Farm and Ranch Resiliency Award Application
Over the years our biggest challenge has been attracting new herd share members since we are constrained by state law from advertising. Through word of mouth, our loyal members have introduced our farm to new friends and families. Annual membership and monthly boarding fees bring in a steady, yet insufficient, income that helps keep the farm financially viable. We are always striving for new members, new markets and new products!
Our second biggest challenge has been how to increase our revenue stream as we are only allowed retail sales of our aged raw milk cheeses. This we overcame by procuring cheese making equipment and attracting cheese makers and volunteers to start producing an ever-expanding variety of cheeses to sell at local Farmers’ Markets and in retail stores.
Our third biggest challenge is finding volunteers and reliable help on the farm. It takes more than an owner/operator to manage the daily milking, run pasture irrigation lines and produce our herd share offerings of milk, cream, butter, kefir, buttermilk, yogurt and other non-dairy products such as eggs. Off-farm help is also a constant struggle; drivers are needed to make deliveries to our drop points around the state as well as personable, outgoing volunteers to sell at weekly Farmers’ Markets. We overcome this by keeping a positive attitude and not being shy in asking for help through our newsletter and monthly emails to members. We also take advantage of programs such as WWOFF and community partners like drug and alcohol local programs. We are able to barter our products as a thank-you for the help we get on or off the farm. We have found that being open, honest, and flexible plus offering superior products have kept the farm in business.
Financial challenges, in the form of necessary expenses, have a habit of popping up when least expected. Our cream separator, for instance, recently needed replacing as it was very old and unable to be repaired. There is very little demand for separators sized for a smaller operation such as ours, therefore, we had to purchase one from overseas.
Unfortunately, this new separator has not been able to handle our needs and has been disappointing in its lack of durability and ability to function properly and consistently. This challenge is still with us, though we have reached out to our members with this search for a separator that will meet our needs, searched online for hours as well as to inquiring with other dairies that separate on farm.
There is always a need for a wide range of talents: computer and website skills, people to research for equipment and suppliers, people to deliver, people to sell our cheeses, farm hands, equipment repairs, relief milkers, etc. How we face these challenges is through determination to keep supplying our very dedicated and supportive herd share members and being fair in all our dealings. We trust that our good reputation and our dedication to producing exceptional raw dairy products will bring what is needed to us. We have great relationships with many in our community, this helps keep us in operation.
Photo courtesy of Windy Acres Dairy.