Monthly Archives: December 2013

Year 1. Done.

It’s just a memory now.  Or at least almost.  I still have a couple dozen bins of apples in the storage, and I still need to find a little time to dump the few pumpkins on the back porch that didn’t find a home.  But for the most part, the 2013 season – my first season managing the orchard – is history.  And yes, I’m happy about it!

My last post alluded to the sheer exhaustion we were all feeling, but that’s a memory now too.  After two nice big holidays with my family, and a five day family trip to the in-law’s in Indiana wherein I was forced to do pretty much nothing but sit, eat, rest, and shop…  I’m feeling pretty good!   Here in the extreme west of the time zone, I’ve even remembered how to sleep late!

This is just the kind of break we all need to reflect on the year behind, and think about what will be done differently in the coming year.  So here are some reflections and resolutions:

  1. Do something about the things that drive me nuts.  Some of those factors are outside of my control (weather), some are expensive to change (aging infrastructure), some take time and effort (planting new crops), and some are really pretty simple but somehow just keep getting ignored.  But one thing’s for sure, if something bothers me now, I’m pretty sure it is going to bother me in 10 years.  So it is better to fix it than ignore it.  (Kind of like the homeowner who installs new carpet just as they sell their home.)
  2. Organization is more important than ever.  We are growing a dozen different crops, sold through many channels and customers, with a score of employees, with more and more government “help” than ever.  A large business would have dedicated employees for all of those different things, but my business has me (and my wife).  We don’t have time to waste on inefficiency.  
  3. Stay ahead of the game.  Crop seasons wait for no man.  Pruning, fertilizing, planting, spraying, thinning, and harvesting all need to be done at exactly the right time.  This year, I’m going to sketch out all of the important things I know are going to need to be done.  Really, it is just project management.  I’ve got some experience in that; all we need to do is apply it to the big project of bringing the 2014 harvest home (and then selling it at a profit).  A project plan will make me feel more confident that all of the tasks are getting done at the right time.
  4. Identify those employees who can handle less supervision and turn them loose.  Some employees need to be told how to do everything; but some have the capability and motivation to see what needs to be done and find the right way to do it.  When I see those traits, I need to leverage it.  It frees me up to do more important stuff.
  5. Remember why I’m doing this.  It isn’t all about the money – though to quote George Bailey “it come in pretty handy down here bub!”  As we thought about designing our Christmas cards this year, we realized that we hadn’t taken a single picture of the family on the farm.  Nor had we spent more than a few minutes on the fun little paddleboat that Mom and Dad bought for the kids.  Heck, I didn’t even go fishing in the pond this year.  Yep.  We can do better.

So we move forward to 2014.  May the coming year be fruitful for all!