No Good Deed Goes Unpunished *sigh*

Tucson, Arizona
October 4, 2012 1:44am CST
Well-- I have been basically missing in action from My Lot for a few weeks-- we have lost our farm. I'm not homeless-- but I am now a sharecropper, living in my 1976 travel trailer instead of the house. As many of you know, my other half and I faced a decision a few years ago when we began to feel the effects Obama had on our business, and on the businesses of those we knew-- we watched old friends lose everything several times. We had, at the time, over 250,000 dollars-- we could have paid off our land, which is what our business friends urged us to do, then sold what was left of our company, or closed the doors and put our 9 employees out of work. We chose instead to give all our money to our employees, to keep them in their apartments and in college, to help them build savings and get debt free, etc. Over the summer, this year far worse than any other year since 2001, the business lost an amazing amount of money, and so did the farm, due to a series of breakdowns, equipment replacements, a few blown engines in trucks-- and keeping our employees on full time pay when we didn't have work. Last week, we hit the wall-- our mortgage went into default, and was going to foreclosure. And then my other half learned what people can be like-- he asked his brother to take on the mortgage. His brother (who is worth over 1 million) said NO WAY. He told the employees that we were flat broke, and asked if they would take hours cuts to keep their jobs-- they told him they would all quit together, at the start of our busiest season when they KNOW we don't have the time to train new hires if we didn't keep them on full hours, despite the fact that the number of events we have is less than half what it was last year, almost 3/4 less than the year before, and we lost our kettle corn stand at the mall. My other half was stunned, and very hurt-- he sees them as family, and we have done far more for all of them than any other employer would do. Yet as soon as he turned to them for help, and asked that they accept the hours cut so they are only getting paid when they are seriously working, they all decided it was every man for himself/herself. He hasn't told them yet, but after October he is planning on selling the business for whatever he can get from it-- which is not much anymore, because no one is buying businesses right now, and they won't be for a while-- especially not a business as seasonal as kettle corn in Arizona. Back in 2008, we were busy as all get out 8 months out of the year, and breaking even the other 4. Now, this past year (2011) we were busy as all get out 4 months, breaking even 3 and losing money the other five. This year, to date, we were only seriously busy 2 months, breaking even 2 and lost serious ,money the other 3. Thank You Congress and Mr. O. We built it, and now it's gone. So, I am now a sharecropper. We found a friend here in Washington that bought the farm from us and is allowing me to stay on, with my animals and my gardens. He bought it for exactly what we still owed-- which was 1/4 what it's worth-- but he signed a contract with the other half so when we make some more money from the gold mine and building mining equipment, he will transfer it back to us for what he paid for it. So we may get it back in a year or so-- but in the meantime, I am simply devastated. A question, my friends-- my other half is torn, and so am I. We know we won't be able to sell the business, and we know we won't be able to keep it open beyond Thanksgiving if sales don't increase. We could keep it going if our employees would agree to the hours cut, meaning they would go back to just making and selling kettle corn and not doing all the extra things we COULD do ourselves but paid them to do so they would not lose money-- things like housecleaning, laundry, landscaping, handyman stuff, etc. But since they made it clear they won't tolerate that, my other half feels we don't owe them any warning about closing the business. After all, we have given them everything we had-- and this is what they have done in return. On the other hand, we did this in the first place because we felt it was morally wrong to leave our employees vulnerable to the current corrupt administration and the financial upheaval that is coming very soon-- so it could be considered immoral not to tell them that the safety net is being taken away, and they will soon have to fend for themselves. They already know things are bad, because we asked them about the hours cut-- does that seem to be enough warning under the circumstances? We are worried about saying more because if they all quit now, together, then we will lose what little chance we have of building up a small cash reserve to get through the rest of the year and fund making mining equipment for other people. At this point, they all have savings in the bank, they all have paid off cars and paid off bills, rent etc. The two in college have enough saved to continue going and finish. I am personally very angry at all of them-- because they hurt my other half with their attitudes. I gave up expecting honorable behavior from people some time ago, so their reaction to our request didn't surprise me. But hurting him, after all he has done for them-- that made me angry. I don't think we should say anything else to them-- just work their butts off until November 1st, then let them all go and close the business, and sell the equipment off. What are your thoughts? P.S.-- all three of my female alpacas are pregnant, thanks to Roscoe LOL. At least I'll have plenty of alpaca wool to spin, weave with and sell come spring, and crias (baby alpacas) with their very valuable wool this coming fall.
