Saturday, March 19, 2011

Planting ahead for Christmas!

In a Facebook status update on Wednesday, I mentioned that we were planting baby Christmas trees. An interesting conversation ensued and so, I thought it would be fun to give a more complete explanation - complete with visual props. On Thursday, St.Patrick's Day, the normal day for planting potatoes and onions, we were planting more trees and Tina & I took some pictures and a little video of the process.

Bob orders the plants and they arrive, bare root, in boxes bound in ten plant bundles.

We count enough for a row and cut the cord that binds the bundles.
We pack them on the red shelf of the planter. This is the planter. I sit on the seat that you see in the lower left of the picture. The two metal parts that are to the right of the seat form wat we call the "shoe." It plows through the earth and I put the plants in the front of the shoe and hold on to them until the earth fills in behind them.
This is our fancy "measuring device" that trails behind the planter. When the roll of duct tape gets to the last plant planted, it's time to stick the next plant in.
For this job, I wear a "very attractive" outfit. I tuck my jeans into my socks to try to keep the dirt out of my shoes and socks. We call this picture "jazz hands" because I'm showing off the pair of Bob's gloves that I am wearing.
Bob drives the loaded tractor up to the field and checks to make sure the rows will be right.
I climb on board and we are off.
Tina took this lovely movie of us in action and she enjoyed making some commentary.

The final result is rows of these:
In 5-7 years, this tree will be a beautiful Douglas Fir Christmas tree!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ready for Spring

Around here, at Lancaster County Soapworks, we often have a month or two to breathe and prepare for the onslaught of heavy duty business in the Spring. Many of our local customers are seasonal and while they may restock a bit after Christmas, our springtime orders tend to hit us hard.

We don't come to a standstill in the beginning of the year, but we do prepare for the busy months to come. One of the things we did this year that was a little different was to order larger quantities of raw materials farther ahead than usual. Because we heard rumblings of price increases (we should be used to this by now) we decided to order enough fats and lye to hopefully hold us over til the end of summer when, we understand, prices should drop - at least for the fats.

The truck arrived last week and we stashed the fats in the garage bay beside the shop. It is cool and shady in there in the summer and they should be fine. Here are a couple of shots of what I'm talking about:

And another view:
We have a pallet of lye at a guaranteed price coming in the end of March.

It is a good feeling knowing we are well stocked and ready to ride out the price changes of the coming months. Some people get a kick out of having shelves of canned goods in the basement. For me, it is the thrill of having fats ready for the next few months. Who knows what to expect when we next need to order.

While we were in some relative "down time," we were busy stocking the shelves. In the beginning of March these shelves were mostly full, but as the month went on and orders started rolling in, they are starting to look a little peaked, so we'll be making soap again to try to stay ahead of the demand.

So, here we go on our roller coaster ride through the busy season... Wheeee!