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I just need to have someone hear me. I am not feeling sorry for myself, I am just tired of trying. So here goes.

My husband and I live on a 6 acre farm. We have been here for 3 years. Everyone told us "Great! We used to sell eggs around here for $1.25 and people just wouldn't stop coming for them!" "Wonderful! Everyone wants to buy those wonderful farm-raised cornish x broilers!" "Fabulous! We love fresh rabbit!"

Uh-huh.

Well, we have sold probably about 40 dozen eggs in the whole 3 years we have been here. We are getting 8 dozen eggs a day, have advertised in the papers for them, we give them away at church every week, can't even sell them for 50 cents a dozen.

Chickens. We have now raised nearly 400 in the last 2 years. How many sold? About 75. Gave away lots of people in the church last Christmas and have eaten tons of chicken. We have 106 that will be butchered in about 3 weeks.

Rabbits? Probably sold about 18 for meat. That's at $8 a rabbit, dressed, and cut up.

We are going downhill fast. Our 3 steers will be going in the freezer here soon. No one wants half or every a quarter (they are jerseys, but hey, they are meat).

We have sold 5 potbellied pigs.

I am just to the point of throwing up my hands, well, just throwing up would be a better way to put it.

We also raise boer goats, german shepherd dogs, and have a burro and 2 hinnies.

I am having to work nearly 14 hours a day at a job I hate, and my husband is a pastor and busy all the time. We have about 30 members in our church, so no real salary for him, only a part time salary and his social security.

Needless to say, most of our critters (that we can fit) are going to freezer camp as soon as possible. I seriously doubt we will ever try to build back up. We kind of figure, what's the point. We have asked and asked and asked for farm helpers, have a mobile home for them to live in, rent free, no utilities, only thing they would have to pay for is cable TV and phone if they want them (we don't have TV, only videos that we own). They wouldn't even have to purchase most of their food, and they would have a small salary on top of it. Nothing.

Our farm is the original money pit, and it makes nothing to give back to us. Its just really tiring.

Well, thanks for listening.
 

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Years ago I tried selling produce and stuff I raised, found it to be about as you describe. Decided to work a job keep the farm and do it as a second job untill I retired. We sell very little of the huge amouint we raise. We raise about 90 percent of what we eat. Even that cost more to raise in time and effort than we could buy it for if we worked at a job and took the money and just quit the farm. Its just the way it is. My opinion, my experience, but I'm still a homesteader.
 

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It is disappointing to work so hard and find less than stellar interest in your products. Are there any health food stores or natural food groceries around? I used to sell all the eggs I could bring them, until the produce manager started restricting his hours to daytime, meaning I couldn't get there when he was there due to my work schedule.
Also, check out whether there are any contacts for the Slow Food movement in the vicinity, some restaurants are starting to want real food for their chefs, rather then mass-produced factory farmed eggs/meat/produce.
My hubby filled in for our pastor for awhile, I know what you mean about being on call all the time. People need their pastor available, but often don't realize that everyone else at church needs him as well, often at the same time.
And sometimes, it just helps to look at the issue and give yourself permission to change course, downsize the critters, and ask the Lord what new direction to take.
No wonder you're worn out, good grief, washing 8 doz. eggs a day plus everything else, makes me tired to think about it. Maybe give yourself a jubilee (OT reference)
month, year, whatever it takes to recharge.
Or have a cup of tea. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
We tried to figure a way to sell to restaurants, stores, etc. However, the laws are so restrictive here in Iowa that we can't do it. We have to be able to have a candling facility, have grading practices, and our water has to have a chlorinator added which is about $1000. We are getting on rural water next spring, but that also will cost about $500, which we can't afford either.

Problem is we have so many medical bills that we can't afford not to keep every speck of work we have and need more as well. Oh, I forgot to mention, we have 16 canoes that we rent from time to time as well, so we do get a little money from that, more this year than the last couple of years, but even so, its hard to keep mind and body together.

