While I was in Oregon for those three weeks of planting, Chelsea and the kids were back in Arkansas prepping for the move. It was a tall order considering all the stuff we had. On top of that, we had to get the cabin and 15 acres ready to put on the market. As soon as I returned, it was GO time.
I was lucky to sell all of my farm equipment and get a fair price for everything, considering how fast I unloaded it all. Within a week I had sold my generator, John Deere Zero Turn Mower, John Deere Gator, but the toughest thing to let go of was my John Deere 5200 Tractor with a front-end loader, Brush Hog and grader. My grandfather gave that beast to me when he died.
Within days of selling the tractor, the movers came and loaded up a full long-haul trailer, then a Peterbilt barreled down our dirt road, hitched up and hit the road west. We left the next day, June 19th. I was driving the Sequoia with our Wolf Pup camp trailer in tow. The Wolf Pup was full of our valuables, electronics, my camera gear. Chelsea was driving my Ford work truck with the dogs crated in the bed and towing a small U-Haul trailer full of my tools. I left my Tacoma and utility trailer at the cabin and made arrangements for my mother and her husband to drive out for a visit later that summer, on my dime.
Considering all of these logistics, you would think Trato Diablo Farms would have offered me some leniency in regards to moving thousands of miles across the country with my entire family in a caravan that was going to cost me $10,000. Well, Dick and Brett were surprisingly sympathetic about it.
“That’s a long drive for your family, man,” Brett said.
“Take your time,” Dick said. “Be safe.”
The company even agreed to pay for half of my moving expenses.
But in regards to patience, for some reason Cornelius resolved to not show me any. Driving to Branson would be a challenge with three kids (one being a toddler in a carseat), two dogs, two vehicles towing two trailers – much less driving to the end of the continent. But by day three, I think we were in Colorado, I started getting text messages from Cornelius.
Where you at?
Somewhere in Colorado.
So you’ll be here in two days then?
Three. Hopefully. We can’t go over 65 and it seems I gotta pull over every ten minutes to let someone go potty.
Don’t waste time. I need you here.
We had already discussed all this stuff beforehand and agreed on a timeframe, a plan, etc. But this was when I was beginning to get suspicious of Cornelius’ original intent.
For some reason Cornelius’ attitude towards me began to shift once he considered me to be officially under his employ. The impulsive yelling, the snide remarks about respect, his refusal to listen and insistence on talking over everyone, I mean, I could tell he was proud of himself and proud of his overnight success, but it was clearly going to his head. I mean, I understand he was driving a Porsche-uh now, wowee, but just two years ago he was unemployed in Fresno growing black market weed in the spare room of a hot stinky rental and schlepping it from a shoe on his front porch.
The next day I received another text message from Cornelius about 10 AM.
Where are you?
So you’ll be here tomorrow then?
That was two days away. We had planned to be on the road for five. Every day Cornelius was hitting me up, asking where I was.
I was getting miffed at this mother hen stuff he was pulling. The move and the drive and all this stuff was stressful enough and I was busting my ass getting us all out there, safely, and at great personal expense. The last thing I needed, or expected, was for my best friend to be huffing down my neck the whole time.
Besides, plants were in the ground. The hard part was over. Dick and Brett already went back to Florida. The only thing we had to do on the farm was irrigate and maintain the beds till harvest. So what the hell was all the rush about?
It’s because Cornelius had no intent of my ever becoming anything more than a Billy.
Billy was supposed to be my assistant. I was supposed to be the Farm Manager and Billy, the big moose from Tampa who didn’t know his lefty-lucy from his righty-tighty, was supposed to be the Assistant Farm Manager.
But that wasn’t true at all.
Dick hired Billy to be his “bitch on the ground” out there in Oregon while Dick sipped cocktails on a beach in St. Croix and checked on his other small businesses schlepping overpriced CBD tinctures and gummies. Billy was available to Dick 24-7 and though he couldn’t tell the difference between a flathead and a hammer, he was good at keeping his trap shut and taking all the abuse Dick threw at him.
In short order I discovered Cornelius wanted me to be his own Billy. Cornelius wanted me to do all of the work while he sat in that farmhouse smoking bong hits marathon watching COPS shooting me text messages for updates and scoping the goings-on at the farm through the security cameras. Exactly how Dick did Billy.
What I was beginning to see more clearly than ever, though, was that this wasn’t about me becoming Billy. This whole fiasco, this whole New Cornelius, was about Cornelius becoming Dick.
This was no partnership. This was no empire being built. It was a house of cards slapped together by a bunch of greedy egos completely out of their range of experience and aptitude. It was obvious these three muldoons didn’t know what to do with the business or the money they were making. I didn’t care though.
Come hell or high water, I was going to stake my claim in Oregon and give my family a fresh opportunity, the hemp farm be damned. I knew the move was risky, but I knew it was risk I could afford. Besides: No risk, No reward.
We pulled into Central Point on Sunday the 23rd of June. We made the drive in five days.
I had already arranged a 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 2-story rental home during my previous work trip out there. I bought everyone new mattresses and put a few plastic chairs in the living room. It would be another ten days before the 18-wheeler arrived with our stuff. Till then, home would be a bit spartan.
But that was OK because the wife and kids were super stoked to be in Oregon and were ready to get outside into outdoor adventures the very next day. Which they did because it was Monday and I had to go to work. No rest for the wicked, as the song goes.
The next morning I was a bit wiped out. The drive and unloading everything the previous night were catching up to me. As I pulled up to the gate to Trato Diablo Farms, waiting for it to open so I could drive through, Cornelius shot me a text message.
Where are you?
Work STARTS at 8. Please be here on time. Thank you.
I checked the time on my phone. The clock read 8:01.