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Wearing out- time of year and customers

Posted by little_minnie 4 (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 14, 12 at 22:24

This time of year is rough and then if you get a problem customer you really wonder if it is worth it. I end up thinking about going small again or specializing my crops or doing less CSAs and more markets or more CSAs and less markets... I don't ask for much and it isn't about the money, just about feeling what I do has value to people and boy there are some crazies out there!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Sounds like you need to vent :) What happened?


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I agree with the time of the year idea...I am feeling a pretty big let down from my first boom....and yes there was/is some fatigue. I am hoping that most of the comes from inefficiencies due inexperience.

I try to remember how incredibly nice so many customers are. They leave tips, give more gratitude than any one I have ever worked for always ask about my family, etc. Some of the craziest are also the best customers....and the bad crazies are few. Not to say they can't get under someones skin...and agree venting helps!


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

After so many months of work, everyone wears out and get tired. Even people that have been doing this for over 30 years still get that way.

Sorry.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I do a CSA survey and all the responses were very good this year but one. Everyone said the value and amount was very good to excellent but one person said they get food that rots in 1-2 days and is farmers's market seconds. From her comments I know it was one of two sisters who pick up together. One smiles and one scowls. So I don't know what she is doing that no one else is to rot her food but it certainly is fresh picked that day. I go to one market on Thursdays and her CSA is Tuesday so there is nothing left over by that time for sure. I give them the best. I know how long the food lasts because I take some too, but the really blemished stuff, and it lasts plenty long for me- and my other sane CSAs. This woman did this survey from 10:30-12:30 AM the other night. Either she was drinking or had some issue.

And of course the farmers' market dropped way off lately- when school started. It is hard to be successful in that situation.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

If you leave it in a closed up car, it will rot quickly. Or maybe one sister takes the better stuff and then gives the other sister the rest after sitting out of refrigeration (or maybe sitting in her car).

This is the ending of peak market season (start of school or 2 weeks before), but I found that the last week or 2 of market things pick back up because they knew market is ending.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I know it's frustrating getting that kind of feedback but if it's just from one person and you know you're providing quality produce try to let go of it. You just can't please everyone and like you said, maybe she was drinking or maybe she was angry about someone or something else not even connected with you. You never know about people. One time, these two women came by my tent and one of them (scowling)picked up a jar of my apple pie jam and she looked at it, clicked her tongue (look of total disapproval on her mug) and she put the jam back down on the table. She told me that her friend (the other woman) had bought a jar last season. I asked the woman if she liked it. She smiled, nodded and said, "Oh yes.." the scowling woman jumped in and said, "She didn't like it!" I apologized and I asked what was wrong with it, in a genuine attempt to try to please my customer. I don't want to sell something that I made that had something wrong with it. The scowling woman waved her hand at me and shook her head. I asked them if they would like their money back or a different jam or jelly in exchange. I could tell the other woman was starting to get uncomfortable. Scowling woman actually paused before she totally dismissed me with another click of the tongue and she shoved the other woman out of my tent. So who knows if there really was something wrong with it. Maybe it was too sweet. Maybe it didn't set well. Maybe the woman just didn't like the looks of me? Who knows? To be honest, I was a bit taken aback and then I felt bad and then I said, hey! Wait a minute! I even offered to give them their money back without any proof that there was something wrong. There ain't anything wrong with me or my product and this is the first time someone has complained? I started feeling better right away! Chin up there friend. I think you just had a customer that no one will be able to please.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Maybe it gave the woman diarrhea because apples don't agree with her.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Or maybe 'she didn't like it', She LOVED it and ate it too fast not allowing the other woman to have much.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

yes, this is the time of the year when you have a lot of cleanup to do, a lot of work ahead of you, and not too much money coming in. In my case, tons of it going out, though. This is the time of year we buy all the seeds and supplies for next year, but nothing's coming in much, and the LP bills are getting ready to crank up...so I know your feelings.
Customers can be a real pain sometimes, but it sounds like you did everything you could do to make their experience a pleasant one. Maybe she had a bad cucumber or zucchini or tomato that just didn't keep that time, and then filled out the form. But look at all the good feedback you received, so read the others that were more favorable and pat yourself on the back...you can't please everyone!


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I did something tonight I am regretting. There was a customer that complained about the 50c each on onions. Leaving out the details of what she was like and my motivation for saying it, I said 'well you grow em'. I just hope it doesn't come back to haunt me. You know karma.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Best line for this is "Come work for me a day and you can get the employee discount"


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Awesome.
Now today I got a cheery email from the woman I suspected had given me the horrible review on survey monkey. She wants to do a fall share. So I suspect she is either crazy or a drunk or I thought it was the wrong person! I am a bit dumbfounded.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Maybe she went to the grocery store and bought some of that stuff, then realized how fresh tasted in comparison.

We hit 27 last night, that officially finishes any picking outside.

Marla


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

We hit 24-25 on Saturday night. Everything outside is gone, even the stuff I had covered. Frost Tender stuff was burned some in the high tunnels. All the frost hardy stuff looks great!

