The February Blog

My name is Alexis Negranti and I have been an absent blogger. Confession complete.

So you may think that because I’ve been an absent blogger that it’s our slow time around here…well I hate to tell ya, but you’d be wrong! I’ve been traveling every week for meetings. I’ve probably seen more of California in the last month than I’ve seen in the last year. True story. To fill you in a little bit, the end of April marks the anniversary of our ice cream being on the shelves for one year. I know, I can’t believe it either! Anyway, we are doing a little {BIG} re-launch this April (and getting our ice cream into a store near YOU!). But more on that later.

I’ve also been writing cover letters (thank goodness for my communications classes in college!), sending out samples, and filling out promo-schedules. Oh, you don’t know what promo-schedules are? Well I didn’t either. That was until at the end of an important meeting last week I was asked if I could send them my ‘promo-schedules’ for this upcoming summer by the end of the week. “Of course, not a problem” was my response, in my most nonchalant, I do these all the time tone. Like what?! What was I thinking? I didn’t have the slightest clue what that was. Fake it till ya make it…I guess?! And I did make it. Sent them those promo schedules this afternoon. I’ve never been more happy creating and filling out a ginormous, overwhelming spreadsheet in my life.

Aside from boring office stuff….

We also are creating another label and will be making cheese. This is because I needed one more thing to do. Oh, and because the cheese is amazing.

This past weekend, Wade and I had a fun date night in and sampled the new cheese(s). And had wine. It was fabulous.

cheese.plate

Have *ewe* (sheep humor never gets old) heard about our new CHOCOLATE ice cream? Yep. The rumors are true! Chocolatey, creamy goodness and still less than 7% fat. And just in time for Valentines day. It’s really good, you should probably try it.

chocolate

Ohhhhh yes.

And our number one seller, Salted Brown Sugar. When we say handcrafted, small batch…we meant it!

sbs

No blog of mine is complete without at least one shameless photo of at least one of my animals….

Vivian. My, thinks-shes-a-ranch-dog, plays outside Shih Tzu, who proceeds to take residence on the top of the couch. It’s no wonder my house only stays clean for 2.3485 seconds at a time.

vivian

Seems like I’m on a once a month posting schedule (sorry, I’ve got schedules on the brain!). Hopefully I will get to more posts…if not, consider this the February blog!

Busy Blogger,

Alexis

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Hello 2013

Whoa, whoa, whoa…has it really been a MONTH since my last blog? Um…my bad.

Well first of all…HAPPY 2013! I have a feeling this is going to be (another) exciting year! We have big things coming and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. But for now…

It’s been raining, like, a lot. Here on the Central Coast of CA we’re not used to that much rain, so it’s muddy here. It’s also cold. Like…below freezing. Now, you east coasters may be laughing, but when it hits the 20’s, we think the world is freezing over. Let’s just say our little wood-burning oven has been in overdrive. Thank goodness for my Bean Boots. They are a dairy girls best friend this time of year.

bean.boots

We’ve had some escapees. What? Yep. Our yearling ewes (the ewes born last year here on the farm), are devious!! They charm you with their friendly demeanor and good looks, and next thing you know they are walking down the road and eating EVERYTHING in the front yard. Ya, it’s happened.

escapees

{Please note the angelic sheep on the correct side of the fence}

Here are some photos I have snapped of our ewes recently. Aren’t they purdy?

ewes

mistymorning

And today while heading out of the creamery after making ice cream all morning I noticed that this little lady had been watching me through the window.

ewe

Cutest ever. Ever. EVER!

Oh, and I ate this delicious salad for lunch yesterday. Because I know you really care.

salad{arugula, black beans, Gorgonzola, tangerines, red onions and balsamic}

Cheers to 2013!

Alexis

All before 8 a.m.

On Sunday Wade and I moved our sheep to greener pastures…sounds kinda corny… but really, we did! We have separated our ewes into two groups. We moved one group closer to the barn (they will be lambing soon, and we all know the only reason I do this is to see all our lambs! Um…not really. But kinda…).

Anyway, we moved the other group to the back of the property with green grass (thank you rain!) while they wait to be bred. I should mention that to get to the ewes on the back of the property it is literally across the river and through the woods……and up multiple hills…and….you get the point. But once you get there this is the view our ewes have.

I’m pretty certain they have a better view than I do. And I am also pretty certain we have the most spoiled ewes ever.

