It’s not about the money

This is part two of my dealings with an Amish Farmer.

(Make sure you read part one to get the big picture) ūüėČ

I got a call from my Amish farmer friend the first of December letting me know he would stop the next morning to pick up some apple wood.

I went over the details again.

You are going to take 1/3 of the pile of wood.¬† If I’m not home when you stop, just stick the $20 bill in the shop on the mantle.”

“Yes.¬† I will.”

Well, he did stop the next day.  I happened to be in the house doing book work and saw him pull in and leave.  Few hours later I went out to the shop to get the money.

I could not find it, so I called and left a message on his phone.  Thirty minutes later, he called back.  I asked him about the money?

There was a pause on the other end of the phone..”Well, I am a little short of cash right now.¬† Twenty dollars may not seem like a lot of money..but I will get it to you the next time I come to town.”

Me: “When do you think that would be?¬† Within a few weeks?”

Amish farmer : “Oh, yes.¬† Within a couple of weeks....”

Well, 4 weeks went by and I never heard from him.¬† Decided to send him a gentle¬† reminder with some of my apple orchard stationary…Reminded him it had been a month, and it was past due.

By now, I was starting to battle a low-grade bad attitude.  It was not about the money.  It had to do with integrity.   His word. Feeling like I was being played for a fool.

Keep in mind, I do have a market for apple wood…just have not aggressively pursued it this Winter.¬† I was getting $1 a pound for it @ a local bar.¬† Sold over $1000 worth a couple of winters ago.

My desire to be a good neighbor to this new community of Amish was starting to go south.

I was wrestling with thoughts like, “Am I being petty?¬† ¬†Is $20 worth all of the mental vexation I was expending on it?”

Problem was I couldn’t shake it. (The vexation)

There was a program @ our local library last month about the Amish. (Within the past 5 years, over 40 Amish families have moved into our area.)

One of the things I learned was that over every 25 to 30 families there are either deacons or a bishop who takes care of the day today issues of the congregation.¬† I decided last week I was¬† not going to just write off the $20, rather I was going to make an effort to contact the local Bishop (or Deacon) and tell my story.¬† If he blew me off, then I would let it go…but not until.

Last night I sent a Facebook message to a lady I know who drives for the Amish.¬† Since the Amish do not own cars, they hire out local people when they need a ride somewhere further than they can take their horses.¬† When I told her what I was thinking, she absolutely encouraged me to get a hold of the current Deacon, gave me his name and number…

This morning he returned my call.

He asked me what I wanted? I told him I had a 30 second story, and was looking for his input.

When I finished  the first thing he said, was there were two or three  people he knew that have pulled stuff like that before, then asked me his name.

I told him.

He said, “He was at the top of my list.¬† This was probably the 6th time he had gotten a phone call about this man…If it wasn’t wood, it was hay, if it wasn’t hay, it was something else…”

We talked a couple of more minutes.¬† He thanked me more than once, and said,¬†¬†“It isn’t¬†about the money.”

“I want to know about this sort of thing.¬† Thank you for calling.”

My vexation was 100% gone.

He took my name and address and said he would make sure I got my money.

 

View from the orchard floor

Katie and the Amish Farmer

I have been on the receiving end of two attitudes the past couple of weeks with our apple give away.    Both have left  lasting impressions.

Do you mind if I tell you two short stories? ūüėČ

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Her name is Katie.

She called our place a week ago, looking for apples.

Wondered if she could stop by after work.  She wanted to make apple butter.

I told her on the phone about the hail storm in June, how it had severely damaged the crop.¬† She was more than welcome to get as many as she wanted, I didn’t want them to go to waste…and they were free. She insisted on paying something,¬† but it would have to be after she got paid on Wednesday.¬† (She works at a local nursing home.)¬† I was struck by the concerned tone of her voice on the phone.

She stopped  one of the days I was home working in the shop.

I was struck even more by her appreciative, caring attitude when I met her in person. If I could bottle it up and sell it, I would be a rich.¬† What her attitude did (and does) to my heart¬† is almost palatable….like a perfume that makes my heart glad.

Katie came back this week and got a few more apples…and a pumpkin. She insisted on giving my wife $20.

