This is a bit of a digression from the “barter” string I have been working on. However, this is kind of a big week for us personally and professionally and I thought this was worth sharing…

Laura and I always joke that if we really want to clean house, we just throw a party! Somehow it all gets done, and everyone thinks we have a maid. On the week that we are going to open our new Chop Shop at the Community Market at the Barlow (man, I have got to come up with an acronym for that!), we have the following occurring at the same time: 3/4 the way through repainting and carpeting our master bedroom, Halloween Week with all the accompanying kid’s parties and events, and moving my office to its new home. This week we are throwing one heck of a party!

Grandma Sally is our secret weapon. She will drop anything at any time to pitch in. Pick up the kids, pick up meat at Golden Gate, or pick up my spirits when it’s been a long day. Don’t tell Laura, but occasionally I have agreed to do the dishes while she was off at work only to run out of time. This is when I beg my mommy to bail me out. I would never get caught except that I can’t for the life of me teach my mom where the mixing spoons go! This particular week she, took on the task of moving my office. It worked out pretty well, as I asked only that all the stacks of paper be boxed as they sat in the old office. After that, I figured it would force me to go through everything as I unpacked. I call this “Scorched Earth” filing. When I pick up a piece of paper, it has to be filed in it’s permanent resting place or disposed of immediately. Today was the day to go through everything. I know it seems weird… there must be something to do to get the new shop ready to open, right? Well, everything gets delivered tomorrow. So, flame thrower in hand, off I go!

I am a machine! I am stapling bank statements by month and filing them in chronological order. I am alphabetizing to the extent that my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Mitchell would weep with pride. I have recycled enough paper that when folks come into the new shop and ask if my butcher wrap is made from recycled goods, I have an 80% chance of telling them the document it came from. And then I come across a file of old college papers. I hear brakes screeching. First off, there is the font….was it even called a font back then??? I remember saving up for this machine called a word processor, basically a really fancy typewriter.  I think it had a 2 line “screen” and an actual ribbon! There are a bunch of papers….one is called “Lean Beef” NCMCPaperabout the need to get away from feedlot beef, another is about being in history class when Desert Storm broke out. Here is the paper that really stopped me in my tracks: This is a business plan that I wrote in 1992 right before I finished at Cal Poly. Marc Fowler, my co-author, and I did a lot of projects and papers together. We actually did so many business plans for our Ag Marketing classes that one night, after several beers, we decided to convince our adviser that our next and final business plan would not be for an actual business, but a plan for how we would retire by the age of 40 (that’s a topic for a post all it’s own). It was mind blowing that I wrote a paper in 1992 that was basically about what I would be building in 2012. By the way, thanks to 30 bonus points, I got a whopping C+ on the paper. I actually sat down and read the thing, cover to cover. I think the 78% might have been generous. But what was startling was how the naive, unsubstantiated assumptions I made way back then came to fruition and really apply today. The premise was that we would procure, market and sell locally raised beef and lamb to high-end restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. The numbers, calculations and assumptions were ridiculous, and the professor noted that continuously. The idea that consumers would someday value protein that they could trust and would be willing to pay more than they would have at their local mega-mart was such a reach back then, and yet turned out to be so current today. I’m still in touch with Professor Daub, and I am looking forward to sending him this paper in a couple years…. along with our prospectus. Trust me, the only person prouder than me on that day will be him.

The reason I bring this up is that there may be a lesson here for all of us. On this week, when many of our personal dreams and goals are going to see the light of day, it is pretty amazing to find something I have held onto for 20+ years that tells me that this was my path all along.  Anyone that knows me will tell you that I don’t spend ANY time thinking about the cosmos, the big picture, or what divine plan I was supposed to follow. I trust my instincts, and have learned that all my mistakes have taught me something that made me wiser. But every once in a while, I have to admit there may be something greater out there that has a hand in the final outcome. For many years I thought it was my mom, and for the last sixteen years I have been sure it was my wife. But on this week, with all that is happening… maybe even these two amazing women needed some help.