Farmer John Writes: You Changed the Factory Settings?
Harvest Week 9, Deliveries of August 15th – 19th, 2023
The crops keep spilling out of the fields. The summer has been unusually cool, which has slowed down the maturity of the peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and corn. This slowdown has served us well, as we want to pace the crops to match the needs of our shareholders.
The U-Pick Garden
Come pick flowers, beans and herbs soon in our U-Pick garden. The flowers are in glorious bloom.
We have heard from some shareholders that they haven’t been receiving their share customization emails. If you are a current Angelic Organics shareholder, we send you a share customization email every Tuesday the week before each scheduled delivery.
If you still don’t receive the share customization emails, you can always log in to your membership account on Tuesdays to customize your share for the following week by clicking on your next delivery day on your delivery calendar.
The Deliveries—Thanks, Metrobi! Thanks, Zdenek!
We love Metrobi and their drivers, who have been diligently handling our home deliveries. Your work makes it easier for us to pay attention to farming. Thank you, Metrobi!
And we love Zdenek, who makes the deliveries to our community delivery sites five days a week in our refrigerated farm truck. Zdenek is a charismatic character who seems straight from the Old World. It seems that everyone loves Zdenek.
When the morning temperatures are in the 60’s and the afternoon temperatures stay in the 80’s, life for our field workers stays comfortable. Field work is more fun.
Some of our H-2A workers are gradually learning English. Lovely bilingual Mayra is generous in helping others with English. The crew is mostly too shy to speak English yet, but on occasion one of them will burst forth with a phrase or a sentence. One of the workers likes to often say, “I love you to the moon and back,” and then laugh.
The farm crew received a sweet, appreciative letter from a shareholder’s daughter named Maya.
“Dear Jesus, Maythe, Mayra, Antonio, Concepcion, Ruben and Gabriel.
Thank you for working on our farm.
I can see from your interviews that all of you are very helpful to the farm and you also made a great sacrifice to be here.
Thank you for all your hard work. I really appreciate it. From a shareholder and bilingual student.
Our workers wrote her back with the following message:
“Juan Antonio Guerrero Luna:
Thank you for your words.
This is Concepcion. It’s really nice to know about you. I send you a big hug. Take care.
Thank you for your thoughts. It’s really important and motivating for us. Thank you so much.
Thank you. I really appreciate your thoughts.
Gabriel Ojeda Jimenez:
Thank you so much.
Thank you so much for writing to us. Since you can’t come to take some flowers, I will draw you one.
Thank you so much for your words, for letting us know that you appreciate our work.”
I suspect that customer service is the hardest job on the farm. Imagine growing and harvesting and packing all the crops, maintaining the machinery and buildings, delivering the vegetables…and customer service is the hardest job on the farm.
We are just a farm, but I guess many people assume that we are just another company like Walmart that has a huge returns section where customers stand in line to bring back toys that are the wrong color or hot dogs that are too flimsy. Yes, we like taking care of our shareholders and making things right, but, Dude, I found an insect egg in my lettuce, cancel my share?
If you have emailed the farm and have not received a timely reply, we sincerely apologize for this.
My wife Haidy has graciously stepped up to manage customer service until we can find a full time replacement. She has taken on this role in addition to her many other responsibilities with the farm. During this time of the year, the customer service job is full time. Haidy can’t keep up with all the requests, complaints, suggestions, but please know that she is diligently working to keep up and to catch up with the flood of correspondence.
(As a side note, Haidy is visiting her home country of Finland while working remotely for the farm—the trip was planned before she knew she needed to take on the role of customer service. It’s quite the challenging situation for her. )
Overall, the correspondence from shareholders is considerate, but too much of it is not considerate.
Have mercy on Haidy if she is late getting back to you. We can assure you that we will get back to you and take care of your needs; you might just have to wait a while.
We plan to eventually hire a new customer service representative so that we can provide timely responses to our shareholders, but the reality is that it’s not possible for us to hire and train a new employee in the middle of the busy season. There simply isn’t time for the process of hiring and training during the growing season.
Thank you to all of you who have been patiently waiting for a reply.
And remember, before writing us, there might be an answer to your question or concern in our FAQ’s.
Customers Can Be Problematic. So Can Customer Service Representatives.
Overheard last week on the phone between a farmer (me) and a U.S. Cellular representative (a bot?):
(The actual exchange was much worse than you read below.)
Farmer to U.S. Cellular Rep: We used to have good coverage with U.S. Cellular. Now we don’t.
U.S. Cellular Rep: We have upgraded our towers to 5G. You are benefitting from the enhancements.
Farmer: Calls are dropped, texts come 3 hours late, calls go right to voice mail—my phone doesn’t even ring.
U.S. Cellular Rep: Those are enhancements due to our upgrade.
Farmer: It’s not an upgrade. Those aren’t enhancements.
U.S. Cellular Rep: Those are enhancements due to the upgrade. Please submit a report of all dropped calls, all late texts, all calls that go straight to voicemail—dates and times.