 

_________________

This second attitude came my way via an Amish farmer.  He was here twice picking apples.  I lost track of how many bushel he ended up getting.

The second attitude¬† (if I were to put it into words) goes something like this…… You must be stupid (or uninformed).¬† Sure I will take free apples.¬†¬† Before giving my friend your phone number I want to make sure I get all I want).

I don’t have a prejudiced, biased, judgemental bone in my body toward the Amish.¬† It has nothing to do with that. In the past¬† few years the Amish have been moving into our area in droves.¬† I interact with them every chance I get.

The Amish farmer asked if I had any apple wood he might be able to get for smoking.¬† Just so happened I did have a pile stacked by the barn I was hoping to sell to local restaurants…. When he asked me what I would charge for the wood, (this was after getting all of those free apples) I still sensed he was trying to get as much as he could for the least amount of money….

I just think it is hard-wired into some people to do business this way.

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People¬† are watching.¬† They may not say anything, but don’t think our good (or less than stellar) attitudes don’t go unnoticed.

 

Protecting the brand.

Hail damaged Cortland

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Do you have any recent (encouraging) encounters with a stranger that left a lasting impression?

You know me….I love details. ūüôā DM

So I did

Stairway to heaven

(My view yesterday  while I worked)

Woke up yesterday morning to¬† drizzle.¬†¬† I’d hoped to finish a metal roof on¬† our two-story garage.¬†¬† The garage is an old house dating back to the 1870’s.¬† If we had the funds, it would make an awesome guest house.¬†¬† Sloped ceilings in the second floor rooms. Old old wallpaper still on the walls. Blueish green antique doors.¬† A chimney that still works…..

and a family of raccoons that have moved into the attic.

I realized a few weeks ago, they’d put a couple of holes right through the roof into the attic, which explained why we were starting to get water stains in the ceiling of our storage room.

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Pause.

We were re-watching an episode of Downton Abbey last night.¬† There was going to be a cricket match between the house staff and the locals… Molesley (one of the footman) kept going on and on at how good he was at cricket….his dad had been a coach….it made me cringe listen to him toot his own horn.¬† I looked over at my wife and told her,If I ever start sounding like that...tell me! “

Sometimes in my desire to keep it real here, I want to write about¬† the good stuff that is going on in my life, (like the retaining wall job from last week.) But, then I start to second guess myself, lest I sound like a Molesley ūüôā

Life is a mix.

I’m not interested in the sanitized version of your life.¬† If something good is happening, I want to hear about it.

And, if something has really got you vexed, I want to hear about that too.  Because my life is a mixture, hearing about how other people deal with things helps keep me sane.

I have some older friends that I consider pretty well grounded.¬† My favorite stories from them are about things that trip them up…and I want details...so on that note, I am going to close with a recent event from my life.

 

I was approached a few years ago by XYZ. (a local store) They wanted to sell our apples through their venue.

Sure. Win-win  I thought.

Because it was a new business, in my desire to help them out, I suggested,  rather than getting paid,  I would spend what they owed me as in store credit.

Sure she said. Sounded great she said.

Well, we did it for two years,  but every time I stepped into the store, I sensed  an under-current of hurry/ hurry/ stress, stress.   This last season, I kept asking where we were at on the ledger sheet?   I would hear,

“I’ve written everything down..don’t have the exact total now….but I will.”

This happened multiple times. Got more awkward ever time I brought it up.¬† Finally I said, “Just cut me a gift certificate and¬† that will simplify things for both of us.”

Even that felt like I was pulling teeth.

Did I mention, the owner, sucked at returning phone calls, texts, etc.¬† Yea, well I finally called, left a message and said the following Thursday I would stop in and wanted to pick up the gift certificate.¬†¬† I texted a reminder the day before, since no one ever picks up the phone when I called. ¬† When I stopped in, the wife wasn’t there, but the husband mentioned she was up like at 5:30 that morning working on my total.

I sensed tension.

I’m thinking to myself, this is ridiculous.

Life is too short.

Selling apples is a hobby for me.

I am not even generating  that much income.

I refuse to put myself in a situation where there is tension every time I step through the door,  so I  decided earlier this summer, I had had enough.  I contacted the husband. Told him I was simplifying my life this Summer and would not be selling apples through their venue in the Fall.

