I write best, like most people I assume, when I feel compelled to write. When I feel inspired. It comes in waves in a way that when forced, I’m certain I’ve actually never been very good at it at all. The first entry includes excerpts from our offer letter, which was wholeheartedly inspired. Everything made us feel, made us believe, that this could happen. And when it did, inspiration. But here’s my challenge. What about the overwhelm of inspiration? How do you write about everything? That’s how the first season of tree selling felt. That’s where I feel a little at a loss for words. I’m not sure my words can do this experience justice.
We hoped for a few cars that first day. You know, just something to make it worth us being there and someone to drink the gallon of hot chocolate Dan made. Just before we opened at 10:00, cars began filing in. It was a steady stream of cars, like the line you see leaving church on Christmas Eve. The cars never really stopped. We hoped for a few return customers, a few friends, and a few people through word of mouth. We welcomed dozens of return customers, friends from both close and far, and hundreds of people through word of mouth. It was amazing and fulfilling. Grandpa Dan’s legacy was continuing, and it was continuing with us. Our family felt so proud.
We connected and reconnected with hundreds of people. Each interaction filled our cups as they filled theirs with hot chocolate. Gallons and gallons of hot chocolate. It took us awhile to figure out a system and get our bearings straight. My sincerest apologies to those first few customers who witnessed our almost star struck reaction to the turnout. Eventually, we learned to ask if people had been there before to know where to begin. We gently explained Grandpa Dan’s passing, which was received with more than a few tears. We explained what was new to returning customers and explained Grandpa Dan’s style to first-timers. And then, we handed out bow saws and uncertainty, encouraging people to explore, take their time, and have fun.
The boys engaged in more wrestling and football than customer engagement. But they followed our direction to have fun and made the experience theirs. We look forward to their growth as helpers at the farm. So far, they’ve enjoyed cutting down, clearing, and (fingers crossed) planting trees. We also learned that there is no better bribe than kiddie cocktails and mac n' cheese at Bean City Bar and Grill across the street.
We ordered 1600 trees to plant this spring. Mostly Fraser firs, with a few black hill spruces and white pines. If we continue to have successful selling seasons, we will have to figure out the annual planting. Wish us luck! The most profound realization of this season was that this works. Without any changes or upgrades, it works as is. As long as we keep Grandpa Dan’s spirit alive, we don’t have to change anything. Unless we want to. Our hopes for changes this year are better shed organization, converting part of the shed to an employee lounge/kids hang out for the boys, better use of the office as a mudroom and check out location, learn species differentiation, clear dead trees, plant new trees, and create a loop through the trees to allow better access to trees in the back as well as easier spots to drag some of those big trees.
We learned a lot the first year. Actually, the first two months. Here’s to 2022! Is it too early to say Merry Christmas? To settle any rising debate, I do know it is too early to put up those Christmas decorations, trees included.