Monday, August 17, 2015

We Started a Sheep Dairy

Two years ago we set out to start a sheep dairy. When we started the farm, we had two employees named Scott and Anna-Lisa. Anna-Lisa also had a full time job off the farm, so there wasn't much time at all for blogging. Fast forward two years later, Scott still works full time on the dairy, Anna-Lisa still works full time off the farm, but we've added an additional full time employee, so I finally have time to start sharing our story. 

I'll spare you the general overview of our experience and what we do, but if you want to read about it, our friends at Nevada Farm Bureau wrote a great story for their magazine:

A couple of disclaimers as I begin to transition this blog into writing mostly about our life and our farm:

1. T-Swift won't stop asking and you're probably wondering too, we are only in our second full year of business and no, we aren't out of the woods yet. However, our farm is very successful thus far.

2. We aren't expert business or farm consultants. I'm sure can find somebody to pay a ridiculous amount of money to fill that role if you think you need it.

Now let’s begin.

You started a sheep dairy?

My husband Scott is definitely the visionary of our household. He has an ability to see potential in things other people wouldn’t think twice about and I’ve known that about him the entire 8 years we’ve been together. So, it wasn’t difficult for me to agree to help him start a sheep dairy when the idea came up. He spent a couple years trying to figure it out and then it was time to pull the trigger. 
We left our cushy jobs in corporate America, moved to the Oasis of Nevada and did it.

So he got a loan through FSA’s young farmer program, rented an old dairy facility in his home town and bought a couple hundred sheep and we haven’t turned back since.
If you’re starting a business, here are some things I think you should keep in mind. 
  •  You don’t have any money. You need to live like that.
  • Your time isn’t worth that much money either. Anything you can in-source and do yourself is going to help you cash flow at the end of the year. 
  • You don’t need anything that’s new or nice. We feed our sheep with a pocket knife and pitchfork, hardly the capital investment you see on many dairy facilities. That wouldn’t work if we were milking cows, but it works for us. 
  • Learn how to be frugal. See number 1. Maybe at some point I’ll blog more about being frugal and what works for us.
  • You can’t stop believing that you will be successful. Even when it’s 10 degrees outside and you can’t feel your fingers and toes you can’t give up. It’s amazing what the body will do if the mind will let it. 
  • Team work makes the dream work.  I have ALWAYS worked off the farm, but that has never meant that I don’t pitch in and help at the dairy. (Some seasons more than others.) The same goes for Scott at home. He’s my best floor sweeper, chopper and breakfast chef!
Do you have a dream of something you’d like to achieve? You can do it! We were told over and over again that our idea was dumb and that it wouldn’t work. But guess what? We are heading into our third milking season and doing just fine. Most people who are negative and try to convince you that you’re not going to be successful are just jealous. They are going to talk about you no matter what, so you might as well give them something to talk about.