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Hope for Small Farms?



Colonel’s Blog, Earthdate 1 September 2023…

Hey Y’all!


Good evening and happy Fast-Jet Friday!! The pics today are of the Mighty-Mighty F-15E Strike Eagle flying low in Wales and performing a max performance climb after takeoff at Lakenheath, all this week. The weather is awesome again today and since it is September, we all chose to wear a jacket or hoodie during rounds this morning since it was in the low 50s. We refused to wear sleeves in August so were just a bit chilly yesterday! Wednesday and Thursday I beat up the roads hauling hay and Shelley hauling milk and eggs. The kind gentleman who sold us the hay offered to let us use his 40 foot gooseneck trailer which will hold 23 bales instead of our flatbed that will hold 10 bales. We graciously accepted and cut our trips in half. It still took the majority of the day Wednesday and Thursday to complete. There are pics of the long trailer, the short trailer, and the bales in a holding area until I can get them set on pallets for the long term. We loaded the chicken tractor on a trailer and moved it out of the bottom pasture, where the murderous raccoon decimated the last batch, into the pasture near the house. While I was hauling hay, Shelley and Makaylah moved the beef chicks into the tractor (pic). They are very happy to be on pasture! We lost 1 the first night as it got cool and they smashed it but overall, they are doing really well. We also lost 1 ewe lamb for no apparent reason. The “farm dogs” Tozer and Lucy decided to punish the ducks that were getting out of their area by eating them for breakfast and we’re now down 2 ducks. When we discovered them in the act this morning, they lost their privilege of roaming the farm and are now confined to a pen. We will get the ducks into a new area where we can charge the fence around them and then the dogs can roam again. It’s always something on a farm!


We discussed the finances of a small farm a bit on the podcast this week, but I wanted to revisit it. Farm sector income is forecast to fall in 2023, decreasing by 16%. Livestock farm expenses grew in 2022 by 18% and 2023 is expected to be higher. Sales for 2023 are expected to fall for milk (15%), hogs (3%), broiler chickens (7%), and eggs (24%) while cattle are expected to increase slightly (2%). Production expenses are forecast to increase by 4% and government payments (mainly to the large farms) will be less in 2023 than in the past 5 years. Overall, livestock and poultry expenses are forecast to rise 14%. What does this dire forecast mean for Air2Ground Farms? We’re not sure. We’ve only been doing this for 2 years and we are still figuring out what our expenses look like. We’ve only been selling products at the market for 5 months and online for about 8 months. We’ve made less than 20 online sales in total. That means we’re still not sure what our in’s and out’s look like. We know that the out’s have been greater than the in’s but see that trend slowing and starting to reverse. We believe there is hope. Thus, we are going all-in. We’re pursuing the Springfield Farmer’s Market, which offers year-round sales and will open a new market for us. We’re upping our lamb game and instead of 4 lambs processed this year, we plan to process over 20 next year. We had 1 beef for sale in 2022, and 2 in 2023. We plan to have 4 in 2024. We will process about 330 chickens this year and plan to double that next year and add cuts to the offering. Why do we believe we can make this successful? We are building a customer base that wants really good food and are happy with the products we offer. We think the customer base can grow as we have more product. We’ll see if there really is hope for the small farm!


Local Farm Report for 30 & 31 August 2023

Harvest:

41 Chicken eggs

22 Duck eggs

8 3/4 Gallons of milk


Cheers!

Psycho & Shelley

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rcgable
rcgable
04 sept 2023

Seems like you guys have a great perspective on why your doing this and willing to be flexible on the what’s and how’s of accomplishing it. I think you guys are also leveraging greater potential sources of income and advertising through things like this blog or you podcast. I think the other thing that you guys do well that is extremely important is relationships. You guys seem to be doing that well!


After listening to the podcast yesterday, the business discussion got me thinking about how you make several of the less profitable areas work so they are still available to you and the community you serve. Consider maybe assigning some of your costs across multiple business lines where it…

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Hey Robert! Thanks for your thoughts and insights. You are spot on regarding the enterprises that may not be as profitalbe but are still important. We're going to keep chugging along!

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Auntie Fiat
Auntie Fiat
02 sept 2023

Exciting news! Especially exciting knowing that Ava and surrounds are still your priority. 😍


After nearly 4 decades in the "business world", I can confidently say that the bane of profitability is most often a lack of understand where the "leakage" is.


Leakage is anything that impacts your margin...and as you can imagine, leakage is pervasive and often very well buried in an operation.


As entrepreneurs, you are in a strong position to identify the leakages.


Much like a disease without a diagnosis, it can be very difficult to reduce leakage you have not specifically identified and targeted.


You two are quite bright and attentive, so you are way ahead of the curve on this, no doubt! But like …

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Thanks for the tips regarding "leakage." It's interesting, the same day you typed this, I asked Shelley "where do we 'count' our plastic feed scoops?" There are lots of things that don't fit neatly into a specific enterprise category that just disappear in the bookkeeping. Thanks again!

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LABOR DAY SALE at the Ava Farmers Market tomorrow! 10% OFF all orders over $50! See y’all tomorrow!

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Mary Dickey
Mary Dickey
02 sept 2023

So will you do both farmer’s markets or just Springfield?

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Both. Our first priority is our Local Community of Ava.

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