Quite nice actually.
I finally made it to one of his yearly Backyard Growers Shindigs he puts on at his home in Ohio. It took a ton of work but was well worth it! I met fellow Backyard Growers, watched Mike demonstrate grafting Japanese Maples, did some demonstrations on my products, and got to meet Mike and fellow growers in person. It was a great time all the way around!
For the last 4 years I have tried to make it to Mike’s Shindig. Each time, something came up, mostly my work schedule. My summer schedule for my full time job is busy to say the least. Each day can be anywhere from 8 hours to 21. Yes, 21, and that isn’t including the 1 hour commute each way!
I had decided that nothing short of a catastrophe would keep me from attending this year, but I had a ton of work to do first.
First, I had to schedule a few days of vacation during the absolute busiest time of the year for my job. Done!
Next, I booked the hotel room and made sure I prepaid. My reasoning was that I was not going to forfeit the money I spent and that would be a great incentive to make sure I made the trip.
Lastly, I bought a rebuilt engine and installed in into my truck because the old one was making some awful noises. Sounds fairly simple but it was such a bear that it took me 2 months! What a pain in the ass! I ended up replacing just about every part under the hood, radiator, alternator, hoses, sensors, and more. Then I was forced to redo all the brakes and brake lines. Like I said, a ton of work.
Long story short, I had a grand total of 10 miles on the truck when I started my 12 hour trip to Ohio. Oh, I did have every tool I could carry just in case!
The day of the Shindig my son and I arrived to find Mike talking with a few folks as he was showing them around his property. When everyone arrived back at his garage, which had been set up with hot dogs, snacks, and soft drinks, I introduced myself to the group as others introduced themselves. I asked Mike what he had planned and if it would be ok to do a demonstration on the different ways misting nozzles could be installed. He was quite pleased. I think he was happy that someone other than him would be the center of attention!
My son and I set up a series of piping I had put previously designed and built that would allow me to demonstrate the different ways to install the nozzles into misting system piping. I then showed how 5 or 6 different nozzles performed as well as how to correctly install them onto the piping.
Next, I found 4 folks who wanted to learn how to program a DIG 5006-IP propagation timer. I passed 4 out and did a step by step demonstration as they followed along, asking questions when they needed help. After the demonstration, Mike came up to me and asked if I would go over it with him. I was honored! We programmed our timers together and he asked a few questions about the timer. He said he was used to mechanical timers but he could see the benefits of this timer, specifically the ability to program it with 6 different programs, unlike the mechanical which can do only one, and the battery backup that retains the program if the power goes out.
Next the majority of the group followed Mike to his field of Japanese Maples where he discussed grafting. I took some video as he was demonstrating grafting Japanese Maples so be sure to watch it!
We then went back to the garage where we all ate and had a Yankee type swap. If you have never heard of a Yankee swap, it is a great way to exchange gifts! Everyone had fun!
It was getting late and everyone began to slowly leave. My son and I were the last to leave, asking Mike if he needed help picking up and if we could give him some money to help pay for some of the great food and drinks he had provided. He declined both. We talked for a little while and my son took a few pictures of me and Mike. I then mentioned that I needed to find an auto parts store so I could do a little work on the truck before leaving the next morning for the 12 hour return trip home.
Mike and his son Dustin both did some calling and web searches for an auto parts store that would have what I needed. Mike was able to find something I could use at a nearby Napa after calling and confirming they had one on hand. Mike and Dustin both went out of their way to help me find what I needed and it was greatly appreciated.
After finally making it to one of Mike’s Shindigs, I will surely make an effort to attend another. Every person I met felt like a family member because I knew them from the Grower’s Board, that special board Mike has where detailed information, tips, and advice from Mike himself can be found. All that and the buy/sell board where plants can be bought for next to nothing. I just saw a post on the board from Mike that he just purchased almost $3000.00 worth of Japanese Maple trees from a board member. I can’t wait to see his field full of them the next time I attend his shindig!