Yeah, a cup of tea is what it will have to be. No way to stop for a vacation right now. Hubby was in hospital 3 times in 3 weeks this spring, which totally killed the garden. It has 6 foot tall weeds in it now; however, can't let the goats in there because he planted a 100 plant asparagus bed, this year, before the hospital trips started and they all took off. I sure hope we can sell some asparagus next year, otherwise, we'll be freezing/eating a lot of that.

You know, I don't mind giving stuff to people, especially if they are kids and the parents are working and trying to make it, but man, it would be nice if someone would offer to come and help just a little bit or say hey, would you like dollar to help with the feed for the chickens for those 6 dozen eggs you just gave me?

I just feel used up. I can't figure out how so many people are actually making it doing this and some can even turn it into their full time jobs. How is that possible? I just don't understand.
 

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If you are not selling anything and working a job you hate, I would sell off or butcher all your excess animals - keeping just enough for your family only. You would save a ton in feed and vet bills. Also, just grow what your own family can take care of and eat. Why work 14 hrs. a day, at a job you hate, to feed everyone else in the neighborhood or in your congregation for FREE??? It's NOT free to YOU - you are footing the bill to feed others when they can't even chip in for feed or help with the care....Doesn't seem smart to ME! You would be better off staying home, caring for your family and preserving your own food etc. than resenting the life you live now. Think about it - can you make a change? How does your husband feel about the problem?
 

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i really don't understand the mentallity of some folks. i feel your pain. so many folks i know would prefer to spend the same amount of money at the grocery store than to give their business to me. i consider selling berries and veggies... perhaps the occassional bar of homemade soap, but i would have to have facilities to sell to people i don't know and to establish a market seperate from folks i know. perhaps that means selling at a farmer's market or something. all i know is that the people i know would gladly accept anything for free or at a signifigant discount, but they just will not pay fair prices to me for anything. it is kind of the same way with giving garden produce to my family. they will accept free food anytime, but ask for a little help in the garden and they just plain have no interest.

perhaps you could look into farmer's markets...and of course all of the responsibility that comes with them, like a tax number etc. keep looking for a farm hand. i am sure there is someone out there who will help you. for goodness sake, it would surely help them too. maybe you could find help from an ag college student who needs a roof and some experience.
 

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((((((Dunroven)))))) you keep your chin up hon. I'll be keeping you in my prayers. You could still sell your meat to the meat lockers if you could make arrangements with them. Then they could sell to the restaurants. Or you could make arrangements with the restaurants directly and let them contact the locker of their choice (which you'd deliver to).

We only raise enough to feed ourselves because we've had the same problem... I can't understand why people aren't interested in buying half a beef or a quarter. Seems really odd to me.

I used to be able to sell my eggs at work for $1/doz - all I could get. Now that I'm no longer working in the office, I've lost my customers. :( I miss that... at least it was paying for their feed and straw, plus giving us all the eggs we could use.

When we got our place, we decided we'd start slow, and only take on one new project at a time. No going further in debt for anything. That's really been a lifesaver for us.

May God bless you and provide you with the answers you need.
 

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Steers, check with butcher shops, slaughter houses and the market. I would check with country stores,most of them buy eggs like everyone else. perhaps if you could give them a small discount, and asure them you will be in business tomorrow,Idon't see why they would'nt put your eggs on top of their list. Good Luck :)
 

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We buy whole hogs from a farmer that will haul it to the meat processing plant. He charges $100 per hog. They usually weigh about 225.

Our weekly auction sells peoples farm eggs. They bring at least a dollar a dozen and sometimes more. One lady auctions off her organic grown veggies.

There is a farmers mkt that is open in our town 2 days a week.

We sell our calves from our cows at the cattle auction.

You need to quit giving the eggs and chickens away. If nothing else barter for them. Can you take them to a town other than the one you live and set up? Is there a local flea mkt where you can sell?

Sounds like a good sermon for your husband to do, incorporating the giving of items with no return.
 

