Friday, March 18, 2011

Marketing School

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at the Stockman Grass Farmer's Marketing School in Mississippi with Joel Salatin, Allan Nation, Carolyn Nation and Wendy Gray. I was only able to be there for the first day so I didn't get the opportunity to hear all of the conference.

Carolyn's speech was really great. She touched on how to add a personal touch to direct marketing, from a woman's perspective. Those of you who subscribe to the Stockman Grass Farmer may have seen her "Women's Work" comlumn that she writes every issue. This is the first article that I read when it comes in the mail. I highly recommend it.  The Stockman Grass Farmer isn't just for farmers anymore. It has very interesting articles and ideas for anyone in direct marketing.

I acquired a copy of Carolyn's new marketing book - Marketing Grassfed Products Profitably. Carolyn presents her ideas about the psychology to marketing.  Some of the things that she has covered:
  • What you wear to make the best impression on your customers - including style, shoes and color.
  • How men and women think differently when it comes to buying.
  • How to market to a man if you are a woman.
  • How to market to a woman if you are a man.
  • How to make you a kid-friendly place, encouraging parents to bring their children.
  • Making your customer feel at ease with you and your products.
These are just a few of the many topics she has researched and shared.

The sections in this book include:
  1. First things first
  2. What are you selling?
  3. How much should you charge?
  4. Marketing - Make a Plan
  5. How to sell - Putting the customer first
  6. Where to sell
  7. Professionalism
Each of these sections have several chapters.  I think this book is going to be well worth the time!

I plan to read this book over the next month. Would any of you care to join me?
We can discuss our thoughts and ideas.  What we like and don't like about this book.  I'll post my review on it in about a month. Let me know if you are in and if you have any suggestions on the best way to discuss this.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chicks Are Here

Broiler chicks have arrived at Polyface Farm! Now that the chicks are here, it really feels like spring has begun. This is my first year overseeing the broiler operation, and it's exciting to begin raising the first batch of chicks.

The chicks will live in the brooder until three weeks of age, and then they will enjoy Polyface's green pasture until they are about eight weeks old.

What is happening at your home or farm to begin the new spring season?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Beginnings

 After 20 years of living in sunny California, my husband, Michael and I moved to rural Virginia 6 months ago. Wow! What a change and we welcome it. California is a very special place to us. So many incredible people and endless opportunities not to mention some of the best farmers markets in this country. With that said we have ventured into farming full time on a piece of property that is "to live for."The setting is 300 acres in pasture and 600 acres in forest. Long walks in the woods this winter became daily medicine. So many trees, so much oxygen! A family of geese start their morning song around 5:30 a.m. in the pond outback. Many might find this alarm clock disturbing but the change for us from city workers blowing leaf machines to the song of geese is welcoming. This is a birders paradise.
In our very small town we often get asked why we moved  from the "left" coast to Bath County, Virginia?  Well, we came for the experience with Polyface  and our deep desire to live on land has been manifesting at least 10 years. Surrounded by 2 National Forest  we can go days without seeing any other living "beings" other than the animals we shepherd. No freeway noise!  We enjoy trying to identify  different species of birds. The endless diversity of songbirds reminds me of a farm in a remote village in the mountains of  Bolgona, Italy where we woofed about five years ago. One afternoon we were working in the lavender field when we heard  the call of a cuckoo bird, it sounded just like the famous old clock. Ii was wild!Add Image
We felt summonded to experiment with small farming when we left Los Angelels 7 years ago for a farm apprenticeship in Maine and  have never looked back. Our  strong desire for a healthier lifestyle, helped us understand  that growing food and eating animals we raise has an indescribable quality that is clearly underestimated. 
Once our Maine apprenticeship ended  we returned to California. In our second move across the country we were introduced to  a strong permaculture  community.  In time, we found a piece of rental property and we began to create a small homestead.Add ImageAdd Image Add ImageOne of the best things about practicing permaculture is the wisdom to start small and observe land the first year before doing anything on a permanent basis. Each year  we added something more. Large garden,small pond, fruit trees, hens and ducks, compost, then broilers,  then turkeys, worm bin and bees.Add ImageAdd ImageStarting small allowed us to gain experience and kept us creating ways to make things more energy efficient. 
 What's really heartwarming for me is that  moving to Virginia has felt like coming home. The seasons, the slower pace, the people remind me so much of my hometown Ohio. I believe timing is everything. If anyone told me we would be living in Bath County Virginia two years ago I would have said, "you're crazy." And yet here we are, watching glorious pink and blue sunrises with the songs of geese and the cackle of our 500 hens nestled away in their winter hoop house. What more can a midwestern gal ask for?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

April and May's Book

Hey all,
It's time to start thinking about the next book for our book club. Any ideas from anyone? Please leave a comment with your suggestion.  We'll pick from there and move on.

Sheri here: I'm planning on reading Marketing Grassfed Products Profitably by Carolyn Nation next month. Would any of you be interested in this one?

Perhaps it would be better to do a book that has already been in print for a while so that you can get it from your local library.  :o)

Springin' Forward

Have you caught up on your sleep yet?

Most people are aware that the practice of Daylight Savings Time has its roots in agriculture, but few know the reason it was put into place. Since Ben Franklin first proposed it in 1784, the practice has had stops and starts – mostly leaving everybody confused about what time it actually was.
President Roosevelt signed DST into law for the duration of World War II, due to the tremendous government push for wartime Victory Gardens. The argument was that in order for every American to do their part and produce food on the home front, they would need extra daylight to come home from their day jobs and cultivate backyard gardens. Just about 20 million Americans got involved with the effort, and ended up producing the same amount of food during those years as the industrial farming systems of the time.

The practice of DST has stuck around, but the battle cry for victory gardens hasn’t remained as urgent since World War II ended. However, growing food at home – whether it be sprouting grains in a jar, keeping laying hens in the backyard, or planting fruit trees – makes a big difference. Fresh air, physical movement, and good food give a gratifying sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.
How are you going to use your extra hour of sunlight each day in the coming weeks?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lunatic Tours!!

All of us here at Polyface are so excited about spring!! The days get longer, the animals are back out on pasture and more and more visitors come to see the farm and to 'sit a spell' on the porch to drink in the beauty of our little slice of heaven right here in the Valley! Another sure sign of spring is our "Lunatic Tours"! It's a special 2 hour tour lead by either Joel or Daniel and is a firsthand view of the and why we do the things we do! These tours are perfect for bringing children along and all children ages 12 and under are free, so make it a family affair! Bring a picnic and spend a few hours with us! The farm store is open before and after to purchase products so bring your checkbook or cash - we don't accept credit/debit cards at this time! Follow this link to view dates and to make your plans to visit! We can't wait to see you!!

                            Here's a sneak peek of a few things you'll see.......

 Baby bunnies!!!



The happiest pigs on earth!!

 And....double trouble!

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