Trina Machacek: A two-ton orchid

Trina Machacek

Trina Machacek

How does one end up with a two-ton orchid? Well, that’s not a question you will hear every day. If ever.

Two tons of orchid plant is 4,000 pounds. To put that in perspective it would be like a little over a mile and a half of 4-ounce Hershey bars laid end to end. The ones without almonds. That’s a lot of orchid and chocolate. OK, here’s the story.

I was looking for information about when I was supposed to replant an orchid I have when I came upon a story about the world’s biggest orchids. I wasn’t in search of that information. Then poof there it was. But. Yes, a huge flowering “but.” This story is not about monster-sized, weirdly huge and kind-of-scary flowering orchid plants. No, it is more about how things we do out of enjoyment sometimes tend to morph into other things. For instance.

I have seen a few times in my life and travels when people have loved what they do as a hobby so much, their hobby grows into a business. More than once I have seen this happen. There was a small roadside stand I would see every spring as I traveled. The first year I watched a woman start to sell some of her bedding plants on a makeshift stand in front of her house in the country. The next year she expanded and sold some trees she had transplanted.

Over a few years her budding business turned into a full-blown nursery and now she has two locations that I know of. I play out the whole thing in my head. The conversation she and her husband must have had about her spending more time on her roadside stand. Then she started to make a little money and wanted to buy more things to plant to sell. She made more money, and the one-time hobby became so successful they couldn’t help but grow and grow. At least that is how I hope it all went.

I knew a guy who loved to build up the motors of cars. Turning them into very fast cars. He did it with friends when he was young. Then he met another guy with a little bit of money who wanted to build a very cool car. When the two guys met, they built a very fast car. Soon more friends wanted in, and bigger faster cars were planned and built. Then a shop was needed then a bigger shop. Speed testing equipment was needed and over just a few short years those two guys were running a company that became known from coast to coast. That small hobby is now a huge business.

That’s just two of what I imagine are innumerable stories of hobbies turned businesses. There’s a full circle of this way of making a living. Many of these “cottage businesses” grow in every community. Some of them blow up into full time money makers and some stay hobby like. In our community I can think of no less than a dozen. Me included. This is a great country, isn’t it?

Hobbyists. They’re out there. Those who don’t wait for the weekends to be able to scurry away into basements and green houses to tend to wood working projects, tiny seedlings, making soaps and lotions, baking wonderfully lip-smacking things for school bake sales.

There are knife makers, furniture makers, designers of school play costumes that can create wedding dresses too. Ah then when is the hobby is taken over by business? Decisions are made that draw the hobbyist into the business world. The secret is to love your hobby enough that it never feels like drudgery.

There is this saying about how you can’t be just a little bit pregnant. You either are or you aren’t. That is the way of a hobby turning into a business.

I wonder if Henry Ford as a little kid ever foresaw huge factories where his cars were dipped in black paint by the hundreds every day. Because you could have your new Ford any color you wanted – as long as it was black.

I love the story of Henry Ford. A great story of his is that he met a man one day who told old Henry that he had the first dollar he ever made in a frame in his office. Well Henry looked at the man telling him that he would never make it in business.

The man asked why. Mr. Ford said he should have invested that dollar in himself because it would never grow in that frame. Investing in yourself. It’s the best investment you will ever make. Yes! That’s how you grow a two-ton orchid.

Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her books are available wherever you buy books or email her at to buy signed copies.


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