Corona Virus and the farm store

The last few weeks have been interesting to say the least. First, the world effectively goes crazy, then shuts down. We are just doing our thing, fat, dumb, and happy. I go get some milk and chicken, drop off a hog or two, pick up some pork. Tra la la, happy little farmer just doing normal stuff.

A truck load of porky goodness
A truck load of porky goodness

But Jeanette is placing bigger orders with our partner farms, like an order of magnitude bigger than we’ve done in the last year. And we are still selling out of stuff more than normal. I’m still kinda doing my thing, talking to our farmers, dropping off a cow at the processor, watching the stock market plummet, just merrily driving around and seeing everyone, dropping off animals and picking up meat. Everyone is sorta wide eyed or shaking their head at all that is going on, but everyone is still working, everyone is open. Farmers and their related businesses don’t have days off, and don’t stop. Animals have to eat every day, that is just part of being a farmer.

food for animals from the farmers market
Food for the animals on the farm

Then this week, we had about 3-4 times normal volume in the store on Wednesday. Wow. Jeanette is some sales lady, she really must have had somebody decide to stock up. Shame she’s gonna be off the rest of the week and the girls are gonna cover for her.

two business men looking at a chart with growth that goes off the top
Business is off the chart

I casually mention to the Mrs that she might want to grab any hamburger she needs for dinner this week because with these sales, I could see us running out of hamburger. Which is saying something because the last cow we processed was heavy on hamburger (read: we were well stocked), and our restaurant customer, Brew N Que isn’t really ordering any hamburger right now since everyone is shut down. Wifey grabs a few pounds of hamburger and a couple of gallons of milk for us before we open on Friday.

The Princess and Myla sweeping up
The Princess and Myla sweeping up

Friday the 11 year old, and her friend Eva work. They can run the register, but they aren’t the sales people that Jeanette is. We have to do a lot of educating of our customers. “Oh, yes we are out of that roast, but this roast can be substituted, no problem. It comes from the same primal.” Things like that. Don’t expect an 11 year old to know that level of detail. They have an even larger sales day than Jeanette did on Wednesday.

Girls playing apples to apples with Alarita
Crystal dealing out the next hand

Then Crystal works the store on Saturday and it is a huge sales day again. It wasn’t as big as Friday, but by this point, we are out of hamburger, out of milk, low on chicken, low on pork. You get the idea. It is hard to sell out of an empty basket.

Busy vintage telephone operator
A good problem to have

While all this is going on, my phone has been blowing up. In the past week, I’ve turned down the sale of at least 6 whole cows. Not everyone wants a whole. Some want 1/2. Some want 1/4. But if I add them up, it is at least that many cows. We only process 1 cow per month so we are talking about nearly half of our annual sales I’ve turned down. My answer to everyone is, “We are selling by the cut, in store only. ” They mostly go away with that response. The store and our regulars is our focus. I tell myself that as I watch tens of thousands of dollars go away.

I was at the beef processor (where we take cows to become steaks) and they were telling me that farmers are just backing up and dropping off cows with no notice. You see, it takes about 90-120 days to get on the schedule to have a cow processed. But farmers are getting so slammed for demand, they are desperate. I marveled at the audacity of someone making their demand problem the processors problem. You don’t just drop a cow off with no notice. That is a living animal and the people on the receiving end have to have a plan or the animal suffers. Luckily we keep a standing appointment with the processor every month so we are in and out like clockwork. Also luckily, we just processed about 900 lbs of pork because we are moving through some other stuff related to the pork products. And mainly because Jeanette told me to go process some pigs, she needed product!

New welcome sign and store entrance sign
New welcome sign and store entrance sign

We are just a little farm store, run by kids and one kindly lady who takes pity on us and works here. We are doing about 4-5 times normal business right now, and turning down sales on 1/2 and whole animals daily. Luckily everyone has been super nice, our regulars understand what we are going through, and our new people are just happy to find us in this dire time. I’m hauling more meat than ever, and I don’t see if changing in the next few weeks.

We are surprisingly well stocked for the level of business we are doing. We are going to do our dead level best to keep the store well stocked for everyone. But obviously we are going to run out of things. We do that even when things are slow.

Tuesday I will be picking up chicken, lamb, milk, and maybe some pork products. Friday I will be picking up a whole cow that we just processed replenishing our beef supply. Then next week, it will be chicken, milk, and pork.

Know that we are doing our best to keep you fed during these trying times.

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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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