One of the many reasons we publish a weekly newsletter is to share our experience with those wanting to embark on a similar adventure. In my ideal world, there would be 100 times the number of people raising livestock and direct selling to their local communities. I’m a big proponent of decentralization – our money, our healthcare, our education, and, of course, our food. If you have been following us for a while, you know that we openly discuss both our successes and failures. Farming is not a glamorous occupation, and I don't want to give the impression that it is. As we reflect on the year 2022, I thought it would be useful to review some key statistics and milestones.
First the milestones:
We held our first Open House event and had a great time hosting many of you. We are looking forward to hosting another Open House in April 2023.
We had our first lambs born on the ranch. If you were able to attend our 2022 Open House, you were able to see it firsthand. We are still working on expanding our flock, so we hope to have many more lambs in the future.
We also had our first litter of pigs born on the ranch. Our sow gave birth to 11 piglets in the fall. Prior to this, we had been purchasing baby piglets from a local farmer.
We invested in our own grain mill and started milling our own feeds. This has enabling us to cut costs and have more control over our inputs. This has allowed us to reduce costs and have more control over the ingredients that go into the feed we provide to our animals.
Financially, we had a successful year. Our sales increased by 40% compared to the previous year. About half of this increase was due to inflation (price increases), while the other half was due to an increase in volume. We were able to achieve this increase by adding a few new markets and building a strong base of loyal customers (we hope you are one of them).
We sold over 4,000 lbs. of beef, 5000 lbs. of poultry (up 30%), 3,000 lbs. of pork (up 30%) and 500 lbs. of lamb. Of course, our costs increased as well. We struggled early in the year with bad chicken feed that costs me several thousands of dollars before I figured it out, and the drought this summer had me feeding hay in July! Compounding this, I was unable to harvest any of my own hay which means I had to buy all of it at elevated prices. The war in Europe, coupled with irresponsible governmental money printing in response to COVID 19 has driven ALL costs skyward. Diesel was especially impactful to farmers with prices reaching $5 per gallon (100% increase).
In an effort to combat inflation, we implemented several new strategies (some of which are mentioned above) to help us control our costs. This enabled us to finish the year in the black. All-in-all we’re making progress. We are continually reinvesting in the business with the goal to one day be able to leave my “off farm” corporate job. As of now, the farm is earning us about $15 per hour. That’s a long way away from being sustainable, but we are hopeful.
I see many promising trends that inspire me to continue to plow ahead:
The Central Texas region continues to grow. Samsung has broken ground on a $20B microprocessor facility in the adjacent town (Taylor) and many other businesses continue to look toward Central Texas to escape the East and West coasts. I expect this will bring many new customers into the area.
More and more people are interested in shopping local. I suspect COVID and the 2021 winter freeze has shined the light on the fragility of a globally sourced food system.
People are eating healthier. More folks are seeing through the decades of deception being foisted by big AG (partnered with our government) that animal proteins and fats are unhealthy. The internet in general, and social media especially, is equipping consumers with the knowledge they need to combat the propaganda.
In that same vein, people are questioning factory farming. There have been several movies and books (along with social media influencers) communicating the travesty of factor foods and the healing nature of regenerative farming. Concern for the environment has driven many consumers to find local, regenerative sources of high-quality foods. Giants like Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms) and Will Harris (White Oak Pastures) have been featured on many media outlets, and thousands of “small time” producers like me are getting airtime on social media and podcasts.
And most importantly, I am continually encouraged by your feedback. My heart swells when you sing our praises and share your recipes and pictures featuring our products. We are truly honored to be able to take part in the nourishments of your family. How could we NOT be hopeful with such great customers as yourself? As we all lift our glasses to 2022 and look toward the future, we give thanks to God for what we have, and put our faith in Him for a bountiful 2023.
The Pflugerville Pfarmers Market is closed until spring 2023. We will continue to bring pre-orders to the market location each week and we encourage you to visit our other market locations until the Pflugerville Pfarmers Market reopens.