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bummer.

do none of these people you give he meat away to offer you any money in trade.... if they know how bad its going?

funny how good people will take stuff off a farmer whos going down the tubes
"just to take it off your hands", and not bother to say "I have to buy chicken anyway, heres 50% of retail thanks for the deal!

after the first few unreciprocated hand outs, I'd donate the chickens to the zoo for gator food. taking surplus off a farmer dude whos problem is, he cant sell the stuff (oh but youll take it and eat it wont you?) is just obscene.

they see you having problems and dont even care enough to not buy store chickens and eggs but go be the neighbors customer..... they should go hungry.

I know, I'm a meanie.
 

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sorry you're having such troubles. and sorry the folks that accept all the free eggs and meat are so unsupportive.

i don't think very many people are doing this full time, from what i've read in this forum in the past. i buy some of my produce at the local farmers market, and i think there's only 1 family that makes their primary income from their farm, and they survive on about $12k/yr. just about everyone else has someone working off the farm, or is living on savings/investments, or has a pension of some sort.

have you been successful before selling these items? you mention being on your present farm for 3 years, but from all the different animals you've raised, i'm guessing this ain't your first rodeo. were you doing the same thing before, and then moved to a new location? or did you accumulate your experience over years in bits and pieces, and are now trying to use all those skills at the same time? or was the farm already producing and selling all these products when you bought it and took it over from someone else?

sounds like you have a marketing problem, and having an extra hand around the farm would add to your expenses, without adding to your income, unless you can use the free time to find a product that people will buy.

is there a larger city within a reasonable drive? i live about 35 miles from a much larger city, and i know the prices at the farmers market there are much higher than where i am, as there are more high-income people there.

it sounds like you know the "how-to" part of a variety of animals. i'd suggest cutting back on the scale of what you're doing, saving the feed/input costs, and use the freed up time to try to find someone to buy something you know how to raise. once you have a real market, you can expand as fast as your market does.

from my reading of this forum, it think there's a large number of people that are trying to figure out how to make it work, and very few that have any answers.

best wishes for finding a solution, and let us know how it goes.

--sgl
 

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My sister and her husband raise goats and a few other things. They take what they want to sell to a auction every weekend. Some times things sell great some times they bring it back home. But at least most times they sell it off. You might check if they have a auction house around you some place.
 

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dunroven,

First thing I would do is take a step back and take a moment to think about the things you do have. You live in the country for one. :dance: And have the opportunity to work with animals every day. It is a lot of work, but provides a level of peace I couldn't find living in the city.

I coached baseball for about 10 years when I lived in the city. One game the other coach came over during the game and said, "you win, I've got to forfeit." "Why?" I asked. Believe it or not he said I got two kids who refuse to play. :shrug: (we we're beating pretty badly at the time). I told him to give it a minute as I walked over to the first base coach box. I found them horse playing in the dugout. I said, "you know somewhere right now there's a kid in a wheelchair who would give anything just to play this game, and it's a shame two healthy kids like yourselves take it for granted." After a moment of silence both grabbed their gloves and ran on the field.

One thing I enjoy about life is everyday there's a chance for change. If I didn't like yesterday I'll try to make today better. If you hate your job and it affects your quality of life the only advice I can give you is to look for another one. It may be hard, and you might even have to take a pay cut. But quality of life is worth as much as six figures to me. My wife took a half a pay cut to take the job she found locally. She's never been happier, and doesn't have to drive 45 miles to work everyday.

Hope things start looking up for you. Remember positive thoughts! You've got friends on HT.

GR
 

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How upsetting for you and your hubby. You will be in my prayers.

Something I wanted to mention is the possibility of Farmers Market. Do you have something like that in your area? That is where I have always sold all my "extras" plus my goat milk soap and lotions. Last summer it was my only real income since the place I normally work in the summer didn't hire anyone on because of the drought. something else I have done different this year and this is also partly becase of the drought and shortage of hay last year - is that I carefully went through my animals and decided what to keep and what needed new homes. For me it came down to the bottom dollar. The sheep went down the road because for me - the goats are a better money maker since I do soap and lotion sales. The kids and I are only raising 2 bottle calves this year using the extra goat milk and we plan on with selling the extra calf or using it to bater for feed oats with a neighbor who only raises crops. I cut back to 15 chickens after figuring the time, feed and energy involved in selling eggs didn't figure out as profit. Besides they are giving us enough that we are still able to share with some good friends of ours. Something else I will be doing this summer will be selling hand woven rugs at FM. I am hoping that goes okay. I still drive a old suburban - the big blue bus as eeryone calls it, but it runs well and can get the children and I where we need to go. (Didi I mention that I have 4 children, 13, 7, 5, and 4?) We don't have a lot - but we are happy. And yes - I have to work off the farm. It isn't bad - the people I work with are good, kind folks and honestly it is probably one of the better positions in the communtiy - so I am not complaining. (Amazing story about how I feel into this situation! But that is for another day.)

