It’s now 17 planting days into my short season, about half way. I’m still in Creston, planting for Caliburn. Our semi-shotgun crew has been paired down, both from people moving on to better things and the general attrition of treeplanting, but we should still be able to field a creditable squad of hardcores. The Kootenay valley weather remains variable, but has gotten less gentle in its extremes, which is a little worrying. Sleet and hail and snow and actually cold rain have started showing up daily on the block, although we’ve had no day that didn’t also feature some sunshine or the medium no-weather that is ideal for all-day labour. It looks like Caliburn is never going to adopt the strictly production-oriented style of organization we would prefer. The company is more about getting people home in time to have dinner with their kids or to the bank before it closes, and towards daily opening and closing up the small hillside blocks we work. We would rather see blocks left open for a few days so a single crew could carve big individual pieces worked over time, and long days to do it. But I respect that this just isn’t that kind of company. Caliburn has also picked up a secondary contract that was abandoned by another company that folded this season, planting for Wyndell Box and Lumber.
So we’re now working blocks for both Wyndell and Huscroft. I prefer working for small local mills on general principle, and around here that’s all there is. Between the two mills, Huscroft currently has the easier land. But I seem to be making enough money even on the steeper, slashier Wyndell blocks such that I can’t bring myself to really complain. For the first time I feel like I’m getting a taste of what coastal planting might be like. “There’s no such thing as bad land, just bad prices” is an old chestnut, and I guess we’re demonstrating the corollary. “The better the view, the worse the land” is another, and man do we have phenomenal views. For the first time ever I may make a lower day-average wage than my previous season, but I think I’m willing to take the hit to be living the semi-retirement Creston lifestyle. Kootenay Coastal is what I’m calling the planting here. A lot less trees, less stress, a little less money, and a real bed and kitchen waiting for me back home, and extra hours to enjoy it.