We are selling our farm….

Post image for We are selling our farm….

by brenda on August 1, 2013

This is a picture of our backyard when we first purchased our farm. It’s different now–there’s a big fenced garden, and a fire pit, and chicken tractors out in the field…It’s beautiful land…

How do I start? This is such a big change in our life….

This is our fourth summer raising chickens, hogs, turkeys, ducks, and geese. We raise our meat with a no-soy, no-corn, non-GMO feed (we used to use a completely organic feed, but it’s no longer available). We produce an amazing product. The people who try our food come back for more, and they always give compliments. I have never tasted chicken as amazing as ours. No store-bought chicken makes the dark yellow, nutrient-dense broth that our chicken makes.

And we love farming. We love the animals. I love the sounds of baby turkeys outside my bedroom window. I even love seeing the neighbor’s cows escape and walk right past me, heading for my fruit trees! I love the view (we are up on a hill, and we see the valley) below. I love the free ranging geese that go wherever they want to go (and poop wherever they want to). I loved the ducks (and now I love them in my freezer!) and hoped to get laying ducks this year. My husband loves doing the work–it is good work. It feels good, like we’re making a difference, even if it’s only a tiny difference, in the world. I love the ability to dream on this farm. I am a visionary, and I can dream up whatever ideas I want on this property. Maybe we’ll build a camp? A petting zoo? A boarding school for challenging kids? The possibilities are endless! Even if they never come true, I’ve loved the ability to dream here.

This March, my husband quit his full-time job to come home and work the farm. We have a child with really challenging behaviors, and for that child to heal, we both needed to be here. And having my husband here on the farm has helped that child a lot! We really hoped that the farm could sustain us. We analyzed spreadsheets of expenses and profits, etc. We had a really good plan.

Farming is an unpredictable job. Everything cost more than we thought it would. We made mistakes and then had to pay to repair the mistakes. In farming, if you make mistakes, animals might die. When you make mistakes, you have to fix them. Farming can be so expensive. And, unfortunately, the sales have not been as high as we anticipated. We’ve sold a few hundred broiler chickens per summer in the past. We thought that if we did farmer’s markets and acquired a larger customer base, we could sell 3,000 chickens this summer. That was our goal. We didn’t. We held off on ordering 3,000 chicks (praise God we did!) because the orders just weren’t coming in like we thought they would. We have raised, I think, somewhere around 800 birds this summer (some are still on pasture). We have sold hundreds, but still, not enough to support our family….

We also sell pork, beef, raw milk, ducks, geese and turkeys. We are raising 50 Thanksgiving turkeys and told people that we were taking deposits to reserve a turkey for this Thanksgiving. We got 2 deposits. What is a farmer supposed to do with 48 extra turkeys that nobody buys? :(

Our feed cost went up this year, too. It was around .49 per pound and now it is .55. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it really does add up. And since our price-list is all based on the .49/lb feed, that just reduces our income.

At the farmer’s market, we see people like this:

1. People who look pretty fit, like they care about their health. Half of them stop at our booth, and maybe 3/4 of those people buy. The other half of those people tell us that they’re vegetarian.

2. Average looking people who may or may not stop. If they try a sample, they suddenly want to buy our chicken, because it really is a good product–until we tell them that it’s, on sale (meaning, little to no income for us), a $17 chicken, even at only 3.5 lbs. Yesterday, a lady, who had her money out and was about to buy, said “$17 for that?” and then she put her money back in her wallet. I wanted to cry…

3. People who look unhealthy. They are good customers for the kettle corn booth, the snow cone stand, and maybe the berry vendors, but they don’t stop or even look at our booth. They might stop for free samples, but they never buy.

The people under #1 tell us “you’re doing a good thing!” and “keep up the good work!” and “I wish there were more farmers doing what you’re doing!”

We explain why we don’t feed our animals soy, and there are so many people who say they “get it.” We sell at a hospital farmer’s market, and we’ve had a cancer researcher say that the estrogen properties in the soy are promoting the growth of tumors. I knew that from my own studies–but a cancer researcher at the top medical school in our state told me that!! We are raising a GOOD product! Our meat is the only meat that I know of that does not promote the growth of tumorsThat is AMAZING! We feel good about that! And yet….we aren’t selling enough. Even on the meat we are selling, we aren’t making enough. We probably should charge more per pound. I was calculating our hours at the farmer’s market, too, and thinking, for a fair wage, for the labor of raising our chicken and the labor of setting up the farmer’s market booth every week, our chicken should be $11 per pound. Yup. I wonder who would pay $38.50 for a 3.5 lb chicken??

We left the farmer’s market, discouraged, the other day, and drove past a sign that said whole fryers were .97 per lb. That is why people are not buying our meat. As long as chicken farmers pack thousands of birds into dark stinky buildings and feed them the garbage from the processed food industry, there will always be people who buy .97/lb chicken and people who scoff at our prices. They’ll, unfortunately, be unknowingly encouraging cancer growth in their bodies, too…

I know that if we stuck it out and just waited, eventually, people might get it. Maybe. But for now, there are the bills. If we didn’t have a mortgage on our farm, maybe we could make it. And if we didn’t take out debt to start the farm business (which we had to do), maybe we could make it. But we can’t.

My husband is applying for work again. We have to be able to pay the mortgage and the bills. We thought, perhaps he could work through the winter and then farm in the spring/summer, like so many farmers do. The problem with raising meat is that every spring we need at least $20-30,000 to invest in animals and feed for the season. And next Spring, unless we get a surprise lump sum of money (not likely!), we won’t have that. Every ton of feed costs about $1,000. We have ordered many, many tons of feed this spring and summer. One batch of 100 turkeys (at a really great deal) cost us $500. Many of them died this year. Farming is SO expensive!!!

The type of work my husband does is not close to our home. He drives 45 minutes to an hour each way, depending on traffic. He used to be able to go in early and leave at 3 pm, and he would miss rush hour traffic and have a long evening with us (and to do all of the farm chores). His work got more and more intense, over the last year or so. He was needing to go to meetings later in the day & he had to work longer hours. He was leaving our home in the dark, and coming home in the dark. He was doing his farm chores with a headlamp on, in the dark. We did not have as much family time as we would have liked.

Like I said, he quit his job in March, and our goal was to make a living at full-time farming. I know there are scoffers out there who say you can’t. And my response is: that is just wrong. It is wrong that the people who provide the healthiest foods–the foods that sustain us and keep us going–cannot make a living at raising food alone. Why should the people who grow our food have to work MORE than the average person? They work much longer hours, with little thanks, and they get paid LESS. It is wrong. To the lady who scoffed at our $17 chicken, and anyone else out there who thinks that price is outrageous–I want to ask, how much do they make per hour and what do they do? Is their job sustaining the lives of people? I can’t think of a more important job in the whole wide world than growing people’s food (other than being a mom!). Growing people’s food is a very important job, and yet, it pays so POORLY. It’s wrong. I want to change that system. But it’s really hard to do, being the farmer, and trying to make a living….

We came to a point where we had to make a decision. My husband has to go to work again, there is no question about that. Our decision was:

  • Do we continue on, farming, while he works 9+ hour days and commutes 2 hours? Do we keep sacrificing our family time? What is more important to us, good food (the best!), or time together as a family?
  • Do we continue farming, knowing that it barely pays for itself, and this is just a “hobby” that we keep pouring our money into?
  • Do we continue farming when we know that we won’t be able to invest enough into raising many animals next Spring?
  • Do we continue farming when it’s so difficult to find customers to pay the real cost of real food?
  • Do we continue to rack up debt on this farm, hoping that someday it will pay off?

The first point is really the most important one to us. We don’t want to sacrifice our time together for anything–not even the best food in the world. If we could farm and be together (I have LOVED having my husband home for all 3 meals!) and make a reasonable income, we would do it. But we can’t. :(

We are selling our farm so that we can spend tie together as a family. There is grieving with this. If we live in a neighborhood, we will never again find that a mama chick hatched 15 baby chicks in our backyard. I will never be able to talk to the geese as they walk past my kitchen window again (yes, I talk to our geese). We will never again see the looks on a customer’s face when they say that they tried our pork last week and it was AMAZING and tender, and juicy, and unlike any other pork they’ve ever eaten. We love producing good food.

We LOVE the farmer’s market experience. We will never again be able to set up a booth at the farmer’s markets and meet some of the best people in the world. Farmer’s are amazing people–really. We have loved the vendors we have met at the markets this year. Generous, caring, friendly people who are working hard and sacrificing so much to feed people. We will never be able to set up our booth again–our family has become quite skilled at putting up the white 10×10 tent, setting up the tables, etc. Our boys play board games behind the tent while our daughter “reads” chapter books (she loves to feel like a big kid) and my husband and I try to sell our food. Every week, the kids bring the money they earned (even if it’s only a few quarters for taking on extra chores) and they buy honey sticks, and other treats at the market. We walk over to the park for a bit while my husband manages the booth, and I let the kids run through the water, so that when we’re sitting at our booth in the heat, they can stay cool. When the market is over, we take down the tent and pack everything in the van. As other vendors are closing down, they often give away their perishables. I get bouquets of flowers, often, from a sweet young couple who sells near us at both markets. One vendor, a Mexican woman who recognized our adopted son as “a Mexican baby” (he’s 9) right away, gives us so much free food every week. She tells us over and over, “you are good people,” while she gives us bags full of green beans, tomatillos, onions, squash and cilantro. She, and her daughters who are also at the market, have blessed me and encouraged me so much. I love the market. My husband asked me yesterday, if I’d ever get tired of it–if I felt tired yet? If setting up the booth every week, multiple times per week, and sitting there for hours and then tearing it all down again was wearing on me? I said no–and I don’t think it ever would. I love it. He said he felt the same way. But we won’t be doing that again…

We are grieving. This is a loss. Really, a loss. But we’re not done yet…I think we needed this season of growing food, seeing what farmers go through, to understand it. We are passionate about supporting small farmers and telling everyone about the cost of raising good food–and that meat in the grocery store is not good for anyone (the animal, the eater, the farmer–anyone). I feel strongly that I am supposed to be an advocate–a voice for the farmers. And, I plan to continue on in that role. But I won’t be “The Farmer’s Wife” anymore, when we don’t have a farm. “The Software Test Manger’s Wife” doesn’t have the same ring, does it? ;)

I still plan to write. I think I could write an entire book about our time on the farm and what we’ve learned. I hope you will keep reading, even when we are not farming any more…

Please go support your local farmers. They need you!

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  • Katherine Kelley

    I am so very sorry. Farming the right way is tremendously expensive and hard work. I wish you the best in your next endeavor.

  • Gerry Wood

    SO SORRY it has not worked out for your family. Here is hoping things will improve on ALL subjects. Thank You for sharing.

  • Marcy

    Oh this makes my heart so sad for you guys! I wish you all the best, God will provide…. Please do keep posting on FB and blogging!

  • ElishaG

    Brenda,
    This makes me so sad to hear. I will be praying for your family as you go through this next transition. God goes before you and this journey you are on is no surprise to Him. His provision for your family will sustain you. I hope that you will be able to come to the Above Rubies retreat this fall to be encouraged and refreshed.

