Sunday, October 30, 2011


After my very visceral reaction to “I’d get a real job…” last week, this week’s weather forecast had me second-guessing myself. An October snow is odd enough, but an October snow on a Saturday during the Market season could be disastrous.

I know I’ve said this before, but… when you make your living in agriculture, the weather is a big factor. When you make your living in agriculture AND direct-marketing during a five-hour open-air Market, the weather becomes a HUGE factor.

As the Boss and I watched the weather forecast get snowier and snowier as the week progressed, we had a lot of discussions as to how to address the weather situation. Our attendance at the Market is a given, no discussion there. The Boss is the Market Manager, he HAS to attend. We make our living this way; we HAVE to sell the products that we grow here on the hill. However, it’s always a balancing act as to how much to take. If we take too much, we can’t put it back and wait until next week. Cut lettuce and other greens just don’t keep that well. If we take too little, we miss the opportunity to make sales, and obviously that’s not wise. We eventually came up with a plan, worked the plan and then waited for the snow to start.

When we went to bed Friday night, the flakes were coming down heavily. All we could do was wait to see what the morning held. The weather forecasters had us expecting a “big one”. The last time this area saw snow of this magnitude was 1979. The Boss remembers that all too well. He was working for the power company and worked for 40 hours straight. The combination of heavy snow and leaves on the trees made a nightmare for power company employees.

4:15am always comes too early on Saturday, but this particular day I was eager to look out the window to see what had transpired in the night. The floodlight revealed that the snow had indeed fallen in the night, but didn’t seem as deep as anticipated. It was no longer snowing; sleet and freezing rain were falling. We headed out to do chores together. We had decided that it made more sense for me to go into town with the Boss rather than have both vehicles out on what might be treacherous roads.

As we drove into town in the darkness, we laughed a little about how crazy it seemed. We wondered if any customers would venture out in the wintry mess. We rejoiced that the roads were only wet, and the temperature wasn’t quite as cold as predicted.

Our arrival at the Market revealed that other vendors had indeed come out despite the wintry weather. Out of the 26 reserved vendors, only 11 showed up for the Market. No one was too eager to set up in the cold, swirling snow, but everyone got ready for their day of sales. In some ways, it was a better turn out than we expected.

It was still very dark when the first customer came through. There weren’t a lot of customers…then there were none. It looked as if it would be a cold, wet day and sales would be dismal.
I must admit, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic.

Eventually, the residents of Staunton rallied. Folks came out and bought. Some came out and bought a lot. (It’s that time of year when some customers begin to stock up for winter.) The weather cleared a little. Families with young children came to go trick-or-treating at the businesses downtown.

All in all, it turned out to be a profitable day. It seemed like our balancing act worked, there were very few greens left. (I know what our menu will include this week.) We were happy with the total sales for the day.

Then, we can say we were part of history in Staunton. I think I can safely say that everyone hopes it will be another 30 plus years until the next October snowfall!

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