A&A Week Four As Christmas Tree Lot Managers in South Florida
End of Week #81
Hart-T-Trees Christmas Tree Lot, Margate FL
Miles traveled since last week's post = 0 miles
Total miles traveled to date = 11,823 with trailer
It is day number 25 of sales here at our lot in Margate Florida, and we are starting to countdown the days we have left 'sharing the joy' of Christmas trees in South Florida. Today was another hot day, with the weather continually shifting up and down over the past week. (There were legit 2 days last week that I worked outside with my winter boots and slept with the space heater on!)
I feel like life has just been one big emotional rollercoaster ride lately, but potentially the energy is starting to calm itself back down??? (Wishful thinking, I assume.) The good news is we have not been shut down again by the city of Margate, and we have not had anymore surprise health problems with the bengals. But the bad news is that there is a serious tree shortage this year and we have lost a lot of customers due to not having what they are looking for.
But all in all, we are well. We are happy, healthy, and grateful. We have adjusted and adapted to a lot the past month, and we have a lot more to look forward to in the next month!
So let's start by going over some more life updates from A&A...
Bengal Cat Updates
Tomorrow my Roscoe boy goes in for his two week check up, post surgery. He has been doing really well, and adjusting to his new life with zero fangs or canines. (Poor buddy!) He has started eating kibble again, AKA swallowing it whole - but he used to do that when he had teeth too. Tomorrow they will just make sure he is healing well, and give him a good once over, and we will be back on our way. The vet is graciously covering his two week checkup free of charge, which doesn't seem like a normal vet protocol, but after how much we have spent with them this past month, I am very appreciative.
Rahja has been mostly back to her "normal" self as well - quite talkative like always, but much calmer than the day I took her into the vet. I have not noticed anymore urinary symptoms or issues, and am remaining hopeful that with stress management and diet management we can keep that under control moving forward. Both bengals have a new prescription food integrated into their dry food that is both calming and good for urinary health.
I think in general they are both really bored these days and in need of some stimulation. We have had long hours outside and this has been a long spell without being able to take them out for walks or adventures. They sleep a lot, of course, but bengal cats are more energetic than a domesticated tabby and I feel they are lacking some of that mental stimulation they require. I will be excited to round up the tree lot and be able to spend more time with them and give them more of the attention they deserve!
Week Four as Christmas Tree Lot Managers
As we enter this new week as lot managers, everything is so much different than it was the past three weeks. The nights, and especially the days, have slowed down by a lot, and we are running out of inventory. We have not gotten any new truckloads of trees, and do not have any left in our storage bays. Today Adam even started pulling the rebar holes for trees, as our main tent is starting to empty out. Everything we have left is 5-6 feet in height, or shorter, and some of them are quite Charlie Brown in nature. This is the earliest Hart-T-Trees has ever sold so low in inventory, and we are absolutely experiencing a tree shortage - especially when it comes to tree height. Most all of our customers are looking for something taller than we have and leave the lot empty handed in a continuous search across South Florida.
I'm sure you recall from last week's update how frustrated we were with our being closed down by the city. Thankfully that shut down only lasted one full day, but it still really hurt us and our overall net sales. We likely lost at least $5K in net sales, which might not sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but at this point in the season it would be the boost we need to inch towards our goal of $200K net sales. At this point in time we will fall short, and will likely end around $187K, or less, in sales (totally just estimating at this point). It is a huge bummer to know that we could have reached our goal if we simply had the inventory and if we were open that one day, however we can't dwell on the what ifs and should haves. Everything is the way it is, and it plays out the way it was meant to. (Something that took me a whole spectrum of emotions to finally come to realize.) All in all this will still be an incredible rookie year for us, especially considering the pandemic and everything going on in the world, and all that has been 2020.