  • Stephanie Herman

    I live on a tiny farm (5 acres) and knew I could never support myself with the farm, but I need the raw milk and the eggs and the veggies and the open space in my life. So I determined to have several streams of income to allow me to live on this farm. I’m still expanding those streams – I sell a supplement, I wrote a book, I will sell eggs (when they start up), we’re even thinking of doing a petting zoo for preschools to use on fieldtrips. Those are just a few, and there are so many possibilities out there. I hope you’ll consider branching out, and not dumping the farm for purely economic reasons.

  • Elise Photini Adams

    So so sad for you guys….and I so understand. Grieving with you! Hoping and praying God opens a window for you, some way where you can live a rural life with your kids and pay the bills too. I feel this tug-of-war every day when I have to go to school instead of plug away at our little plot…having to work/improve my career when I’d much rather just grow food and animals and kids! HUGS to you!

  • Tina

    Wow, I wish I could reach through the computer and give you a hug. Your broken heart was evident through your words and brought tears to my eyes, even though I don’t know you.
    My husband used to commute 30 minutes as well, and with gas prices, it’s not financially feasible. I know you don’t want to hear this, but you’ve made a good choice in at least one aspect. Perhaps it feels like the dream is ruined, but it’s not – it’s just changed forms.
    I live in a town in 1/4 acre lot and lemme tell you – there is LOTS of room for gardening, and our by-laws allow up to 3 hens. So you’re not giving up, you can still do what you love, just on a smaller scale :) Keep your chin up and don’t let the clouds overwhelm your sunshine!

  • Rebecca Scheiderer Davis

    Please Please Please try to remember that a closing door often leads to an opening window. Your reasons for moving on are valid…too many people put family time at the bottom of their priority list. This is NOT the end for you. It is simply a change.
    Sending positive thoughts your way….
    Rebecca

  • Beth Altman

    I am so sorry… I mourn the loss of the small family farms and just the goodness of the kind of life it brings….the strong work ethic, the closeness with nature and all of God’s goodness, family time and families being able to work together…. Dads can’t take their kids to the office to work but farming dads have the kids working with them and can teach them so much. As our family farms are dwindling, Americans are becoming sicker and more overweight. I grew up on a farm, my grandparents were farmers…but gradually more and more of the farmsteads are being sold out to huge dairy corporations or large cattle feedyards or large farming conglomerates. It’s the foundation on which our country was formed and we are losing it. Farmers should be able to make a good living….just like anyone else that works hard….it makes me so sad. We should all be mourning…we are losing a way of life. I wish you well…maybe someday you can return to your heart’s desire.

  • Tbone

    Would it make sense for your business to crowd fund? I know you could raise capital that way, especially with the heart-tugging human element of your story and your philosophy behind food is very marketable. People love to help good people like you! I am sure you have already thought of this, but just thought I’d throw it out there.

  • Vital Health Coaching

    I’m so sorry to hear your story. I’m a health coach and planning to do classes on “The REAL cost of food” I’m going to save this post to help educate others about why what you have been doing is fabulous. Best of luck, and thank you for all you do (whether farming or not!)
    Blessings, Mary

  • http://Smart4.com/ Lori Smart

    I feel your pain. I’m one of those people who could be described as ‘not so healthy looking’ because I’m in the process of getting better. (I really hate judgments like that – you can’t always tell how healthy someone is by appearance) I try to choose the best I can afford. My husband and I run a hosting and web design company. We cater to businesses who want great speed, locally built servers from the greenest energy saving components. We use 100% wind power generated in our state. We do not outsource any work overseas, but utilize local contractors. Yet, so many businesses choose to use companies like GoDaddy and 1and1 hosting for the cheap prices and install free wordpress instead of utilizing the service of a web designer. We cannot match those prices because we do not cram thousands of sites on single servers. We limit server load to 50% and only host about two hundred sites per server, to always keep load time super fast. Some businesses, though, want to save a few dollars a month and keep choosing cheap over quality and responsibility. Our income suffers and we have to, at the very least, buy less locally raised organic chicken. It’s a twisted cycle. If we had just a few hundred more people switch from big box hosting to ours, we could always afford to buy from farms like you. Just something for everyone to think about. We’ve been doing this for 16+ years and we will not give up, since we’re still (barely) making ends meet and we truly believe in what we do. We just hope that in time, we can see more cooperation in making better choices beyond the dinner table.

  • Janelle

    Such sad news! I just experience the jaw drop reaction with a coworker when I told her we were going to participate in a milk share and she asked how much a gallon of raw milk costs. It’s $13/gallon here. She pays $2.50 at the store. She thinks I’m crazy, but it’s real food and I’m willing to pay the real price for my family to be healthy. I’ll be praying for a miracle for you and yours … our country can’t afford to lose another small farm!

  • Lindsey

    How sad about the loss of your farm! I hope you can continue to find a way to produce some food for at least your family (and maybe sell the extra) at your new home. There are resources out there that promise you can produce a lot on just a few acres, or less than an acre. You would still be making a difference.

  • Tiffany D

    I’m so sorry to read this. If we don’t support farms like yours all of our diversity will soon disappear and we’ll have nothing to choose but big ag. :( Will pray for you.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know you. I have never followed your blog before (until right now) and my heart is so heavy for you and your family. I actually have tears in my eyes. I am so sorry that you and your family are going through this and I can’t imagine how hard this must be. It is my husband and I’s (and our 4 kids) dream to have a farm just like the one you speak of. Though we are not in position to be able to do it financially right now but this is one of our biggest fears that we will end up in a situation like you are in. Sending you and your family a virtual hug.

    I am curious though…
    Would it be possible to have another family to “share” the farm with so that all the financial burden is not on just your family?
    Have you thought about opening an online store and shipping food? I’m not sure if that would be feasible for you all or not but it might be an option.

  • Kathy B

    I am so sad for you — and for us. We are the kind of people who buy your food in our local area. We do need you, but understand why you are being forced to sell. :( :(

  • Ziharrah

    ^THIS! Your story is really compelling. More people are waking up about factory farming and the importance of small farms. If you made a crowd funding account on indiegogo or kickstarter, I think people would help.

  • Tori

    I am so very sorry to hear about this. It makes me want to cry. One of the saddest things is that your experience is not unique – unfortunately, it is way too common. I am lucky that I have a husband who feels as I do, and who agrees with me that fewer television channels are fine if it means we can spend that money on REAL food.

    It’s heartbreaking to have to leave a job and life you love, especially when you have to drag it out by taking the time to sell the farm instead of being able to make a clean break. If you do find yourself still on the farm next year, you might consider doing a Farm Experience Day Camp for kids. A farm near me has started a camp program and she has a few different sessions each summer and several kids that come back every year. Perhaps being a teaching farm that also produces food might be a less expensive endeavor than being a full time, food producing farm with all of the up-front investment that takes. I know you’ve made this decision, and I’m not trying to change your mind. I also know that sometimes real estate takes a while to sell, so maybe this is something that might work to help keep things going if it takes a while to sell.

    I have never seen your blog – someone shared it on Facebook so I clicked to read the post. I follow other blogs similar to yours, and if I’d known about yours I would have been reading it all along. I will be checking back to see how things are going, and wish the best for you and your family and the other residents of your farm.

  • Paige Odling Giles

    This breaks my heart. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a farm. My husband and I are always wondering HOW in the world we could live off a family farm with our 7 children. This makes me sad for you and for us. This is one of my favorite blogs to read. Bless you.

  • Moose Hollow Farm

    I’m so sorry that you have to give up your wonderful way of life ~ it’s really a shame that people can’t afford to buy from local farmers ~ because of the economy, cheaper is better so they go for the meat that’s been raised inhumanely. You have a talent for writing so keep that going ~ a book about your story might be a good thing. You are the second FB friend that I’ve seen this week that has had to give up on their dreams. The first one is losing their farm ~ so sad. Best of luck to you in your future adventures ~ I hope that you settle in a place that enables you to have the family time that you crave and gives you geese to talk to. Blessings to you & yours…..

  • Danielle

    It is sad to hear of stories like this. Where I live, in Ontario Canada, farmers who raise animals like you have waiting lists for their products. Not to say that some aren’t struggling in some way or another, but finding customers is not the challenge. I guess I am lucky to live where many people appreciate local, sustainable, and healthfully grown food.

  • Melodie Simmons

    I think this is an excellent idea.

  • HeatherV

    I so wished I could hug you!!! You are doing God’s work but sometimes God’s work is hard. I pray for God’s clear pathway for your family in the near future.

    I personally have gone through a journey in the last 2 years in transitioning to real food. Our food budget went from 10% of our income to 25% of our income. Our budget is really tight now but I do also understand that the famers are underpaid. You have to do the marketing, the planning, the producing and the selling. Hard thing to be talented at all of those things as well as have enough time to do it all. I am wanting to do more and more on my little 1/4 acre peice of land because of people like you. I keep thinking about raising chickens all the time. I have the know how just not the time or all of my family on board (my husband didn’t come from a rural area). You were one of the first people’s blogs that I found in my journey and for that I am grateful and you continue to inspire me with your honesty and pursuit for God’s truth.

  • Stephanie Karabaic

    I hope you do write that book…I think mixing the stories.with recipes..and images from the farm and farmers’ market could make that an awesome book…perhaps hints on how to raise a backyard chicken coop…and some funny anecdotes, could make your book an awesome book! You are a good writer…I wish you the very best.

  • Carol

    I like Tbone’s idea… why not sign up at http://www.crowdfunding.com and/or http://www.kickstarter.com — You have the knowledge and experience to make this work, and what you’re doing is near and dear to those of us who want to put good food into our bodies.

  • Doreen Gillet

    I too, think this is a wonderful idea! Then everyone can have a piece of the ‘farm’! My uncle was a dairy farmer years ago. I did not realize all the work there was to maintaining the ‘farm’! It was only him and my aunt – but they did it, for many years! I remember drinking right from the ‘cow’! And all the fantastic meals we had! NOTHING FROM A ‘BOX’! How I miss those days! And I never got to share then with my daughter, or grand kids! SHAME! What ever you decide to do, keep up your passion – if you do ‘sell’, maybe the new owners will let you continue to work the farm and do the markets! Either way.. God bless you and your family!!

  • tlcala4me

    If I could, I would hug you and cry with you. I am a farmwife. I love growing things. And we have raised organic eggs, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, produce, & herbs for farmer’s markets for a number of years. I’ve lived through everything you describe – I was charging premium prices before the older farmers were… and couldn’t always sell stuff but I won’t devalue it. This year we are taking a Sabbatical from the farmer’s markets [we had worked up to doing 3 a week for a few years] so that we can rest and accomplish the work that our farm needs [corn and soy] to bring things into good repair, including the house. Last night was the first time I got to the market that is only a few miles from our home. We know most of the vendors, but even those we don’t know probably realized we were better customers than most. We know what it costs in time and money and life sacrifice to produce GOOD food, and when someone said those heirloom tomatoes were $3.50/lb I simply nodded my head, smiled, and picked out a few more huge tomatoes. When she said ‘thank you’ she was really grateful. That made my night right there. When we surprised the one woman by taking two bunches of chard, that made me smile too – am I the only one shopping that was looking for greens? lol When I could explain to the one vendor how to cook and enjoy the longbeans I was buying from her, that tickled me too. I love GOOD food. And I have grown and raised great food for years now. I live on the family farm, so it isn’t an option to leave until my husband feels differently. In the meantime, we will grow what we can ourselves, and support the local producers that really want to grow great food too. I don’t know if we will go back to the markets next year. I am enjoying being with my family an awful lot – and it’s not like we weren’t together then, but this is different.

