Building a business has been a joy, a challenge, and often bittersweet. Some days I use skills from my previous profession, and I oscillate between missing it intensely and rejoicing that I have wide latitude in my days to learn and create. Our days begin before sun up (especially now that the kids are back in school) and end after the sun goes down. We continuously read, process, invent, build, scrap, and build again. Some days feel more successful than others. Some days, we can cross off items from a large, evolving to-do list – although most days we tend to add to it. Some days I only manage to keep our children fed and clothed (no small feat!), but feel intense guilt when I don’t “work”. Some days Todd spends his entire day by himself out at the farm, likely feeling intense guilt that he missed time with family. Some days it takes both Todd and myself to manage the house and family and it feels like we move backwards. But some days, we are SO productive and we end the day with high-fives and adult beverages. Butt slaps also are appropriate when you work with your spouse.
Building a business based on the health and well-being of living creatures has challenges that I wasn’t necessarily prepared for – we have herds, flocks, and hives under our care that we are trying to 1) keep alive and 2) build. We are simultaneously building multiple communities – our animal community, our customer community, and our professional community.
The animal community has so many working parts! We are slowly expanding and adding infrastructure, all with the ultimate goal of managing our animals to improve the health of our soils and grasses. We recently had a watering system installed that will allow us to move the cows on a daily basis to new, small paddocks. Todd has built two new styles of mobile coops for the chickens. He fashioned one coop for the laying hens using a flatbed trailer as the base and old barn tin for the sides. If I’m allowed to brag on my husband/business partner, I think it’s incredibly resourceful and charming! It features an automatic door with a light sensor and a fancy nesting box.
We recently moved most of our layers to this new coop, and they are on an official egg slow-down in protest of the change. Chickens, like most of us, have a hard time with change – but they will come around as they get used to their new home and expanded foraging grounds. Eventually this coop will follow the cows so that the chickens can eat the bugs the cows attract and leave behind. They will sanitize the pasture, and we will get eggs! Todd has also built a “hoop coop” using cattle panels and chicken wire based on plans from some folks that have been raising pastured chicken for quite some time (click here to see where we got it from). This coop will house our meat chickens, and moves quite a bit more easily than our current mobile coop. Our big dreams include an all-weather road and a small farm store/office where we can interact with our customers (you know, the people community!).
Speaking of building our people and customer community – if you’re still reading this, wow, thank you! I am so grateful for each of you that follows us, buys from us, encourages us, and comes out to see the animals and the farm. I love that we can be brought together through a desire for healthy, fresh food. I plan to start sharing how I cook our food (recipes, but nothing too exact – I am a lazy measure-er). If you follow me on Instagram (Prairierambler), you get to see the finished product and lots of farm pictures. If you don't follow me, please send me a request! As always, we love to hear from you on how you cook our chicken and eggs, or just to say hello! I also plan to give you guys updates on our cattle and bees soon – in just a couple of weeks we are doing some exciting things with our hives…so please stay tuned and look for updates!