Sunday, March 30, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
This is an interesting project for us. Watching the four different kinds of lettuce emerge and take shape. The Emerald Oak Leaf is on the right and so far is the tallest. The Endive, second from left is the shrimp of the bunch, but is a little denser in the leaf department. We have from left to right Lolla Rosa Looseleaf, Endive French Blend, Prizehead Looseleaf and Emerald Oakleaf.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Fuel Price Update
I'm not really stressing about it, well,,,, maybe a little. I need to just take a couple deep breaths..............., ................ OK,,,, all better.
If you are new to our blog, I should mention that we have our own rural garbage route here in the north woods. Currently I put on about 500 miles a week in a mini 6 yard compactor truck. It has an Isuzu diesel engine. Compared to the big national and international garbage companies we have a pittance of customers. I always say, we pick up the crumbs they leave behind. Last year we broke the 300 customer mark for the first time. Which is nothing for the big boys. A larger hauler (but not one of the big boys) I know of has 500 stops in a small town to our west and they do it all in 8 hours in a large full sized garbage truck. We pick up ours in 4 days. It's pretty spread out. Just under 30 hours a week. The fuel prices have been an issue for us since September 11, 2001. We have to keep raising our prices to keep up with the fuel costs. Just before we bought our mini-compactor truck we raised our prices by nearly 20 %. We explained to people that we desperately needed the truck and between that and the fuel, it had to be, if we were going to stay in business. We were amazed and humbled that we only lost a couple people.
That was over a year ago and fuel prices continue to go through the roof. But, we have kept a hold on our price. It seems like we just raised it and I know people are still feeling it. Just recently one of the big boys pulled out of residential garbage in our area and we picked up about 50 more customers from that. That helps quite a bit actually and we started to breath a little easier. But, I guess we aren't supposed to get too comfortable because now one of the other big boys, Violia an international company, is trying to move in on our territory. They are under cutting us by quite a lot. We are losing customers to them now. I guess they want to capitalize on the void from the other big hauler and are low balling their price to take over. We new ahead of time that we might be in trouble because Violia has been sending out advertisements and we have gotten three of them in the past couple months.
Kelli and I have been talking about lowering our price to try and compete but, these fuel prices are going to kill us. We actually need to raise our price not lower it. So tonight on my way back home from the gas station my wheels started whirling. I think we might have a trick up our sleeve to compete with the big boys and not have to lower our price. I really don't want to say what it is just in case someone from there happens to find this blog from doing an Internet search, from me using their name here on this post. But, it has something to do with home court advantage, I'll say that much.
I really don't know how long we'll be in this business. I never thought I'd be doing anything even remotely like it when we came here. Even though I don't do it "full time" it still seems like it's taking away alot of my time from what we are trying to do here. We've been working towards being able to hire a driver. That is a huge chunk of the profits but, it would still be worth it even if we only wind up with a little bit, especially if we can make some money from this years farming endeavors. I have a helper now, a good friend, he's been helping for one year, a driver wouldn't be that much more of a cost. However, this business has been a blessing in a number of ways. For one, it provides a small but, steady income. And it has put us in touch with the community, which we love. We care about our neighbors and do enjoy serving them, even if it is picking up their trash.
Well, I guess I've sufficiently unloaded. I wouldn't be surprised to see $5 a gallon before long, the way things are going. I heard it has gone over that in California. I remember on 9-11 there was rumors that gas was going to be over $5 dollars and there were lines at the pumps. Our little local station even ran out of gas and closed early. It was surreal. Now people seem to roar up and down the highway like it's nothing. Oh, I'm sure they're feeling it, but still it doesn't seem to slow them down. I wonder what it's going to take before they do.
Until Next Time
Friday, March 14, 2008
I See Storm Clouds
Recently Alan Greenspan told Saudi Arabia to a "drop their dollar pegs" in order to ease record inflation in that country. In other words, he's telling them to drop the dollar. Economist William Grigg says, "If the GCC governments act on Greenspan's advice, it will probably provoke a world-wide flight from the dollar and, in short order, the end of our status as a First World nation. I wouldn't blame the GCC or anybody else for bailing on the buck, of course. But it is indigestibly rich to see Greenspan wielding the pin that may be used to pop the dollar bubble he so diligently inflated during his term as Fed Commissar."
On March 13, Herrick Kimball made a post about the economy entitled "Gold At $1,000" . Northern Farmer also made a post on the same day called "From The Bottom Up " where he talks about the faltering farming economy. It's kind of in the air, people are feeling it. Things are unstable and there's kind of an instinctual sense of bracing for a coming storm. The economy has been a big topic in our family for the better part of a year with increasing frequency.
