A bakery in Southeast Idaho was giving away their deck oven. “Free to a good home,” read the email’s subject line. They had to be out of their space in two weeks; they needed it gone. “Holy shit!” I thought. “A free oven!” And then, “Could I do it?” Could I close down the bakery and rent a truck, disassemble six tons of metal and concrete, of gas and electrical lines, load and secure it all, and drive back across two states and over the Cascades in early November? Or maybe I could hire a driver? Hire a crew to break down and crate? The possibilities flailed in my head. I emailed the bakery. I called my dad to talk it over. I texted friends and acquaintances, bakers, millers, and farmers, asking, How? and, What if? and, Is this crazy?
The deal was so good it dazzled me. An oven is the most expensive tool in most bakeries. A free oven, or even an oven that cost $5,000 or $10,000 to disassemble, move, store, and reassemble would completely change the startup budget of the bakery caught half way between dream and plan in my mind. But. There was no bakery yet. There wasn’t even a location for a bakery. And this oven was big, with over twice the capacity I’d planned for even in my most ambitious projections. It was an oven for a wholesale operation, not a bicycle-based, neighborhood bakery. I spun and spun, caught in anticipation and indecision. I went to bed exhausted and wide awake, feeling like I used to after a day of rock climbing and the constant push-pull of fear and exhilaration.
In the morning, instead of stuffing food, sneakers, and headphones into my panniers and hurrying to the kitchen to start the day’s mix, I made coffee and toast and sat down to think some more. I sat for a long time. When I finally rode to work I was hours late and settled. It was the wrong oven. Even free, it was the wrong oven. I let it go.
The day of undeciding left me clumsy-tired in the bakery, and certain of two things: 1. It was time and past to become machine literate, or at least machine conversational, to get comfortable tinkering, fixing, taking apart, and reassembling equipment (other than my bicycle) so that the next time some large and unwieldy baking tool became urgently available, I would be more prepared, and 2. I have an unexpectedly strong network of people skilled in business, in machines and electrical work, in logistics and planning, who, when I ask, will answer with advice, probing questions, and, “How can I help?”
I often worry that I’ve isolated myself with this business, with it’s unreasonable hours and endless demands. I miss more friend gatherings than I make, and when I do show up there’s a good chance I’ll leave early or fall asleep in the armchair in the corner. I haven’t made time for major community involvement in years. But when I reached out Monday, people reached back. I have a community despite myself. Thank you.
Owner | Baker
THANKSGIVING ORDERS are up! (or they will be shortly. Give me a few minutes to update the online store.)
Order online with a credit card or at the market with cash or check
Pickup Wednesday, Nov. 27, downtown (exact location TBD)
Apple Cake - because it's my favorite and should be yours, too. Rye, buckwheat, and heirloom apples. 78% Whatcom grown by weight.
Gingerbread Bundt - in all its dark and sticky glory.
Rosemary Rolls - with a little toasted corn & olive oil
Red & White - for a large or larger table bread
Roasted Potato & Garlic - 100% Washington grown (except the salt)
Harvest Miche - of wheat, rye, buckwheat, & corn
TODAY AT MARKET
Red & White
Oat & Honey
Malted Chocolate Chip Cookie
Bittersweet Chocolate Cookie
Apple Oat Scone (with or without marmalade)
Apple Cake with Cultured Cream
Orange Cardamom Bread Pudding
FALL BREAD SUBSCRIPTION
6 weeks remaining
Every Wednesday, OCT 2 - DEC 18
Pickup downtown, Birchwood, Fairhaven
This week: Mountain Rye, Red & White, WILD & SEEDY