2 people like this
8 responses
@cher913 (25890)
• Canada
4 Oct 12
wow, i am so sorry to hear about your situation. your plan sounds like a good one in spite of everything that has happened. the wool idea is great. where do you sell it? I am not American (Canadian) but was actually talking to a Texan yesterday and he was telling me about all the damage Obama has caused. i hope things get better for you soon.
1 person likes this
• Tucson, Arizona
5 Oct 12
You can sell the fiber online, or through co-ops, or craft fairs and farmers' markets anywhere-- the raw fiber goes for 1-2 dollars an ounce, roving for 3-5 dollars an ounce, and spun yarn can go as high as 4-6 dollars an ounce or more, depending on the color and quality. My girls are decent fiber animals, but not the serious pedigree stock-- their boy is unpapered, but when his coat grows out a little more I will have him fiber tested, along with the girls, to determine the grade. It's a science, this fiber business, and they are cool! They can also be raised for their meat, of course-- it's the leanest meat around, and very healthy. They require very little in the way of food or veterinary care as well. That's why I decided to breed them, rather than cattle, or goats. Cattle are expensive, and goats are a pain in the tail LOL. Alpacas are an all around winner for small farmers
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@allknowing (66673)
• India
4 Oct 12
You must excuse me Chrystalia as I have not read through your whole topic but from little I have read it seems to me the main issue here is for your employees to support you on your terms. It is unfortunate that you still hold on to your old school thought and that is gratitude. If you look at the new dictionary that word does not exist there any more. You need to now start a fresh minus those who have let you down. Just sack them and with your innovative ideas you will come up with something that will tide you over the phase that you are going through. You have your alpacas that will do more than those ungrateful creatures will do for you. Have you offered your services on contract to any of the existing set ups? Your expertise could work wonders for you, on your terms. You can also write on how to start a farm and reap profits. Just a thought.
• Tucson, Arizona
4 Oct 12
Yep, I have that old school problem going on-- that and the Golden Rule. The rest of the world has indeed forgotten that. I am going to continue building up my alpaca herd-- but it will be slow, as I want only the highest quality fiber animals, and they are not cheap by any means! I think the other half is probably going to sack them all right after October, just work the gold mine with the few people who are loyal to us (there are a few) and sell off the equipment, hopefully before the election here. I am going to continue on as though things are the same on the farm, since the guy who owns it now doesn't want to work it anyway-- it just hurts, badly.Sometimes it seems like the other half and I can never win-- when we try to be selfish, it gets us in trouble, and when we try to live correctly and morally, it gets us in trouble too. The world apparently has moved beyond a time when good living and good deeds brought respect and rewards. I am moving up my writing schedule, and will be working a lot longer hours to finish the books I have been working on for that reason. I decided after he told we what had happened when he got to Arizona that I had better get serious if I want to have anything left.
@allknowing (66673)
• India
4 Oct 12
You seem to be on the right track. I also believe that what seemingly looks bleak sometimes opens up avenues which could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. You have it in your to look for alternatives and you will be there, before you know it!
• Tucson, Arizona
5 Oct 12
Yep, I have noticed that as well-- it's waiting for the window that can be very difficult! fortunately, my alpacas are all pregnant, and they are good as both fiber animals and meat animals, should I choose to sell some for meat. Even if I don't sell them for meat, I could always eat one myself :-). At the moment I will be concentrating on the fiber, as I have a lovely black female, and true black fiber is worth a good amount. Hopefully her cria is also black. I've got a good amount of food put by for the winter, and the extra roosters are going on the cutting block this weekend to go in the freezer as well. If nothing else, I won't starve-- but this travel trailer is FREEZING LOL. It could be worse-- heck, it can always be worse!
