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  • Writer's pictureErin Lair

The Learning Curve

More than 21 years in the helicopter industry.

More than 13 years in education.

A brief lifetime in ranching, but never as an owner.

Our family resume does not boast much in the way of orchardists. Over the course of the purchase process, Brian (our wonderfully supportive seller) shared with us as much as he could, always adding new information each time we had the opportunity to connect.

He left us a stack of notes outlining a variety of details he thought of as he came across different items packing. He messaged us contacts and names of people to talk with. He would spend days showing Shane how to run the irrigation, KGB pruning, and each unique quirk and trick for things around the orchard. Before he left, and just before the sale was complete, we were able to sit with Brian and go through a calendar month-by-month to outline what a typical year might entail. He made sure we knew he is always a call away, and everyone we have met in the orchard world is so readily helpful and willing to share what they know. But, we are also now on the sharp upward turn of our own learning.

Shane and I were able to sit down a few nights ago and talk a bit about what is ahead. Who we need to call. What first steps to take toward actually having a commercial cherry harvest. I'm struck by just how much we have absorbed and learned over the last five months. I am also not without a lot of anxiety and anticipation for what is yet to understand. I appreciate strategic planning because it typically means you have a relatively clear picture of steps and tasks and outcomes. Our outcome of "grow a lot of cherries" still feels a little ambiguous for my liking.

As we take this detail by detail and day by day, it is apparent that nothing tends to happen overnight. We have time to take each season as it comes, to a degree. Yet, we find the need to at the very least understand what is coming and what will be required before tucking details in the "to worry about later" file. Shane had found a 150 page binder containing the definitions, checklists, requirements, and other information outlining getting and maintaining Global GAP production status. We will be working with a local, large producer for harvest and they are our mentor for this program. Teaming with them gives a lot of grace and flexibility in checking all the boxes within those 150 pages. It also appears that the orchard is virtually already set to be in compliance with a few final considerations. We had previously reached out to our contact in that company. He's excited to work with us. So, for now, we refocus on what our calendar notes for February: pruning.

I find that as I drift to sleep each night with these lists and calendars and "to dos" floating in my head, and the worry or fears of missing something or not getting this all quite right, I hear the end of a silly book I used to read to the girls called Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster. Jonathan James has the "whatifs" floating through his head in each moment of his day- how things could be bad, or go wrong, or be scary. By the end, he confronts the "whatif monster" and realizes that facing those fears could result in a most of these scenarios actually turning out really great. So, although there are a million things to consider as we embark on this new adventure, I am focusing on the "but what if it's a success."

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