Monday, March 15, 2010

The Roller Coaster Farm Life

Having a diversified farm is like riding a roller coaster all day long, every single day, every single hour, every single minute.  I only live it on weekends and before and after my bring home the bacon job but Mike deals with it all day long.

Most of what I write about in this blog is the upside as you have to stay positive or else you'll go into a deep dark hole.  In that hole are thoughts like:
 "what were we thinking?"
  "and we thought we could actually break even and/or make money with this farm"
"hmm-- there are no books that talk about the burn rate of a farm before it's profitable"
"how exactly do you find customers?"

When you have your own extremely small business, you need to learn to be the CEO, the CFO, the accountant, the marketing manager, the sales director, purchasing manager, distribution, credit and collections, etc.  All that along with vet, botanist, carpenter, mechanic, gardener, etc.

What WERE WE THINKING!!!!  Ah, now I remember, we had the American Dream, own our land and live off it.  And while we are at it- provide great food for about 75-100 customers.

This weekend was a roller coaster ride.  Trees were knocked down due to the wind and blocked one entrance to our house.  Hmmm-- hadn't planned on getting out the chain saw today.  And then later on -- a good moment.  Baby Norman our first calf of the season.  He's a red bull calf at that and that's a good thing.  This means he's likely going to be in high demand and we'll either keep him or sell him and he'll have a nice long life as a bull.  Plus he's adorable, independent and already today running around the pasture without mom.

We ended up missing the actual birth and saw Norman when he was on the ground probably 1 minute after he was born.  But we watched in awe at the process that Mariah went through for the next 2 hours.  It was so amazing.  Like the nature channel in your backyard.  Did you know that the mother cow will lick the calf's bottom and this in turn causes them to want to nurse?
Our kids thought this was hilarious-- of course Mike also had to give them a mental visual - what would you do if someone licked your butt (anus to be exact)?  Stand on your tiptoes and arch your head upwards. (and now YOU'VE got the visual as well)  If you were a calf you'd then look up and see an udder full of milk.  The look on the kids faces was priceless.

Then in the middle of the rain storm at 10:30pm, Dot got disoriented and lost in the dark and we had to drive around and try to help her find her way out of the forest.  Doesn't help that she's a Border Collie that doesn't bark.  You have to listen for her quiet whining- through the wind and rain and pitch black night.

And then we come to a bright spot again!
A big thank you to all our customers out there.  YOU are the reason we still have a farm and didn't have to scrap this idea 3 months ago.  YOU are our part of our sales and marketing team through your referrals.   YOU have helped us shape our CSA offers.  Last week we were wondering how we were going to sell the meat in our freezer and just today we had 2 returning customers coming back with orders for more of everything and 6 inquiries about the meat CSA. How cool is that!!!  YEAH!  We know our product if fabulous but you kind of need customers to pay the bills and reinvest in the farm.  Thank you customers!!

The ups and downs and the emotional roller coaster will continue (panic, happiness, dread, joy, sorrow, surprise,disappointment, gratitude, delight, love.....the list is endless).
What I can tell you is that I've never felt more alive in my life.  
I can imagine Clarence telling me--- Annette, you really had a wonderful life....  
And I'd agree....


SteveandAlina said...

Those are very pretty cows. Are they usually so shaggy?

Toni aka irishlas said...

First off, thanks for sharing the roller coaster ride. Second - you have a job outside of the farm too?? Wow - double impressed here.

There's no doubt about it, yours is a labor of love first, then the money. You need both to be successful and it's a fine balancing act. Sometimes the balance shifts and you have to work even harder to get it restored. Then, you have those moments in all the chaos that it just the right thing and you remember why you are doing it.

On another note - I need to email about meat.

So guys, chins up - pip pip cheerio and all that other good stuff!

Sue said...

Wonderful post, Annetta. xoxo