Well, we started.

Sunday was the first day of Farmer’s Markets. The business is officially launched. It went….well…it went. I’ll explain.

I was not nearly as prepared for opening weekend as I thought I was. Friday was the day I was supposed to get the rest of the supplies so we could make lemonade on Saturday and sell on Sunday. Yeah, no. Many things did not go as planned, starting with a major one. I had NO MONEY. Like none. I miscalculated my paydays as well as just plain not having any money. Life is expensive and we are still a one-income household. And chickens. And food. And and and. No money. Cue giant meltdown……now.

And then I was saved. SAVED!! My mom swooped in and saved me. She backed the business quite a bit and helped out so much. Friday night she made sure I had dinner and gave me money to buy stuff on my way home and then took me out on Saturday and bought everything. All the thing I needed. Containers, lavender, sugar, everything. My mom is my hero and I appreciate her so much. I know that she believes in this little dream of mine and wants it to succeed. And she wants to help. Thanx Mom.

Without going into too much detail, Saturday did not go as planned. Mom and I spent the whole day running around and picking up everything we need. And then we went and made lemonade late at the rental kitchen. And then we went home and stayed up the rest of the night preparing everything else for Saturday. That’s right. We went to our first day selling lemonade with no sleep whatsoever. It was not a great way to start.

Sunday morning dawned bright and early (trust me. I saw it.) We finished the last prep and we went downtown. We had a nice spot and some kind women helped us set up the awning. I set up the tables and the lemonade and the handwash sink and everything. I put on my apron. And I waited. And waited. People began to trickle over. And then more people. And then more. People I knew came, including a teacher from one of my jobs and Mom and Sissy and Carlos’s dad and sisters. And people bought lemonade. They did. And I played the crowd and I was funny and sweet, talked up my product, the whole bit. If I had had any sleep at all the night before, it probably would have been perfect. As it was, it was fine. Good even. End of the day I was sunburned (forgot to put on the sunscreen in the morning. It was cloudy.) I was exhausted. And I was up $165 including the $20 tip Mom gave me. We sold about half of the lemonade we made. You can’t save it to sell again so that other half was a waste. The handwash sink sprung a leak and soaked the paper towels. And I had a great time anyways. I was, however, pretty glad when it was over.

Until we got home. We already knew there were some important discussions to have about the future of the business. This was too hard on us and not profitable enough. Not by a long shot. We need to figure out what we need to do to make it better. These are important considerations. We need to start planning. Unfortunately, when we got there, all ability to discuss anything fled. We had a tragedy at the house.

One of the chickens died while we were gone. She had not been looking great when we left for the Market but we hoped she would be okay. Not sure what we would have done anyway, but we were hopeful. But when we got home she was gone. This was “No-Name” or Voldemort, the chicken who had not been named. She was waiting to be named by another niece who had not met the chickens yet. A second chicken, Clover, was sitting near her, looking for all the world like she was in mourning. Or maybe like she to wasn’t feeling great.

We buried Voldy in the yard, cried a lot (both sadness and exhaustion no doubt) and placed a lovely bouquet of flowers from the Market on her grave. I talked to her just like I have all my other pets when they go, asking her to watch over the others, especially Clover. I asked that if Clover gets to stay, please make her feel less sad, but if she is leaving us too please wait for her so she doesn’t have to go to the Rainbow Bridge alone. I made sure to explain that we didn’t like Clover better, that wasn’t why we were hoping she could stay, just that we were already so sad and more loss would suck. I really did have this entire conversation (and more) with a dead chicken I had only known a week. Grief and disappointment and exhaustion, mixed with a heavy dose of tenderheartedness and a dash of anthropomorphising will do that to you. And it wasn’t over yet.

I went back in with the chickens and I held Clover. I knew at that point she was definitely ill, not just mourning. She was sleeping but not restful, and she would startle awake just to go back to sleep. And she got worse. And worse. I have no idea how long I sat there and held her, but in the end she died too. I took over near the gravesite and sat and cried and talked some more. We opened the grave a bit and added Clover in. We cried some more. I took a shower, we got some dinner, we unloaded some of the stuff from the car and we went to bed. Life continues.

After the huge difficulties that were this weekend, this week has not been easy. I had to take an evening off from work because I was falling asleep driving to work in the morning and it just got worse from there. I have had to have some deep and important thoughts and conversations with myself, the Carlos and others about the future of the business. I have also tried to get as much extra sleep as I could.

We have made some short-term choices, and the long-terms will come later. We will continue. The first day was not a complete failure, or even really a failure in any way. It was the first day for the Market, it was not as busy as it could be, it was cloudy in the morning, all kinds of things. I think we are going to just keep getting busier. I really do. People will love the product and they will get more and more of it. We know some of the difficulties in the making and processing, we know how to make it faster and better, Carlos will be there the whole time helping and not getting the car washed (although it does look super excellent and I love a clean car!) We will have a better time and it won’t all feel so dire when we have a good night’s sleep under our belt. And hopefully we won’t keep having to look back on our day and remembering that it ended in death. We are also being realistic. If we continue to give it a go, and we work and streamline and work and promote and everything goes right and profits grow, we will continue, but only if it also isn’t so hard. There are 2 things that must happen. It must get easier on us and it must get more profitable. We are still dealing with Carlos’s health issues and we cannot work him to death. And I still work over 50 hours a week besides this and we can’t work me to death either. And although I believe Lavender Lemonade is good for humanity, we cannot do it for free, even if we would be willing.

Wow. This one was heavy and super sad and depressing, and it doesn’t sound like it ends on a positive note. It does. Or if not positive, at least hopeful. The more rest I get and the better I feel, the more I think this will work. It’s important to me to be honest with myself and with all of you, and this is not a blog only about the positives. It’s also comforting to have said outloud (and now here in blog land) the whole part about being honest and what needs to happen for this crazy-awesome plan to continue. And if it was easy everyone would do it. I hope I’m putting out the right vibe here. We are not giving up. We are not discouraged. We are being realistic and tired and we are making plans to lessen the impact and improve the experience. We are going places. It’s still going to be great.

Thank you so much for reading and I hope I didn’t depress you. Have a great week. See you Thursday.

 

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2 thoughts on “Well, we started.

  1. I hear your voice when I read your blog:)
    Sorry to hear about your loss. I stopped naming the “girls” because it was so hard to lose them. They are so fragile when so little. One thing about chickens, by the time you notice they are sick, it’s too late to help them. I lost 2 this year. Call me if you want advice about chickens. Take care friend!

    • Thank you so much. It is really hard and so far it’s mostly going pretty well I think. Everything is so new and scary and raw so far, but they are worth it. They are so fun to watch. Sorry to hear about yours too. Hopefully everyone else (at both of our houses) will be great from here on out!

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