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@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
23 Nov 12
WOW! What a predicament! I am in business management and you have went as far as you should...too far where the employees are concerned. Now that is not to say that you have not been fair and decent..you absolutely have and they will definitely feel the sting when they have to work for someone else..especially in this day and time. It is unfortunate that they have no more loyalty to the company..not only you...than to act as though they are owed when there has been so much allowed to them and sacrifices made. Seems to me that good bye is all there is left to say. As far as the business..you are doing the right thing by keeping it open until the busy season is over..but since it's seasonal..that is a consideration for sure as you move forward. I mentioned earlier in one of my discussions about going back to the basics, but the one thing you have now that you didn't before is experience and reputation. Now these are important things. It sounds as though it was once quite profitable..there is no reason to think it could not be again. If ever you do employees again, I would have something of a policy or procedure set in place for their treatment and well-being. Of course you want to take care of them and assure their happiness but you have went far and beyond that with yours now. Oh..and I think that is a great deal on the farm!!!
• Tucson, Arizona
24 Nov 12
Well, neither of us feels great about doing this the way we are-- but we have done more than most employers, so that's a consolation. Yes, we were lucky someone was able to take it over like that, and he won't lose by it whether we take it back or not. Since we are broke, for the foreseeable future, we are going to wait and see. If things continue to go downhill in general, and they will, then there may be even better farms when we finally have the cash to get one again--but the other half's friend won't suffer either way, we will see to that. I loved that farm, of course-- but it wasn't necessarily "the farm" if that makes any sense. The other half has already begun scheduling kettle corn things he can do alone, without employees for after the new year. It won't bring in the big bucks, because the City of Tucson passed all kinds of ordinances that ruined a lot of good locations, but it will support him while he busily invents things and builds things and mines-- and no employees. Which is a good thing in my opinion, as when things get worse, it will be every man for himself mentality--so despite the high unemployment rate, finding trustworthy employees may be tough.
@deazil (4556)
• United States
25 Nov 12
I'd work for you anytime!
• Tucson, Arizona
25 Nov 12
I predict our employees will howl like crazy when they have to go back to normal employers--but they get what they give.
• United States
5 Oct 12
Life does throw you some curve balls doesn't it? If you sell anything online, please let us know how to get it. My husband loves kettle corn although he's not supposed to have sweets (who is?). Is there anything we can buy? I don't know have a farm or mine so I'm not sure I could buy equipment but I'd be interested in trying anything I could buy?? How about an alpaca cardigan? (can't wear pullovers - hot flashes!!) As for your employees, I'd say be honest with them. Tell them the scoop, this is the math, this is what there is. If they can help you through the crisis, remind them it may well be worth their efforts. I don't know what it's like in the particular industry your employees are in, but I have never even heard of an employer who has given so much consideration to its employees - never, not even close. So they may find jobs somewhere else, but I'd bet they'll never have it so good. They'd be fools not to at least try to work it out. I hate my job, because basically my boss is an anger junky and loves to belittle us. He asked me to work half time, and of course on half pay. I have no loyalty to this clown but I took it because the office is only 2 and a half miles from my house. I'm surviving, not buying any new clothes or getting my hair done but I'll live. You sound like you have a handle on it somewhat, but I am sorry you have to go through it at all. I hope somehow you get some surprise turn of events that make your life easy.
• United States
7 Oct 12
Would buying the Kettle Corn even help? I don't know I was just grasping at straws. You do have quite a complicated and busy life. It makes me feel like a sloth. I go to work, I come home, clean, sleep, go to work... very simple, too simple actually - more like a rut. I really think I got to get this boss to fire me so I have to go find a new job that will hopefully offer a little more fulfillment. I guess the world is a dog-eat-dog place and unfortunately for whatever reason your employees must think they have to do this. I guess I've worked in big companies and small and really know that a great boss is hard to find, really hard to find. I love to work for people I respect, it motivates me. They'll probably see that when hey move on, if that has to happen. When what you do all day just drags you down your whole life is effected. I wish I could learn the art of kettle corn in record time, maybe we could help solve two problems at once!
