“How much money could you make doing this? “
Oh, golly. The sky is the limit on could. Ask a more direct question.
“How much money do you make doing this?”
Well. Yeah. You see…we…um…not much. I see the potential. I know the market is there. I just have a hard time introducing myself to that market. We’re learning every day but we’re still in school.
You can do the math. We raised 900 birds on a little over an acre to an average of 5 pounds dressed. 4500 pounds of chicken sold at a minimum of $3/pound. Chicken feed isn’t free. Chicks aren’t free. Electric netting isn’t free. Land isn’t free. My time is worth something. So, we come out a little ahead on our season but we’re not getting rich.
We do better with pigs. Pigs need our attention for about 2 minutes/day, every day for 4 or 5 months. Then we load them into a trailer (which can be
hilarious frustrating interesting) and send them to town. We have annual pig revenues in the hundreds of dollars. Yup.
We’re small. Many of the things we do are just first efforts. We are still learning what works here. Yes, I have read Salatin’s Pastured Poultry Profit$: Net $25,000 in 6 months on 20 acres. My copy is pretty worn. Yes I have 20 acres. Yes I raise poultry. Yes, I have studied the 40 pages in that book on marketing. I agree with Salatin that sales are driven less by advertising and more by word of mouth. We have a superior product. Our customer feedback is positive. It just takes time to build sales…to get your name out there. This is our third year raising chicken and we are taking it slowly. We have to. It would be very easy to outstrip our sales with production. While we have always sold out on chicken and pork there is more than just numbers involved. We have to find ways to get the work done. Just doing the work is tiring. We could raise more chicken but when? I have no doubt we could raise more pigs but I don’t know how many more. We need time to figure it out.
Could I make my farm payment from the farm? No doubt. Could I make a living by farming alone? I don’t know. I suspect I could but I need more time. Time to learn. Time to market. Time to figure out what works. Time to try new things. Time to grow.
I have to learn about pasture management. I have to learn about seasonal changes, annual changes, multi-year drought management, low-stress livestock handling, water management, nutrient cycling, winter stockpile management, managing differences between North-facing slopes and South-facing slopes….you see where this is going? Orcharding, aquaculture, growing and marketing vegetables…on and on. It takes time to learn/try/recover from each. Time is not on my side but I have to resist the temptation to force something to happen. It has to grow. We have to move slowly.
Farming is a biological process. Biological processes take time. I could present you a business model that shows $X over X years but it would not be honest. There is a lot of work to do. There is a lot to learn. Things take time. You better get started now.