That would give him plenty of time to line up another source for apples.

Well, there has been a $35.00 gift certificate attached to a magnet on the frig ever since.  I have not wanted to go back to the store.  Toyed around with giving it to someone else as a gift.

Then, the other day,¬† I thought, what the heck...that is my money.¬† Plus, they have delicious cheese in the store…and locally produced wine.¬† I am going to stop, and buy a block of delicious blue berry cheddar , and pick up a bottle of semi sweet Riesling Castle wine. ¬† Then I am going to celebrate the completion of two very stressful projects.

So I did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Log Jam

If you enjoy writing, have you ever felt like you have a mental¬† log jam?¬†¬† Words, ideas, half¬† baked developed thoughts¬†¬† jammed in there so tight, nothing wants to flow….

That is a picture of my brain. ūüėČ

So, since the words refuse to flow,¬† I¬† thought I would share with you some photos I’ve taken since January.

I am one of those people that love the four seasons, including winter.  Not trying to diss anyone, but give me in a pair of Carharts , warm pair of boots, a good stocking hat,  my 4 wheel drive (if I have to go somewhere)  then bring it on.

I am not alone.

Have you ever read the account of John Muir  going outside as a thunderstorm rolled in on the west coast?  How he climbed a big pine tree so he could experience nature in all of her fury?

Well, you won’t catch me climbing any pine trees, but I have been known to go outside more than once in a blizzard just for the experience…

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We had a beautiful ice storm late February:

Ice on the fence

 

Ice on a corner post

Then, before you know it, it  was March.

Sunrise in the orchard

Then April:

Our first hive in the distance

I uploaded this picture from my phone a week ago. Google photo took the liberty to send me that edited version.

Our version of cherry blossoms¬† is when our apple trees are in bloom… They usually last at least a couple of weeks.

Apple blossoms

You know Spring has arrived when the morels start popping.

Last week , found my first batch:

Finally, we have 4 laying hens.¬†¬† When they are stressed or not getting enough¬† sunlight, they¬† stop laying…well you can see by this last picture we have turned the corner on winter….

 

Another (4) egg day! ūüôā

I always think of Robert Fulghum’s story Not Even Chickens, when I go out to look for eggs.

I am a rich man.

I have 4 chickens. ūüôā

Another evening at a beekeeping class

The chiefest cause, to read good bookes,

That moves each studious minde

Is hope, some pleasure sweet therein,

Or profit good to finde.

Now that delight can greater be

Than secrets for to knowe

Of Sacred Bees, The Muses’ Birds,

All which this booke doth showe

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From the preface to First Lessons In Beekeeping

¬†¬†¬†¬† I am inhaling a 6 week evening class on the basics of beekeeping.¬† Last night was week 3.¬† There are 35 men and women, boys and young ladies in the room,¬† all spell-bound by the wisdom we are hearing. (“and learning the secrets of the sacred bees”) ūüėČ

    It is one thing to read a good book, it is something entirely different, to be able to interact with someone in person.

ie.¬† “This is what they suggest in the book, BUT……………. Here is what I’ve discovered happens¬† if you do that in our area.”

     Our instructor Jim has been keeping bees  for ???? (Not sure how many years)   I do know he  manages  around 400 hives in a three state area.

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¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† And on a personal note….

¬†¬†¬† Last Saturday and again on Monday,¬† I had the opportunity to mentor two different people interested in either starting an orchard or tending existing apple trees.¬† Both spent a couple of hours with me as¬† we talked specifics.¬† I enjoy those kind of opportunities.¬† It feels like I am passing the torch on to the next generation myself,¬† although in this case, both students were at least as old or older than myself). ūüėČ

¬†¬†¬† Back to the bees…..

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I feel like a racehorse in the gate at the Kentucky Derby when I think about managing a bee hive (or 3)….

¬† ¬† The creative juices are already starting to flow…..

     wild-bee-2012

Wild bee in our  orchard

2012 growing season

Wild Flowers on the Brain

honey-bee-flowers

photo by google

Of late, my brain has been percolating on a new project…

A couple of them actually.

