Saturday, November 12, 2011

The downside of hiring farm help: Isaac Dozier

[UPDATE Jan 27, 2012:  You'll find the resolution of this issue in this blog entry.  I had to sue him to get my stuff back; I did get my fence charger and weed burner back from the guy, though.   ]

I hired Isaac earlier this year to work on my farm.  He did well in the interview, and seemed like a nice enough fellow at the time. 

Now I've had lots of experience with hiring and firing folks, and when folks call me for a reference, what I can say legally is a bit constrained.  It's a my-word-against-their-word sort of deal, and I don't really want to get into a pissing match with someone, so I don't say much. 

Isaacs last day was in July sometime, and as usual I got the paperwork from the state about his application for unemployment benefits, which I thought was a bit odd as he'd only worked for me for a month or two, but whatever.  I filled it out accurately and sent it in.  There are good reasons to make sure that you're paying people above the table.  I use a payroll company to figure the deductions and so on for just this sort of situation. 

Somewhere around then I was looking for an electric fence charger, a big 200 mile beast that costs around $600.  I had hung it on a peg and I couldn't find it, and a brand-new weedburner, too.   Come to find out that both items were last seen with Isaac, and that had been a few days before his last day.  So I emailed Isaac and asked him for it back.  No response.  I then called him and asked him for it back.  No response to voicemail.  I wrote a letter (US MAIL) and sent that to him, with no response. 

Finally I drove out to his house - he lives with his mother, and there was my charger.  Hanging on the fence, right next to the house.   Fine.  I walked up to the door, and knocked, and when he came to the door I said I'd come for my charger and could he go get my weedburner?  I walked over to the fence and unhooked it.    Well, it didn't go over very well with his family.  His mother is screaming at me:  "You touched me!  I have witnesses!  You touched me!  His brother Paul is doing the chest bump with me (which is kinda funny as the top of pauls head is nipple high on me, and I had a hard time not laughing at that) and Isaac just stood in the background "I'm calling the police".  Please do, Isaac.   I told his mother that this was my fence charger and that I wanted it back.    Paul ripped the charger from my hands, and I thought about it, and then got in my car and drove to the end of their driveway.  I called the Skagit county sheriff, and talked to the officer who'd been assigned, and asked what he thought i should do. 

"Well, " says the officer, "I asked them why you were there.  They said they didn't know, and something about equipment" and I explained about the charger and then said "well, I'd be happy to have my charger back and call it a day" and the sheriff said "yea, I told them that it'd be simpler just to return it". 

Ok Sheriff.  What should I do?  Can I file a theft report with you?  "No, you have to do it in the jurisdiction where the theft occurred.  How much is the charger worth?  "  $600.  "Oh wow.  That's a felony case, then.  Why don't they return it?  "   I don't know, officer.  In my opinion they appear to be an entire family of nitwits.  The sheriff laughed. 

So I wrote a US MAIL letter and mailed it, requesting that they return my charger in the next 7 days or I'd be forced to file a felony theft report, as I had no other option.  I waited 2 weeks for a reply.  Nothing. 

I then got a wage complaint from L&I, where it was claimed that I'd shorted him on his pay.  I checked his paychecks, and the hours worked, and then again, and I'd paid him for all of the time he'd worked.  I sent the state the copy of the paychecks Isaac had cashed. 

So a couple of days ago I got several comments on my blog. 

Is this the "Humane Pig Farm" Bruce speaks so highly of?

 And I looked at those photos that are a mix of photos that I've used in my blog and some other photos.  The timing of the photos is right... yea.  It was when Isaac was working.  And the photos aren't what I'd consider cute farm photos.   From the data on the photos I figure it it was Isaac who took them, and the stuff that he's taking pictures of he's supposed to be taking care of.

But that's not really enough, so I go over to facebook and look at Isaacs facebook page. 

I then look at where the pictures came from, via the IP#.  It's from the mobile carrier that Isaac uses.  Pictures that were taken on a day he was scheduled to work during his shift, from his phone, and posted on his facebook page.   

So I write Isaac an email.  Hey, if you want to say something to me, or to the folks on my blog, why not just write it?  I promise not to edit or censor anything you say.  Say whatever you'd like, and I'll publish it.    No response, as usual.  So I send a message to his girlfriend asking that she get ahold of him and let him know I'm interested in whatever he has to say.  No response there, either. 

Isaac, farming is a pretty small community.  Most everyone knows everyone else.  I was out on the tractor one day when I got a call. 

"Hey, is this Bruce?"

  Yes, who's this?  This is xxxx from the yyyy dairy.  You run a pig farm down there, right? "

  Yep, I do.  Whats up?

 "Did you have a kid named Isaac work for you?  "

Why.  Yes.  I.  Did. 

"Can I ask you about his work".  

gosh, I'd love to, but I can only say his hire date, and last day.  But if you asked me, I could tell you whether we'd rehire him.

 "Ok then.  Would you rehire him? "


"Is there anything else that I should know about him that you can tell me?"

  You near a computer?  "yes".  Ok,  his facebook profile name is idozier4509, I'd look at the entry on his wall on May 20th. 


  yea, that's what it says.  I'd ask him what he means by that.

"Horse tranquilizers?  He's kidding, right?" 

I can't say what this guy is thinking, honestly.   You'd have to ask him.   

"I think I have what I need.  Thanks for your time, Bruce.  "

  No problem. 

Isaac, I'd really like my fence charger and weed burner back. 


Bill Gauch said...

