A Crazy week…

Wow! Is Mercury in retrograde or something?

This past week has been intense, to put it mildly. We expected a certain amount of stress and pressure, given that it was both the start of the CSA season and RAMBLE (oh, yes, and that beef thing, too…), but we sure didn’t expect all the extra grief!

First, the reefer/delivery truck. It’s had a major overhaul, nearly complete, these past few weeks. It got a new transmission, work on the frame, the box & insulation had repairs, it got new springs (triple-reinforced), even a new cab with a radio, a working glove box, and a whole lot of little things, too. Still pending was a new head. So, back comes the truck from its makeover at Victor’s spa for old trucks, and off he goes on Wednesday to pick up the first load of CSA goodies from one of the farms. He made it there just fine, loaded up, and started back- got on US 27, and blew a water line in the middle of nowhere. So he pulled off the road and went to get water from a nearby canal, only to get shot at! (No, he wasn’t hit, and neither was the truck- but what was that all about??) Well, Victor Sr. got the truck fixed, and returned late that night. All was well-so we thought.

Early the next morning, we went to Florida City and picked up a couple of pallets of wax boxes and some cases of plastic clamshells for Worden Farm in Punta Gorda, where Victor was going later in the morning to pick up more CSA veggies. No incident – everything looked good. So off he went, destination West Coast (of Florida, silly!). Heading north on US 27, about 20 miles out of Miami, he hears this horrendous cracking noise, figures he’s got a blowout, and immediately pulls off the road. Looks at all the tires-nothing. Looks at the muffler-nothing. Mystified, he pops the hood (more precisely, on this truck you pop the cab), and sees that the plastic radiator fan blades have disintegrated. Can’t continue without a repair, so he tries to head back to Hialeah and the shop. Of course, without the fan, he can’t even go one mile without dangerously overheating, so he has to get someone to shuttle him back to town, to pick up the needed parts and return to fix it. Meanwhile, we prepare Plan B in case we need it- take my pickup truck to Punta Gorda and come back with a borrowed trailer from Worden Farm. OK, that will work, but it means we have to take the RAMBLE plants to Fairchild early, in case we need to send off the pickup truck. Luckily, the parts were available. It’s a darn good thing Victor is also a truck mechanic!

Meantime, back on the farm, while all this is going down, I am summarily informed by our Spanish WWOOFer couple that they could not sleep with the noise from the truck and I needed to park the truck elsewhere. I said no, and explained they needed to get used to the noise, because it would be running 3 nights a week. They got offended and decided they had had enough of farm life and would leave that day with no advance notice. I expressed my dismay and disappointment at the disregard for responsiblity shown by a spur-of-the-moment decision that would affect farm operations on the first heavy workload of the season, and asked them to stay at least through the weekend. But no, it was too much inconvenience for them. So, good riddance, and off to the next problem… but now my remaining loyal hardworking work crew would have to double up on RAMBLE duty, with no time off whatsoever during the weekend. Stress, did you say?

OK, by now it’s way past the scheduled time for picking up the veggies; Victor has got the truck going, and is proceeding to Punta Gorda. But the truck is still showing a tendency to overheat if he goes faster than 45mph. Oh, well, not too bad, just slow. He finally makes it back to the farm around 1am, and heads home, leaving the truck docked at the barn with the reefer unit running to keep the veggies cool.

I looked out the window around 3am, saw the truck, heard the sound, and dropped off to sleep, feeling much better now that the truck had made it back with its load of precious veggies. I got up bright and early Friday morning, and headed out to the back around 6:30, to be greeted by silence. Hmmm…that reefer was running earlier. What happened now? The breaker had blown, so I reset it, and started it-but it didn’t sound right-it wasn’t running the compressor. Great-just what we needed. Time to pack the shares and no refrigeration! I try to get hold of Victor, and can’t reach him-finally connect after about 3 hours of major stressing. Of course, he can’t possibly figure out what’s wrong without coming over, and by now it’s midmorning and getting hot fast. Meantime, we’ve finished packing the full shares, and they NEED to get/stay chilled. Time to execute another plan B. Off we go to Dan’s packing facility (Homestead Organic Farms) about 3 miles away, where we put the full shares on 3 pallets and store them in one of Dan’s walk-in coolers. We come back, and Victor determines that the idler pulley has frozen up on the reefer’s engine. Off he goes to Thermo King way up on NW 27th Avenue around 40th Street to get the necessary parts. Three hours later, he’s back and fixing the reefer. Meantime, we’ve begun packing the half shares, and putting as many as we can fit into our walk-in cooler, which is already jammed with items for RAMBLE, with overflow outside. Finally, the reefer is back in service, we load up the half shares, and off he goes to retrieve the full shares we took away earlier. What a bunch of extra work!

