Welcome to... winter? I guess Michigan thinks that the couple days we had of fall weather was enough. Most of October was rainy and cold. November hasn't been better, the rain turned to snow. There's a good majority of crops still standing in the fields due to first the very, very wet weather and now snow. The farming game has been a really rough one this year.
We were hit with a good amount of snow starting Sunday and through yesterday. The wonders of lake effect snow!
It's been an equally busy time at the farm trying to get ready for winter and everything that comes along with that. On a very wet sleeting Halloween we ran about 50 head of cattle through the chute. Our vet had his work cut out for him. We vaccinated everything, pregnancy checked our cows, and dehorned all the calves. However, that was just part of the herd, the next 25 are awaiting their vet date next week. We will finish up the preg checking and dehorning. It's a big job and it calls for all hands on deck. My mom (Linda) keeps track of everything, Dad (Pat) directs animals into their respective pens as they come out of the chute, and my brother Andy and I sort cows and calves through the barn and alley into the chute. My mother-in-law gets her granddaughter for the day. We've to adapt how we do things as our herd has grown over the years. We are more efficient now even if we do have more animals.
That being said we have heifers available! Check out our 2019 calves, we have a large variety of black and dun calves for sale. All are or will be dehorned. If you are looking to get into Dexters or expand your herd, let us know. We'd love to help you get started.
Another pain with winter? Scheduling the last of the livestock for processing. Our last two steers, hogs, and lambs for the year will be leaving the end of the month opening up a good deal of space in our barn. That space will be used for lambing come the end of January! Majority of our area processors are booked way out, especially the ones that also cut deer. Gun season in Michigan opens on Friday and bow season has been pretty successful from what I have seen roll across my Facebook feed.
Aside from farm stuff, we are still trying to build and grow the meat business. However, this is where I continue to struggle. How does one market themselves? This is a burning question and I seem to really struggle with that answer. In a world where people are looking for the cheapest or most convenient ways of doing things, how does one operate a small business? I'm not saying that we didn't do well for our first 6 months in operation, crazy to think its only been that long... BUT now I am struggling with just getting people into the door let alone to pull the trigger.
Being a stay at home mom with a small business that I really believe in, living in a town (actually downtown) you would think that people would be all about having that access to local meat basically in their backyard! But I can't get people in the door.
How does one advertise nowadays? I have done Facebook ads and while they "reach" x amount of people it doesn't equate to anyone purchasing meats. Want to shop online or give us suggestions? Check out our online store!
I know, I know... I'm complaining. Things that people have suggested doing like a giveaway (which we did!) or offering meat bundles (which hey, did you know we have meat bundles now? Beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and combination available!), don't seem to be of much help. One thing that we toyed with was shipping, but it just isn't very cost effective. Another was delivery! I don't currently offer delivery but I would if there was interest. I suggested a meat drop off day to my farmer's market email list, but that was a dead end. I don't know if my emails are being read or tossed into the SPAM folder from the gitgo.
So I guess my next question is, do you have a small business? How do you advertise or how did you advertise when you first started? I'm looking for direction.
As far as other news? I bought a little trailer for the business, we now accept PayPal for online meat purchases, and we're surviving!
10% of all sales this week will be going to the Heroes for Horses program at Out Side In, Inc.
The program helps area veterans with PTSD and various other mental health issues using equine assisted psychotherapy.
Any interest in delivery? Any advice? I would love to hear. Shoot me an email...
~Until Next Time