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2022 – Year in Review

Well as another year on the farm comes to a close it is time to look at the year in review to see what went well and what didn’t go so swell.

Lets start with the good shall we? The year started off on a high note with the arrival of my daughter born in March. This little bundle of joy was by far the best (and worst?) part of the year. She has just blown us away with her fine motor skills – able to pick up the tiniest crumb and put it in her mouth! Argh! and her crawling ability is crazy. She started crawling at 6 months and by 8 months she was able to crawl at my walking pace which is quite quick! On the business side of things, sales of Blue Spruce exceeded my expectations yet again to the point where I could have easily sold far more small potted trees than I had! In the end I had to limit sales on them to ensure I have a few left to plant into larger pots and plant into the Balled and Burlap field. Speaking of the B&B Field, we sold over 100 trees this year out of our B&B field. To ensure we have future inventory, we had to get going on replanting which we did with a spring in our step. 150 odd Tamarak, 50 Blue Spruce, and 50 White Spruce have been planted out. Half of the Tamarak Larch are 5-6 foot trees we bought in from another farm so they will have a short turn around time. We really need a lot more trees in this size but they are hard to find.

Now for the not so good. Illness in February and March had my early season planning delayed and it hurt my efforts to keep some off season income, also a challenge was my wife’s nausea during pregnancy combined with the hormones galore… Net result is I had to spend a lot more time looking after my son and my wife than I could on earning an off season income. Once my daughter arrived, my wife had a bad dose of postpartum depression, and the extra work she caused further impacted my ability to work. Once busy season hit, I had no option but to work long hours and get little sleep handling the night shift with the baby. What a challenge that was! With all the long hours somethings had to be sidelined – equipment maintenance was delayed causing a couple extra failures, and over/under watering occurred several times which increased losses. Speaking of losses, we had several complete crop losses from new seedlings from our supplier this year, its always hard to see such losses – especially with trees I was looking forward to having. Overall though our losses were not extreme, something around 5% from our new seedlings, and another 1% from our watering issues. One of the most neglected parts though is the couple time with my wife – two kids plus trying to build a tree farm up, and us both having additional sideline businesses makes things really challenging to keep up with the ‘us time’ if there is such a thing anymore.

As for the ugly – well inflation is one big ugly part of the year… not so much our costs for seedlings, pots and soil but inflation affecting our personal costs. Last year we were able to survive off of a couple thousand a month plus child benefits – this year by the end of the year we need double that (of course an extra mouth to feed during a formula shortage forcing us to buy far more expensive stuff doesn’t help!) Its getting to the point where I will be forced into raising a few prices next year – not by a large margin, only a dollar or two – but still its not something I like to do when its not an issue with my suppliers raising prices but personal living costs. My personal financial situation has taken a large hit – no travel, hardly any eating out, and Christmas was going to be very sad for the kids until the generosity of the local community though the pregnancy care centre who have been helping with my wife’s postpartum depression. That was truly the highlight of the season – so we are completely indebted to this generous community. The other ugly thing this year was the pot shortage – the manufacturers have a 2 year back order time frame for any new orders from distributors. The long and the short of it is that we had to buy used pots at the same price as what we had to pay for new ones. Thankfully we at least were able to find someone with used pots otherwise we would have been in trouble!

Heading into 2023 we have a few challenges ahead. Our irrigation costs are up by 30% thanks to fee increases from the irrigation district. Our financial situation is tight and we have essentially zero income until the end of May – that’s the seasonal nature of tree farming – but due to my wife’s postpartum, and my commitments to my former main line of work I can’t take on any additional employed work… I can only turn to things I can do around the farm which I do have a few ideas, they just take time and effort to develop.

To end on a positive note though, going into 2023 we have about 5000 potted trees that are going to mostly all come through winter and put on some great growth this year, we have a good stockpile of pots and can get some more used ones as needed in the spring, we have a plan to start digging other spaded trees to market them as a pick and load to increase sales there, and we have 2500 new seedlings coming from our supplier which will be going into pots to be available for sale next summer and fall. The future is bright, even if the current conditions are a bit stormy.

On the Homestead Beauty side of things, the Christmas market season was fantastic after taking a long break due to pregnancy and looking after kids – my wife was able to pull off 5 successful markets despite the challenges of illness right at the start of making season delaying the production of her products until only a week before her first market. Like a true champ though she pulled it off, running out of several products at each market – having to make lots of new products before each subsequent market. Going forward she is looking to continue growing her business, with my help making a few products in the new year (if we can get some time away from the kids to get things done!) because I want to help and support her venture. I will likely have to take over the online side of things since she isn’t so tech savvy but fortunately this is where I am I think not too bad – her entire catalogue of products will be online soon at her website (homestead-beauty.square.site) – If I can ever find the time to help her with two kids which have far too much energy!

If you’ve made it this far in the year in review, thank you! Two more things that I have started up and will be promoting more in the new year – I have started the amazon affiliate program which allows me to earn a small commission if you make a purchase on amazon after following my reference link. Speaking of that, here is a neat deal from amazon – sign up for amazon music unlimited (currently $9.99 for non prime members, $7.99 for prime members) and you will get 6 months of Disney+ for free!

The other thing I have started up is a neat way to support content creators and small business owners – its called buy me a coffee. If you want to send me a small gift as a way of thanking me for my service or my content – here is a link https://www.buymeacoffee.com/namakaridge – It is only $3 (although you can change the amount as desired) and it certainly helps me out by allowing me to keep up my energy with a morning coffee!

Thank you everyone for your support! Its been a tough year but you have kept me going – even the little things like liking my posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook allow me to see your support! Thank you!

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