Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Strawberry Vendor

Each Wednesday she set up her tables at the East End Farmer's Market. If she was early enough, which was her usual want, she got the best spot right under the big oak tree in the center of the market complex. She then would set up an amazing display of her berries- so many different sizes and kinds of strawberries, each with the sweet and distinct smell of red, ripe fruit, but each kind of berry with its' own distinct flavor.

Some of the berries were very large and plump, but with a tart and suprising taste, just right for eating. And some of the berries were smaller and just as plump, but with a solid center and a sweetness just right for canning so you did not have to add so much sugar to the recipie.

The vendor placed boxes of these lovely berries in tantilizing arrangements on her tables- some in boxes, some in large crates and some for a 'pick your own' mix. The children liked these- she loved the children and all the children who came to her tables were given some berries to savor and if there were any really hungry children, she would bring along some sandwiches and some beverages to make sure no one left hungry.

Because she also liked to watch and interact people, she was the first vendor to sell out of everything before noon when the market closed. She never had a deaf ear for her customers and always listened to them as they shared bits of their lives with her. Many times, all she could do was smile and give a hug for encouragement, but she also had time to speak in her still, small voice so folks leaned in to listen carefully to her words.

She remembered the man who had lost everything and gave him words to encourage him- he came back a year later to thank her and offered to lend a hand.

She remembered the child who was so vulnerable during a big upheaval in his life when his parents divorced- all she could do for this child was to hug him and say, 'I believe in you'.

The vendor remembered the woman who came to her booth, so very sure that she knew the one, true, right and only way a thing can be- and she watched the woman pick a box of berries that were very bright red, plump on the surface and of the solid kind. These were the ones that had to be used quickly or they would perish quickly and mold from the higher sugar content. Later, the vendor found that there was another box just like that one had some bad berries at the bottom and took it away.

The vendor hoped that the woman did not get bad berries and would perhaps bring the box back to her to exchange them instead of blaming her for selling bad berries- it was important to the vendor to make sure her offerings were of the finest kind, but she could not help it when people did not tell her there was a problem. In any case, this was a lesson for the woman to learn.
It was noon and the vendor used her cell phone to call a friend after she had torn down her tables and placed them in her vehicle- no berries left over today.

'Gabriel, have Michael and Raphael meet me at the archade in about an hour and half. I'm going for lunch and maybe play some games. Tell Uriel not to worry if I am a little late coming back through the Gates.'

'Certainly Sir- we'll be ready in an hour and a half. And Sir- knowing you like to play with the children, there's a group from a church camp also having lunch there and staying to play awhile.'

'Thank you Gabriel, that is my greatest joy.'
What if? Think about it......

Thursday, May 24, 2007

How to sell a goat

Since the how not to sell a goat days, I've made a few decisions, mostly based on good business practices when entering into a buyer/seller contract.

Anyone who buys animals from me now signs a general bill of sale that is short, sweet and to the point- name address and phone of both parties, ID of the animal in question and a statement of general good health of the animal(s) being purchased. A statement of no garantees, real or implied, that the animal will preform as it did at my farm is included since there are so many factors once the animal leaves my premises that I have no control over. If the person wants testing of any sort, the test results noted in the text.

This protects both parties in case of any misunderstandings, or foolishness on the part of the buyer.

There are two copies, each person signs one, and the signature of a witness is included, then each person has a copy for their own files.

That's about it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How 'not' to sell a goat....

Or more aptly, lessons learned when dealing with people who cannot be taught, no matter how you try. You goat folks know the kind- give them all the information they require and then they still will not listen to your advice, then blame you when something goes wrong.

A few years ago, I got a call from someone who had been refered to me by another person who had a few goats they had purchased from me. These Christian folks were already goat owners and were milking the does they did have. I told the lady that I had two or three milk does they may be interested in, but needed to come look to inspect the does before they chose one for purchase- this entails milking the does, looking at the feet, eyes, checking for illness, running your hands over them to get their feel, their flatness of bone and dairy character, etc.

After all, my goal is to make sure that you get the doe 'you' want, not the doe 'I' think you want.

The lady said 'oh no, we can't come look because my father is very ill, could you please pick one out for us.' I asked several pertinant questions such as how are the goats housed, how do you treat them if they are ill, and most especially, what do you feed them (they were feeding oats). I made sure to say that this doe needs to get fed this much a day so she can sustain herself and the kid, and give you some milk too. She seemed to have good answers, so I said I'll do this to help you.

So I picked out a yearling first freshener and her little wether kid. Mind you, this was a family milker doe, not a high dollar animal. We agreed to a meeting place for delivery and I went over all the information with her again, even written down- all feed numbers, etc.- to make sure she was up to speed on how I cared for my animals, so she could make sure the doe transitioned into her herd as easily as possible. All seemed fine as I left.

Two weeks later, I got a call from the father who told me that 'this doe is sick, she has cancer and it's your fault- you sold me a sick doe. She won't give any milk and her gut stinks'. (I'm getting whiff of a seriously dysfunctional family here.)

So, I asked again, what are you feeding her- are you feeding her the feed I told you I fed my does? (No, we are feeding her oats.)Are you feeding her away from the other goats? (No, everyone gets fed together. [goats chase the weakest of the herd away from feed- like little Jimmy Schwartz at school getting his head put in a toilet by bullies]) How about her hay- goats need dry, well kept hay? (The big bale is in the middle of the pen and she can go get it if she wants it.)

Essentially, these folks did not listen to one word I repeatedly had said and then blamed me for their management problems! They agreed to give it one more week and promised to do what I had said.

Forward one week- I get another call- 'This goat is sick! You sold us a sick goat!' So I make an arrangement pick the goat up while also being told 'no, no, no...' over and over again- 'it is not our problem, it is yours!' (The excrement meter pegged all the way over with this one.)

When I picked up that poor little doe, she had lost about 15 lbs.- which is very precious weight for a yearling who is nursing a kid. I took a sample of her urine in front of the lady and luckily, she was not into ketosis from being starved, at least not yet.

I also took pictures of the doe and how emaciated she was- she was a body score on maybe 1 1/2- when she left my place, she was about score of at least 2 1/2, which is not bad for a first freshener just settling in to a lactation and nursing a kid. The doe had no mammary tissue so she could not even make milk for her kid! I fed her as much hay as she wanted- which was a lot, she ate for several hours- and the next day when my vet got here for the annual visit, he checked the doe out and pronounced her healthy, but very underweight.

I never heard from those folks again, who were certainly not the Christian people they presented themselves to be, and I still hear their voices raised in abject denial that they were indeed responsible for the condition of that doe by not listening to nor following my detailed written instructions, and by refusing to hear any portion of the goat management wisdom being given to them. "It's not our fault, it's YOUR fault!'

The doe was re-homed about 6 weeks later when she had gained back the weight and was able to feed her kid. Margarita Rosita went to a wonderful Dr. that worked for 'Dr's Without borders', who was also a pastor. I hope she has a happy and productive life with her new family.