• Tucson, Arizona
7 Oct 12
LOL-- Kettle corn is definitely a unique skill, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. Believe it or not, I often feel my life is in a rut as well. A lot of farming is just day to day chores, and waiting. And waiting and waiting some more-- my girls are pregnant, but they will be carrying their crias for the next eleven months, give or take a week! I am putting the farm to bed over the next few weeks-- the final plowing to turn under this year's crop leftovers, the composting, covering the fields with the tarps to speed up the composting process over the winter. Then it's just feeding the animals, cleaning the enclosures and barn and coop, spinning my fiber from last shearing... things are quiet until January, when I will be starting next year's veggies under growlights-- then it's untarping, turning the soil, testing, adding natural soil balancing minerals, spring planting in March, shearing the girls again in April or May... the rhythm never changes. It is a rut, but it is a FULFILLING rut. Being in a rut isn't necessarily bad, unless you are in one that doesn't fulfill you, doesn't create that warm fuzzy feeling. The farming rut gives me the warm fuzzies-- otherwise, I wouldn't be doing it. Life is too short to waste time doing things that don't feel good as well as do good.
1 person likes this
@KrauseHome (35326)
• United States
11 Oct 12
Yes, it is Sad that so many people are still saying President O is a good president. If he is why are people still loosing jobs, homes and medical at record pace? Are people really thinking he can continue like this, and help everyone have medical and everything will be better. I would try to wait if you can until at least after the Election before deciding what is Best for you and the Business. I will also be Praying for this situation and hoping somehow something good can come from all this. Sometimes because people have never walked in your shoes they do not and cannot see the pain. I know in time somehow this has got to all get better.
• Tucson, Arizona
11 Oct 12
I call him the O Man-- as in O MAN how did we end up with this jerk...The people who voted him in are happy-- I call them the 40 acres and a mule crowd. Remember in Gone With The Wind, when Scarlet went to see Rhett in the jail and she was walking by a fat white carpetbagger offering a bunch of freed slaves 40 acres and a mule if they'd vote for them? Well, Obama offered the modern equivalent to 40 acres and a mule, and a lot of people happily signed on. They'll probably vote for him again, since they are getting their payment in installments rather than as a lump sum. Now before everyone gets all offended, I'm not saying EVERYONE who voted for the O Man did so because they wanted a free ride-- I am sure there are a lot of young people and idealists who fell for the socialist rhetoric he was spouting and actually believed it would work here (why, is beyond me-- it hasn't been successful anywhere else for long). But I'd say a good number of people wanted the free ride. So far our October down in Tucson is not going well. Attendance at the special events we do every year is way down, and the people who are going don't have any money to spend-- so we may not be able to wait until post election. But I really don't think it would make a difference anyway-- even if Romney gets in, the economy isn't going to suddenly be healed, and people will actually probably hold onto their money even more, waiting to see what happens. And if the O Man gets in again, who knows. People seem to really believe that you can successfully graft socialist concepts like national health and redistribution of wealth onto a free market economy that is a meritocracy. It won't work, because these concepts actively punish success. Why should a business remain in the USA if they are penalized and taxed for being successful?We already have some of the highest corporate taxes in the world-- that's why businesses are moving offshore. If they don't they can't compete with cheap foreign imports, and they go out of business entirely. Texas Instruments and Tupperware are only two of the so-called All American companies I can name that have moved almost 90% of their corporate infrastructure overseas-- if they hadn't they wouldn't still be in business. Why should a private citizen bust their tail and work hard for their money when the government will just take it from them and give it to someone who chooses not to work? It didn't get a lot of press, but over the last 6 months, 7 multimillionaires have emigrated to other countries and surrendered their passports. If the government continues to impose extra taxation on the successful, the successful will leave. Look what happened in New York State when they raised corporate taxes and added extra taxes for large companies-- they LOST money, because quite a few companies packed up and moved to New Jersey and elsewhere. The ONLY tax that can be considered "fair" is a national sales tax. Let everyone MAKE as much as they want, tax free-- or get it from the government-- but tax what they BUY. A flat 5% for instance on general goods, insurance, privately paid services like contractors and doctors and utilities, a flat 3% on real estate. Then everyone pays in, whereas now, literally 47% of people don't pay in. Some of those people are understandable, in a way-- social security, disability, etc. But they only account for about 32% of the non-tax payers-- the rest are due to tax loopholes. If we did away with all taxes except a national sales tax, then we'd have no loopholes. The extra money in the paychecks of working people would cover the extra cost at the cash register. Numbers don't lie, and as much as people like to say it isn't so, the true tax situation, year after year, shows that almost 80% of the money Uncle Sam collects comes from the top 18% of earners-- and corporations and businesses. 80%. Coming from the top 18%. If I were the top 18%-- I'd be moving.
