Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pearls of wisdom

No matter how old we get, wouldn't it be nice if we could just have our parents back for a little while to ask them a few more questions? And THIS time, we would listen to them ! What brought this to my mind is that Martha and I just got back from an annual four day meeting I have at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra Beach , Florida. Having been in the resort and service business all of my adult life, it's very difficult for me not to be critical of things that I see in the service business.

Well, these folks do it right, and always have. I watched how friendly and attentive the entire staff was from housekeeping on up. That kind of service does not happen by accident. Someone is constantly preaching and training on customer service to achieve that level of service. I'm always an early riser, and enjoyed watching the maintenance people adjusting the sprinkler heads at daylight  because the patterns of spray were not perfect. It is just one of the many things I observed, and is one of the reasons we have held our meeting there since 1994. We also have no intentions of changing locations.

That got me to thinking of so many of the things my parents taught me about the service business when I first came home, and thought I knew everything. I will never forget my Dad saying, " Son, don't worry about the big things. You will never let those big balls drop, but it's the little things that make a difference". Folks have a tendency to notice the little things more than you can imagine. I can't walk by a piece of trash on the ground without picking it up. When your employees notice you doing that, they will do the same thing.

Dad also taught me that the sweetest sound in the world was the sound of a man's own name. From 1971-2013, I could call every guest by name after meeting him. I would learn 32 names, three times a week, and call them by name when they walked in for breakfast. That's Cader IV's job now, and it's a good thing because I think that the hard drive on my brain circuit is full. If I could dump out useless information such as ," Mary had a little lamb, it's fleece was white as snow", I might have room up there to store more information. However, until they learn how to do a brain dump, my storage capacity is full.

From my mother I learned the importance of smiling and laughing. Mom told me years ago, "When faced with adversity, you can either laugh or cry. You might as well laugh because neither choice is going to change the outcome". I firmly believe people who laugh a lot live longer. And in the people business, you sure as heck need to learn how to laugh because some of the things I have been asked over the years reminds me of another of  my Dad's favorite sayings when frustrated with someone--" He's just breathing oxygen that someone else could have used".

But the most important thing that I learned from my parents, and the one that I fervently hope that I have passed on to both Cader IV and his two sisters, is that all of business is about relationships. Your customers have to know that you care about them as human beings rather than as just a potential income source. I told Cader IV when I was running Riverview that I wanted any guest who came here to think of my name when they thought about quail hunting. It was OK for them to think about Riverview in the next thought, but they needed to think about me as a friend first, and then his thought would logically flow to calling here for a hunting reservation.

I have been blessed to have the finest guests and friends in the world. They have taught me a lot over the years--including how to laugh at some really crazy questions and suggestions ! We are having a great summer, and hope y'all are also.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The power of prayer

Before I start on this short blog, I will say that I remember a line from one of my favorite country music songs that said," Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers". I know that to be a true sentiment as I have prayed for some things that I did not need, but certainly thought I did at the time.

However, after keeping Cader IV and Heather's two children from Sunday to Wednesday afternoon, I am certain that God has answered one of my prayers from long ago. When Martha and I were raising our children, at least I found raising a son to be more difficult than a daughter, and Cader IV has two older sisters. Well, my dad told me that I had gotten exactly the son I deserved because he acted just like I did at that age.

So, I can remember looking at Cader IV many times when he was young and praying," God, please give him a son someday who will be as much fun and a challenge to him as he is to me". Well, after this time spent with Caroline and CB Cox V, I think that it's a safe bet that my prayers are going to be answered. Martha and I had a blast with both of them, and loved every minute of it, but I can see those Cox genes coming!!

Speaking of prayer, we are very dry here. I promised myself that I would never pray for rain again after the flood of 1994, and I have kept that promise. However, I did mention to Him that we are getting pretty dry down here in South Georgia last night. I am also beseeching God to raise us up a great leader for this nation. We need one now in the worst way !

Friday, July 8, 2016

Sctor Rotation

In financial terms, I would define sector rotation in this manner," Every stock that I have purchased has suddenly fallen out of favor while every stock that I have sold is suddenly on everyone's buy list". In terms of Martha and I , we define sector rotation as taking turns keeping one of our triplet grandchildren for three days at a time on a rotating basis. This week finishes up the final rotation with Nate being the third and last.

