Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Day on the Farm

It's wintertime, and we've gotten past the holiday craziness. I thought I'd try and post a little bit about what a winter day on the herb farm is like.

Donna is an earlybird, so she is always up and about and doing stuff WAAAAAAAY before John and maggie arrive. She usually goes out early to feed the cats and let Beaker the Wondergoose out of his pen (we have to keep him penned up at night for his own safety, due to the neighbor dogs). She usually starts up the computer and does some emailing and pulls some orders before the shop is open at 10.

John and Maggie usually arrive 10ish (heavy on the ISH). We say hi to Beaker and all the dogs and cats (that takes a while...there are lots of dogs and cats at PLH).

The rhythm of our day is changeable, depending on what needs to be done. Filling orders and getting them in the mail are always our first priority. Donna usually pulls the orders, prints them, and answers the emails. This can take quite a while! All day, if it is a busy "order" day. Or only an hour if there are just a few orders.

Usually, while Donna is printing the orders, John will pack them while Maggie makes stuff. Of course this can change at any time depending on what needs to be done. If we need candles made, John will be in the classroom/chandlery doing that. If we are in the midst of making a TON of stuff (thousands of lip balms, let's say), then Donna will help with the laborious task of labelling and shrinkwrapping them. All in all, we do whatever needs to be done.

Of course one of the most important tasks is letting the dogs and cats in and out of the door. Those of you who have pets know what I am talking about!! Maggie has 2 dogs that come to work with her, and Donna has 3 dogs that live on the farm with her. We have assorted cats that live in the shop, Donna's house, or the barn (as they please). We don't let the pets in the manufacturing area, but they are allowed in the shop as they please. So plenty of time is alloted each day for letting the pets in an out, assuring everyone has proper "blankies", and generally spoiling them rotten.

Other things that may occur on any given day: Answering phones, setting up bus tours or classes, ordering the hundreds of packaging items or raw materials we use in our production, cleaning, organizing, bill-paying, filling wholesale orders, making deliveries, shopping, unpacking and putting away delivered items, working on the blog or website, discussing new products/changes/renovations, shoveling snow, researching, creating an enewsletter, taking photographs, designing labels, stocking the shelves, and a million other things that go into running a farm and small business.

We are a family business, and our family is VERY important to us! Donna's dad lives with her, and so of course he is part of the general action too. He likes to make us lunch, and we LOVE it when he cooks and bakes for us! Lunch is a kind of random affair. We are near a teensy town with hardly any restaurants and such....and Maggie is vegetarian which cuts down even further on food options in our tiny town. So we might get pizza once a week, or eat some goodies from our neighbors at Picket Fence Creamery (their cheeseball is a staple of our lunch diet!). Sometimes we don't have time to eat at all. Only one thing is guaranteed: if there is a lunch, the SECOND we sit down to eat, customers will arrive. No matter if it's at noon or at 3 or anytime in between! It's just guaranteed. Murphy's law, right?

Speaking of customers. We are a small store located in the middle of nowhere! So on a "normal' day, we may not have any customers are all. We may have TONS of customers. It is completely random! Generally speaking, Saturday's are our busier days in terms of having customers in the store. But in the winter especially, a day or two or perhaps even three might pass without us seeing a single customer in the store!

Toby, Donna's grandson, gets out of school and off the bus about 3:45, so from that time on, there's extra activity (generally involving action figures, playing in the snow, radio-controlled cars or possibly cartoon watching) that goes on between 3:45 and closing time. He is a good kid and loves to "help" make bath salts and such. :)

4:00 is post office time! The little post office in woodward closes at 4:30, so at 4:00 maggie loads the van with the day's packages and heads into town (about a mile drive). Our postal folks are AWESOME, we cannot say enough nice things about how helpful, pleasant, fun and wonderful they are!

After that, we finish up any projects we're working on (or get to a stopping point), and get ready to close down at 5:00.

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