retail space in our production building.
Having all of our operations under one roof proved to be a very efficient and effective solution so we started considering making our temporary store into a more permanent solution. With an unused cold storage room adjacent to our temporary store we started devising plans to re-purpose the cold storage room into what would become our permanent retail location.
Emboldened by the cost effectiveness of re-purposing our existing building we started incrementally expanding our retail space into the cold storage room. We started collecting and cleaning old beautiful barn wood from the property to be utilized in our renovation efforts. The long term plan was starting to shape up.
We have spent countless hours salvaging, collecting, de-nailing, washing, sanitizing and re-purposing as much barn wood from the property as possible. We speculate that some of this wood is hundreds of years old and it has allowed us to develop a unique aesthetic with character and beauty.
With another harvest behind us, the barns now completely disassembled and piles of storied wood that needed to be reanimated, we went to work expanding, enhancing and improving upon the progress we had already made. We upgraded our modest restroom to be more customer focused, we added more windows to our seating area – bringing in more natural light and scenery, and we installed a wood burning stove to bring ambiance and warmth to a room that was once designed to remain cold. We have started work on a canopy that will provide shelter over our main entrance and a covered seating area.
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
We still have lots of barn wood to re-purpose and lots of ideas and dreams to keep materializing…so until further notice we’ll be here “happening to things.”