I get this all the time.
“So, Chris, my 14 year-old daughter just watched Food Inc. Now she’s not eating. How much are your eggs?”
“Chris, we just started this new diet (Paleo, Zone, Sally Fallon…you name it) and need a source of clean food. Do you sell eggs?”
“Chris, my sisters are coming in town this weekend and we are hoping to do a bunch of baking. Can you get me 3 dozen extra?”
Well, shoot. Our eggs are $4 (that’s $0.50 less than an inferior egg costs at Walmart!) but I’m afraid I can’t take new customers until Spring. I would love to publish more on the topic of working to lower food costs and prices but for now, see what Salatin had to say about it in his speech about going full-time.
I sell a better egg than you can buy anywhere at a better price than you can find in a store. Consequently I don’t have enough eggs. Any chicken owner will tell you that egg availability changes through the year. In the spring we are swimming in eggs. In the heat of the summer the girls slow down (understandably) and heading into fall they molt. We’re in the lean times and it will get worse before it gets better. To account for this, most chicken owners start pullets in the spring so they begin laying in the fall. That way when the older hens molt they can be retired (either to the freezer or to Craig’s List) and the new hens will pick up the slack through the winter. I realize I’m not using specifics here but I’m just relating a general trend.
I failed. Our spring was so busy I just couldn’t raise pullets. My travel schedule, my work schedule, the endless amount of work the farm requires of us…I couldn’t get it all done in the spring. Something had to give. Since I didn’t sow, I don’t get to reap. No pullets? No eggs. Not only can’t I accept new customers, I’m struggling to satisfy the demands of my existing customers. I should have ordered pullets in the spring…like we always have.
Chalk this one up as a mistake we will work to avoid going forward. If you focus on making a quality product, customers will find you. You need to anticipate and accommodate that demand. I could have put down a book one evening late last winter and gotten everything ready for a few hundred chicks. I just didn’t. As a consequence, I’m missing an opportunity to feed more people. Lesson learned.