A&A Week Three As Christmas Tree Lot Managers in South Florida
End of Week #80
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
We are 19 days deep in actual Christmas Tree selling, and we have been here on the lot for almost 4 weeks. The days are blurring together, but they seem to be going faster. I think our bodies have adjusted to the all day standing, and the limited hours of sleep, but we have still been trying to adjust to the up and down temperatures. It's either been too hot and sweaty or too cold and nipply. Today and yesterday lows dropped down to the 40s and I had to bust out another blanket for sleeping and the space heater to keep the trailer comfortable. And then I have to keep reminding myself I'm in South Florida... like what the heck!?
We are ending the day quite different than we started out when I began writing this blog post. Around 1:30 this afternoon, city officials (AKA people in charge of building permits and regulations) stomped into our lot - from an area clearly marked as not an entrance since it goes in front of our RV - and started harassing Adam about permits and told him we need to shut down. (I was inside.) Long story short, apparently they never got our official permit paperwork and our lot sponsor, in charge of coordinating all of this, says they never got it because they were supposed to stop by our lot 3 weeks ago for an inspection and never came. Well today they came to our lot with zero warning, zero heads up, zero choices, and demanded we shut down immediately. They threatened Adam that if we stay open they will be watching us and arrests will be made and our RV will have to vacate the lot. They even tried to make him shut off the generator, to ensure no chainsaws could operate, but Adam threw it back in their face that we need the generator to power our RV and we will absolutely not turn it off. Adam even had to say to them, multiple times, that he does not deserve for them to talk to him the way they were, especially since he was being calm and cooperative over something that wasn't even his fault.
The rest of the afternoon was spent shutting down, making signs, communicating with lot help, and communicating with the lot sponsor and tree farm owner about everything going on. Later this afternoon, the lot sponsor delivered the paperwork to their desks, came to our lot, and made several phone calls to all the people in charge - but literally no one answered, even after they told Adam to have everything done and to them by 5 PM if we want to continue. Our lot sponsor even tried to call the damn Mayor! Nothing. Crickets.
By 5 PM that was the end of anything that could be done today. We were closed. And with every car that pulled into the lot or parking lot next door, I felt like I was waving at least $100 away. It's at least a $4K-5K loss for us tonight, as we are always busy at night and have been averaging over $5K weekdays. We are in bonus territory right now so every challenge like this really hurts us and feels like a smack to the face. Not to mention we really don't have enough trees left to finish out the season, and especially not taller trees like the customers around here desire. Plus we can't just open up right away in the morning at 9 AM either. We will literally have to sit around and wait for however long it takes to hear back from someone, and then the same ass hats will probably come to our lot and do another nit-picky inspection first before anything else moves forward.
It is hard to not feel like life has been one big challenge for like the past month and a half now and I just have to say that I'm really sick of it. Enough with the curveballs Universe, I'm worn out!
Updates on Rahja
Speaking of curveballs, wait until you hear about my little spitball Rahja! The other day she was randomly acting super strange while I was taking a break inside and I started to get really panicked about it. I had never seen her so agitated and going in and out of the litter box so many times within such a short period of time. She even looked like she might be trying to do some sort of excretion on the couch, convulsing and looking really uncomfortable. I used a flashlight in the litter box cabinet to try to see what was going on, and came to the conclusion she was trying to pee every few minutes, as if she had a bladder infection.
Basically I immediately freaked out because I know urinary problems in cats can be deadly to them, and I reached out to Roscoe's vet clinic for help. I was able to get her an appointment for that same day, a half hour from when I called, and had to tell Adam what was going on. He really didn't understand why I was freaking out until I brought him inside to spend a few minutes with her and see how different she was acting, and then he told me I better take her in.
Within a few minutes of getting to the vet they called me in the van and told me that they wanted to keep her overnight. They mentioned they wanted to be sure if her symptoms were environmentally caused or physically caused before sending her home. I've never had to leave a pet overnight before and that really freaked me out, but I agreed to it because the vet told me he would not charge me for keeping her overnight, and he genuinely sounded like he cared.