  • http://www.healthnutnation.com Alison

    Thank you for so brilliantly sharing this poignant and truly heart wrenching story. I think it is the story of our nation. The loss of the small family farm, the move to the postage-lot sized home in the burbs. Your family is in my prayers. May you be cloaked in HIS wisdom and guidance.

  • Jim

    Hi Brenda,
    You certainly have our sympathies, thanks so much for providing the best food possible. Question: have you considered trying to sell online? There are a few companies doing that successfully now. We live in Southern Cal, and your prices seem amazing compared to what we pay for our soy-free organic meat and dairy. Here’s what we pay now:
    raw soy-free goat milk: $20/gallon
    soy-free eggs $9/dz
    raw organic butter: $19/lb cultured, $16/lb (from Amish)

    soy – free chicken? Can’t find anywhere for less than $35-45/chicken (Amish). We gave up finding it locally and are eating organic, but not soy-free now. If there was a way we could buy your chickens, we would (and so would many others I am sure).

    We’ve been paying these prices for years… nation-wide, there are ALOT of people looking for this healthy food (as you must know from being on Gaps), just much harder to do on a local basis.
    The local farmer who sells us eggs and dairy has a tough time making a go of it as well – same issues. Good luck/God Bless, and I hope you can make a go of it.
    Jim

  • Wendy Hoge McKenzie

    I feel you! We are very near to the same place – this summer has been rough with the drought causing feed/hay prices to skyrocket – we went from a $90 bale 1.5 yrs ago to $240 this week. We had to sell all the kids 4-H goats just to get through, husbands job was cut from 50 to 40 hours for 1 yr then to 35 hours for 6 months. Less money coming in more money going out, we tried adding on to the garden to sell produce and got 3 hail storms and bugs, not to mention only 20 people to visit the farmers market in 2 months of Saturdays, we tried raising broilers like you, but in Nebraska it is about impossible to find non-GMO or soy-free, the time required for broilers is a crazy amount and we ran ourselves ragged. We had to sell our chickens for much less than you and still get comments about price. It is so near to impossible to make a living growing GOOD food in this country with all the subsidizing and we decided that if my husband just continues on his new night shift job, we can run the farm if we just do it for ourselves. Sad to not have enough support when people talk it up about local, but really like the convenience of Wal-mart. Even a friend with a goat dairy is scaling back to only milk and no more cheese (even though he is a fantastic cheese maker) because the demand does not measure up to the time, effort and cost involved. There are times that we think of how much cheaper it was to live in the city, biking where we wanted, enjoying other fun free activities with the kids, no feed costs, big garden and canning. I only have 2.5 acres so we will just consider what we can do to keep costs down and enjoy our mini farm, but we have “given up on people” and their empty promises and pleas for real food. Keep speaking out and maybe someday things will begin to change, for REAL!

  • Ken

    Why give it up entirely? You don’t have to farm to make a living. Can’t you just farm for yourselves and that should ease up the financial and time issues (less animals, etc.)?

    And if your husband can’t find a job with more family-friendly hours, it won’t necessarily be better ‘in the city’ (if you are contemplating moving to the city, that is). I live in the city and my commute is 40-60 minutes depending on traffic.

    I say don’t give up on the farm!

  • Emily

    This is so sad. We farm too… not at the scale you’re at, but it’s hard work & we’re trying to make a difference in feeding our family better food. I’ve struggled with the same questions when I look at our feed bill & think about how many other groceries & how much store bought chicken I could buy with what I spend on feed alone. They make it so hard on us. I believe in the grain-free difference, but am at the same crossroad of feeding the critters or paying my mortgage. I too am starting to let some of the animals go. I wasn’t trying to make a living on it, just eat healthier. The economy isn’t the best. I also run a business that has nothing to do with farming… that business becomes more & more successful every year, but no one knew who we were in the beginning…. in my mind I wonder if you just need some better marketing to make your dream come true. There are a lot of people out there who do believe in what you’re doing. As people are getting more educated about cancer & what causes it & the steps they can take to ensure their bodies aren’t a good growing environment for cancer, I think more people will want to buy. Omaha Steaks sells their stuff online & is one of the best known places in the country…. I’m not saying their product is a healthy one, but they’ve somehow got the attention of the public & people KNOW who they are. And from a consumer standpoint, their product IS EXPENSIVE. I hate to see you give up on your dream, especially when I believe it IS GOOD WORK! Just some thoughts from an outsider… best of luck to you. Don’t give up on your dreams.

  • Jim

    Hi Brenda, Maybe too late, but I emailed your website URL to a buying club we belong to here in SoCal – long shot obviously, with shipping being an issue..

    Good luck,
    Jim

  • Doina

    This makes me so sad. I’m not sure where you live but do you have a WAPF chapter near you? I know they’re always good customers because they know the value of the food that you’re producing. That’s how I found a few of the ranchers near me who produce the kind of food you do. If I had been at your farmer’s market, I would have bought out all your chickens because you’re still cheaper or equal to what I pay here and I keep my chicken farmer happy because he makes me happy with his soy-free chickens. This will be a hard step for you and I hope and pray you find a solution to keeping your farm and if not, trust God who always knows what’s best for us. :)

  • Georgia Brinkley

    This makes me so sad and discouraged. I have begun dreaming of buying a piece of quality land and building a farm – a farm just like yours, doing everything the *right* way, according to God’s awesome design. I wish there was a way that we could band together and make it work. Possibly the most feasible way that I will be able to realize my farming dreams (as a mom, with a husband not interested in farming) is to join forces with another farming family. I wish we could come over and help with the chores, but you probably don’t live anywhere near us (northwest Washington State).

  • Marilyn

    Hi! I manage a group buying club of 100 people that would love to get your food! We have a lot more people in Los Angeles who want clean food. Do you know if there are restrictions on getting it here? We have raw food eaters and GAPS eaters, and a huge contingent of Weston Price followers, several large groups.
    I would totally help set you up with them–we might go for a CSA type of thing where they pay up front at the beginning of the year, or each month, or a combination, and basically be co-farmers with you, buy a pre-determined number of birds, etc.
    We can buy from you right now!
    We pay $26.51 for a 4.32 pound chicken now, plus shipping. We might even set up a van coming to get the food every other week or so. We want it all fresh, never frozen.
    What about those turkeys?

  • Stephanie Watson

    I understand your choice. But, in this economy most people can’t afford $17.00 for 3.5 lbs of chicken, no matter how good it is. That’s why a lot of people are becoming vegan. I hope you all are able to move on and be successful in your life. Good Luck.

  • Melinda

    Wow! We are in the process of selling our farm, too… but so we can move to a quarter we own, build a small house mortgage free and expand our farm. We both grew up on big commodity farms and several years ago (before we were got in growing “real” food!), my husband farmed full time for 2 1/2 years. After blowing through our savings account ($20,000 worth), and getting the farm deeper into debt (we had some huge medical expenses during that time), he went back to work. He’s been at his job now for 6 years. When we started our own farm growing grass based meats and free rang eggs, we kept it small and slow so we could fully fund it ourselves. After years of dealing with operating loans for his dad’s commodity farm (wheat, milo, soybeans, cotton), we knew the only way to really make a go of it was without debt. We’ve been blessed, though, because we have free use of all of the farm equipment (we own half of the commodity farm with my father-in-law) and we had bought some farm ground really cheap 15 years ago. Here in southern Kansas, only one other farmer (who is 20 miles away) is doing what we do. We just started with a local farmers market this year and the response has been amazing! Are we making enough to live full time on it? Nope. Not even close. We figure the only way is to be completely debt free with very little bills. Have you ever read “Born Again Dirt” or “You Can Farm”? I feel for you…. I know the power of farming- the lifestyle, the pull it has knowing you are doing what God intended humans to do…. Like others on here have said, don’t give totally up yet. We gave up 6 years ago and never dreamed we’d be in the process of trying it all over again.

  • Jen

    I’m so sorry to hear this. I have always lived in the city and my husband grew up in the country. He missed it and longed for land. I really didn’t want to move, but one of the convincing factors was to grow our own food. I don’t scoff at your $17 chicken, I just know I cannot afford to feed it to my family. The only option we could come up with was to start a garden and raise chickens and goats for our own table. It is super rewarding and I know I am feeding healthy food to my family. Yes it is a bit more expensive than .97 cents a pound, but it is nowhere close to $17. We live on 20 acres and my husband still works full time for the Air Force, but he is home by 4pm every day. I feel so blessed. I hope you can compromise and get a bit of land closer to his work and still raise food for you and your family. Good Luck.

  • Olga

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I make a point to shop at my local farmers’ market every week. Food there is much more expensive but I have always justified the extra costs by knowing it is much better nutrition for my kids. And now I know how much work and sacrifice are needed to make this amazing food. I hope you will be able to continue farming.

  • Jillie

    So many people just don’t have the money for it, …we don’t buy packaged foods and already spend close to 30% of our take home on food. Required insurance in a few months will be another 30% so we will be cutting back even more and removing more organic products….The growing season is so short and it is so expensive to bring in all new soil so we grow very little, even though we have land we don’t have the equipment to cultivate it. There are a lot of farms in our area and they are not doing well either.

  • David Reavis

    I would offer you the idea of finding complimentary business to help support your farm. If you are growing grain, is there someone who would like to mill it? Is there a brewery nearby that would contract the grain? have you approached the fine dining restaurants with in 100 miles of your farm and offered them samples of your meats? Have you reached out to the State Agricultural Commission. In Virginia, they have an office that helps you find buyers for your products such as grocery stores who are looking to fill there shelves with local products. I know it is bleak, but I would not give up the dream.

  • Curbstone Valley Farm

    For as long as $0.97/lb chicken, and chicken feed, is subsidized, the small farmer will never be able to compete. When we first started out we had a restaurant interested in purchasing our eggs, because it fit the ‘locovore’ food scene. However, they refused to pay more than $2.00 a dozen, because they could get ‘organic’ eggs as the local warehouse store for that price. We couldn’t compete. Our first ‘big’ customer, and we couldn’t afford to take them on, so we said no. Even at $6.00 a dozen, we barely broke even, assuming no losses, and no increases in the cost of feed. Rinse and repeat over the years for various crops etc., and I can assure everyone that small scale family farmers aren’t in it for the money!

    We live in a society that demands large volumes of low quality food, for low prices, and the small, local, sustainable, family farm simply cannot afford to produce high quality, nutritious, responsibily farmed food that competes with the giant food corporations. Small farm economics is not the same as large scale farm economics, and for the consumer that translates into ‘you get what you pay for’. For the small scale farmer it means we constantly live life on the edge. I wonder what kind of car the lady, who scoffed at your $17 chicken, drives?

    I am so sorry you’re having to sell the farm, but I understand why, and I know too many others that have recently done the same. Sometimes I wonder how long it will be before we follow suit. In this area, even finding a farming friendly neighborhood, with appropriately zoned land, is a tremendous challenge, and I read of one local farm this morning that was forced to shut up shop and close down their farm stand due to a zoning violation. As if farming isn’t enough of a struggle already.

    I wish you luck in your next chapter, and commend you, both for trying to make this work, as I know how much work it is, and for being honest about why it didn’t work for you. Your story highlights exactly why consumers need to stop, and think, before they eat.

  • Michelle

    I thought this too. You obviously need to do what is best for your family, but you’ve got a whole community behind you willing to help!