While all this is going down, the BEEF arrives! Luckily, Lee and her husband, from 4 Arrows Ranch decide they can leave the freezer with us, taking the pressure off to get all the beef immediately out the door before it thaws out. Most of the other folks picking up their meat orders had arrived early, and some even helped a bit with the packing of the half shares. For a while there, it was a zoo of people running around, rummaging in the chest freezer, truck repairs in progress, chickens running around without heads (oh wait, that was me…)

FINALLY, it all calmed down, the shares were back, and it was time to finish all the other share chores- packing the eXtras boxes, printing the newsletter, getting the route sheet finished, assembling the add-on shares and loading all that stuff into the truck in some semblance of order. Oh, yes, and trying to finish contacting everyone from whom we hadn’t received confirmation about the CSA startup info. And, getting all the stuff ready for RAMBLE, which had already started on Friday with a limited amount of stuff-mainly the heirloom tomato starts. But now, we needed to gear up for a full display of goodies for Saturday and Sunday. This meant we had to count what we had left after all the CSA packing was done, so we knew what we would be taking early the next morning. And, preparing the cash box, price lists, and various signs for the display. Needless to say, we all  got to bed very late.

Up bright and early the next day, off we go to RAMBLE. Midmorning I get a phone call from Victor, telling me that we’ve messed up big time and given him the wrong number of shares. He’s 4 stops from the end of the route, and he’s all out of full shares, but has a whole lot of extra half shares. I immediately think “he’s unloaded the wrong quantity somewhere”. Of course he argues that he hasn’t made the mistake- we’ve screwed it up. Suspicious of the fact that the numbers are exactly reversed, I start calling pickup sites, and promptly discover that, sure enough, he’d flipped quantitites at 2 places. However, it’s been a few hours and no one had tried to reach me to let me know something was wrong, so it was too late to try to fix it. Many people had already taken a full share that was there, instead of the half share they were due. So the last 4 stops had to take all half shares, getting shorted. More stress!

The rest of the day at RAMBLE was pretty uneventful- great weather, nice turnout, though not as busy as other years, but good. At the end of the day, we head home. I pull in at the barn, to unload, step on the brakes, and “gooooshh” – no brakes! I thought maybe we were low on brake fluid, but no! too easy! I have broken a seal or a line or something- all the brake fluid is on the ramp. WONDERFUL-ANOTHER THING WRONG-SHEESH!

Sunday, the last day of RAMBLE, goes well. It seems there are many more visitors, though we don’t really make any more money than on Saturday. Still, at the end of the event, we have a decent amount of stuff sold. But we can’t bring everything back as we only have use of the van.

As I write this on Sunday night, I am planning to take the truck (carefully, on back roads), to the mechanic to get the brakes fixed, then off to Fairchild to bring back the big tables, the rest of the plants, and empty harvest totes. Hopefully, this will be the end of the bad karma, and all will be hunky-dory from now on. And I can maybe get a good night’s sleep. At least next week, is Thanksgiving, and we don’t have to pack shares…

5 Responses to “A Crazy week…”

  1. 1 June 23 November 09 at 12:07 pm

    Madness! I’m only reading it and I wanted to scream halfway through the post! I hope this week is easier on your guys.

    • 2 Farmer Margie 23 November 09 at 6:31 pm

      Thanks, June! I definitely think so! I just collected my pickup truck from the mechanic. A brake line had totally corroded. He replaced that one and the other one which was also looking corroded. I’ve been using this guy for several years now, and he is awesome!
      No bull, FAST, inexpensive, no frills, and great work. If you’re ever in need of a mechanic down in the Homestead area, check out Son’s Auto Repair – ask for Armando and tell him Margie from Bee Heaven Farm sent you.
      Son’s Auto Repair, 90 SW. 9 Av. Homestead, Fl. 33030, 305.245-8477.

  2. 3 sandy 24 November 09 at 6:49 pm

    Well you have had your share of bad luck for the season. All’s gooing to be well now, you’ll see!

  3. 4 rachelsky 26 November 09 at 12:37 am


    try pronouncing it and you might just get a rain cloud yourself…

  1. 1 …and a new week « Bee Heaven Farm's Blog Trackback on 11 December 09 at 5:21 pm

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November 2009

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