We are just about at break-even. Now I'm going to count breakeven after we get a tax refund in March/April so without that we're still not quite there. I do have confidence that we will be at breakeven in 2011. That would mean after 2 full years of animals on the farm that we might make say $5,000 profit in 2011. Actually that means Mike's salary would be $5,000 so I'm not sure I can call it profit but it makes me feel good so I'll just pretend for now. Mike has watched me create P&L's for every aspect of our farm and he dreads it when on a football Sunday afternoon I say "hey honey, come over here and see if my spreadsheet looks right, I need to sit with you for 20 minutes to review this".
The point of this posting is to say that diversified farming is not easy. What we've learned :
Value added products make you more money.
Pork sells better than beef and lamb combined in our area (but we're working on the lamb-- you have to try it folks.)
You need to have a steady income before you can hire people so work on your customer base.
We really only need about 100 steady customers to support our farm.
We need to create value around our products - it doesn't magically happen.
If you give away the first dozen eggs to someone- they will be hooked from that point forward.
You can find a customer anywhere (Mike actually solicited a customer at Safeway based on the disappointed look on her face and she trusted that he wasn't a crazy person and followed him home to buy some meat.)
And the most important lesson: FOCUS on one or only a few complimentary products. We're still thinking about this one as it runs counter to the name "diversified farm". Now I know that focus is extremely important in my job and in any business. So why wouldn't it be important for a farm as well? Mike and I will be exploring this question as well as redefining the focus of the farm.
Thanks to all for helping us get to 'almost break-even'. You know who you are and I thank you for your support as customers. Happy eating!