While I have had a little down time on the road touring I tend to work on the logistics of planning the season’s tasks and such for the farm. Being alone in a hotel most of the day before the show that night gives me some time to really think about what needs to be done…what I wish would get done and in general working on this years over all plan for the farm. One of the hardest things about running this farm is that you live where you work and work where you live. I know to some it sounds like dream and for me it is…really it is.. but on the other side of coin it also blurs the line about what is work and what is home life. It is important for me to protect my families time together as family while still running a successful market farm. There are drawbacks and advantages in the farm being open to the public and for the most part the advantages far out weight the drawbacks. But for the sake of transparency of sharing my experiences on this blog and for other folks that are thinking about this business model for their family farm I want to be very forthcoming and not sugar coat it.
Our goal was always to share our farm with the public. From day one before a spade hit the soil to start planting Mark and I both shared that dream. Now to be fair I had far more experience in the living the public eye lifestyle than Mark for I was raised, living on a very popular tourist destination by way of Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. To me it is just as normal as can be to having people you don’t particularly know as of yet sitting in a rocker on your front porch. Of course I know that is not the case for most people and for some it would totally weird them out. And if that is the case, you may consider just selling through a farmers market or wholesale. I like being around people and believe me you have to be people person to open your farm to the public or for that matter even successfully sell your vegetables at a farmers market. You are just as important as the product you sell or the service you provide. People that visit your farm or your stall in the market are also buying into what they perceive of you as much as the wonderful product you have to offer. So bottom line…you need to truly love people and are comfortable interacting with them.
Through the last few years of our farm being open to the public a couple of things have really stood out to me…one is that most people don’t read signs. They don’t…you can have a big sign that clearly gives your hours and days you are open and people will drive right by it never even noticing it at all. Another incident that clearly proved to me that not only I don’t read signs or information very well but other don’t either. I had this brochure printed up about the farm a couple of years ago I would set out at our farmers market booth that told people about the farm and when it was open…ect…On the front of the brochure in big extra bold letters it read “NOW OPEN TO THE PUBIC” a sweet English teacher whom was buying some flowers from me one day at the market said very discreetly mind you…have you ever proof read your little handout about your farm? I said laughing…I know I am terrible about spelling and grammar…la la la…he said yes, well that may be so but you really should consider correcting this mistake. It took me three times looking at the page to see my mistake…I also handed to a couple of my market friends and they didn’t notice it right off either…people see what they want to see…Did you see the mistake? If not read it again slowly….we read what we think it should say…not necessarily what it accurately does. Well I do anyway that is for sure…just ask Mark. He’ll tell you…I see, hear and tell only what I want. To wrap up what I was getting at about most people won’t read signs…expect them to drive in all hours and any day whether you open or not.
Speaking of people coming to your farm…One of the biggest issues I have found with working where I live and living where I work is that people just drop by for a visit all the time. This especially true during the spring and summer months. Your neighbors see you out in the field working and just drops by to say hello or see what your planting. Friends that can’t seem to get you on the phone for weeks now because your in the middle of planting season reasons that dropping by while your in the middle of planting season for a visit will effectively garner your laps of attention. And no…don’t say put them to work…they are always dressed for a visit not field labor. Then of course there are the people that have heard about the farm and just wanted to drop by and take a look. What these folks don’t realize is that 1…they usually aren’t the first visitor we have had that day and 2. we are working! This is our job…our place of work..and if all we did was visit we wouldn’t have a farm. We are the labor for the most part and during the season it is 14 to 16 hour days for us. We don’t have a lot of social time. One of our farm crew last year was working with me in the field. We were harvesting and in a rush to beat the afternoon sun. It was one of those days when I know a good 5 people dropped by before 10am that morning. I had spent most of the time either giving impromptu farm tours or ha ha it up with friends that were just out and about and thought hay…I’ll just go see ole Peggy and Mark they ant doing nothing and they are always home…As I was walking back over to once again start harvesting…my crew started shaking their head and said “I swear I don’t know how you all get anything done at all around here…every-time I come to work there’s ten people stopping by….You have got to get a gate! I said yep, but the problem I foresee with that idea is that I would just be running my ass off opening and shutting the gate. It is just part of living and working in the same location. Its not that people mean to stop you from working its just they don’t realize that you are working. Now…I just know I have hurt some of my friends feelings by having told ya’ll this… All I am going to say is “”you know I love you ….and I enjoy seeing you…bah bah bah….now lets head on over to mannbie…pannbie land..your big cry baby…Mark says I never should consider being a therapist…I would be just like the one on TV throwing the box of Kleenex and that guy.. I am just joking…now simmer down.
Now I want to continue to talk about this topic but …my show is now over for the night and it’s time to pack up the guitars and head to another gig for tomorrow night….oh yes…I do have to feed life B
We will get back to Living where you work…and working where you live shortly..