After a particularly long winter with three bouts of snow, followed by extended periods of generally wet weather, we briefly enjoyed an early summer last week. What does it mean to a firewood merchant and what about the work life balance that being my own boss was going to bring me?
I sit here in the club house, enjoying a pint of strong dark ale, while my big little boy plays rugby in the bright Tanat Valley sunshine. Today was a not for profit day, catching up on domestic tasks such as strimming some of our four acre garden, sorting and tidying the garage at TVF HQ that is big enough for all our vehicles, but with room for non. We lit the candle at lunch with my wife to signify that we were having a date, taking a break from her cake baking and decorating.
I no longer feel guilty today that I am not ‘moving the business forward’, processing firewood, looking for new customers or trawling through the end of year accounts. Firewood sales are highly seasonal, although inversely proportional to what they should be. Clearly the best time to be topping up your log store is in the spring, giving plenty of time for the wind to run through the stack and for the sun to bake it over the summer. You know it is there, ready for when you need it, ideally having two stores so you are filling one while taking from the other. So whatever happens with the weather or the availability of seasoned firewood during the winter, your firewood is ready and on hand.
Trouble is that many of us are worrying about how to afford our summer holidays let alone next years winter fuel at this time of year. Indeed many will not have the space to store enough firewood. So in an attempt to encourage sales of part seasoned firewood and feed the kids over the spring and the summer, we thought that we would try our own form of direct marketing and wrote to 76 regular costumers, signed with a Sharpie and posted with a first class Welsh stamp. Would anyone respond? Would they be motivated to buy part seasoned firewood at a 10% discount? Would they want to pay in advance for next years logs at a 5% discount and have it delivered as they needed it? The agonising wait was short lived as they rang, emailed and sent messages on platforms that I don’t understand! The message was the same, yes, we want to work smarter together and fill our stores now.
So time for strimming, time for lunch with the Woodcutters wife, time for deliveries and time to take our big little boy to rugby. Building on experience from past employment, working on plans for the next season, but actually taking time to enjoy the present, reminding me of the wisdom conveyed in the Kong Fu Panda movie: ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.’