  • Treffynnon Farm

    Oh, Brenda, I feel your pain so much. We are in the same dilemma right now. We have a small soy-free farm in Georgia, and the meat birds just haven’t sold and our eggs, which used to sell-out weekly, are not selling at all. I have 20 dozen sitting in the fridge that the dogs will likely enjoy, but they don’t pay well. :) I’ve lowered our prices, found cheaper local feed sources (cheaper is always relative with soy-free), but we still hemorrhage money every month. We are seriously considering moving to Europe (my husband is from there) and starting a small farm there where good food is appreciated at all costs. We also love our geese, turkeys, and ducks especially. You and your family are very brave. Best of luck. Sally

  • Cassie Kay

    This is so sad. You’re doing the right thing by announcing this and trying to make a difference. I would be interested in reading a book about your time on the farm. Keep up the good work and never give up! I am, once again, sorry about the farm. It sounds like it was an amazing place.

  • Joan Fakkema Thompson

    My heart goes out to you! We, too, are working hard on a small farm with my husband working an hour away, paying lots for special “no soy/corn/meds/hormones/gmo” feeds. It is expensive and the average consumer won’t pay it. I’ve met that same woman at our Farmer’s Market and we only charge $4.50 per pound! She really gets around. I only discovered you today and look forward to perusing your site. I’ve already benefited so much from what I’ve read. You’re a good writer and have given a lot through your gifts. Thank you! I pray God will guide and provide in this new season.

  • Sarah

    I just travelled to your page via the internets, and I don’t know you, but I’d contribute to a Kickstarter for you, or buy your food on order, if you’re reconsidering. :)

  • D’Ann

    Even if working with the woman who commented that she would buy your products NOW for thier food club, or setting up a ‘crowd fund’ or CSA won’t work for you right now, consider this: ‘this isn’t working right now’ isn’t the same thing as ‘never again’. I know you wouldn’t give up the experience of trying to make the farm work for you, the memories, the time together as a family, the learning… I believe that there may be a solution that will let you keep your farm somewhere in the comments below; but, if there’s not, I also believe that you may be able to try again from a better place both financially and timing-wise for your family and for the market in your area…wherever that might be. There are too many people who agree with you to give up this dream forever, and it’s not a fad, it’s a trend that’s growing by leaps and bounds. You have my heartfelt gratitude for what you have already contributed to the health of your community, for your values; you have my heartfelt prayers that an answer will present itself that eases your grief with either an answer to keeping your farm or a window on the future that will give you hope of returning to a way of life that you love and cherish!

  • Ruby

    Things are very tough financially here in Europe, and people won’t (can’t) pay big bucks for real deal food. Don’t buy a onw way ticket thinking the grass is greener, most of Europe is on the brink of collapse. Or revolution, whichever comes first.

  • http://nodivisions.com/ Anthony DiSante

    I will gladly donate to help you keep your farm and keep selling healthy, natural food. We don’t have a lot of money, and we’re across the country from you, but I’ll still throw in $20 with no hesitation — and it looks like you have many other people willing to do the same in your community of friends/fans here. Furthermore, I’d do it every year if necessary. It’s a small price to pay to support a REAL farmer. So get on Kickstarter, or IndieGoGo, or just a PayPal “Donate” button. We’re ready to help!

  • SHOCKED!!

    To Marilyn Brown. I did not know that our RAW group would consider eating fast growing commercial birds, such as fast growing Cornish Cross (Broiler) varieties. I am surprised to learn that OUR food club would even consider eating any commercial strains, especially when fed any grain, even 1 type of grain, such as wheat. WE know that all grains, including Certified Organic varieties are sprayed to inhibit the growth of toxic, deadly grain-mold. FYI: There is only one farm in California that is 100% grain free, and growing non commercial livestock, and WE thought WE were going to be working with them.

  • Vicky Brown

    I have done a successful Kickstarter campaign for our farm. It is a lot of work, and cost. Sometimes you fund. Sometimes you don’t (then all the time and costs are gone). Even when you do fund, it is no magic bullet… it can be a beautiful band-aid though, and it can be great marketing. If you are up for considering this option, I’d be happy to help and lend a hand in any way my experience might be beneficial.
    I understand your plight and your hard choices first hand (we are facing the same decisions). I’m sorry for your struggle, thank you for sharing it so publically.

  • Anonymous

    I am so sorry that this is happening to you. I live outside of Los Angeles, and we’re raising chickens. I do my best to buy from local farmers as much as I can because it’s IMPORTANT. Yes it costs more but it’s worth it.
    Again… I am just so sorry that this is happening :(

  • Emily

    This is a real tear-jerker. I’ve been following your blog for a little while now and it’s such a valuable resource even to those of us who can’t buy directly from you. You’re a valuable contributer to the blogosphere and you’ve inspired me in more ways than one. Like others have suggested though, if you were to start up a kickstarted campaign, you may be able to rally up the support of those who may not be able to support you locally, because I’m sure your readership exapnds across the globe. I’m in Australia and I’d through my support into your campaign!

  • Jim Smith

    Maybe another time, in another city that will be more open to what were about and our way of life, Im truly rooting for you..
    Im deeply saddened to read your story as it truly emphasizes the wrong path our government is taking in upholding the US economy. Its one thing to “look out for your boys”, but an entirely different thing when you illegally thwart competition by violating anti trust laws and then payoff senators and representatives to look the other way.
    All past present and future administrations care about thanks to the constant donations of wealthy corporations is the protection of those that can make it cheap and plentiful without any consideration of quality. Any businesses that go outside the norm and dont play within the accepted network of affiliates(seed/feed/manufacturers/suppliers) will be considered as competition to the US economy and either be sued or driven from the industry either through legislation that makes their products illegal or deemed unfit for human consumption. Weve got to learn, cheaper is not always better, especially when it comes to health.
    What happened to “Built in America” and “American Pride”? Hell, we cant even make decent beer anymore! Im sure one day we’ll hit terminal velocity and realize horribly the old cliche – “You get what you pay for”

  • Beth Beach

    You could open a dining establishment or sell to someone that has one . Where normal people may think your chickens etc… are expensive , they wouldn’t scoff at paying more in a restaurant for the food ! I wish you the best … too bad you couldn’t keep the farm & just diversify with herbs , flowers , I don’t know … change up what you supply to the world to something cheaper to produce yet more profitable =( Best of luck in your new venture . Blessings . =)

  • Anonymous

    $17 for a chicken? Sorry, that’s ridiculous. I have 10 kids and they all need something from me. Doesn’t mean we all quit out jobs and stay home to try and fix it.. I have a front yard garden, not a farm. I’m not a sucker, I don’t need to pay that much for chicken and turkey. WEIRD!!!

  • Wendy Hoge McKenzie

    You know, Homestead is defined as “A place where one’s HOME is” persevere on behalf of those of us still waiting for people to understand. Have your “urban homestead” and keep doing as much of this as you still can! Practice, Preach, Persevere!!!!

  • Treffynnon Farm

    Yes, thanks, we are well aware of the Europe situation. I do keep up with the world news. As mentioned my husband is from there and his family is still there. My point is that good, clean food is appreciated there far more than here where we are. Should we move it would be for many reasons but we want to continue farming and that is one of our options.

  • Edith JJaimes

    Please be respectful and understanding!!! You cannot know the real costs unless you have a farm, do you? Having 10 KIDS IS ridiculous! Please stop having children if you cannot afford to feed the with healthy food!

  • Hope F.

    I can completely empathize with you! It has been 3 years since we ended our dream business! It wasn’t as noble as farming pure food (which was also one of our dreams) as you are doing, but we moved out of WA. state, left everything behind, took all of our funds from selling our home, my husband left a great paying salary, to start our own organic/fair trade coffee roasterie and a coffee shop in another state.
    Long story short, we had to sell our roasterie (which is still in operation to this day), we took a hit on the building we bought cash and had refurbished, and we lost all the money on our house and land we bought there.
    We have 4 kids, one with special needs, a mortgage, etc. etc. We worked all of the time but couldn’t even pay ourselves! And we had an excellent product. Unfortunately, we found that many people want something for nothing!
    I thank God that we were able to get out of it with only minimal financial damage. We now are back to Aircraft Refinishing (exciting huh?) and a cookie cutter home in the suburbs!
    I will say a prayer for your family, I know how tough it is. I support my local farmers! I would rather pay more for healthy, clean food for my family than to pay for cancer or some other disease later.
    I will keep reading your blog! Keep us updated on the changes. This just means God has something better in store for your family. In hindsight, I see that in my own family’s life.

  • Honest Desires Farm

    Hugs. We are urban farmers. This is our first year. We have cried as we watched 16 days of straight rain flood our dirt way (investment), have 500 + seedlings destroyed in one unexpected storm, struggled to buy non-GMO and/or organic feed for our chickens for our egg CSA, wondered as no one would buy our produce at the tiny market we go to.

    We don’t spray. We grow organically. We have had weeds grow better than any of our plants. We have had deer, groundhogs, and rabbits eat 60 plus feet of beds before we found ways to stop them. We have had to till and remake our beds twice now in one year. We have spent our entire extra cash for the year on our farm. A one income family of four. Instead of buying a much needed van or fixing our barely functioning laundry room we invested in food. People tell us we are doing such a “good job”. That all start up business “lose money”. Yet gladly buy our $1.00 bunch of organic carrots that required multiple weedings, watering, fertilizing with compost, harvesting, washing, traveling to the market and act like they are doing us a favor or worse yet those people don’t buy our produce at all! I should just pay those people to buy my healthy and clean vegetables harvested within five hours of selling. I will never be able to compete with grocery stores or large farms shipping produce to local food hubs and selling at discounted prices. Food shouldn’t be that cheap. Why would someone pay a $1.00 for a Jr. Bacon Cheese burger but not for a bunch of organic carrots!?! I am going to work on educating people and finding other markets where people are willing to pay what the produce should cost. In our area that is possible.

    We understand. We spend the little money we make at the farmers market back at the farmers market. The vendors are good people. They work harder than the rest. They shouldn’t have to have an “off farm” job. We believe. We won’t stop but we understand your pain. We know why you came to your decision. We grieve with you and for you. I am so sorry. Hugs.

  • Hope

    Lame BeadLady. Have a little tact.

  • Hope

    I totally agree! Food should not be that cheap! Thanks to Walmart, China, and all of those who have and those who continue to support the Corporation!

  • Hope

    Amen!

  • Julia King

    You certainly have a firecracker personality! If you knew what was in your food, and what it is doing to your body (and your kids) you’d be just as mad (actually more furious) as you are with the other other stories you post about. Beadlady. This is the real deal. We are being fed cheap chickens filled with toxins….. I don’t know if you heard…

    So with the chicken you eat, you are eating a myriad of toxins like arsenic http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/opinion/kristof-arsenic-in-our-chicken.html?_r=0 or how about loads of estrogen…. all dis-ease causing! Maybe do some research before judging someone as weird….