Poor Nate's luck has his week as being the hottest week of the summer. Our temp/ humidity indexes have been 103-106 during his visit. Since his Papa is , shall we say"mature", we have had to revise some of our planned activities. A lot of the things we planned to do, we were still able to do, and we have substituted swimming pool time for the others. Of course the swimming pool water currently feels like a hot tub.

Meanwhile the only happy employees on Riverview this week are the ones on tractors since all of our tractors are air conditioned. As I was riding around on the Polaris with Nate yesterday, he asked me," Papa, where is everyone"? Having years of experience as an employer in South Georgia, I told him that we would find all of the men where ever the most shade was. Since I know all of those spots, we soon located everyone, and I could not blame them a bit.

If there is a slow time at Riverview , it is from early July until the end of August. All of the sweet corn has been harvested, all of the feed patches are planted, and we basically get down to maintenance, and praying for rain. We could use a good rain at the moment even though we know any storms we get with this kind of heat will be violent.

And speaking of praying,let's all pray for the United States. I was watching the news this morning of the ambush and deaths of the police officers in Dallas. Folks we have enough problems with ISIS and Muslim terrorists. We sure as heck do not need to turn on one another in this country. We need to be united as never before !

Well, I need to close for now as I'm certain that I am about to get a text informing me that my buddy is up and ready to spend his last morning with his Papa.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Praise the Lord

In about three hours we will pick our last ear of sweet corn for the 2016 season. I will not cry over saying good-bye to the harvesting crews or the ten trillion gnats. For the first time in three years, we have managed to sell all of our sweet corn at a profit, but that profit comes at a cost to someone else. I hate to agree with Al Gore, but it certainly seems that our storms in South Georgia are becoming a lot more intense than in prior years. For the past three years, there has been a lot of sweet corn grown in our area that has been flattened by severe thunderstorm winds. We were the recipients of those winds for the last two years, but we only had about five acres of wind damaged corn this season while some of our neighbors lost hundreds of acres. When demand exceeds supply in the fresh vegetable business, one can make some money.

Now that we are finishing up with our sweet corn harvest this morning, let the rains come. Barring flat tires or tractor break downs, we should plant our last food plots today, and the weather man is calling for strong storms this afternoon. Heavy rains in our woods would hit us just right today. Of course, that will mean that I will be out in Martha's yard picking up tree limbs once again tomorrow.

Speaking of the woods, they are really looking good, and we are beginning to see some young quail chicks these days as we ride around late in the day. I love watching the mama quail pretend to be wounded in order to pull us away from her precious chicks. If she only knew that I want them to survive as much as she does, she would not have to put on such an Oscar performance.

In closing this blog, I want to partially quote a very old and dear friend who also manages a little money for me. He and I go back to our college years together. The reason I say "partially quote" is because the last part is too profane to share, but it was still very funny. He said, " I have had the Asian Flu, been through Busted Bubbles, survived the Financial Crisis, been oiled down, and now I have been Brexited".

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Life is interesting. I just keep praying that God will raise up a real leader for this great nation. Right now, I do not see that person on the horizon in either party. I am an equal opportunity detester of all things Washington on both sides of the aisle!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Solstice

Well, today is the longest day of the year, and the official start to summer. However, today is an unusually cool and pleasant day in South Georgia. Now last week was an entirely different story. As Martha and I were sitting on the porch one day last week around 5:30 pm, I happened to check the temperature/humidity index on my app and it was reading 106 degrees. We had every fan on the porch running on high, and were trying to convince ourselves that we were pleasantly comfortable. We finally quit kidding ourselves and retreated to the AC inside.

I hope that everyone had a great Father's Day yesterday. I sure did ! I was covered up in hugs and kisses from grandchildren, and phone calls and cards from my adult children. I truly believe that being a father and grandfather is my greatest privilege.

Things are rocking right along on schedule at Riverview. We have had plenty of rain, and our woods and food plots are looking great right now. We are keeping a close eye on our feed patches to make sure that the sugar cane aphid doesn't sneak up on us like it did last year. We are ready for that bad boy this time.

Sweet corn harvest is right on schedule. Barring an unforeseen circumstance, we should finish picking all of our sweet corn in the next eleven days. The Fourth of July market is one of the heaviest sweet corn sales volumes of the year, and we are just about to get to that point in the harvest and shipping cycle.

Since it was Father's Day weekend, I had different sets of grandchildren with me all during the weekend. The triplets wanted to go see the "puppy dogs" as they refer to all of our dogs at the kennel. I was afraid that we were going to have a riot after each of them chose an English Cocker that they wanted to take home. Papa had to take a hard stance, and veto all pleas.