Jay


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I am still picking kale, scallions, leeks, spinach, chard, beets, rutabagas, kohlrabi, radish, carrots, bok choy, broccoli rabe, turnips, Napa cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sunchokes and some herbs. And believe it or not peas because I don't think the flowers are freeze sensitive as people say. It has been about 25 here. I let the peppers go Saturday night because I couldn't keep them through 25 degrees.
Watering is the hard part now and no rain still.
Waiting for a response from the crazy woman...


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

We have finally almost got out of drought conditions in most of my state, only about 1-2" shy. Of course, it's too late for the crops but it will help out on next year's.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I can't believe how much rain we've had. My pond was finished August 27, and we've had 14.6 inches since then. My acre pond is half full already. It is really muddy in the fields, and I'm now worried about getting the garlic in. I am happy it frosted, as I'm so tired of picking stuff. We have been hurrying to get the winter squashes out before they rot or are damaged by insects. Despite the drought, we had a pretty good year with them.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Last time I looked we were 12 plus inches below for the year, it could be up to 14 inches, but who knows. After awhile, you just say we are really dry!

I am going to try to get some garlic in this week. My trouble is I hope I can break up the ground!

Jay


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Wow, I don't think we are in the same zone at all! Lows just around 40 here so far (some nights more like mid-30's) but Friday night is supposed to be low of 29 so tomorrow (rain all day today) I'm picking everything that's left (peppers, a couple of zukes and a couple of straightneck if they haven't rotted) and covering the berries.

I don't know about year, but last month we had about 1" *over* normal rainfall (coming 1-2" at a time!), might be almost caught up since I believe August was above normal too, June and July were about normal as I recall (July dry but not abnormally so, but again all the rain came the last week of that month). CT wasn't too affected by drought, but we do have a very poor apple harvest this year - I never saw our trees blossom, but lots of others did in March heat wave and then froze at end of April.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Sheila, it seemed like your area got rain that I didn't get, and what I got, Jay didn't even get.

We've have several days of 33-38 lately, with 1 day of 27. Only 1 more day of 33 low then back to normal (45) and above (60) as lows.

I don't think anyone had a good apple year, I know I paid $1/lb for 2nds and it was a deal.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

We are swamped with apples this year. Apple trees have been loaded everywhere. They have been leaning over, branches breaking much more. Our last frost was March 5th. They bloomed and set.

I don't have any apple trees myself, but I have been picking a few here and there.

Jay


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Wow, you didn't have any freezes in April? We had 3 in the last week of that month!

I ended up paying $6.50 for 1/2 peck (not sure how many lbs - 5 or 6?) of apples just to make my kids' favorite apple butter. Sure would be easier if they'd eat store-bought jellies ;-) Orchards around here aren't even selling seconds, they're using them for cider or pies since they just don't have enough fruit.

We lost 3 apple trees last Oct b/c they still had leaves and fruit on them when we got 2 ft of snow just b4 Halloween. Lots of damage (not just to fruit trees) from that storm (and Irene in the summer), area is still recovering.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Jay, you're lucky.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

No freezes in April, heck I planted green beans outside on March 25th and cucumbers, zucchini, and melons on April 1st, outside! I picked my first watermelon on June 5th.

Strange year!

Jay


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Strange year is right. Everything pointed to a tough early fall didn't it? I had sweet corn on 7/9 and tomatoes the week before. Extremely early for this area. Then everything just quit.
We have 2 more outdoor markets but unfortunately I am still sick today (see, I really wore out!). Of course I am bummed because I have lots of stuff to sell. I think I will bring the green peppers to the grocery store. I am still mad no one is buying my herb plants for indoor growing.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Most people don't realize that the herb plants can be over-wintered. It takes several seasons to get them trained. I used to bring in a plant that I've over-wintered to show.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I've got bolted basil and a couple of different kinds (Italian and Greek) oregano out there. Will they over winter? Cilantro bolted early and looks dead but I didn't pull it out since I hoped it would reseed. Left arugula and lettuce til it bolted too, pulled it but left it in place to compost - I'm taking down the deer fence, liming the mossy parts and putting down burlap as winter cover since it's too late for cover crops.

Oh, covered the roots of the raspberries and blackberries with burlap - will cover blackberry canes tomorrow - now they're saying 27 as low Sat 5AM. Cover the raspberry canes too?

I'm bending plastic-covered wire we used to support conduit for deer fence, covering that with burlap so it's about 18" at peak above ground (strawberries are 9-10" tall!), will that be sufficient to protect strawberries? I hate to put heavy burlap and hay directly on them, esp. this early since it may warm up again next week. Wild strawberries did fine last winter, this is my first time growing cultivated.

Not going to market either tomorrow - not worth it for 16 jars of jelly when it's going to be 42 degrees.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I just covered my strawberries with a thick 6" layer of straw, right on top of the plants. they will died back over the winter and come back next spring.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I don't have straw, just burlap and old hay, didn't want to pick hay out of the strawberries and was afraid burlap might be too heavy (esp. when wet) laid right on top. Haven't covered them yet, and it's supposed to rain a little more in the AM tomorrow.

