Of course for 16 years, we chipped and trucked the chips all the way to St. Maries, 125 miles in the cold of winter on icy roads. Some days I could make it in 3½ hours if I only had to chain up once, but many times I was chaining up three to seven times between Highland and St. Maries. The longest time it took me to make a trip was seven hours. Part of that was because of an accident. But that particular trip I had to put chains on seven times and take them off seven times before getting to the distillery. So it was a very tough job. Harvesting the trees is best to do it when it’s cold because they manufacture more oil. I love the harvest. It’s one of my favorite times.
This was our first warming shack on the Highland Flats Farm. This is where we would eat lunch, and it sometimes felt warmer outside than in the shack.
These are the trucks I drove back and forth from Highland to St. Maries. I decided we needed to change that; we needed to build a distillery right on location. So last winter when I came back from Somalia, I went to Highland and we built the distillery. I had my goal: we are going to distill on January 6.
The previous manager and other workers said many times that the distillery would never be built on time. They were absolutely certain that it wasn’t going to happen. We’d have to go back to St. Maries and distill there again this year, and then we would spend the rest of the winter building the distillery.
I came home from Somalia and said, “There is no plan B.” This is my philosophy and how I operate: I don’t have a plan B when I do things. When you have a plan B, 90 percent of the time you fall back to plan B and you don’t reach your goal. You have plan A and you dream plan A and you live plan A, and I don’t care if you have to work 26 hours a day and 8 days a week to fulfill your dream. If you’re committed and you’re driven and you believe in your dream, that’s what you’ll do.