We seem to do this every year---we take a look at the farm and ask ourselves, "What is the goal for this year!" Last year, our crazy selves thought that taking on the world would be fun. We were going to add u-pick flowers and berries, a market garden, meat birds, reintroduce pigs, and add sheep for the first time...WHAT WERE WE THINKING!
Truthfully, we could chock last year up as a failure if we wanted to, because so much of this didn't go the way we planned. The raspberries were planted on day 1 of a historic drought, the ones that did come out of dormancy never really did much. The black raspberries though, did quite well---of course, we ordered 400 raspberries and 25 black raspberries. Sheep were stressful, mostly because we could never really figure out a good rotation process, and really the pig situation was similar.
Meat birds were the big success story. We did really well with those. 200 chickens and 45 turkeys and while there are tweaks to be made to our system, the quality was right where we wanted it.
So, now that we dissected a whole year of our lives in two paragraphs, what does that mean for next year?
Well, after our meeting last night, here are the highlights:
Do What We Do Better- We will be more efficient with our time. We now offer wholesale beef every other month--on even months. When we sell out, its a two-month wait, so get on the list early. Our process for feeding and watering meat birds will improve and get streamlined, and we will add sections of electric netting to our inventory so that we can more quickly move our animals in their rotations.
Don't Add Anything- The market garden will wait another year, and instead we will continue to coat the field in healthy soil so that our efforts will be more focused and effective. It will also give us time to get the employment program for the store more established, which will help us get the help we need for a market garden. The learning curve when we add new stuff cripples our growth with our bread-and-butter operations, so for this year we add nothing and get better at everything.
Infrastructure- We have now owned the property for nearly 3 years and have started to see the way our workflow happens start to steady itself out. That means that we can now semi-confidently start to throw roots down a little deeper. The challenge to this point was that permanence in any form meant barriers to change. Now that we have seen things calm down a bit, we can begin to codify it. This means new permanent fences, solid paths, a barn or two in the ground, and more repeatable processes.
Enjoy The Process- Last year we were hellbent on making a big step forward, and I think we did. but it came at a cost. This year, we will make incremental forward progress and enjoy the journey---a concept Dawn and I don't handle well. For our kids, for ourselves, for the quality of our product, and ultimately for you the customer, our year will be one that is less drive and more ride!
A year from now we'll see where we end up, but today I am confident that the farm will "look" similar in a year, but the the results will improve significantly.
Happy New Year to you and your family from everyone at Broken Yoke Ranch. Thanks for reading, thanks for following, and thanks for supporting what we do. We hope to see you here at some point this year!