Think burlap coffee bean bags will crush the plants? Some of the plants are 12" tall since I didn't mow them (or thin them) this first year. I didn't get all the "hoops" bent (they break) and set in today, only have 11 for 30ft of row so figured I'd have to put netting over it to keep burlap from falling through, then another layer of netting over top to keep the bags in place. Might be overkill for this weekend, supposed to be back up around 60 (67 on Monday!) with lows in the 40's next week.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I'd mow them off, high bushhog height. That's what we usually do. Then scatter the old hay on top. Don't worry about the plants being so tall, they WILL died back and then regrow next spring. Sounds like you got some good roots developed this summer/fall and that's what will count for next year.

Strawberries don't mind a light freeze, they will come back if roots are established enough (sounds like yours are). After it freezes, then go out and cover. We didn't ever cover our plants, just let the weeds fall over on top of them. Had 1 variety that lasted 7 years, producing each year.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Can't mow them with the brushog, they're planted in a 3-ft strip at top of retaining wall. And brushog is at my dad's ;-) I posted on Fruit and Orchards, was told not to bother mowing o thinning this year (just planted this spring), I'll thin them in the spring and mow them with push mower after picking next year.

Not sure if we'll have a light freeze or hard freeze Sat AM - keep changing forecast from 33 to 29 to 27 and I think last thing it was back to 29. You think I don't need to cover them for the first freeze, even though they were just planted 6 (ish) months ago?

I heard Triple Crown blackberries weren't too hardy in anything colder than zone 6, we're 5b (I think, right on edge of zone and just under 1000ft elevation) so I'm wondering if I should cover the first-year canes? Raspberries are supposedly hardier.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Just got your email Marla - yes I am a worry wart ;-) and now forecast says 26.

Found an article online that said to let them harden off once the temp reaches 20F (!) so we still have a while to go, I won't worry about them this week (still wondering about the TC, guess I need to Google that a bit more too, didn't find much the last time I searched).


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Unless it's supposed to stay below 35, I wouldn't worry. The blackberries might be a different situation, I only have wild ones.

I was on the edge of 2 zones, in summer I errored on the warmer side and winter on colder. I think the weatherman stated a 'hard freeze' was like 25 for several hours, and stayed cold.

I know you're a worry wart, I was too my first years. Now, I just plant more than enough, that way the critters and Mother Nature can mess up some, plus leave me plenty.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I don't worry about my TC's. Blackberries are pretty tough. Mine are massive as I spend an entire year pruning them back to develop strong laterals, and there's no way to do anything with them anyway. If you try laying them down, you're likely to do more harm breaking them off. You may see some dieback--I frequently notice this on my black raspberries. They usually recover, but the crop may be affected slightly.

With everbearing raspberries, I cut them down to about ground level after they lose all leaves. You'll sacrifice a small summer crop but more than make up for it in the fall. Don't do this w/summer bearers. For them, you'll want to remove the old cane that bore fruit THIS year and leave the young cane for next summer. That's also why you want all your berries separated. This year raspberries were nuts. We have been harvesting since May and there was no difference between the two. The fall berries have not had the flavor of the earlier ones but are sure beautiful to look at. Too much rain, I guess. A little sugar really brings out their flavor. Blackberries set a massive crop, which was lost in the heat. We only got about 10% of what we should have.

For me, there is a much greater demand for blueberries. Unfortunately, almost all of the blueberries in our area were lost. I may have a dozen bushes left after having near 60 this spring. We also lost all the currants, gooseberries, and 80 new rhubarb. We had phenomenal fall rhubarb though after the rains, but I suspended harvest after the first hard frost. Demand for it is much greater in spring though the quality is better in the fall. That's the way w/most stuff though.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Well here is another fun customer service issue. I had a problem with a bad check earlier this summer for my large family share customer. Now their fall share check bounced. I just called my bank to have the fee removed and they did (companies always will remove fees when you call). Now I emailed the customer but I am pissed since this is the second time. Earlier it had been quite a deal since it got all mixed up in the bank and now again! I gave her 2 big shares already this fall worth $79!


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

Is there a bad check fee in your contract? There should be. Just tell the customer that's the fee that the bank charges you. Bouncing a check is a crime, and you have every right to have the state's attorney prosecute them, but obviously that's not always the best business decision. Maybe you can just collect in advance for problem customers.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

I would immediately stop any more shares until I receive CASH from her and any future business would be in CASH only. I would have done this after the FIRST bounced check.

If it's worth it to you, take her to small claims court. Of course, you'll be out the filing fees if you don't win.

I've been lucky and never received a bad check. Just lucky I guess.


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RE: Wearing out- time of year and customers

This is a helpful thread as we are planning to start an heirloom vegetable stand at our hay farm this spring/summer and we deal with these issues with hay on and off. I am nerly weary with the starting of a new retail venture but hopeful that we can build it from the ground up--i know there will be glitches and issues to deal with. Will try to face them with fortitude. We have both been in retail on and off all of our lives and these are perpetual issues you deal with no matter what the product. Some folks cannot be pleased and some want to complain just to garner attention to themselves. Dealing with it properly is always a trail and sometimes error process. I will be visiting this forum often for advice and questions, I am sure. Thank you for the reminder that customer service is always at best a mixed bag.


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