    Then there’s when your kids are sick and the antibiotics don’t work (or not as well)because that’s all they eat every time they take a bite of beef or chicken: antibiotics pumping through there bodies all the time…. which make them sick- maybe REALLY sick later on in life…

    — well if you’re lucky maybe it’ll just be the obesity thing:
    http://communications.med.nyu.edu/media-relations/news/study-suggests-early-exposure-antibiotics-may-impact-development-obesity

    Antibiotis in chicken:

    http://www.nationofchange.org/conventional-chicken-found-contain-concerning-levels-arsenic-due-antibiotics-1368632553

    ….and all the aresenic found because of all the antibiotics…

    After all you’re loading your kids up with toxic food…. I’m pretty sure you have no awareness around that though. Blessings to you and may you stumble upon the facts soon…. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130513095030.htm

    http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/ask_expert/2005_08/question_14

    so many more links….. i am saddened that you have no idea what having a farm with healthy meat and vegetables means for the health of everyone…. It’s HUGE….. Then again- there’s always hospital bills- if you’rather pay 100x more later on… Please be kind. If you knew what was in your food…. you may find other ways to feed all those kids!

  • ann

    I definitely feel for this situation. And I think this family IS doing a wonderful thing, however, it almost feels a bit judgmental the descriptions of people who are not buying, or are not healthy. Also the comments about what people do for a living and if it sustains lives, etc. We are all trying to get by and this world is not an easy place. We all have jobs to take care of our families and I just feel that coming down on people who simply can not afford a $17 chicken is kind of unfair. People want to do better for their families but are just barely making it, and they too, work in important jobs. I do feel for the situation but also feel a bit offended as I can not afford a $17 chicken either.

  • JulieK

    This makes me so sad. It’s hubby and my dream to own a farm one day and yet I’ve always thought it wasn’t financially feasible… now I feel that way more than ever but you’re right it SHOULD NOT BE.
    You should write a book about your experiences and your thoughts. Take this blog post and write a BOOK off it!!!!

  • firefly917

    A lot of people can’t afford to eat well . . . but a lot of people can, and many of them don’t live near you. We (living in the SF Bay Area) pay $7.50 a dozen for eggs and $8/lb. for meat for local chickens of the same kind that you grow. I hope you can figure out how to use a model like US Wellness has to start shipping with reasonable shipping costs. I would certainly order a turkey from you! And I’m guessing I’m not alone.

  • Julia King

    Thank you for requesting respect and understanding (clearly there is really NO understanding) The judgement is sad… and we know it comes from a place that has no clue or possibly interest on what’s going on in our general food supply!

  • firefly917

    Whoever “Shocked!” is, it sure seems you could have written an email response to the previous poster, if you know her, instead of leaving a comment here. Your comment after such a heartfelt blog post of loss is just . . . in really poor taste.

  • dafalax

    I think her original comment was in poor taste, but her ten children deserve to exist whether she can buy them seventeen dollar chicken or not. Children were seen as blessings until the contraceptive mentality was sold to our culture. You wanna bitch about chemicals in food? Try getting rid of the hormones in birth control pills. They don’t break down in your body and are polluting our water supply, harming fish and frog populations, among other things. Do not put a price on human life. That’s ignorant.

  • David L Alexander

    As the son of a farmer’s daughter, one whose family has been farming for over a century, I really feel for you. If they didn’t band together as a family to share combines, harvesters, and the like, and rent their services of the operation of that equipment to other farmers, and if Grandpa hadn’t turned his garage into a machine tool and die shop to make his own spare parts when he couldn’t afford to buy them — oh yeah, it can happen — if not for all that, the family probably wouldn’t still be in farming.

    My mother was one of eleven brothers and sisters. Before she was twelve, she could drive a tractor and pitch hay as well as the (older) boys, which is why she wasn’t stuck in the house with her sisters doing “woman’s work.” When she got out of high school, she couldn’t wait to get off the farm, but until a few years ago (she is 81 now), she got up every morning “with the chickens” before 5, as if out of habit.

    We always had a garden when I was growing up in a small town neighborhood in Ohio. Just a hundred square feet or so, to grow most of the vegetables we ate. If I were you, I’d keep up something like that. Maybe just a quarter-acre, whatever you can handle. I’d raise a few chickens in a pen in the back yard (if the neighbors don’t complain) if only for the eggs, maybe a goat for milk. I’ve even read stories of “urban homesteaders,” who use their entire front and back yards to grow produce and fruit trees. “Grow food, not lawns” is their motto. (Yeah, they have a Facebook page.)

    They can call you what they want from here on in — “gentlemen farmers” “weekend warriors” — but if it is a part of your soul, at least you won’t have to sell all of it.

  • usd2watch

    with your ability to work at home, both you and your husband, can’t you just farm for yourselves? Why the need to sell to others? I know, b/c I have done what you are doing, and I stopped doing it for profit and just do it for myself. It’s not easy, but if you love it as much as it sounds like you do, find a way to feed yourself. I know the experience you describe at the farmer’s market. Don’t worry about those people, worry about your people. Work for them and for you.

  • Roberta Kelly

    I feel soooooo sad for you as I have had that dream too and don’t see any way of it happening and I’m stuck in the city in an apt with a balcony on the north side of the building….. at least for the next few years…. I pray that you keep your dream and keep writing and advocating and know that there are others of us with the same dream…. I pray that where you land you will still be able to raise some chickens and have a good garden… and maybe be able to raise a bit to sell too…. AND – hopefully, be able to pursue your dream again a little later in life… :-)

  • Kayla

    First, I am terribly sorry for your loss.. leaving a home is a grieving process. Second, you never know what miracle is right around the corner whether you stay where you are or move. Third.. My husband and I have for the first time started our own non-gmo heirloom garden and we have chickens for their eggs. Even if you can’t live on a farm, you can still have a garden and a few chickens for eggs if you have even an 1/8 of an acre. We are also college students which means we spent all of our extra money (or what used to be extra money for entertainment, thrift store clothing, etc.) on the seeds, soil, chickens, building materials etc, starting our teeny tiny healthy living adventure. My point is that while cancer is terribly expensive we still do not have the cash to spend $5 on 12 eggs, as terribly bad as we hate eating eggs right now that are not fresh because our chickens are not laying yet some prices are really high. We are both in school full time, we do a lot of work around the house even though our farming is tiny compared to yours and we both work part time painting when people need us so our food budget is really low. I used to sell hand made jewelry at a flea market and I would only charge 1 or 2 dollars more than the materials I bought to make the jewelry, people did not want it b/c in the next booth there was $1 plastic flashy piece of made in china jewelry that they could afford. The economy just sucks right now for most people (and when I say most I mean almost half of America) keep your head up and even if this is not feasible for you right now when it becomes feasible get out there and do it again, I wish you the best of luck in all that you do.

  • Amber

    I too, am sorry that God is asking you to walk this road! I will pray that God will still open a door to be able to stay and keep your farm. Maybe, with another family to help share the burden and blessings. I wish that we could have a small farm to fee our family in a healthy way. We have a great garden with friends, but would have loved to have chickens and grass fed beef to eat as well. I know the cost is great, especially, when our tax dollars pay for the unhealthy. Wish that it was the other way around! We eat healthy whole food after my son got sick with leaky gut issues. Thankful from what I learned from GAPS. Hang in for God to move for you. We are “hanging’ on that as well. Blessings to you!

  • Sad for you…

    I am so so sorry to hear this. You are a true farmer. The people who own thousands of acres, and “farm” without ever getting their hands dirty, while paying minimum wage to workers (usually immigrants because non-immigrants don’t want to do the work) who do all the labor, and then take huge government subsidies NOT to grow certain crops — those aren’t farmers, no matter how much they present themselves as such. I’m almost entirely a vegetarian because unfortunately, as a teacher, I can’t afford the kind of meat you provide, and I know the health risks of meat that’s been raised the factory farm way. (I do eat fish because I found I needed to for health reasons). I avoid all soy and corn (and anything else that’s largely GMO). I’ve had breast cancer twice and melanoma once and so I raise my own vegetables in my little organic garden, and eat fresh foods from the garden almost a full four seasons because of my little cold frame. The tragedy is that if farmers like you were supported rather than factory “farmers” who are producing toxic products, and if people were educated about how what they eat can make all the difference between health and vitality, and illness and death, we could have a healthier, happier, stronger nation of people. But that ain’t happening any time soon, as far as I can see. I’m sorry. Really really sorry.

  • rosanne

    I would love to buy your food, but my mexican husband( who grew up on a farm thinks we can not afford to eat like that right now :( …and given that we live in a 2 bedroom apt. with 6 and don’t take government help, I have to agree. We don’t go on vacations, or dates. But we have the LORD :) I really want to invest in families like yours, and hope to some day. I have a passion for the life you live. I feel so sad when I think of all the farmers who got duped by our government way back, years ago and took pay not to grow/harvest. I feel sad when I think of how tv dinners and microwaves decieved generations to drop the beautiful traditions and wisdom that could have been passed on to help us not end up where our country is now. 3 of my 4 grandparents grew up on some kind of farm and one lost theirs…they all chose to stay out of farming :( So many times I have wondered what it was like and wanted to hear the stories; the good and the bad…but they just weren’t shared and even when I asked pointed questions desperate for a glimpse of things, they just said the minimum. My mom has started vegetables in her back yard and she tells me about it and we go try them out :) Tina, had some great words, I hope you get to do what she said…And btw, I have been skinny my whole life and have recently learned that I had to change my whole food plan and life style because it wasn’t healthy (lol)…just sayin’. God bless….wanted to share this, hope it will be a blessing :) http://www.notconsumed.com/2013/08/01/when-you-feel-like-you-are-falling/

  • Mark Bourdeau

    Ridiculous? really? whats ridiculous is that you would post this comment without first doing your research! $17 she has barely covered her expenses. I think you may have decided to post in an area you have very little knowledge in. The chickens and turkeys that she is selling cant be found in the discount section of the supermarket. They have been lovingly raised,not shoved 10 birds to a square foot in a big hoop barn that you would not even be able to take a breath in because the smell of ammonia burns your lungs.and the feed she supplies is not recycled parts from other animals from slaughter houses but top quality feeds.that cost $25 for 50 lbs $2 for the chick $5.00 to process and bag 8 weeks of lugging water and feed and all the housing and husbandry expenses.But you are correct You do not need to pay that much for chicken and turkey,no one needs to but to those that have done the research and now what the discount section poultry consists of and what it can do to our bodies, they are happy to spend that and appreciate her research and hard work.I have done my research as many other farmers we raise 400 chickens and 40 turkeys every year and our pricing is similar to hers.we appreciate the purchase of all our patrons that want to eat GOOD FOOD

  • Marilyn

    Dear SHOCKED!!

    Wow. I am shocked now. I was trying to open a conversation with some people who sound like they might work with us and do things our way. I could not find any other way to contact them on this website in the time I had. I would of course check what they are feeding and what kind of birds they have, and see if they would work for us. If not, it is possible that their methods would work for other people I have contacts with. I hate to see someone who is trying to do things right to have to quit farming due to not finding the right market.

    I am also surprised that you did not contact me directly instead of using this person’s blog to make a comment, and calling the farm you mentioned.

    I have more I’d like to talk with you about. I’ll send out a newsletter, since I have no idea who you are. I do not want to take up any more room on this person’s website. Please contact me directly, or on our website email.

    Brenda, I would like to find out if I can help.

  • Boulder Friend

    After reading your article and seeing 1.5 k likes I thought to myself why wouldn’t you do a kickstarter program to keep your farm, raise enough money to what you need to make it happen there! I believe it would be a success shoot high and if it isn’t reached no loss( except time and energy) I have watched people raise millions in this program and if every,one of your” likes”
    donated $10 each you would be there! There are so many people that believe in what your are doing and see the hard work and labor of love a farm is especially through your sharing! If you have any desire for the possibility of not selling your farm look into kickstarter!