But, I'm like everyone else. I get busy doing my thing and I kind of go into denial. I mean we've heard stuff before. Like before Y2K. We heard everything from "it's going to be the end of the world as we know it" to "nothing is going to happen". We saw very bright people on both sides of the argument. I figured, "what do I know?" All I know is what I hear. So, we planned for something somewhere in the middle. I wasn't in the loop then and I'm not now either. All I know is what I hear. Greenspan says the US economy is "flexible". Can't say I'd hedge my bets on the double speak from a guy like him. Brilliant as he might be. Of course that's kind of the thing that bothers me about people like that, a little too bright.
As I was saying I get busy doing my thing and I kind of go into denial but, then I drive down the road and see the fuel prices. Slaps me back into reality it does! Just take another long look at that picture at the top that I took just today while I was in Rhinelander. I burn diesel fuel in my garbage truck. It's now $4.199/10 a gallon at that gas station. I about croaked this last week when I saw our local gas station at $4.149/10 for diesel. Seeing today's price just kind of makes you go numb. The other evening I spent several hours online researching biodiesel and burning veggie oil in diesels. Ideally I'd like to grow my own fuel. But, I have alot on my plate this year and I don't know if that would even be in the realm of the possibility for us right now.
The other day I heard of a report that was predicting some pretty bad news for the dollar come the third quarter of this year. Like the days of Y2K it's hard to know what to believe. Listening to economists is alot like listening to weather forecasters. It all boils down pretty much to an educated guess.
Bottom line though, this time, we can feel the wind on our faces. See the storm clouds brewing. Just look at those prices. Feel it in the pocket book. I've been watching for big changes practically my whole life. And I've never seen so many red flags. Herrick has been studying the days of the "Great Depression". I would urge everyone to do likewise. I grew up hearing the stories of my family who lived through it. My great-uncle John used to tell how when he was out traveling around the country looking for work he was so hungry he began to eat hand fulls of grass just to get something in his stomach. Uncle John said that was a mistake because he got terrible diarrhea from doing that. That's mighty hungry when you get that desperate to eat grass by the hand fulls. None of us in our over weight society can imagine that kind of hunger.
The wisest advice I hear going around, especially in times like this is to "get out of debt". I know it's a huge temptation to get into it in the first place with such easy credit. There's alot I might have done if I would have taken the bait and mortgaged our place. Now I'm thankful to the Lord that He kept me from it. It's better to live within your means. I'm thankful we don't have that hanging over our heads right now.
There's lots of advice available out there for surviving hard times. Herrick Kimball for starters has some good advice. Mountian Firekeeper had a detailed piece posted at UrbanSurvival.com back in December. Just scroll down a little ways and look for "Coping: Preparing for???" . Of course a simple Internet search brings up a myriad of whole websites devoted entirely to toughing out hard times. I won't belabor the points here with so much already available.
However, this time my family and I are not planning for somewhere in the middle. With the ominous warnings out there we're planning for a little closer to extreme. Getting as serious as we've ever been about getting set up. And above all making sure our hearts are right. Are we leaning heavily on the Lord? Really putting all our trust in Him? That He will give us the wisdom and the grace to weather what ever comes our way?
Until Next Time
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Saturday, March 08, 2008
A Tray Of Lettuce
Two Shetland Sheep
Sunday, March 02, 2008
The Late Great U.S.A.
Here's a book that every person who cares about America should read. The author, Jerome Corsi documents a growing trend in what may well lead to the development of a European Union style governmental bureaucracy that would threaten the national sovereignty of the United States.
In the book Corsi discusses NAFTA and the forming of a North American Union between the United States, Canada and Mexico. The creation of a North American Monetary Union with new currency called the Amero. He exposes the SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership), that was initiated by the 3 leaders of America, Canada and Mexico, and how it is stealthily creating an economic, geographical and political union between the three nations. He describes the Trans-Texas Corridor a four foot ball fields wide NAFTA super highway that will start from the border at Laredo, Texas carving a swath clear to the Canadian border north of Duluth, Minnesota. He tells of “Public Private Partnerships” that are selling out vital national infrastructure to foreign investors.
There is also a video by the same title where Jerome Corsi discusses all these things and why it is bad for our Country and a threat to our national sovereignty. Like the E. U. a North American Union is quietly being developed without vote, without consent by the people.
Think it can’t be? Get the book and video and find out. Corsi documents all of his findings and they are published in the book.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Life According To Phil And Diane
Recently our friends Phil and Diane Burns were featured in a local publication called Northwoods Boomers And Beyond. It’s a free magazine so I don’t imagine it would be a problem for me to copy the story here.
Until Next Time