It felt like it took forever to hear from them, but the next morning they said they finally did a urine test and found the presence of crystals. When you find crystals in the urine you have to make sure there are not stones in the kidney or bladder and in order to do that you are now looking at an x-ray. What felt like an eternity turned out to be a relieving phone call an hour later telling me no stones were found. But this isn't the end of the line, because that means the crystals are being caused from diet and stress - both of which I have to help correct. I decided to put Rahja on a prescription diet that helps both calm her stress down and also helps her urinary health. I have to monitor her for awhile and make sure nothing gets worse, but she was most definitely happy to come back home!
So far so good, she's been acting like herself - and I'm slowly integrating the new food into their current one. I will also have to monitor Roscoe and make sure the food doesn't react with his sensitivities either. But so far both of the bengal babes seem to be doing pretty good, all things considered. (They have just managed to rack up the most expensive unplanned vet bills of their entire lives!)
Updates on Roscoe
One week from today Roscoe will go in for his 2 week check up appointment and I think they will remove some stitches out of his mouth? The vet has already called to check up on Roscoe a few times, and honestly he has been doing really good. He's back to his cuddly, loving and normal self and he has been eating just like normal. Rahja also finally stopped growling at him (probably because now she is the one that smells like the vet), so I'm hoping it's only uphill from here.
Never in my life have I run into so many health issues with cats before, and I have owned cats my whole life! And of course all of this has to happen at the same time, especially after never having any kind of health related problem with Rahja ever before - it's always been Roscoe related. Crazy bengals!
Week Three as Christmas Tree Lot Managers - Other Updates
But aside from all the insane chaos going on in every aspect of our lives, the Christmas tree lot has been going (mostly) great. We are on the downhill climb of it all and have been feeling really good about it. Our sales have crossed over 3/4 of the way to our goal, and we had been conjuring up so many marketing ideas and suggestions for the future. We really hope we are able to finish things out here and get as close to our goal of $200K net sales as possible, AND sell out of our trees. We keep reminding ourselves about the beach life after this and have been trying to do a lot of planning and researching regarding the rest our time in Florida this time around.
All and all things have not been that bad, and we have been getting more sleep now and I've been able to spend more time inside cleaning up, making food, (and hiding). We have a good team of lot helpers to carry us through to the end, and we have been finding ways to make sure everyone who comes on our lot leaves with something. The only downsides have been the temperature swings, heavy rain and winds, not having enough stands or tall tree products to sell, and feeling like we are not as busy as other lots.
I just hope that this huge bump in the road we are dealing with right now with being closed down does not hinder the rest of this experience in any way. I hope we are able to carry through to the end and make the most out of all of this. The lot has been challenging since day one with the noise, the neighbors, and in getting water and a tent set up, and now we aren't even able to operate at all. I really hope I have better news about everything by the time next week rolls around!
Updates on Fraser
Our mascot Fraser has also had a tough week, as it has randomly gotten super cold in South Florida again, dropping to the low 40s at night - sometimes with wind, and a huge rainstorm the other day that flooded our entire lot. We did our best to build Fraser a little cat house under the tents, but the past few days he has taken off, and today we did not see him at all. It's kind of odd because he was seriously here at the lot for like 2 weeks straight, sleeping under the trailer and greeting us every morning. He would sleep under the wreaths during the day and frolic through the trees, chasing customers and dogs at night. And now all I can wish for is that he is warm and safe somewhere and that he will come back to us sometime this week. We still have a lot helper interested in giving him a good home and with him just being a kitten, we want to make sure he isn't left in the streets.
The little guy is so wild, but so loving and playful at the same time, you just can't help but to enjoy him. He is our professional lizard catcher, tree model, child pleaser, and a really good little buddy to keep you company during long days at the register!
I knew this workamping experience was going to fly by, but damn it is already more than half over. In a lot of ways I feel like we are living in a dream, or some version of Groundhogs Day (the movie) - repeating the same day over and over again. And in a lot of other ways I feel like we are shedding layers and evolving right before our very eyes. This job, even as short as it may be, is still pretty life changing in a lot of ways!
Update from the end of November: So the next 3-4 weeks are going to be a little different around here, as it's going to be a LOT harder for me to produce worthwhile content for my blog. Adam and I are going to be working 12-14 hour days, EVERY day, with potential work related or odd things happening all through the night. We aren't going to have a lot of time to even eat, let alone me sit at my computer for a few hours each week. So while we are here at our workamping job, I will just be providing brief updates each week on how we are doing, how the job is doing, how the cats are doing, and more in depth, organized content will resume towards the end of December!
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