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Hi Marilyn, thank you for asking about this. Unfortunately, we are not able to sell our poultry out of state. That would require USDA processing, and there are no USDA processing facilities in our area. We drive an hour & 1/2 to a USDA-exempt processing facility so that we can sell our chicken at the farmer’s market (we can process our own birds–up to 1,000, on our farm, only if we sell them directly off of our farm). We had an opportunity to produce a lot of turkeys for a local restaurant, but they also own a restaraunt in Washington & we couldn’t sell our birds to that location. :( We are very interested in learning to raise birds grain-free, raise varieties of heritage birds, etc. We have raised heritage birds in the past, but they took longer to raise (and were therefore more expensive) and ended up weighing less, and we had a harder time selling them. It would be our goal to raise ONLY heritage animals, but it really takes educating the customer about why it’s better & why it’s worth the cost. I appreciate people like you who KNOW the real value!! Thank you for being willing to do something to help our farm.

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Dear Shocked, unfortunately, farmers deal with all ends of the spectrum–the people who refuse to spend $5.50/lb for chicken, no matter how well it’s raised, and who treat us like we must be doing something wrong, or stupidly, if it costs that much. And then there are the people who treat us like we’re doing something wrong if we don’t do it all perfectly–raising heritage birds, grain free, free-range and never in chicken tractors, etc. We’ve raised heritage birds. We haven’t tried grain-free, but we would be willing to try if someone requested it. We had a hard time selling the heritage birds, and they cost us a lot more to raise because they took longer to grow. It would be our ideal to raise only heritage birds, but we really have to find people who are educated enough to care.

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Thank you for your sweet comments and ideas. There is not another residence on our farm & our home isn’t big enough for another family. We cannot ship any of our poultry, because we do not have any local USDA processing facilities. It’s illegal to ship poultry that has not been USDA processed. :( Thank you for sharing your thoughts!!

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Tina, thank you. I am hoping that we can end up with at least 1/4 acre….maybe 1/2? I can dream! :)

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Hi Stephanie, thank you for your note. We do branch out, quite a bit. I write e-books, make a little income off of Amazon affiliate sales, we sell cases of raw honey from a local apiary, we do respite for children with Reactive Attachment Disorder and have been willing to homeschool other people’s children. It’s still not cutting it. :( We’re not dumping our farm for purely economic reasons–but there is a reality. We have to be able to afford the mortgage & the bills. We are selling our farm because my husband has to work, and we are not willing to sacrifice his time with us (during his hour commute, each way). That’s why. :)

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Thank you Rebecca! Good reminder! :)

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Thank you for praying, Tiffany!

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Good luck with your class, Mary! Thank you for sharing my post! Blessings to you, too!

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Ann, I am sorry that my descriptions seemed judgmental, I didn’t mean that at all. I know that everyone works hard to get by & care for their families. I was simply trying to make a point that the people who grow food are getting paid less than most jobs out there. People are paying more $ to the people who make their cars, computers, houses, clothing, shoes, etc., than they are to the people who make the food that keeps them alive. I didn’t mean to “come down on” the people who can’t afford the chicken, I know that it’s hard to buy real food. :(

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Paige, thank you! I hope that you and your husband WILL be able to have a farm someday! Blessings to you!!

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Janelle, thank you! Keep telling your co-workers about the food that you’re getting! Spread the word that good food costs more but it’s worth it! :)

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Hope, thank you for sharing your story! I’m sorry for your loss! It sounds like you had an awesome coffee! I’m glad you see God working in your life, through the loss and beyond. Blessings to you!!

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Hi Jim, thank you for the comment. We looked into shipping poultry to CA this year and could not, because there are no USDA processors in our area. :( We are stuck selling within Oregon. Thanks for supporting your local farmers! Keep it up, they really need your business! :)

  • Katie

    Sincerely praying for you and your family!

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    BeadLady, please be respectful and don’t mock our way of life. We choose to raise very good quality chickens, and it costs us a lot to raise them. I wrote about the cost of raising our meat here: http://www.wellfedhomestead.com/the-cost-of-raising-broilers-without-soy-corn-or-gmos I appreciate that you have to afford food for your large family. We took in foster kids and had 8 children for a while. I get how expensive it is to feed a big family. But I’m not ok with chicken that’s been raised without sunlight, in a big building, on tax-dollar-subsidized feed, garbage, animal parts, etc., just because it’s cheap. It isn’t real food, and the cost in the grocery store isn’t the real cost to raise it (tax dollars and government debt covered the rest of it). We don’t make big profits on our chicken, at $17 for that chicken, it barely covered our cost to raise it.

    If you are knocking down the fact that my husband quit his job to stay home to help our child, you certainly don’t understand our situation. We are dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder in an adopted child who went through severe trauma in the womb and during the first 14 months of life. We had to choose–an institution–or experimenting with meds that would make the child sleepy all of the time–or Daddy coming home and help….Those were our choices, truly. The stability of having my husband home since March has helped this child feel safe and we are seeing HUGE improvements. Please don’t knock down our decisions. Our ability to focus on this child is (I truly believe) changing his life & the community’s life for the better. Many unhealed RAD kids end up murdering people, or as druggies, etc……We are dealing with an intense situation and we chose drastic measures to make sure that our child is not one of the statistics……

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Hi Edith, thanks for commenting. It wasn’t ok that she mocked our chicken price. Please, also, don’t mock her choice to have 10 children. I personally believe that children are a blessing. I would happily have 10 if I could. :) We took in a sibling group of 4 foster kids at one time (and hoped to adopt them) and we had 8 kids in our family. It is hard work, but it CAN be done. (And they all ate real food with us!) :)

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Thanks Wendy!! Great reminder!!! :)

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Thank you Joan! Blessings to you!

  • http://www.wellfedhomestead.com Brenda

    Thank you Alison!! Thank you for your prayers!

  • Kate Kelley

    My thought is, downsize and revamp what you are selling. Yes, offer chickens, etc, but only a sell small fraction of what you are doing now. To ease up on costs, try to sell some of them live. There are people out there who will butcher their own. Maybe barter a few for something you need? I don’t know where you live, but I would not give up the farm. Dry your eyes, take a deep breath, get a different perspective.
    I have done small scale, would sell half of my stock (froze the rest). The price of what I sold paid for my food and put some extra money in out coffer. You have to look at things a bit differently. It is similar to when my husband harvests a deer. Figure out the cost it would be if you bought it at the store, so, basically it is a weeks pay? Meaning that is money you do not have to spend out of pocket to feed your family. So, your husband will have to work outside the home. You do more chores. I have a special needs son as well. We make it work. You can do it!

  • linda st.laurent

    I am so sorry to read this story. I buy those $17.00 chickens, and am so very grateful to farmers like your family. I am so sad for you, and for your community. It is sickening that people don’t get it. But, there are a few of us that do. I will be thinking and praying for you and your family. I. am. so. sorry.

  • Belinda

    While I cannot judge your decision for selling and moving back in closer to town, I’d suggest you consider perhaps a smaller plot of land where you can raise the kind of food that you need to sustain your own family. Your husband can work, and you can do the food raising, child rearing, canning, etc. And **I** drive 45 minutes to work every day through traffic to get to my IT job. I know it’s a pain, but it’s often a reality if you want to live away from people and raise your own food. Make decisions based on what’s best for you, but realize that you can have your chickens and eat them too. You just may have to do it on a much smaller scale!

  • Belinda

    PS: if I was ready for the move, I’d look at buying your farm–it’s just what I want. A piece of land, no more than an hour from town where I can do my tech job and the man can stay home and do the food raising! :-) It’ll be a few more years for me.

  • http://www.cognation.net/ deancollins

    Crowd funding OR Crowd Charity as I call it isn’t the answer.

    A farm is either a going concern or it isn’t…..

  • http://www.cognation.net/ deancollins

    Uhm hate to sound critical but you just went to your first farmers market in June and are now deciding to sell the farm in August??
    - http://www.wellfedhomestead.com/our-first-time-selling-at-farmers-market

    Not sure if its too late to change your mind but maybe you might want to watch a few Jimmys Farm videos to see how they built up a customer base over time OR check out this podcast (only available for free for 2 weeks) about growing a beef customer base.
    - http://agriculturalinsights.com/episode-073-glenn-elzinga-on-direct-marketing-grassfed-beef-nationwide/

  • G.T.

    Why blame God!? People have freedom of choice, as well as we live in a fallen world. In addition, we have an enemy, the devil, who throws fiery darts our way. Believing that every single thing that happens to a person is God’s will, then that is saying God is to blame for murder, child rape, and everything else!! No wonder people are leaving Christianity by the droves. Who would want to serve a God like that? Not me!

    No. God is a GOOD God! And He’s good ALL the time! Rather than blaming God, perhaps this family should prayerfully consider their next step? Perhaps God has a way out for them? Or maybe the farm timing was off to begin with? After all, the bible teaches us we should owe no man anything, except the debt of love. Maybe God never wanted them to take out a loan to farm to begin with? Maybe God would have had them start smaller and grow them without need of owing a mortgage. Or maybe God would have brought in partners? Or, or… There are so many other possibilities that do not include God being the reason or the cause for them to lose their farm–or even that God even wants them to lose their farm! God might make a way out yet. A promise of God is that whatever we set our hands to will prosper. (Psalms 1:3) If it doesn’t, then something is off–our timing or such. But it’s not God’s fault! Consider this scripture: “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.” (Proverbs 19:3)

  • Ryan

    Reading your blog post was both inspiring and heartbreaking. I’m sorry that you were not able to weather the financial ups and downs of managing a small farm. The system is definitely rigged in favor of the “big guys,” and that’s a shame. I hope you and your family will continue to fight the good fight, continue to advocate for “REAL FOOD,” continue to connect with people and share the wealth of information/experience you have acquired. Continue to dream. Best of luck!

  • Ian and Sara Burns

    I am sorry for your unfortunate situation. May God bless you and lead you.

  • Lance

    As one of the unhealthy people, realize that most of us are working minimum wage jobs, if we have work at all. I have two masters degrees and could only find part time work teaching at a community college as an adjunct. Sometimes I made only $500 a month, the best I made was $1200 a month. My income from that and add in temp jobs wherever I can pick them up is around $12-14K a year. My wife is ill and cannot work. So there is no choice other than to buy $1 a pound chicken or $3 a pound beef. Yes, I know it is making me unhealthy. My mom died of liver-bowel cancer, and I’ve had several bouts with different illnesses. Not only do I not have health insurance, I can’t afford to go to the dentist or the doctor. I do not doubt your product is worth that much and that you have to charge that much in order to continue. But realize that many of us unhealthy people are broke and don’t have many choices either. No, I don’t eat fast food or kettle corn. We buy a cheap chicken every week and eat on it and then make soup for a few days off the carcass and start all over again.

  • Beth

    Please keep writing!!! I LOVE you work and have learned much form you. YES! Write the book(S)!! It may well fund you a future even better farm!!! I wish you health, happiness and many many blessings

  • Beth

    People like me would help!

  • Beth

    I agree, this door closing WILL open an even more amazing one for you!! People with your skills and expertise don’t just stop doing what they are doing. However it works out, I am excited to see what you create out of this. It is only a change, not stopping your great work!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=44305853 Mark Vanderhoek

    You have a great blog that feeds from a great farm, but I don’t see that you’ve connected them as businesses even though the blog could be (and should be) driving your business. For instance, where are you? I’ve searched your website and your Facebook page and don’t know the name of your farm or what state you are located in (just this blog post, not every single page!). You do a better job of linking the two (and even selling through this site or linking directly to sales at your farm’s site) and those fit people will come to you!

