Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Anti-social and loving it

It may be my anti-social nature, it may be just that I like being in control of my own fate, it may be that I just haven't found an employer that I feel is smart enough to be my boss... but,

I have been working through trial and error over several years to try to build my own business...
My first attempt was a backyard clean-up duty... a very shitty job... and nary a single client caller...

A second attempt was a web design business, and though years ago I had a couple clients, it wasn't enough to make a living, and technology moved at a pace I could not keep up with, now days its quite easy to build your own website cheaply and easily and they look pretty good... I have used a few generators that produce results in minutes that I could not touch in hours or days years ago...

Another attempt was a bicycle touring service, which gained some steam a few years back and could have been successful, but I was quickly burned out on turning my love for adventure into a babysitting job. And quite frankly, after I lost my brother (my touring partner) I lost my desire to ride my bike.

Another subsequent attempt was mobile bicycle repair... I gained enough clientele from time to time to make it a decent part time job, but not having support from a brick and mortar store made it somewhat difficult to obtain parts for clients and keeping my rates competitive was impossible. Lastly I just didn't have the heart for it... after nearly ten years of working as a bike shop mechanic even doing it for myself was lacking in enjoyment.

I tried doing handyman work, but in Pinellas County it is impossible to advertise without a contractors license, and many jobs are also hard to obtain without some kind of license. Fines are not fun. I had a hard time finding peace working inside peoples homes and was often uncomfortable with the work, and again, just really had no enjoyment for the work.

I dabbled in cabinetry construction and installation and found that while I like the wood working, I despise high dollar sales and contract work, and the types of clients that I was able to find while trying to stay competitive. I also took over a business from a previous employer that came with a young partner that was very lost in the business world and had no concept of quality control for cabinetry, even after 4 years experience... my mistake really... I should have seen it coming, I got out of the business before it crashed and burned.

While doing handyman work I dabbled a little bit in lawn service because I had a lawn mower and a string trimmer... They were only homeowner quality and it took forever to do a decent sized lawn... but i loved being able to put on headphones and just disappear for a couple hours. Over time I decided that I should start focusing more on that type of work, as I had always enjoyed gardening and urban farming and conservation type work. I have since geared myself towards a lawn service/landscaping business leaning towards a specialty in edible landscaping / urban farming / vegetable and fruit gardening / and garden boxes.

Now I have the equipment to do lawn service professionally and I have built up a decent clientele. I emphasize sustainable practices that will build the health of our community and subsequently local waterways. I discourage the use of unsustainable practices to my clients and other lawn service professionals when I can.

I am slowly and organically building the connections to build the landscaping side of the business. I have continued to grow vegetables and fruit on our own property and will start to transfer those skills to my clients needs. I have been studying Horticulture and have continued to build a knowledge base in both edible and ornamental landscape plants. I have been working for two years now doing lawn care and landscape maintenance and even in the worst heat of the summer I have very few complaints about the work I have chosen for myself.

I enjoy the freedom of running my own business, I enjoy being outdoors on a daily basis and being left in relative solitude for a few hours a day, and even though I work with loud machines all day I still have a sense of peace that I could not find in any of the other businesses. I am finally working towards a successful future that I hold in my own hands, that no one else controls, and I am loving that.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Trail Walkers

So Caleb and I have involved ourselves in a pretty neat program put out by the Florida State Forestry Service. The Trail Walker program is designed to get folks out and hiking in the state forests of Florida. If you hike a certain amount of trails within a certain amount of State Forest parks, they send you a patch. Its kind of like working towards a badge in scouts. Though our experience with Boy Scouts has been lacking, this was a challenge that we are able to take full control of. This program has gotten us out and hiking at least 5 times a year for the past couple of years as we work towards obtaining our patches. It has taken us into some beautiful scenery and given us a chance to try out new equipment in a quest to lighten our packs and become avid hikers and backpackers... I'll try to post more stories as time goes by of our trips but this post will be about several trips we've taken over the last few years. Just a few photos to share for now.
Check out the program link: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Recreation/Hiking

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Finding Myself

Life can take you down some interesting roads if you are willing to make some turns. For some time I have been interested in homesteading, gardening, self sustainability and such... recently an old friend of mine invited me to join him in helping out on a friends farm. When I agreed to go it was because I was at a point in my life where I needed a new adventure to save me from the monotony of my every day life running a new business(more on that later). What I found out there was something I have been looking for for quite some time. 

Rigo's property isnt much of a farm per se, as a homestead, and when we got started out there it was just barely that. With some sweat, dirt, several weekends worth of labor, and a fair share of gasoline, we have created what is growing into a community supported agriculture project that will sustain multiple families. Vegetables, fruits, livestock, honey, never ending projects, ideas, adventures, fun... 

Finding myself out on this farm has been an adventure that I have only dreamed of in my years of classes in environmental science, biology, horticulture... not to mention the things I have involved my family in with the gardening and keeping chickens... the constant pursuit of self sustainability, controlling the ingredients in our diet that ultimately effect our health. Finding myself out on this farm has been a lesson in finding myself.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

About... Brian

For those of you who have been faithful followers of my blog you have seen some of my triumphs, as well as some of my calamities. Life has a way of bringing you up when you need it, but it can also bring you crashing down when you least expect it, and are least prepared.