So yesterday I fed the ewes by the barn then got in my handy dandy yellow ‘vintage’ (makes it sound cuter) golf cart, loaded it with some alfalfa, and Lucy and I headed over the hill and through the woods….

…and up the hills, and through some more woods

…and up the last hill and…

….my little yellow golf cart died.

Right there.

Opps. I may or may not have forgotten to charge my little yellow electric cart the last couple days. My bad.

So I had to carry the alfalfa down to the ewes. And walked up this hill a total of four times to get all the feed.

Now, this hill may not seem like much. But after my fourth venture up the slippery dew-covered hill, I was over it. I’m pretty sure Lucy was thrilled.

But the ewes got fed. Spoiled ladies.

And Lucy and I had a nice hike back down to the barn. And on the way down the last hill I took this photo.

It might just be the most beautiful photo ever. Not that I am biased or anything. But really, seeing this made me so thankful for what we do, where we live, and how we live our lives.

I am also thankful for that yellow golf cart my husband brought home for me….but now I have to figure out how to bring it back down the hill before he realizes it’s missing. And that I killed it….

And this all took place before 8 a.m.

Off to rescue the cart,

Alexis

Seven.

1. We had our first heavy frost of the season. Frozen pipes and all. And I love it, because that means fall is officially here.

Speaking of fall, we have two new fall inspired flavors: Pumpkin and Maple Pecan. If you have not tried them, DO IT. They’re really good.

2. Wade brought home a new toy. You see, I do the morning feedings (because Wade goes to an ‘off-farm’ job…someone has to support my dairy habit…) and walking out to our back pasture every morning was fine when it was 60ish degrees out. But now that it’s in the 20’s? Ya, not happening. So my husband brought this beauty home.

A ‘vintage’ electric golf cart. Do I care that it’s bright yellow? Nope. Do I care that one of the headlights is missing? Nope. Am I SO happy that my ride out to feed the ewes in the back pasture is less than 3 minutes? Yes!

Oh, and maybe I do care a little about the color. I’m thinking barn red would be nice.

3. I made this cake for my friend Maggie’s birthday yesterday. And I think it’s really cute. Oh, and don’t mind the dinosaurs…it’s a long story, but she loved it!

4. This past weekend we participated in the Garagiste Festival (Garagiste celebrates small lot winemakers and artisans). I was able to attend the sold out, fancy, dinner {I have awesome friends} which was a seven course meal…. a-mazing. Here was dessert: fresh lemon meringue, poppy-seed crumble, and extra virgin olive oil.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

It was good. Like, really good.

At the festival we paired our Organic Blackberry, Vanilla Bean and Rosemary ice cream with a local Petite Syrah. It was phenomenal.

5. It rained!!! I don’t know if you fully understand how happy this makes me. When it rains that means grass grows. Which means our sheep have feed. Which means our hay bill goes down. Which means I’m happy. So is our checkbook.

And who doesn’t like rain? There’s just something so romantic about it.

{on my way home right after the rain had cleared}

6.  And after the rain I gave Lucy a bath. She was less than thrilled.

Every time I look at this photo I giggle. I love that dog.

7. Oh, have you heard about our ice cream club? It’s like a wine club but with ice cream! Four shipments a year, each shipment includes six pints, and it’s only $52.00 a shipment. Exclusive flavors and discounts. And it makes a great gift. Oh, and if you can’t do pick-up, it’s only $15.00 to ship anywhere in California! What’s not to love? Go to our Shop Products page, download the form and email it back. First shipment goes out this week!

I snapped this photo at my friends winery last night. What does this have to do with ice cream? Or our farm for that matter? Not much. But it shows just how beautiful fall is.

Happy Monday everyone,

Alexis

365 Days Ago

365 days ago I had never made a single scoop of sheep milk ice cream IN MY LIFE.

365 days ago our flock was half the size it is today.

365 days ago we had half the dogs we do today (OK, not super relevant but TRUE!).

365 days ago our lives changed forever.

365 days ago my dream became a reality.

365 days ago the state dairy inspector signed a little piece of paper that made all the difference.

365 days ago Negranti Dairy & Artisan Creamery was legally licensed the 7th sheep dairy in California. And so it began.

I cannot believe we have been a legal operating dairy for only one year; some days it seems like forever ago, and the other days I feel like it was just last month we started this farm on a whim. We are already expanding across the state, shipping over to the East Coast, and reading our names in the New York Times. Like really? Pinch me.

