2017 Year in Review | Lessons Learned in Primal Woods and on the Homestead
Sawyers chalked up some impressive numbers year-on-year, and maple syruping went well in general. Also, work on ensuring that folks searching on-line for the products and services we offer could actually find us, was greatly enhanced by doing a significant amount of search engine optimization (SEO) work on the website. And we learned at a rapid pace. On the Homestead, we continued to improve the infrastructure, specifically in and under the house, and did a much better job of sourcing our food locally. So what could possibly have gone wrong? Plenty as it turns out, and that is really where the opportunities lie. Let’s have a look.
What went well, what did not go well; 2017
What Did Not Go Well – Primal Woods
Soapers. We made wholly insufficient progress on this important element of the Primal Woods business model in 2017. That’s a huge problem, and one that needs to be addressed in 2018. Inside the Sugarers business, no sales of honey, and continued struggles in the apiary. And, we accomplished precisely zero, as in none, of the goals I set for 2017 in the 2016 Year in Review blog post. Ugh! Now, some of that has to do with biting off more than we could chew, and part of it has to do with those goals having not been in alignment with what it takes to grow, and make successful, the Primal Woods business. I say that because I am reasonably satisfied with how the business developed in 2017. In our goal setting for 2018, I think we have done a better job, including the establishment of “Primary Objectives” for 2018. More on that later.
What Did Not Go Well – Homestead
Food production, firewood production, budget-keeping, and progress on the home renovation, less the infrastructure improvements. With Geri back at work, the garden was neglected, and production from the garden was, for the most part, non-existent. That’s not okay. The lack of regular and sufficient firewood production means that I am now faced with being “hand to mouth” in the feeding of the outdoor wood furnance. Our failure to hold to the budget, means we are consuming capital to satisfy expenses, which is not sustainable. In summary, I guess you could say the Homestead took a back seat to Primal Woods, and to the stemming of negative cash flow, which involved putting Geri back in the workforce, off-farm as they say.
2017 Year in Review – In Summary
This is really comes down to how I am feeling about what was accomplished, and not, in 2017. With respect to Primal Woods, I would say I’m pleased but not satisfied. Revenue was up 3x on 2016, and is still nowhere close to being sufficient. From a cash flow perspective, given the relatively large investments we have made in the Sawyers business, and are still making in the Sugarers business, the view is negative but improving. Negative cash flow is a company killer, and cannot be sustained, so revenues must absolutely continue to grow if we are to achieve “The Purpose.” In the face of that, the big increase in the sawmill business was satisfying, as was selling out of maple syrup in December. And the people we have had the pleasure of meeting along the way, well, that’s priceless.
Many of these challenges, aka problems, I wrote about in my post, okay, it was a rant, Making a Living, and a Life. Life is a journey, and getting over, under, or around or through, getting past the problems, is a necessary part of growing as human beings. So, we have problems, and I am thankful for those problems. Life would be awfully dull in the perfect world.
2018 Goals and Primary Objectives
Now for the fun stuff; teeing up 2018. I’m a horrible golfer, so maybe I shouldn’t be using golf analogies, but oh well. The list of things we want to accomplish in 2018 is long, and there is no doubt that it will not all be accomplished. Hence the need for “Primary Objectives.” If we accomplish the Primary Objectives, the year will have been considered a success. On the other hand, if those objectives are not accomplished, it’s likely I will consider 2018 to have been unsuccessful on one or both fronts, Primal Woods and/or the Homestead. Everything other than the Primary Objectives is a “nice to have.”
2018 Goals and Primary Objectives – Primal Woods
Everything in alignment with Our Purpose
Investments in the future:
PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: Build and commission one, totally solar powered, portable, kiln
PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: Complete Sugar House conversion and commissioning, complete with equipment to support 500 tap operation
PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: Develop, make, and beta-test first soap product
Develop, make, and sell first honey
Install non-climate controlled storage to free up north garage bay for other uses; e.g. office space, vehicle and equipment maintenance, butchery, small projects, etc.
PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: Make and sell 125 gallons of maple syrup
PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: Grow sawmill service business; 2x 2017 revenue, 2x 2017 jobs
Facebook posts; 25 per month, 300 total
Post to the blog bi-weekly, 26 total
Post a YouTube video bi-weekly, 26 total
Give 7 days to Team Rubicon operations
Even the Primal Woods Primary Objectives are daunting. It’s going to be an extremely challenging year.
2018 Goals and Primary Objectives – Homestead
PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: Put up a cord of firewood per month, April through October (7 cords)
Ditto for the Homestead Primary Objectives, daunting.
2018 Goals – Summary
Wow, if all of the Primary Objectives are attained, I will be more than satisfied, pleased even. We will have to be a lot smarter to do it, and probably work a lot harder, too. And importantly, involve more of our community in the process. Building community is part of “The Purpose,” and is both necessary and desirable. For example, this will be the first year where we have enlisted the aid of others in the production of maple syrup. A five hundred tap operation is simply more than I can do, alone. And part and parcel of making maple syrup, is the involvement of the community. This is what it’s all about. Speaking of which, if you are interested and can make yourself available to help, let me know; I’m developing a “HELP” email distribution list. At this point I’ll take all the help I can get.
On the Homestead, it’s all about making the House a home in 2018. The home is Geri’s turf, and I will be mustering up all of the energy I can in support of her efforts. The chicken coop you ask, well, we enjoyed having chickens free ranging on the property when we raised some meat birds a couple of years ago. The crowing of the rooster(s) in the morning, yup, we love that, too. An additional benefit, one of many, is home-grown meat and eggs.
I hope you will join us on this journey of building the Primal Woods business, and of developing our Homestead.