  • Anonymous

    I’d be put off at a farmer’s market book if people were looking at me thinking “wow, that person LOOKS UNHEALTHY and will not buy our stuff.”

  • dmarshlabs

    I read your heartfelt blog post and am very sad for you. If I could afford to buy $17 chicken I would to support people like you but sadly I need to settle for $5 chicken breasts. Everything “organic” and “natural” is always so much higher priced which is a shame but most people are on a tight budget and food is the first place you cut when you are faced with other bills that can’t wait.

  • Marilyn

    Dear Brenda,
    Thank you for your reply. Yes, the only farm I know that has made the heritage birds and no-grain, all better-than-organic feed thing work has a membership they can count on, and also sells some through USDA processing as a mail-order business. They have pigs, etc. If you can access my email through this site, please contact me directly, as I have some ideas you may still want to pursue, IE groups who could use you in Oregon, and a couple of other ideas. Marilyn

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t see anywhere on your site which state you’re in, but the area surrounding Davis, California, we have a major Farmer’s Market, and more than one CSA farmer. We also have major Co-ops in Davis and Sacramento, and they as well as several of our local “super”markets buy locally for produce, meats, flowers, etc. There are also programs as suggested by others for us to”own” a piece of the farm, and for subsidizing future farmers. (Including one with a cardboard box with a pig’s snout for putting your extra change into – our Co-op sells the boxes). Can you get into doing CSA boxes, maybe even by joining with another small farm to increase the variety of items? They could be picked up by customers at the Farmer’s market, if you can’t afford to deliver at this time. I can send you the
    contact info on some of the farms with programs if you’d like.

  • Anonymous

    Even though I have never visited your page before, I am so sad that it looks like you have to give up your farm. I do not live in your area, but I just wanted to mention that for some people it is impossible to get to local farmer’s markets. However, for those people CSA baskets are becoming more popular. I wonder if the delivery of meat in your county or in two neighboring counties would be a good alternative to the farmer’s market for someone in your shoes. A lot of people, myself included, have taken to buying meat from places like Slanker’s Grassfed Meats, since farmer’s markets are not an option and/or do not carry what we need (although, alas, I can only afford their cheapest ground beef and none of their chicken, although chicken would be my preferred meat). If you cannot deal with packaging and shipping out of state nor provide the prices they can on account of how large their operation is, maybe local semi-weekly delivery, particularly if word got out through established CSAs, might be an option (?).

  • Catherine Wood

    Oh I want to cry for you. I can’t imagine how hard of a decision this had to be for you and your family. I’m still fairly new to your blog but I’ve loved every post I’ve read. I applaud you and your family for all your hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears you’ve poured into farming and I’m truly sorry that it’s not going to work out for you. Thank you for being real and honest with us, though. As hard as this has to be, God has a wonderful plan for your beautiful family. He will bless you for your compassionate heart for farming and, more importantly, your family. I’ll continue to be a reader of your blog and look forward to hearing about your next steps. Oh, and don’t let internet “trolls” get to you. They’re just like bullies in real life except they have anonymity so they become even more mean. Their words may be harsh but don’t let them get to you. Your readers love you :)

  • Catherine Wood

    Oh I want to cry for you. I can’t imagine how hard of a decision this had to be for you and your family. I’m still fairly new to your blog but I’ve loved every post I’ve read. I applaud you and your family for all your hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears you’ve poured into farming and I’m truly sorry that it’s not going to work out for you. Thank you for being real and honest with us, though. As hard as this has to be, God has a wonderful plan for your beautiful family. He will bless you for your compassionate heart for farming and, more importantly, your family. I’ll continue to be a reader of your blog and look forward to hearing about your next steps. Oh, and don’t let internet “trolls” get to you. They’re just like bullies in real life except they have anonymity so they become even more mean. Their words may be harsh but don’t let them get to you. Your readers love you :)

  • Meagan

    Oh Brenda! I am so sorry! I pray that you are at peace with your decision. Maybe God will provide you a place in your new home to have a “mini” farm instead :)

  • Meagan

    Oh Brenda! I am so sorry! I pray that you are at peace with your decision. Maybe God will provide you a place in your new home to have a “mini” farm instead :)

  • Anonymous

    Oh I’m so sorry!!! I’ll grieve with you. And I’ll shop more freely at my farmer’s market stand. Thank you for explaining why it costs more, on so many levels.

  • Anonymous

    Oh I’m so sorry!!! I’ll grieve with you. And I’ll shop more freely at my farmer’s market stand. Thank you for explaining why it costs more, on so many levels.

  • Nicole

    Sounds like regulations and location are making it impossible. Another difficulty is that much of the big farming food products are subsidized and therefore our sense of food prices are skewed. I think it’s a great idea to ask us to support your farm with some donation. I also think it’s a great idea to somehow fight for subsidy or against subsidies for big farms so they can compete in ‘reality’. I also wish that you had written this post before it was too late. You seem to be getting so much support. I really think that it’s getting back to small farms and eating whole food that will solve the bulk of our problems as a society and our give us back our health. I live in Canada, so I’m not sure there is much I can do, but I’d gladly give a donation to you to continue your farm for another season! I have just recently broke free of my defeatist attitude about the poor quality of our food and wish to vote for sustainable farming types and also for local small producers. I’ve finallysearched out my local farms that I would want to buy from and they were very difficult to find. Many things I have to order online. Food in general in Canada is expensive, if I could buy a bunch of carrots for a dollar that would beat the regular $3. And for a small farm raised chicken $17 sounds about right or on the cheap side. But everything is more expensive here. I view the food that I buy as an investment in my health. I’m tired of feeling bad. It took me several years to break free of the marketing hype we are fed all our lives, and to believe in true health and healthy, sustainable farming is possible to find. And I am someone who has always had a passion for our environment. It’s a hard sell for anyone. I believe my calling is to help educate people on ‘real health’ and I have recently found a great wealth of information from a growing healthy living movement that I am eating up! I hope you get an opportunity to go back to farming as you have such a passion for it and that the necessary factors are there for your success. In the meantime, please continue your quest to educate people on small farming and the value of whole food and ‘real health’!

  • Jim Smith

    Whats really weird are those so trusting in the “system” that think theyre not “suckers” yet would have no idea how to feed themselves if their was regional tragedy that effected the mainstream food grid.

  • Lola

    A farmer I was talking to a couple of years ago grew flowers, pesticide free fruit/veg and said they were far more profitable than his animal side…

  • truthseeker

    I am terribly sad for you, as many have shared. It seems to me that one of the things most threatening the sustainability of small farms is government regulations, which keep you from selling across state lines to people who would buy your food. Unfortunately, this is not accidental, as government is working very hard to eliminate the competition of Big Food. It is very expensive to eat quality food unless you grow your own, and that too is often the result of burdensome and unnecessary government interference. It really is time that people stood up and insisted that government stay out of our food.

  • LibertyL

    My thoughts exactly…crowdfunding is great to get your business or farm off the ground, or to expand it, but if your farm or business is already struggling then crowdfunding just postpones the inevitable. It would make more sense if people would simply buy Brenda’s wonderful farm products rather than sending the money by way of charity.

  • LibertyL

    Other than the restrictions regarding poultry sales and the difficulty of farmsharing with another family that Brenda mentions below, I think you have some really amazing ideas! Thank you for that.

  • LibertyL

    I am very sorry to read about all the difficulties you are also having on your small farm, Wendy! All of these similar sounding stories certainly don’t give me much hope for my small farm… :(

  • LibertyL

    Thank you for pointing that out, Danielle. I too live in Ontario Canada and we’ve never had issues selling our raw honey for more per pound than the crap sold at the grocery store. I’m just concerned now since I am raising turkeys just like Brenda and I am worried nobody will buy them…they will be more than the Frankenturkeys sold at the Walmart!

  • LibertyL

    Sounds like you’ve come up with some really wonderful ways to make it work for you and your family, Jen!

  • LibertyL

    I feel for you as well Honest Desires Farm…what a lot of hard work you have had to put into getting almost zero back out of it…and by the way, this is one of the many reasons I choose not to sell at farmers markets! People act like they’re doing you a favor, and they expect your vegetables to be the same price or cheaper than the garbage for sale at Walmart. Very sad.
    I sell my stuff through my website, word of mouth, and having people sign up for my meat CSA. I sure hope things turn more positive for you soon; it is heartbreaking indeed when i read stories like yours…

  • LibertyL

    Totally agree with you. I choose not to sell at farmer’s markets; they just are too much work for very little income and reward for my hard work! CSAs are becoming more and more popular in the area where I live, and I offer a meat CSA to my customers as well. This way customers know they will have a year’s worth of humanely and healthily grown meat but they don’t have to pay for it all up front.

  • LibertyL

    Brenda mentioned they need an income as they still have a mortgage to pay…otherwise your suggestion would be a perfect one… :)

  • LibertyL

    I sure agree with you that folks in Europe appreciate good, clean food. Also, they don’t seem to have the bureaucratic issues with foods like raw milk. I just returned from a nice long trip to the Netherlands where I am originally from, and I couldn’t get over the difference between how Europeans view their food sources vs North Americans.
    I hope you can make it work and continue to farm, no matter where you and your family end up living. Good luck!

  • LibertyL

    Wow, thank you! You have touched on some excellent points in your post!
    One of my questions is..why are people willing to feel like crap, be on all kinds of expensive medications, but insist on buying only cheap crappy food filled with GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, etc…wouldn’t it make more sense for people to wean themselves from that unhealthy merry-go round, start eating local and healthy (though it may cost more at the start) and eventually find they don’t need a lot of their expensive medications anymore?

  • LibertyL

    That was kindof a rude way for you to put things. “Weird”? Why would you even add that word to your post? No need for you to put rude comments like this on this blog, no matter what your own personal issues may be. Hope you’re not teaching your 10 kids to be that rude and disrespectful to other human beings.

  • LibertyL

    I don’t think she has a firecracker personality. She’s simply rude and disrespectful, and obviously can’t read what it says in Brenda’s post about the reasons why they’re doing what they’re doing. It also sounds like she doesn’t care what’s in the food she may be buying for her family. I certainly found your links very informative, but if she’s already making sure the world knows she’s “not a sucker” then you will never convince somebody like her why cheap food is unhealthy for her and her kids.
    Trying to explain reality to people like “Beadlady” is kindof like nailing Jello to a tree: fun for awhile, but it never really gets you anywhere.
    Thank you for your links, though.

  • LibertyL

    Good points.

  • LibertyL

    Excellent comments from a fellow Canadian! Thank you! And thank you also for your decision to support small farms. :)

  • Wendy Hoge McKenzie

    Thanks, just easy to be discouraged this year, but I don’t think I mentioned that we did start a goat milk soap business that is doing well and we are hoping to expand it enough to supplement our income and provide the extras we enjoy (4-H critters). You can check it out at udderlynaked.com.

  • LibertyL

    Hey, that sounds great Wendy! I will check itout right now; thanks! And good luck with this wonderful new venture!

