When we moved out here to the boonies, we were very excited about a new lifestyle, more laid back, more self supporting, and possibly more economical. These past couple of years have definitely been a learning experience!
I don’t like to sweat -and am not that strong anymore- which is DH’s part in the farming aspect. Farming as a money maker is very low on the totem pole!!
When we started growing and selling hay – I was very excited- got a list of clients together- square bales for horses was not an untapped market out here – but round bales are the norm.
The first year was phenomenal! The hay was good, and so were the prices. The folks we met as new customers were wonderful.
Farming is totally dependent on the weather – the constant and unusual rain we’ve been having this year- kept the hay from being cut when it should have been – it went to seed – and now was only good for cow feed. The next cut we hoped would be fine, weather permitting – but we were hoping to get 2 or possibly 3 good cuts to sell to my horsey clients. As time progressed, I realized I’d be lucky if I get one good cut to sell, and the price may not be what we had hoped. That was supposed to pay for the barn DH built to store the hay in – but, what’s a little more debt!! LOL
As it turned out – the 2nd cut of hay was wonderful, it got square baled, and half way thru putting it on the wagon, as I mentioned in my last post, the rains came down! Strangely enough, the 3/4 inch of rain that fell in torrents here, appeared to have fallen nowhere else……………………… Go figure!! Mother Nature was sending us a personal message, I guess. Part of that message is don’t count yer chickens before they’re hatched!!!!
Last year, hay was great – and Georgia had the drought, people were coming up here to buy hay and bring it back down to Ga!! That didn’t happen this year! Prices are very low. I always tried to price my hay below market to keep it affordable for all.
For next year, we decided (altho it took a bit of convincing for me to agree!), we will just be doing round bales. Eventually, we will be physically unable to do all the stacking of square bales ourselves. It’s tough enough now! It doesn’t pay to hire someone to do it. The rounds can be easily lifted with the fork attachment on the tractor and stored in the hay barn. There is still the problem with rain, but we will work with that!! We have a local farmer who is willing and eager to buy all the rounds we can produce!
My other bright idea, in my new life as “agricultural queen” and queen of the home based business, was to sell at the Farmers Market. The Farmers Market in this small town, was not what I had hoped it would be.
My points of reference were the markets in the urban area we used to live in. Crowds of people, eager for whatever the vendors had to offer – and vendors selling out all that they brought!
This local market was tiny, and I felt it was a good way for me to test the waters, being a newbie at this. I read, researched, and felt I was ready. We met wonderful people, and it was a great experience on what sells and what doesn’t, in this area and this economy. I would probably have to drive alot farther to a much larger town market to sell out everything that I bring to market. The farmer who runs the small market told me – that if I was in this to make money, think again. He was right! I listened, but in my newbie enthusiasm, I figured I had products that would sell like crazy! Quite honestly, it is easier, less stressful, and far less work, (altho maybe not quite as rewarding) to sit home and list stuff on eBay, than it is to pick and wash produce, bake, wrap, be dependent on the weather again, drive into town and set up at the crack of early, and sit for several hours hoping people will show up and buy your goods. The camaraderie among the vendors is wonderful, and I learned alot from each of them, in their lifetimes of experience, but the money is not there in this small town, especially in these economic times.
I am happy enough now to be able to grow what I need to sustain the family, give away the extra to those who need it, put up food for over the winter, and feed my own horses with our own home grown hay.
In these past 3 years, I have learned quite a bit, and have a new appreciation for those who REALLY farm, and have been doing it for generations. The people who supply the food we eat – are really hard workers, and don’t get enough credit or money for the hard work that they do! When you walk into a supermarket and pick up a bag of lettuce, or some carrots, or a slab of beef, you don’t realize the work that was behind that head of lettuce getting to market!
Living out here, has really made me realize how things work – in the “real ” world!!!
Every day is a new day, at Mountain Meadows……………………..