Sunday, February 2, 2014

Farm Diversification ...In Reverse



We got our dairy license in 1995 and sold to a co-op.
We raised a few pigs and calves each summer for freezer meat for a few friends and family
Then we became certified organic and sold more meat out of our basement freezer.
Then we stopped selling milk to the co-op and sold only to folks who came to the farm.
Soon after we started selling to a Chicago Grocery Store
Then another and then two more
Then we sold our meat at the local Farmers Market
Then we started selling to restaurants. First one, then two then ten.
After that we opened up our farm store
Then we sold roaster hogs to folks who liked parties and we delivered all over the state
Then our Red Wattle meat got picked for chef contests and school events and fund raising and and and and

And we were very successful
And totally exhausted.

So we put our farm business up for sale. While we wait for Prince Farming to come along and sign on the dotted lines we have taken up a new direction.

We call it, reverse diversification

First we cut back on roaster hog deliveries and then we eliminated the restaurants. We started resigning from the boards we served on and all the other events.

We stopped entering our pigs in beauty contests!

Last week we stopped selling to grocery stores.

As of  yesterday 100% of all our pork, and milk and beef) will now be sold direct to the consumer who comes to our farm, ONLY and we are very excited but of course worried.  When we ceased selling to restaurants, we prayed our customer base would be strong enough to purchase our meat directly or in the grocery stores.

And now we are pulling away from the grocery stores. Again we have to ask, "what if our customer base is not large enough to support what we are raising?" or "what if there are enough customer numbers but not enough consumer cash to afford our organic meat?" or "what if we have enough customers, who have enough cash but don't want to drive out to our farm?"

What if?
What if?
What if?

What if  we do manage to sell enough meat just out of our own farm store to actually pay the mortgage and the feed bill and the phone bill?

We won't know until we try.

Our customers tell us they would buy more meat if we had it available; that they have friends who would buy our meat if we had enough. That they would like to pre-order a whole beef and a whole hog every year.

So OK we'll give it a try. Instead of spreading ourselves so thin we'll spread ourselves thick.
About 1 &1/2 inch thick for 7.75/pound if you happen to be a bone-in pork chop in our farm store.

10 comments:

  1. I think it's an excellent idea. I know you love the idea of having your wonderful product being available to people in areas not-so-close to your farm, but I believe you may be right in spreading yourself too thin. WHY does one have to compete in the "global" (ok, maybe not global, but farther than the county over) marketplace when you may have enough customers right in your back yard? I wish you well & luck (doesn't hurt, you know) that you can keep yourself THICK in customers without having to traverse the countryside selling your wears.

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    1. Carolyn, in the beginning I think it helped get our name out there but the payoff was tough. Today we had customers all day long so it seems as if Lady Luck is shining on us. Whatever the reason we're grateful not to be on the road so much

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  2. I think it's a good strategy. You started small. You were successful. You took steps to let others know about you and gain access to your wonderful products. Done. You created the desire for your products and are having the folks who want it to come and get it. And, i think they will. I'm already thinking of ordering a whole pig next year from my pork mistress. The half that i have is excellent and will see me through quite a while.

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  3. You and I are in a time of our lives where less is more. We don't have the energy we use to and we want to spend more time enjoying our spouses while not on a dead run. I wish you peace with your decision and pray Prince Farmer soon arrives so you can move to your retirement place and dream new dreams.

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    1. Thank you Holly. Too often in my nursing career I saw folks work day and night so they could retire but then one of them would die in their 50's and they've never gone on vacation, never wrote their book, never went up in a hot air balloon (yes, I want to badly). We of course don't know when God will take us so enjoying life in the hear and now needs to be a priority

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  4. Good luck!! Now I want some meat. Yum.

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    Replies
    1. Load up those kids and come visit! What's a few hundred miles between blog buddies?

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  5. Let us know with Prince Farmer signs the papers! We'll throw an on-line party for you!

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    1. Love that idea. Will you hire some stripping bulls?

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