Note: I drove to Ventura again today and got thinking about this story of the Pumpkin Farmer from two years ago. Decided it was worth a revisit.
Yesterday I drove to Ventura where my sister Margaret lives. I’d been assigned the task of finding a vacation rental apartment in Paris for our sibling outing next spring and didn’t know where to begin. Margaret agreed to coach me since she’d already tracked down our Amsterdam accommodations.
In the springtime, this drive reminds me of Ireland because the craggy hills are so lush and green. Right now they’re festooned in shades of beige and brown, but it’s still a pleasant drive.
The road goes through an agricultural area with two small towns on the way. There are orange and lemon groves alongside a little red schoolhouse, a honey tasting place and small stands selling produce.
Something had been added since I made the drive a couple of weeks ago. The produce places now had big displays of pumpkins for sale. I passed a field where big fat pumpkins laid waiting for buyers to come and pick them.
That got me thinking about the folks who grow these autumn favorites. If you’ve taken my Making a Living Without a Job seminar, you may even recall my talking about pumpkin growing as an example of a seasonal business.
If you’re a pumpkin grower, I point out, you don’t have much cash flow for most of the year. Then around the first of October, millions of us are suddenly eager to go out and buy a pumpkin or two.
A cash flow avalanche for the pumpkin farmers ensues.
Then it stops until the next pumpkin season rolls around.
Of course, it’s not just pumpkin farmers who deal with long income gaps. Anyone who grows crops learns valuable lessons in patience while dealing with uncertainty of every sort.
When I passed another pumpkin patch on my drive, I began thinking that all of us who are self-employed could learn important lessons that we could apply to our own undertakings. There’s no picking if we aren’t planting, I thought.
As I was musing on such things, I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw a large black pickup truck advancing rapidly in my direction. Since I have a policy to avoid tailgaters, I slipped back into the right lane and he soared past.
Even though he was speeding and driving aggressively, I couldn’t help but notice that his rear window was painted with a large ad for his plumbing services. “Hey, Dude,” I wanted to yell, “you’re driving a billboard.”
I made a mental note never to use his services.
The Impatient Plumber. The Patient Pumpkin Grower.
Isn’t it amazing how much you can learn about running a business just by noticing how others are doing it?