Finally, in closing this short update, I want to remind each of you to keep a close eye on your firearms. If we are to believe our elected officials, weapons are the cause of all of the killings we are experiencing these days. I watched my guns all night long, and did not see a single one of them make a move to harm me or my family. I do believe that political correctness and our liberal media along with career politicians will lead to the downfall of this great nation unless we stand up to them.

God bless America !

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

This & That

Well, sweet corn harvest is in full swing now, or at least it was until Monday's monsoon rains from tropical storm Colin reached us. Thank goodness, there was no wind associated with this storm in our area, but we did receive anywhere from 3-6 inches of rain on that day. For some strange reason, our harvesting crew expressed no desire to get off the bus and start picking corn that day. However, they have been making up for lost time since then. Of course after that much rain, we are having to use our dozers to push and pull the mule train and field trucks through each planting. It's a lot of fun if you are a big fan of mud bogging events.

One area that really benefited from the heavy rains was our woods. You could almost see the trees, food plots, and natural cover smiling since we have just been through an abnormally dry May for our area. The old adage," April showers bring May flowers" only works if you get a little bit of rain in May. We received very little rain in May; so this deluge was a welcome event for our hunting operation.

Everything here has settled into our normal summer routine with one exception, and that is me! I'm not working as long or as hard as I have for the past 45 years. I kind of feel like I have earned the right. As a matter of fact, I have one of my 10 year old grandsons spending three days with me this week. Since he is one of my triplets, I will be repeating that process for the next two weeks after this since everything has to be equal with this bunch, and they DO keep score. He and I are spending the afternoons exploring the woods, learning nature facts, and hunting for arrowheads. He bagged his first squirrel yesterday, and I can assure you that you would have thought that he had killed a Boone & Crockett buck. City chillun!! That's why God gave them a set of country grandparents.

In closing, let me mention for those of you on our active mailing list, we mailed our summer newsletters on Monday. One day next week, I'm going to attempt to scan that newsletter, and post it to my blog site. Of course that might be above my technical abilities; so I'm making no promises. I hope everyone is having a good summer, and look forward to seeing y'all this fall or winter.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Technology and me

One of the perks that I had placed in my exceedingly long employment contract( according to Cader IV) was that the company had to provide me with a new car every three years. Well, that day arrived, and my new car is here. Had it not been for Cader IV, it would still be sitting right where they dropped it off. There are so many gizmos and features on this car that I do not have a clue how to use it. What ever happened to cranking up, putting the car in gear, and driving off.

One thing I did get a kick out of was how excited Cader IV was to show me the push button start on the car rather than a key to turn. I hated to bust his bubble, but that's the way I remember all of our first cars starting. But, no, I do not remember when you had to turn a crank handle to start the engine. The entire control panel is computerized now, and some of the features make no sense to me at all, and will most likely go unused for three years.

Technology is great, but I could tell the car and tractor makers that everything new is not necessarily better. As far as I'm concerned, the dimmer switch for the headlights would still make more sense in the floorboard of a car as in the old days. As to tractors, they look like the inside of the cockpit of an airplane. If the computers and GPS units on our tractors ever went out, I doubt that anyone other than me could lay out a straight row, and I wouldn't know how to crank the darn tractor anymore.

Speaking of tractors, it looks like we will start harvesting sweet corn this weekend; so y'all please get hungry for corn, and buy a lot of it. The crop looks good, but we never know about the price other than the fact that the market generally falls on the day Riverview starts picking. I would really love to have a little chat with the man who wrote the song," Summer Time and the Living is Easy".

 Summer time in South Georgia is high humidity, high temperatures, and ten gazillion gnats. We have some guys running chain saws thinning out undesirable hardwoods between the rows of a lot of our younger pine plantations. Other men will be in the sweltering heat of the sweet corn fields while a few lucky men will be on tractors or working young dogs in the shaded area where the temperatures will only reach the low 90's.

In closing, let me share with you a little gem a good friend sent me. I was having a small pity party about the heat, my arthritic back, and vision problems when out of the clear blue this friend sent me an email telling me to go to YOU Tube and search for " David Ring--Champion in the Game of Life". The video was 44 minutes long, but I watched it as my morning devotional this morning, and God gave me a great attitude adjustment.

I don't have ANY problems, and I AM blessed. I hope that each of you and your families will be blessed also this summer.