reading time: 3 minutes
Michelle Cook A few years ago, I did a crazy thing. I quit my nearly six figure job to start a small farm. My husband kindly called it the “hippie plan.” Basically, I had laying hens, soap goats milk and a big garden. I would like to sell my wares at the local farmers market and supplement my income through my writing talents. And it worked! Until it did not happen. That’s the short story of what I learned.
I started with 13 laying hens, and by the end of the summer, I was consistently getting 12 eggs a day. Every Saturday, I’d go to the farmer’s market with a cooler full of beautiful brown eggs and within a few hours, I’d be completely sold out. I felt like the queen. I thought of all the naysayers as I proudly handed carton after carton of my farm fresh eggs for cold, hard cash. Then fall came.
End of farmer’s market season
In my part of the world, the farmers market is closed at the end of September. The excitement I felt at selling my eggs was blown away by the cool autumn breeze. However, the chickens didn’t realize I didn’t have any customers and kept pumping eggs, dozens of eggs that started piling up in my kitchen. I had eggs everywhere! When my husband went to visit family out of state, I sent him 17 dozen eggs.
“What am I going to do with all these eggs?” He asked me when I loaded a file.
“Give them to your mother, and her friends, give them to the guy standing in the corner. Just don’t come home with any eggs,” was my only response.
My biggest mistake
As the days shortened, the chickens slowed down a bit. They never stopped laying around, but gave me a minute to breathe and take a good look at my egg production business. Where did all those hungry customers go after the farmers market closed? Did they hibernate with bears?
I brought my problems to one of my best advisors, my dad. The first question he asked me had me hanging my head in shame, “Did you put anything on your egg carton so people could call you for more?”
Duh. “Ah, no dad, I didn’t.”
I failed to give all of these potential returning customers a way to contact me.
Finding My White Clients (Again)
After a month or so of slow egg production from the girls and some rethinking on my part, I was ready to start selling again. I started on my personal Facebook page and then placed an ad on our local Facebook yard sale page. The response was slow, but eventually my clients came back, and again, I was constantly selling eggs.
This time with a branded “call me” sticker.
Michelle Cook is a farmer, author, and communications specialist with the National Press Association. She raises chickens, goats, and vegetables on her small farm in the beautiful Alghany Mountains, Virginia. If she’s not tending to her farm outside, you can find her curled up in a chair with her nose stuck in a good book. You can find it at www.toesinthedirt.com