Things will get better - they always do. In the mean time - keep your head up! And know that there are people who are here for you to lean on! :)
 

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You've gotten a Lot of good advice and a Lot of sympathy.
My advice is right in the Scriptures. "Seek and ye shall find"......This isn't in the Scriptures but it should be "Don't seek and you starve"

You have beef, eggs, rabbits, etc to sell. Believe me, there are people who want and need them at good price. You need to get in touch with them. That's called business. It's a shame that business gets in the way of having fun on the farm but that's just the way it is.

Pick an office building. Go in with cards or flyer's. Talk to the receptionist (they're always gabby) and tell her what you have to sell. Tell her how much money they will save. Skip the healthy part.

GIVE HER SOMETHING WITH YOUR PHONE NUMBER AND SOME PRICES!!!!!!

The next chance you have, go into another office. When you get car parts, do the same thing.

There is a big market for your produce. You just need to connect the dots.

Quit giving the stuff out. Being a Christian involves helping those that need it, not supplying all the freeloaders around.

Try this and don't give up. It will work. You won't get rich but you will maintain.

That's my advice. You don't need sympathy. Good luck !
 

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I'm with Peter. Marketing is *everything*, in every business. You have to be very clear in asking for what you want and need.

Please don't be upset that when you give away free food, people don't think to volunteer to give you something in return. It doesn't work that way, you have to say out loud, "I have these eggs that are worth $1.25/doz, although if you don't have cash I'm willing to accept (work at my place, a jar of preserves, whatever) in return. That will help both our families."

Also be aware that no one will want to buy from you that knows you give the stuff away for free to other folks -- it will make them feel like a chump, or that you don't like them personally.

Do look for a large town farmers market on Saturdays, and post flyers in the lunchrooms of large office buildings. Hand out flyers and business cards to strangers you meet.

Scale down to one project and learn how to market just that one thing. Rabbits and chickens and eggs can be stored and used by more people. For the rabbit, include a recipe on the flyer to help someone imagine how to use it.

Read this book: Guerilla Marketing. It will really help. And good luck!
 

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For two or three weeks I would take no eggs to church to give away. It shouldn't take long for those that are used to getting them to find out what they cost at the store.

If they inquire about their "free eggs" I would simply say that to recover some of the feed cost we decided to feed them to the other animals to save on feed costs for them---or we are trying to recover some of the cost of the feed so are using them for fertilizer in our garden.

Dump them or do whatever you need to, but stop giving them away. If people don't ask about their "free eggs" then take the hint that they didn't want them in the first place.
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As to answering the other questions about why people don't want to buy a quarter or half a beef these are my thoughts.

#1 Often the beef you raise doesn't taste the same as what is purchased from a store. Feed rations are different, etc. and it simply doesn't taste the same. Some may have better beef, but it still isn't the same.

#2 Many folk in this paycheck to paycheck world simply can't come up with buying in quantity all at once.

#3 In this modern society I wonder how many really have a freezer in which to store a quarter or a half?

#4 The buyer gets cuts of meat that they normally wouldn't buy and don't know how to cook. That makes the rest of the cuts cost more per pound in essence.

#5 When the processor asks them what cuts they want and what size of packages they want many wouldn't have a clue.

#6 Buyers are at your mercy as to when they can get more beef. How much they use and need more and when butchering is may be vastly different.

That translates to control of quality, funds, ease of purchase, storage, etc. Yes, I can understand why people don't buy quarters or halves of beef.
 
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