Much has happened in the years since my last post on Friday the 13th, some negative, some positive; I spiraled through some pretty severe depression, I lost many jobs, I became jaded to the cycling world as a whole... but though I dont ride a bike anymore I have taken some hobbies more seriously, I have built a bigger family, I have made a few friends, and I have learned how to adventure again.

I have had this blog on the back of my mind for a long time since... I guess I left it to the cycling phase of my life, which I triumphantly exited about 3 years ago. Well after coming back and reading a handful of my posts, I realized that this page is not about what I left behind, rather it is about the adventure that I still contain within me. It is not about Bike Brian... it is simply about... Brian.

I want to catch this blog up, as well as some of the people who still linger in to read it once in a while, with some of the adventures I have shared with my family and friends, whether I can include epic bike journeys or my brothers involvement is no longer of serious consequence, because I can enjoy an adventure without mourning him now. I can enjoy an adventure with my son, and my wife, and now my youngest son. I can keep the fun going, and it'll be fun to look back in years to come, at all the things I was able to get out and do with my family.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Sometimes it pays to take an unplanned personal day. Or I guess for that matter it could be planned... but the main idea is that it is cleansing to the soul to take time off when you expected to be stressed by the days work. Today I took some time to myself. I took a walk around Weedon Island to take in some fresh air. I rode my bike a few miles around St. Pete. I spent some time cleaning around the house. I worked on a couple projects I have had lying around. Yes I would normally do these things on my regularly scheduled days off, but playing hookie, as they say, afforded me the chance to do these things on what normally would have been someone elses time. Today has been a relaxing sigh of relief, a breath of fresh air, a time to reflect and think about the things that are going on in my life.
I hope to spend more time doing things that are worthy of posting in my blog. Yesterday two touring cyclists, travelling from Oregon, needed a ride over the skyway and I was more than happy to oblige... I want to find that motivation that I used to yearn for to seek out these kinds of opportunities to help cyclists in need, rather than simply work as a bike mechanic, i want to fill a void in the cycling world. I want to feel that what I am doing matters, not just in the sense of repairing someones bicycle, but in that I am continuing their adventures.
It was good to take some time to think about these things today, now its up to me to decide what I should do with this epiphany...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Going green? no way, we INVENTED green!

With the new house we have had many plans for continuing our quest for "greenness," such as building garden beds, installing rain barrels, composting our food wastes, and keeping chickens. The rain barrel demo was recently posted so i wont go into detail about that, but Peanut and I recently worked on building a chicken coop and a compost turner.
At the trailer that Peanut and I shared with my brother Chris, we had a compost "pit" in the far corner of our garden. The pit idea isn't realistic in the new house, and wasn't great in practice anyway because you had to turn it with a shovel and couldn't move it readily. Another thing is that the food waste would attract critters of all kinds and could stink. The compost tumbler keeps the decaying process under control and away from animals and other outside influences and helps the keep it aerated with out having to use a shovel and bend over so much.
Also, the chicken coop there... it is not finished and we wont be ready for chickens for some time, but we got a head start... this is going to be the permanent coop house as it is sheltered and will be secure, but we will also have a "tractor" style run that we can move around the yard to let them truly be "free-range" chickens, without fear of the local red-shouldered hawks snatching up a quick meal of our egg layers. There will be more pictures to follow as we finish more of the chicken house and runs.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quiver of quizzical quibble

I have wanted to hunt for a long time... and I know what you are thinking... environmentalist, animal lover, former vegetarian, etc.... well, it is precisely these things that have led me to this decision. The food you get in stores is terrible, full of hormones and antibiotics, made with animals that barely have room to move, never get to roam and be free, and possibly never see the light of day. The term "free-range" has been a buzz word for some time in the organic food industry, but are they really free to range? Nothing is more "free-range" than wild animals.
Now ethically people may consider that what hunters do is cruel, barbaric, and possibly disgusting... I assure you if you ever took the time to trace the food you eat from source to table you would never eat the same way again... from the confinement to the inhumane slaughtering practices done by our food industry, hunters are far more humane, far more sanitary, and far less cruel to the animals they take out of respect for the planet.
Last but not least is the idea of land management... The animals I intend to take are animals that are possibly introduced species and have been allowed to over populate the areas they are found, out competing the local wildlife, and possibly destroying the ecosystems they inhabit. For one, wild hogs were brought in from Europe and have been a nuisance ever since, destroying habitats as well as trail systems built by us for the enjoyment of the outdoors. Hogs are very destructive creatures, and from what I hear they are very good eating... So with this new hobby I plan to live up to my environmentalist ways both by eating healthier animals that weren't inhumanely obtained, and by contributing to wildlife management.
I will try to keep this page updated as I get more into things, but for now it is only still an idea...
I plan to buy a compound bow and hunt with a few friends, but I will have to practice as an archer before I ever attempt to take down an animal.