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hogs facing the camera
yellow apples on a branch


As of 2010, Cindy and Jeff were five years into poultry sales, which marked their formal entry into farming as a business. They’ve been on the path for much longer, however, and are excited to be realizing their vision statement (see Assessing & Planning > Business Planning). As Jeff likes to say, “It’s about progress, not perfection – and we’re making progress!” They are on the way to showing profitability with poultry sales, they’ve been managing communications and minimizing stress, and they are definitely seeing results in the health of the environment on their farm.

Ideas for the future include adding a commercial kitchen. They would be able to rent one in a church in Duluth first at very low cost to start evaluating the logistics and profitability of value-added fruit products, such as applesauce, jams, and jellies. They’re also always thinking about adding different plants and animals to their collection. They like exploring different fruit tree varieties and grafting options. They would like to explore expansion of different aspects of production for animals they already raise, such as breeding their own laying flock (as described under Production > Production Methods > Poultry) or farrowing hogs. Customers ask for other products such as beef and lamb, which may have good income potential down the road but which need more of a year-round time commitment, thus requiring at least one of them to have a different balance with off-farm work.

Jeff and Cindy have learned their share of lessons and now hope that their experience offers tips or useful models to other beginning farmers. Jeff’s “favorite mistake” was the day the pigs got out; he describes how they ran and ran through the field, looking so happy (he even swears they were giggling)! His initial concern subsided when they steered clear of the road. When they were done playing about 30 minutes later, they simply came back to their pen. On a more serious level, Cindy learned that when the books say, “Site selection is the most important part of any orchard” – they’re not kidding! And they both felt that raising Red Broilers in 2010 was an important example of how adjustments to their production system will be an ongoing challenge (see Production > Harvest & Processing > Poultry). Whether it’s establishing a now-thriving orchard or watching broiler productivity improve, they both look forward to further improvement on all fronts.

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