A few days ago, we traveled to another farm to pick up a pastured Thanksgiving turkey. We’ve purchased poultry from this lady for a few years. I’ll call her Chicken Lady. Anyway, we got to see her operation firsthand, and hear her talk about what she has done to establish her farm.
Lessons Learned from Chicken Lady:
1. Attention to detail can save you a lot of money. Chicken Lady supervised the construction of her house on a daily basis. She kept the costs down by continually sorting all the lumber into piles by size, so that no extras were wasted by being cut into small pieces. And she saved all the extra pieces, and is still using them.
2. Don’t be too proud to dumpster dive. Many of her portable chicken houses were built of largely scavenged material.
3. Do what you enjoy, but know your limits. Chicken Lady has grown her farm to 1500 layers and 1500 broilers in the space of four years. She’s planning to cut back on the broilers next year because that’s a LOT of slaughtering. But she plans to do at least as many turkeys as before, because she likes turkeys.
4. Use the skills you had beforehand. Chicken Lady clearly has some skills in the construction trades, and she has put them to very good use on her farm.
I aspire to be like Chicken Lady in some of these ways over the next few years:
1. Attention to detail- My engineering training should help with this. I am a planner!
2. Scavenging materials- There are a variety of random construction materials around the farm. I need to remember to look there first when trying to build something.
3. Doing what I enjoy, but knowing the limits- I am really excited about farming, but I have a small child to raise. I have to budget my time and energy accordingly during this stage in my life.
4. Using the skills I had before- I have a background in Quality Systems. That will come in really useful for dealing with USDA organic certification, since it is just a type of Quality Management System.