Good Signs

Well, ladies and gentlemen; we are down to six days.  Six days until we become a business with revenue and six days until we have to be ready and able to process 170 chickens… rain or shine.  It’s a little scary.

However, things in the present are doing notably well.  In fact, we’ve had some really great signs on the farm.  I promise I’m not getting new-agey on you--we actually now have beautiful Early Bird Ranch signs on the farm!  As has been the case for the last 25 years, my parents came by to help out right as things were getting a little overwhelming.  It was wonderful, and it was my mom’s first visit to the farm.

My parents’ visit was only a couple days, but wow did we get a lot done.  The biggest accomplishment was actually 5 weeks in the making.  After I struck out shopping for a truck during the weeks when I could put in the immense amount of time and effort to properly review each candidate, my father picked up the gauntlet.  Of course, he immediately began to lose sleep, compulsively watch trucks on the highway, and believe that every seller was carrying out a complex scam that would leave him penniless and alone…all of which is very normal when shopping for a used truck.

But, in spite of this Pandora’s box of obstacles, he succeeded!   Shae Lynn and I are now the proud (and quite productive) owners of a 2004 Ford F150 4x4 XLT.  The final cost was $2,600 more than we had budgeted, but that budget had been put together before we even knew where we were going to farm.  The increase in price and decrease in towing potential (we had wanted to get a three-quarter ton truck) was well worth it.  This truck only has 100k miles, it has been gone over with a fine tooth comb by several mechanics, and the safety record for this year and model is rated extremely high by Consumer’s Reports.  Overall it’s just great.  The other budgetary detail I hadn’t considered was that California’s approximately 10% sales tax would show up in the purchase of a used car, it is highway robbery!

Aside from spending more, the biggest change was that we ended getting a loan for it.  In addition to keeping our assets liquid, this was actually a great plan (thanks, Mom).  It turns out that by not taking student loans during school and paying off my credit card in full each month, I have a crappy credit score.  So this truck will also be a way to establish myself to the rating agencies as a good worker-bee, worthy of drowning myself in debt whenever I please.  All in all, my parents drove the truck up and even surprised us with a couple of great looking magnetic signs, a military-grade spray-in bed liner, and a truck detailing.  Thank you both so much!
However, this didn’t get them out of work once they arrived.  Both of them have too many skills to be left idle.  My mother the muralist and stenciling-goddess started right away painting us some amazing signs for the farm.  Shae even jumped in, and like I’ve talked about in past blog posts, made a genuine re-connection with my mom by getting to work with and learn from her passion and expertise.  I can’t think of many reasons why Shae and I would have needed to be learning about painting murals and signs in the academic world, but in the agricultural world the need is obvious.

My dad and I focused on organizing and planning.  The truck had to be registered, supplies for future projects had to be purchased, and the final details of the processing facility had to be worked out.  I won’t go into much detail about the processing facility, because I am hoping to debut it in a future blog post, but what I can say is we were trying to figure out which parts (out of the staggering and often poorly sorted variety of plumbing parts in stores) we needed to get water to the facility and then to each individual work space.  The job took us both around the county’s many hardware stores for days.

In the end, though, Shae and I came out way ahead.  We were surveying today what was accomplished in just two days and we are stunned.   Thanks in large part to my parent’s short visit, the farm is rapidly getting ready for the first processing day and we have gorgeous signs, a reliable truck, and plenty of supplies to make this week a little easier.   It’s good to know that you can always go home.

P.S. We have thrilling news.  Our little farm will be one of two featured in this year’s Buy Fresh, Buy Local magazine for the Bay Area.  They distribute about 100,000 copies!  I suspect at least half of those will be snatched up by our parents for a lifetime of scrapbooking.  Here’s my favorite of the two pictures we are submitting.