And although we are growing fast, I’m proud to say we still are (and will always be) a small family farm. We continue to stand by our motto ‘teat to table‘. Yup we do everything from the  feeding, milking, and mucking out the barn to the ice cream making & shipping, graphics, and books. Wade has the additional task of keeping me sane during the crazy times.  Anyway,  I love our family farm. It’s crazy, it’s hard work, and sometimes (um…often times) I wonder what I got us into…but this whole dairy thing is more rewarding than I could ever imagine. And only look forward to what the future holds.

Where will we be 365 days from today? Where will our ice cream be? How many flavors will we produce? How many sheep will we have? On that note, how many lambs will we have?

On second thought, I don’t want to know….

Cheers to a great 365 days,

Alexis

Shepherds!

This weekend Wade and I were driving into town and surprisingly saw…real life shepherds! And guess what? They were…shepherding! The flock must have been close to three hundred sheep. It was quite the sight and I wanted to share.

Some shepherds control their flocks with dogs, a calm demeaner and a shepherds crook….me? I just bribe them with food. What can I say? They’re suckers for some alfalfa…

Just look how they come running! No dogs, calm demeanor or shepherds crook necessary. Happy Tuesday!
Shepherd in training,

Alexis

Ice Cream Truck

Because we needed another project…..

And because it was too stinkin’ cute to resist…..

WE BOUGHT AN ICE CREAM TRUCK!

Yes. You read right. An ice cream truck. An early 70’s, vintage ice cream truck.

When choosing this vehicle, here were our requirements:

WADE: How is the motor? How many miles does it have on it? Registration up to date? Oil leaks? Good tires? Etc., etc., etc….

ME: Is it cute? Yep, that was it. My only requirement.

And it was cute. So we bought it.


We are fixing it up like an old fashioned ice cream truck (with a side window and awning!) for weddings and events (we already have one on the books for next year). We may or may not have discussed music and speakers (I said forget traditional ice cream truck music, we should record our sheep and have our truck play BAAA BAAA BAAA everywhere we go…we’ll see how that goes over….). I will post photos as the renovations begin!

Soon to be an ice cream truck driver,

Alexis

Crazy. Hectic. Wonderful.

Whoa! What happened? Life has gotten crazy. And just when I think it can’t get crazier…it does!

So here’s what’s been going on:

1. The biggest news ever…(drum-roll please) we were in the New York Times Magazine! What?! Yep! Check out the link here below and go to page 92. I can’t even believe it.

CLICK HERE for the virtual magazine.

2. We start shipping our ice cream in ONE WEEK. I have a UPS label printer on the desk in my little home office. I never thought I would see the day.

3. I am trying to spend a little more time with friends and family. And I’ve been riding more; it’s extremely therapeutic. Why you ask? Because rather than allow my mind to think about shipping ice cream, new flavors, and feeding sheep, I have to focus on not getting bucked off. Pretty simple.

4. Um, did I mention we were in the NEW YORK TIMES? OK, just making sure.

5. We got another dog. That makes six dogs (yes, six). Don’t even ask.

6. We are doing a big event for Sunset Magazine this weekend. SAVOR the Central Coast. Wine, beer, artisan goodies…what’s not to love?

7.  We are also launching an ice cream club. It’s like a wine club but with ice cream….yum.

8.  My house is a disaster. Please send help.

9. Although hectic, stressful, and non-stop, life is wonderful.
Thank you for your support & love,

Alexis

Life, recently.

This week has gone by too fast. Here is what has been going on:

Wade went on a boys 4×4 Jeep trip up in Northern California. All the 4×4 vehicles came back broken, so I am pretty sure they had a great time.

This is Wade with his baby. And I’m not talking about the dog.

While Wade was on his venture North I had a girls night. We called it “girls night on the farm”. Good food, good wine, great company. We had a blast.

Don’t mind that everyone in the photo had alien eyes. It happens.

Oh, and I gave our last kitten away as a party favor. I’m not sure that friend will ever come back over……

I took this photo of our barn one morning a few days ago. I love it.

And Lucy has been helping me feed every morning.

She’s pretty cute.

In other news…lots of big stuff happening on the dairy! I can’t wait to share them with you all. As for now, my weekend plans include ice cream making, basil washing, berry slicing, mint chopping and more ice cream making.

Happy Friday!

Alexis