It's bizarre that he took it to keep it. I could understand if he stole it to sell it. Why on earth would he take it and keep it? All I can imagine is that he's growing pot or raising fighting dogs or something else illegal. I would just file a felony theft report. At the least, that will get him busted. When they do, they'll probably find whatever else illegal that he's doing and send him to jail for a long, long time.

Bruce King said...

I don't understand what he's doing, either. I sent him a link to this posting; maybe he'll explain himself.

Steve said...

Issac Dozier sounds like
one of the "crappy people" that James Altrucher writes about

All I know is that you reap what you sow. You are probably not the only one he has harmed like this, and eventually it will catch up with him.

Anonymous said..., that sounds terrible. I still don't understand why he didn't give it back...

Bruce King said...

I'll post anything that folks write to this topic, but I'm going to require that you have an account and be verfied. Sorry, but I'm kinda done with anonymous comments. If you want to say something, grow a spine and stand behind your words.

If you'd rather not have it be public, that's fine. Write whatever you want, add a 4 digit number to it, and email me the number along with your contact information -- name and phone number -- to bruceki at

I'm out here doing my stuff. If you're gonna criticize what I do, that's fine. But you don't get to stand in the shadows while you do so.

Unknown said...

I was brought to this site looking for an organic pastured turkey and thought great, they are local. But after reading all of this BS about Issac and how he stole your stuff, I have to tell you that I am very hesitant to purchase anything from you. Posting all of this drama online for everyone to see is extremely unprofessional and makes me wonder if your farming practices are just as bad. Issac sounds like a tool but posting this kind of drama kind of makes you look like one too.

Bruce King said...

JK: You read something interesting enough to provoke you to comment.

I write about a farming business. this is one aspect of it. While you may not appreciate it, it's something that happened.

I didn't cause Isaac to create a blog, or post pictures, or take my property.

Honestly, I probably would have been fine leaving it be, but 4 months after the fact he seems to want to revisit it. He's clearly angry and I don't expect him to go away. Might as well get it over with now.

Steve posted a link that basically advises to ignore mean people. I started with that. Isaac has chosen a different path, and I'm ok with that, too.

And we're sold out of turkeys. Sorry about that. We start taking orders October 1st, and are sold out by this time each year. I'd suggest starting your search earlier.

Bruce King said...

The anonymous folks that have commented on this topic are pretty smug. "I'm glad that I've taught you about breeding" "Maybe you will rethink your approach"

If nothing else, for those folks, it provides them an opportunity to be safe in their arm chair, smug in knowledge of their superior wisdom. Amazing arrogance. Kinda like me!

C'mon out, you anonymous weenies. I'll lend you a pair of boots and some raingear. You can show me the better way. Teach me a lesson.

Makes me laugh.

Bruce King said...

Must have hit a nerve with the anon crowd.

"Maybe we'll meet one day Bruce, and on that day we'll see if you feel like calling me a weeny to my face."

With all due respect, you can say whatever you'd like to here. But if you're too cowardly to stand behind your own words, as I do every day,

yea, you're a weenie.

Nancy, Olympia WA said...

I'm glad you finally put a stop to folks commenting without a name.

I think you should file charges against Isaac based on his and his family's reaction when you went to his place to collect your property.

If he stole from you, he'll steal from the next guy unless he's taught a lesson and it sounds like the whole family needs to learn a lesson. Good luck

Matt said...

I'd say that Skagit county deputy you talked to was ignorant or lazy. If you saw your stolen property in at Issaic's residence, then the then the crime of Possession of Stolen property occurred in Skagit county and the deputy should have started a PSP investigation. Then he should have confiscated the property in dispute. Sending you off to get a report in Snohomish County was just a way to make you go away. I would make an issue of it with his boss. What a joke.

Hostetter said...

Can I just say I saw this post last night and laughed my head off. As a manager of a small chain of car washes these types are a daily encounter. I am at the saving my money till I think I have enough to farm stage in my life, and was sure that my current life skills would not be all that useful but apparently they will be. My moto is I need ten good guys to get one to stick. Americans have gotten so lazy that when it deals with labor its a tough go unless you do it yourself. Thanks for the laugh. I wish I was closer so I could visit and give you a hand.

Kevin Kossowan said...

Wow am I glad I can make a good living without employees. My sympathies Bruce, what a pain. As if there isn't enough to do around the farm.

Leon said...

Wow... just wow... Some people, man ...

I'm very impressed by how you handled it, too.

I only deal with reputable companies if I absolutely must hire something out because early on we got into a really bad story with a guy who lied about being licensed and insured and ended up in a hospital through his own negligence and then tried to find someone to pay his 400,000 plus medical bill by filing a complete BS lawsuit ... It cost more and it goes against my believes in a way - I'd rather give the job directly to local people who need it but I've only got one farm, so losing it would be kinda sad. And your story just gave me another reason to keep doing just that - doing what I can myself, using pros for everything else.

BTW, the description of your interview got me thinking ... We participated in WWOOF program for a few years ... a few gems, a bunch of OK kids, one WWOOFer from hell who I personally drove to the airport 2 hours away just to get rid of him ASAP. I think he would've passed your interview with flying collars. We need to come up with a better system :) Right now I'm thinking about a tiered system where people start as interns under close supervision and only then graduate to real worker status? I don't know. Another sad observation - all the best WWOOFers we had were foreigners :( American kids (including our own) are just not mature or driven enough, it seems. Also, based on my WWOOF experience if I were hiring someone I'd be very careful hiring people under 30. It's easier to teach a grown man basic carpentry than to teach someone who supposed to be 23 but really is 12 mentally to take things seriously.

Just thinking out loud, sorry :)