We are no longer building saddle trees. We have two saddle fit videos available on our westernsaddlefit.com website. Western Saddle Fit - The Basics, aimed at riders, is available either on DVD or streaming on Vimeo while the six hour series Well Beyond the Basics, aimed more for professionals but understandable by anyone, is available by streaming on Vimeo. (We left this website up because we have had many requests to keep the information available.)
We had four trees past the crucial drying stages when we went away, so they were thoroughly dry when we got back Wednesday night. Rod did the final once over to reset a few nails, then they were varnished Wednesday night and Thursday morning. So today, three of them were packed up and shipped off. This week the offerings were, from right to left, a 14" wood post Arizona Roper going to Oklahoma, a 12" wood post Bowman going to Idaho and an 8 1/2" Wade staying right here in Alberta.
We store the shipping boxes in our basement. Since we are charged shipping on volume versus actual weight (which gives the post office double the money that weight would), and since it would be hard to scrounge up the number of boxes we use, we have been purchasing special order boxes for quite a few years now. We have two sizes of boxes - one to fit a single tree and one that takes two trees. The larger box is still within the post office maximum size limit, but just.
Actually, the special order are cheaper than their standard boxes, and this way we can get them as small as possible to fit our normal trees, which cuts down the shipping price for our customers. Ordering them by 200 at a time also cuts down the price. Thus, the piles of boxes in our basement. (They also make handy storage shelves when needed...)
I attach the invoice/spec sheet to the tree as a general rule. Sometimes I take a tree to town that hasn't yet been paid for if I am expecting a cheque. In that case, I slip the envelope under the top flap of the box after I write the cheque number on it. Of course, I also do that when I forget to put in on the tree till after it is all packed...
I'm usually the one who does the packing, but I was running late this morning so Rod helped out by scrunching paper for me. He probably wanted his lunch a bit faster than it would have been otherwise...
We use old newspaper as our padding since it is cheap (free actually) and easy to use. Sometimes packing trees can take a while if there are good articles to read. So what if they are a year or two old? A layer goes on the bottom of the box first to protect the bottom edges of the bars.
To keep the trees from getting black from newsprint, we use the white paper from roll ends which my wonderful father has been good enough to pick up from the Edmonton Journal for us over the years. This last week he was told that the paper wasn't going to be printed in Edmonton any more, so that supply of roll ends is gone. We'll have to come up with another source of clean paper to protect the trees now. (Rats...) I wrap the tree up in the paper before putting it in the box.
Then more paper goes in, especially at places like bar ends, gullet lips and horn caps that are more likely to be bumped and banged in transit. Pretty mundane stuff, making for a boring blog post. But hey, somebody has to do the boring stuff, right?
The proper label gets taped on. (You learn to double check when trees going to the Yukon and Missouri get switched around. But it only happened once...)
Three boxes, singles or doubles, fit in the back seat of the car, and a couple more will go in the trunk. How well boxes fit is a criteria we check out when looking at changing vehicles. We even took boxes along to test for space this last time!
Then I get to drive 36 km (that's 22 1/2 miles) to town to ship them away. The ladies at the Valleyview post office are fantastic. (Thanks Audrey, Bev and Chantel!!) They pretty much know the dimensions of our boxes as well as I do, so shipping is relatively quick. And finally, I get to drive the 36 km back home again. Since we have to go to the post office to get our mail as well as ship trees, you can understand why we don't pick up our mail every day...
Oh, I almost forgot a very important part - saving the comics to read before they get used! This is pretty much an unbreakable rule around here. Excitement and fun times at the Nikkels!!