The way things are looking now, we will be closed up for the season by this upcoming weekend - if we make it that long. From there we will help do some clean up on the lot and either leave early next week or on Christmas Eve, as originally scheduled, as it is quite difficult to find camping reservations for around the holidays right now. I already have a place set for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and depending on how things wrap up here, we may just have to keep that as is. We have already started cutting our lot helpers loose and paying them off for the season, and we are managing the day completely by ourselves for the rest of our time here. Tonight we had a guy on hand for the evening, but after that, unless we were to get a bunch of trees shuffled our way from any other lot, we won't need the help.
It definitely feels weird right now, after being such high energy, go-go-go, for the first several weeks, and now we are at a pause. It feels like the lack of sleep and physical and mental work is catching up to us. I almost feel more tired now than I did our busiest weekend over Thanksgiving! It's like it's all hitting me like a bag of bricks right now and all I want to do is lay in bed forever and sleep! But at this point we are quite literally in the home stretch, and the days feel so easy that I really should have no reason to complain. Plus I'm starting to have extra time to do other things in the RV, run errands, or just simply not use my brain for a little while. Adam is our main man behind this entire operation, just as he really has been the whole time, and this morning he was selling trees, ringing up trees, and putting trees on cars while I was grocery shopping. We've got this now!
It breaks my heart to say that it has now been a full week since we have seen Mr. Fraser, our beloved mascot cat here at the tree lot. Last Tuesday night got very cold, and I don't know if that is what drove him away, or if anything else could have happened. But he has not returned at all and it has made me sad, nervous, and peaceful all at the same time. My only wish is that he is safe and being taken care of and loved, as he was the most playful and loving little guy we could have asked for as a companion through this experience.
I will be thinking of him for awhile to come, and praying that the Universe looks after him. He was just a little guy, and I am grateful he blessed me with his presence!
Plans after Christmas
The time has come that we have finally started to build a plan for winter in Florida, after Christmas tree sales! As I've mentioned in several past posts, RVing in Florida during the winter is both the most challenging thing to figure out, and also the most expensive. We have really debated all the options out there over the past few weeks, trying to figure out what the best action plan for us could be. I have looked into Thousand Trails memberships, I have been stalking state parks for cancellations, I have looked into "ghetto" parks for cheap, the most expensive ones, and everything in between. We have looked into the east coast, the Keys, and the west coast - as basically our one and only requirement is that we are near the ocean. Neither Adam or I are ready to give that up as an option if we are going to pursue wintering here, and we have looked into any last minute workamping jobs too, but have not had any luck in finding anything.
So our current plan is this: we will spend our first month sitting still in Naples, as far south as you can get on West coast/Gulf of Mexico. We have never been there before and I am very intrigued by the charm of this old Florida city. We found an RV park near the city, and a close drive to all the major beaches, for December 26th to January 25th. (Plus they have free WiFi!) After that we will travel a bit north for about a week, before staying at one of the most beautiful "island" campgrounds I could find, called Fort De Soto. This city park is extremely popular for camping and sits on a strip of land just off the coast of St. Petersburg. They have been completely booked for months - I've been periodically checking them, and a few weeks ago I randomly came across a week cancelation for the beginning of February. Right after our stay there, we will head in between Sarasota and Tampa for another month stay, bringing us through the first week of March. After that is complete we will start to make our way north out of Florida, and I hope to stop at a few more state parks along the way!
We understand it will completely depend on the state of the country, and covid, but it is our hope and desire that early 2021 will bring us visits from friends and family that want to escape the northern cold, and spend some time on the beach with us. This is the longest we have ever gone without seeing loved ones, and as we enter another holiday season apart, it brings up a lot of emotions from us both!
Adam and I are sending everyone we know so much love right now, through the end of 2020 and this holiday season. We miss you all!
The end of our workamping job as Christmas Tree Lot Managers comes next week, as we say goodbye to the Fraser firs, and hello to the beach! I will provide one more recap and update of how this season has played out for us, before resuming back to new weekly content for the last week of December.
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