Dispatch from the Winter Doldrums


Staring out the window on this February day, I see several measly, mostly melted snow piles.  The sun is high in the sky, and burning brightly. The thermometer reads -3 degrees Fahrenheit.  A week ago, we had temperatures in the mid 50’s.

As we fluctuate between 50 and -10 on a near weekly basis, we see hints of impending spring followed by the quick reminder that it’s still winter.  People who don’t experience multiple seasons in a several day span don’t know what they’re missing, right?

Winter is a time of reflection and preparation at Pinicon.  We slow the pace down a little, letting most of the staff have Fridays off. A quiet uninterrupted Friday afternoon seems like a great time to update the Pinicon blog.

Here goes.

My main duties this time of year are split between regular monthly tasks and year end analysis.  At the moment I’m completing the “2017 Production Cost Analysis.” This is the fifth year compiling this report and we are gaining more confidence in its accuracy and usefulness. This exercise forces us to be objective about the decisions of the past year and shows us how we can do better. I find it one of my most rewarding projects throughout the course of the year.

The shop hums away with the rattle and clang necessary to keep the equipment repaired and ready to roll.  April is closer than we realize.  The front office has been busy lining up our South African work force for 2018, and ensuring our housing for those employees is up to snuff.  With every passing year, Danni and Lindsay continue to find ways to improve that process and make it more efficient.

Bert and Ben continue to maneuver the puzzle pieces that make up the 2018 crop plan. Due to unstable price relationships and a growing land base, our crop rotation is constantly changing. This requires adjustments to input levels, equipment capabilities, and personnel. Bert and Ben’s job is to ensure we have the right players with the right equipment and the right strategy at the right place and time.

Among the biggest luxuries this time of year provides is just that – time. In the absence of urgent, high priority field work deadlines, there is time to discuss goals, strategy, and options. Armed with knowledge of the past, and our vision for the future, we can establish direction and set achievable goals for the season.

The 2018 crop is still just an idea in our collective brains, but with every thaw, every melted snow pile, and every unseasonably warm day, we inch a little closer to breaking the ground and starting another year.

Stay comfortable out there