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@KrauseHome (35326)
• United States
12 Oct 12
Yes, the next couple of weeks will be interesting. To think some people actually think things are better now. What about unemployment, housing, etc. Not to count how much gas and food prices keep on raising. Totally if this is what people want I hate to think what things will be like in 4 yrs. It can only get better.
• United States
5 Oct 12
i'm sorry for your loss. i LOVE kettle corn!! :) if you're having to sell off the business, i would have a meeting with the employees and tell them that you're planning on closing the doors on a certain date and be selling the business UNLESS they all decide to pitch in and reduce hours/responsibilities to help out so the business can stay open. good luck!
• Tucson, Arizona
5 Oct 12
We were thinking of a meeting in the first place, but the other half wanted to ask them about an hours cut first. Now that they have all threatened to walk, we don't dare hold a meeting until AFTER October-- it actually takes a month to adequately train a kettle korn cook, and 6-10 months for a basic cook to become an amazing cook. There's a lot of science behind popcorn that people don't know about. So we can't risk them quitting at the start of what may be our last seriously profitable month-- if the O man gets re-elected, we won't see another month like October. I personally have told the other half to schedule the meeting for 1 November, and tell them to behave or leave-- if they leave, then we just go for a quick clean equipment sale. If they stay, they may get a few more months, but it's doubtful. The actual unemployment rate in Tucson is over 16 percent already-- the national unemployment rate is close to 16 percent if you count the real numbers, like those who are underemployed and those who have run out of benefits but don't have jobs. So products like ours, essentially luxuries, aren't selling anymore.
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@GardenGerty (100438)
• United States
9 Oct 12
Reading this discussion is like reading an engrossing book. I do wonder if when your employees go on to other businesses if they will take your proprietary techniques with them?
@dragon54u (31615)
• United States
17 Nov 12
Wow, what a horror story. Your other half probably doesn't toot his own horn and the employees probably don't know the sacrifices you've both made. Not sure if they'd care, but there it is. I'm sure it's the sense of betrayal from your family and friends that makes this particularly excruciating. Things are bad all over and now they'll be getting worse. I'm glad you at least have a warm, dry place to stay and that you have each other and your health. You have all the important things, remember that. You'll be in my prayers.
• Tucson, Arizona
17 Nov 12
actually they do know-- we always had a full disclosure policy, and we had employee meetings every three months to show them ALL of the finances-- both of us believed in doing business that way-- we feel that informed, involved employees will be good employees, and for the most part we were right. When I looked at our business things for all the years I don't remember, I was pleased to see we had always done so. The other half will be telling them the business is closed as of 1 January, 2013-- on December 31st. While neither of us feels good about this, of course, we see no reason to continue giving them the respect and consideration we did for so many years, since they obviously don't return those feelings. I don't have much in the way of health, these days-- and at 56, he is back to working 18 hour days, 7 days a week, hard rock mining. I am worried about him, since it will be six months or so before I see him again. But we both have roofs over our heads, and food, and are working-- so, we will keep going.
@GardenGerty (100438)
• United States
9 Oct 12
You and your other half are in agreement. You do not owe them any more warning. If they were smart they would have helped you. You do not bite the hand that feeds you. If they were smart, they would put two and two together and know what lies beyond the season. I do not think they will find anything better out there once you close the business. You have been kind and caring and helped them and they just figure you will continue. I would love to see the surprised look on their face when you do close the business.
• Tucson, Arizona
9 Oct 12
I'm not normally a vindictive person-- but I wish I could be there to see it as well. They'll be told, by memo, in their paycheck right after October-- we'll only be keeping 2 to help with the mine work and machining work. Everyone else is going bye bye. What really upsets me is how hard my other half is taking this, especially since I'm not down there with him. He has such faith in people-- and all it got him is this whole mess. It could be worse, I'm sure-- heck it can always be worse-- but it is very difficult for him to work with them right now, and he is pushing himself so hard. I'm worried about his health, but emotionally and physically.