Farmer: This is the report. It’s all you need to know. I have a problem and so do many other people who work for me whose phones are on my farm account. This is the report.
U.S. Cellular Rep: I want a written report.
Farmer: You are not getting one. My crew thinks I am napping all day, because I don’t answer my phone, because it doesn’t ring. That’s the report!
U.S. Cellular Rep: Yes, these are all enhancements due to the upgrade.
Farmer: How can you call your terrible phone coverage enhancements? It was great for years; now it is impossible.
U.S. Cellular Rep: They are enhancements due to the upgrade.
Farmer: I will have to look for another provider. You are absurd and I am hanging up on you. Click.
Note: Was I talking to a bot, or are people just becoming bots? If I was actually talking to a human U.S. Cellular rep, would a bot have done a better job? If we hired a bot to do customer service for the farm, is there a minimum wage for that? Other compliance issues? Do bots snack on data when they are bored?
Is This Farming?
After profiling Goethe, Zarathustra and Taylor Swift’s vicarious rival in the last three issues of Farm News, you might wonder how we go about farming, or if we even go about farming.
This silvery conveyance might make you think of the Himar rocket launchers that have been sent to Ukraine, but it is really an instrument of peace on the farm.
We recently had a clutch go out on our Allis G seeding tractor. When a tractor goes down, it’s not about the tractor; it’s about what won’t get done without the tractor. In this case, the baby greens, cilantro and dill wouldn’t get seeded. If we were a little later in the season, it would also be spinach, radishes, and turnips that wouldn’t get seeded. Of course, we would never let these things not get seeded, so we had to fix the tractor.
A guy named Art came out about this time to work on our irrigation system. He had spent many years dismantling farm equipment to part out to farmers, so we showed him the lifeless G. He said, “that clutch will be yellow when you get it out. Maybe blue, depending.”
I was impressed with Art’s color projections, and felt that his name was most appropriate.
Victor lifted the engine to get to the drive train that hosts the clutch. He installed a new clutch, put the engine back in place, started up the engine, and the clutch wouldn’t work. He lifted the engine again.
Of course, Victor doesn’t have time to lift the engine even the first time, let alone the second time. It takes time to lift a G engine, time to re-install it. Victor is already managing numerous projects, plus often supervising the crew…but do our shareholders want their baby greens, cilantro and dill in a timely way?
Victor watched videos on replacing G clutches. Normally, these sorts of videos are useful, but in this case they were too hard to understand, requiring precise measurements that were awkward to perform with tools we didn’t have. (He also consulted our G manual for this project, but it too was making suggestions that we could not understand, similar to the videos.)
By this time, I had decided to get involved in the project. I know very little about installing clutches, but I have an inclination (yearning) towards mechanics. I have a long history of working with mechanical things. I’m not one of those people who shows up at the shop espousing impractical ideas, causing people to flinch and grimace when I’m not looking (at least, I think this is so). I always feel welcome there, and I sometimes even sense relief when I show up when there is a particularly vexing problem.
I’m not sure why, but I decided the factory settings for the clutch were wrong. Remember that I know almost nothing about clutches, so deciding that the factory settings were wrong seemed like arrogance. I am for the most part a trust-the-factory-settings sort of guy.
I had an almost clairvoyant vision (okay, we’ll call it a hunch) of that clutch being manufactured by someone who didn’t care about the settings. I was trying to figure out in my imagination if the person making the clutch settings was stoned, hung over, mad at his station in life—if he thought he was more suited to be in a band or in the movies. This person had no pride in what he was doing, I felt, or his supervisor was the one who hated life and was inflicting it onto G clutches.
I instructed Victor on how to re-set the settings.
Then we tracked down Charles, an independent tractor mechanic, thinking we could maybe get him to come out and help us. (That’s a rare bird today, a maverick roving mechanic.)
“Charles, can you help us put a clutch into our G?” I asked.
“You got a new clutch?”
“Yes. We already installed it once, and it didn’t work, so I changed the settings.”
“You changed the factory settings?”
“You never change the factory settings,” he admonished.
“I know, but I did.”
“Why would you change the factory settings?”
“I was desperate. We have crops to seed.”
I was surprised that I could persuade Charles to come out that very afternoon. He seemed trepidatious about coming to a farm where people mess with factory settings.
Victor and I sensed a bit of condescension upon his arrival, but once he realized that we were also wrench-turners and smell-of-oil lovers, he warmed up to us.
Charles took out his calipers and proceeded to measure the settings that I had instructed Victor to make.
“Pretty good,” the traveling mechanic said. “Pretty good. You got really close to the right settings.” He was demonstrating considerably more awe, I thought, than he was used to demonstrating.
“Why trust the factory today?” I asked. “There was a time when factory settings were sacred. Still is that way sometimes. Sometimes not.”
Victor and Charles installed the clutch, re-installed the engine.
Next day, Victor seeded with the G.
About early September, you will be enjoying that lettuce, cilantro and dill.