Honey bees and wild flowers.

Our small apple orchard already and consistently provides me with loads of joy and I think bee hives and a field of wild flowers would dovetail nicely into my life.

For¬† years, random people in my life…I’m talking random… would say, “You need to get honey bees!”..and I would think..”yea, right,¬† like I need another ball to juggle….”

But…

I am finally at the place where I would like to take the plunge.

We live on¬† 4 acres of property…most of it, is taken up by buildings¬† but there is an acre of ground just north of our windbreak that is just sitting there, growing a nice crop of weeds.¬† I’ve toyed around with planting more apple trees out there but the 100 apple trees that I currently manage, more than satisfy that “itch” for an orchard.

So……………what I’m wanting to do, is plant that field¬† permanently into wild flowers that would bloom throughout the summer (so once the bees are done with pollinating the apple trees they would have an acre of flowers to work in and not have to travel too far.

I have been fascinated with wild flowers for years.¬† I think it’s the artist in me. ūüėČ

There are several details that still need to come together, the biggest being money. ūüėČ

I could hire the field work done, but properly prepping a field for flowers after this many years of growing weeds requires much more attention and work than just planting it into corn or beans.

The cost would not be as much as an investment in a tractor and rotor tiller but would still be a couple of thousand dollars, plus I would have to be dependent on someone else’ s¬† schedule and flexibility.

Besides,¬† and this is important…

I want to work the soil myself. (Must be the farmer in me.) ūüėČ

I hate debt, and will not borrow money unless it pencils out long term. A dozen hives and an acre of flowers would take quite a while to generate $5,000…

So I wait…

And learn…

And put out feelers…

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And on a completely unrelated note, I moved (it’s called racking) the hard apple cider into smaller containers last weekend.¬† 1/2 gallon of it, is covered with cheese cloth and exposed to the air so it will continue to ferment and morph into apple cider vinegar..the rest is still hard cider.¬† When I tested it with the hydrometer, it tested at 10.9% alcohol content.¬† That was fast.¬† We’re not big consumers of alcohol so, I’ll probably turn most of it into apple cider¬† vinegar.

 

Keep It Simple

When I stopped by our self serve apple wagon on Saturday, there was a van parked in the road, with eight Jr high girls milling around  and a mom trying to take their picture.

The mom said to me….”So you’re the guy¬†who always wished he could have had a lemonade stand when he was growing up?”

Her question¬†took me off guard, ¬†then it dawned on me, she’d read the instruction sheet on the¬†apple wagon:

 

General Instructions

This is a self-serve stand because…

  1. We trust you
  2. We’re busy
  3. Inside of me lives a little boy who always wished he could have had a lemonade stand.

     We  do spray so make sure you wash the apples before you eat them.

The apples are $1.50 a pound, just put them on the scale leave your $ inside the chicken.

There are plastic bags in the hanging dispenser if you need them.

Thank you for your business! DM’s Orchard

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The wagon and how it’s run does¬†several things for me. ¬†It is a social experiment…. I am convinced the majority of people today will live up to your trust in them if given a chance. ¬†And that trust is validated week in, week out, where I live, and has been for the past five¬†years.

Second, I like to mess with peoples heads and challenge their ability to trust the next guy.¬† Here’s how it works: ¬† When you buy apples off the wagon, you stick your money¬†¬†in an un-attended¬†peanut butter jar, sitting inside a metal chicken ūüôā

If you’re like me, you’ll probably think as you drop your money in the jar…

What about the next person ??? Can they be trusted to leave that $5 or $10, or even $20 bill alone when they stop?  And the answer is most of the time yes.

Finally,while yes, we can most definitely use the income from the apple sales, at the end of the day, this is a hobby for me.  This is a fun way for me to spread a little serendipitous joy in a world that is seriously in need of it. There is more to life than the almighty dollar.

Here is a picture of some Cortlands after going through the antique polisher equipped with horse hair polishing brushes that you will find on the wagon:

crates-of-polished-cortland

I didn’t know this until just last year. ¬†Apples naturally have a wax on them but due to the way ¬†commercial orchards process apples,¬†many times that is removed and an artificial wax is reapplied.

I like to keep it simple.

Simple is good.