What 2017 was like, and plans for 2018 part 4

And now our final part in this series

Events work

We showed in 2017 that we can produce large events here on the farm. We can get thousands of people on and off the farm with relatively little trouble. We have also demonstrated that we have a desirable location, being only 15 minutes from downtown Raleigh.

So what does that mean for 2018? I think events need to become a larger part of what we do. It is a natural fit for our advertising model. It’s something we can spool up for, have a big day, and then go back to our normal farming lifestyle. It’s something where we can choose the dates we are willing to be occupied and the days where we are already engaged. Events work for us.

So what do we need to do to have more events? First, we need an event coordinator. I don’t like putting on events. I don’t mean the event day itself, those are kind of fun. I don’t like all the logistics, the phone calls, the last minute changes, etc. If it is up to me to coordinate all that, we aren’t going to do events. Plus I’m married to a German by heritage, GE trained project manager. SWMBO is a force of nature. But because of that, my event planning skills have atrophied to the point of non-existence. That’s saying something since I’ve actually been President of two organizations that put on six figure events as their major event of the year. I do have pretty good experience, but that is all gone now.

In the past we’ve done some events in conjunction with other people who did events for a living. I think a partnership where we work with someone more formally would work. That’s a to do for 2018. If you know of anyone, please send them my way. People like that are always looking for venues and I’ve certainly turned enough of them down in the past. Now I need to hook up with them.

What kind of events? Maybe weddings? Corporate events?

Dinner on the lawn
The BBQ and Beer dinner underway. 

We did a beer and BBQ tasting event here once and that worked well. I don’t know, it will probably depend on who we work with.

Also, Lucy did a good job of spooling up the events we had in 2017. I think we can have some farm only events that are smaller but maybe more frequent. Maybe a few in the spring, and a few in the fall. Something to keep the farming thing going and out front because that is what we do primarily.

One last thought on events. If you’ve been here, you know that we primarily run this farm for the education of our kids. The Princess is not far from turning twelve, which means before I can blink she’ll be sixteen. When she’s sixteen, she’ll probably leave my employment and go get a job somewhere else. However, if we start doing events, then should would have four years of event planning experience when she’s sixteen. Definitely not as the primary, but certainly exposure to the process and experience with what it takes to be successful. When she starts working elsewhere, she can work her other job until we have an event day, then take the day off to help with the event. It lets her have her primary W2 pay for gas job, but also continue building her experience as an event planner.

Plus the three girls in the store on Saturdays is going to get old at some point. Eventually Wildflower needs to move up to cashier so where does The Princess work then? Events maybe?

Fast forward two more years. Do you think an eighteen year old with six years of event planning experience, and nine years of cashier experience is employable? Does she have something more on her college application than “played soccer?” A parents primary job is to work themselves out of a job. I’d say this plan could work.

Facilities

Lastly, we need to continue to improve our facilities here.

With the reduction in pig numbers in 2017, we are finally able to limit and hopefully in 2018 eliminate the hog smell from our pig paddocks. I turned down event opportunities in 2017 because I wasn’t comfortable with the smell. Come spring we’ll begin our first full paddock rotation since 2015, as we have multiple paddocks now laying fallow. Once we start the spring rotation, we can continue with our rotation program going forward and once that starts, that should be the end of the hog smell. It’s 99% gone now, I’m just looking for the last 1%. This was always the plan originally, but things didn’t work out as planned.

We added a second road on and off the farm in 2017. Since we have a one lane road it’s a bit difficult to have people egress when the traffic is flowing in. We make it work, and work well, but a second road and dedicated exit is preferable. It will need additional work in 2018 to make it usable by cars, but at least it’s usable by trucks and tractors at this point.

Lastly, we need to look at building another building here on the farm. I already have the spot picked, as well as the general plan for what we’ll build. What I haven’t done is decided that this is indeed the plan going forward. I also haven’t gotten quotes from builders so there is still quite a bit to do on that front. But it’s in the concept stage. Hopefully we’ll break ground in late 2018 or 2019.

All in all, 2017 was a very good year. Once again I am very thankful to all of our customers and supporters. For a small business, every single customer, referral, review, etc is critical.

I’m also thankful for all of our employees, both Miguel and Vicente as well as all the girls in the store.
Lastly I am thankful for all of our partner farmers. While the large percentage of what we sell is meat from our farm, we have a lot of partner farms that we proudly represent in our store. I don’t want to be in the chicken business (Hi Christy!) or the honey business (Hi Jennifer!) or any of the other businesses that we represent by carrying these products. I’d prefer to be good at what I do, and help lift up other farmers who are good at what they do.

We look forward to seeing you in 2018 where we already have some new opportunities that we’ll be announcing shortly so stay tuned.

 

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Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

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