  • LibertyL

    Now I know why your farm sounded familiar to me! I read about you guys in Mother Earth News! Way to go; that is very exciting! :)

  • Wendy Hoge McKenzie

    Yeah! That was very cool, even if it was a little write up, I should post the whole story on our webpage.

  • http://asouthernwriter.com/ Joyce J

    I’m in the same boat. A few years ago, I had to put college and working on hold due to some health issues I was having. I am getting better by eating right, but I am still having issues. For a while I had to get gov. assistance for food. I currently STILL don’t have insurance either. I have to pay out of pocket, and I see a holistic doctor. I tried to buy mostly organic, but when the local stores don’t have everything you need, it’s hard to NOT settle for what’s there. Most organic food places and markets only accept cash (except for Whole Foods, which out local area one is STILL being built – and a few farmers markets that we don’t have in the area). It’s very difficult.. Hang in there. :)

  • Honest Desires Farm

    Thank you for your kind words. I think we will be moving more toward the methods you have mentioned. Word of mouth. Web site. CSA. I want to believe in the farmers markets but as a main income source I am not convinced. I am hopefully that next year will be better and we will learn from our mistakes (as we made several). I am proud of what we do. With you in spirit!

  • Julia King

    Agreed in all counts… I actually changed a lot of my angry “wtf” language on there. I figured if there was a possibility if her listening at all -in-the-slightest— it wouldn’t be with the words I first chose! Haha! A lot of the ignorant folks actually have no idea- probably because they don’t wanna hear it- but you never know when they might! At the March against Monsanto in Boston, sooooo many people were asking, “who’s Monsanto…. What’s GMO?” Etc.. You never know…. And with so many that need to be educated on what is happening to their food- I gotta Try!!!!….. However futile it may be! Thank you for your reply :) !!! Excuse typos because its a hurried last minute reply on my phone!

  • Treffynnon Farm

    Thanks! Did you run across any of the raw milk dispensers on the street?

  • Ali Mygrants

    I have never owned a farm. I ALMOST convinced my husband to try for one next year, but after reading about the cost and upkeep of raising chickens I got discouraged. Him working full time, me raising four kids and working even just a few chickens wasn’t profitable. Especially with having to keep them healthy, since birds are soo suseptable to disease and viruses. It makes me sad. I have wanted my whole life to be a farmer, but I know realistically, especially with having four kids in under five years, we cannot do it. I feel for you, even if I don’t know first hand what you’re going through. It makes me sad that your family has to go through this, especially knowing how deeply connected you are to farming. In a perfect world your career, your passion, would be well paying and much appreciated. However, today is a world that too many people think farming is silly and useless. The ignorance must be changed. Even if this year you can’t farm, or even next year, I hope you continue to fight for the need for farmers. I hope you continue to use your voice, your outlets, to help people understand that what they’re buying at the store is hurting them. Please don’t ever become silent wherever you go, because people like you give people like me hope for a better future. You are inspiring, and you don’t need a farm to continue what you’re doing. Keep on keeping on, friend, and I hope in the future you can find your way back to the farm where you belong. All the best!

  • glasshalffull

    I would suggest diversifying….How do you feel about growing berries (like blueberries and strawberries and having it be “pick your own”? I have a good friend who started planting 50 blueberry bushes a year and in 2 weeks time makes nearly enough money for the whole year….I wish you the very best and would be very sad for you if you have to move.

  • Anonymous

    Please share your story with both the press, and your state and national legislators (invite them to your farm). Join with national organizations who are working to influence public policies, such as the National Family Farm Coalition. And thank you for working so hard to produce good food.

  • LibertyL

    No, unfortunately, I think that’s more the case in countries like France. You could certainly buy lots of fresh food including raw milk at the wonderful little grocery stores they have everywhere in the Netherlands, though!

  • LibertyL

    You are absolutely right, Julia! No matter peoples’ ignorance, we must keep trying to get the word out there. As you know, one person will hear you and tell someone else, then they will tell someone, and so on…
    Oh yeah, I had to do some deep breathing there after I finished reading that silly woman’s comments and do my best to keep my fingers from dropping the f-bomb on my keyboard, for sure! LOL!
    Did you go to the march against Monsanto in Boston? Cool! Lucky you if you had a chance to go!

  • Mark & Kendra Custance

    Thank you for your post it does bring the light of reality to a lifestyle I have romanticized my wife and I are just about to take the pluge into starting out own farmstead and we hope whatever does happen for you that you contuine to share your pasion for this and write a book :)

  • Heartwrenched…..

    Let me start out as many others have…..I am so very sorry for your pending loss and the eloquent telling of this tragedy has tears welling in my eyes!!
    I would like to say also that I have read many posts below about people who know people that are looking for exactly what you have. I realize that trying to uproot and go through the same growing pains at this particular point may be impossible. But take into consideration the areas these comments are coming from. There is something to be said for the area(s) in which you choose to undertake such a venture. For example we live in an area that is generally lower income with many larger “real” farmers in the vicinity. (Please don’t anybody take offense to the wording of my next few sentences….it’s the best way I can think of to word it right now.) Three hours away there is an “upscale” town that has many yuppy trendy type people who go crazy over things grown this way. Artisan items, organic items, grass fed – it doesn’t matter they just need to be marketed in the right area sometimes. I guess what I’m saying is that perhaps keep your minds open and look to the future and maybe with some research you can find an area better suited to do what you are looking to do. I also think that you could diversify some without expending a ton of income or the all important resource of time. An apiary perhaps? Finding a livestock animal that you can also make income on by selling breeding stock instead of just finished product? It can be more cost effective in many cases to be selling top end breeding stock than raising up animals for meat. (ie my breeding stock goats sell for more at weaning than the commercial meat goats do when finished out and sold by the pound)
    I’m sure you guys have thought of many things and gone round and round looking for ways to save what you are doing and your way of life. So I’m probably not telling you anything new. God Bless and good luck on your new journey…..

  • MsGredenko

    As a former marketer in my pre-kids life I’m thinking you’re not reading between the lines of what the farmers’ market walk by’s are really saying. The truth is many people are pinching pennies in today’s economy and you can’t size up discretionary income by looking at someone. What I hear in some of the comments mentioned is that this price might decimate their food budget, and they’re not ready or might not have another area in their life to steal that cost from.

    This product should not be aimed at the general public. You need to identify groups that already are sold on the idea that the cheaper version of this food might be making them sick. I would look for people that already spend money to take care of their health. I would consider purchasing mailing lists from local health food stores, EMS membership lists, gyms, triathlon running or biking groups, wellness physician’s groups (ie weight loss clinics). Our local Y invites a county farmer’s co-op in once a week and I’ve heard the response was very strong. Are there restaurants in your area yet that promise only non-GMO food? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a restaurant as a regular customer? Might be worth someone’s while to get out there and pound the pavement. Good luck everyone

  • New Pioneer Woman

    Be very careful about wanting to raise /sell your turkeys to resto’s. I am in Western WA, and I had raised only heritage breeds/varieties of livestock on my farm… one year, a resto just on the other side of the mountains had contacted us regarding serving our heritage turkeys for their traditional, heritage breed Thanksgiving dinner, and purchased the last 6 White Hollands we had (remember, heritage turkeys do not get large since they are all closely based on the wild turkey). The tax season had rolled around, and they wanted me to fill out a form to allow a 1099. I refused, and explained that I would only fill out one if we were under contract to raise turkeys for them. They had asked us to raise more for the next season, but refused to allow a written contract nor would they put down a deposit. I raised 20 extra poults that season to prepare for their request. I had called them several times to let them know the turkeys were ready for processing that early fall, and they never returned my call. so I had spent all the extra money – in poults and raising costs and the local demand had also waned due to a failing economy. BTW, in WA, it is mandatory to have all meats slaughtered and processed at a USDA approved facility if it is to be used for any other purpose other than your own.

    Just a side note, I had an Heritage Breed farm (raised over 40 different breeds of heritage chickens, 15 varieties of heritage turkeys, 11 breeds of heritage ducks, 8 breeds of heritage geese, Dexter cattle, Soay and Katahdin sheep, also Maremma LGD’s and American Farm Collie herding dogs).. It took 5 years and most of my active duty military pay to get it that far. we had jsut put in 7 raised beds for a Heirloom variety CSA venture… and then, in Dec, 2009, I lost the farm after my ex husband decided to stop paying the mortgage because “it was too much work”, and he was mad that I had retired from the military, dropping my income about 75%. He waited until I had been retired 4 months, and left in the dead of winter so that there was no way I could save the place. I ended up giving away the more rare breeds and species to other breeders , and filling my freezer with the rest. After we had run out of our frozen homegrown heritage chickens, I looked around for more heritage breed pasture raised chicken to restock the freezer. All I could find was this local guy who had gotten a HUGE USDA farm grant to start his pasture raised poultry operation… with fast-growing “frankenchicken” broilers. To me, that is hypocritical… if one wants a “fast-growing” chicken, there are heritage breeds what will grow fairly quickly, and put on good weight in their first season if they are started early enough – Buckeye is a perfect example – and you are preserving a breed, feeding it correctly, and would be providing a far more superior meat than any broiler can provide while introducing the public to the better flavor (and hopefully causing a demand) of heritage breeds.

    It is now 3 years later, and I am blessed that my new husband of almost 2 years, is also wanting to be self-sufficient on a farm, and we are hoping to close soon on a 22 acre place in a more farm-friendly county.. it was never used as a farm, so we would be starting totally over in having to fence, cross fence, and add outbuildings. Instead of starting out as a business, our goal is to first be self-sufficient, and then sell excess and grow as the local demand dictates…. It does not have to be “the end”.. If farming is your passion, do not give up on it. One thing to remember – “Your Dreams Do Not Have An Expiration Date. Take a Deep Breath, and Try Again.”

  • CARO NESS

    I am so sad for you. I wish you well in all future endeavours and I do believe that your role now is to fight for small farmers rights. Is keeping the farm a complete impossibility? Just keeping some birds for eggs and selling the rest of your livestock and machinery and staying in your beautiful home even though you don’t farm it any more?

  • Tina Reid

    Oh this is so sad! Big corporations are really killing us. I have had farmers in my family over the years, none of them very successful so I know how hard it is. Most people do not understand that. And it is sad that really good food is so expensive, but the cancer causing packaged food is cheaper!!! She is right and it is not fair. I feel so bad. This will be extremely hard on this family. I hope they can stay strong. They have one thing-love. Such a huge love for each other.

  • http://www.adjuvancy.com/wordpress Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

    Unfortunately, this is the system that obtains. It is geared to the corporate farmer and not the individual entity.

    Regarding the $ 17 chicken- I know your pain. But, would pay $ 4 for a pound of pure organic feed when you can buy non-GMO for $ 1? What makes your decision different?

    Now, I don’t pay $ 17 for 3.5 of chicken- unless I am stuck and there’s nothing else available. But, I routinely spend $ 14.50- because I keep kosher. So, I know the choices I made in my life that makes my meat and chicken costs higher- much higher than others would consider reasonable.

    There are ways to turn the situation around. There may be ways to even make reasonable profits. But, yet another problem for the individual farmer is that they tend to not seek out professional assistance- not necessarily because of the costs, but often they resent a loss of independence…

    Either way, it’s the same dilemna for every small business person with the world’s best product or service…

  • Gillie

    I am an English girl. I spent some of the best days of my life living with family friends on a farm in North Dakota in the seventies. Life was hard but not impossible and it was wonderful. It hurts and terrifies me that farming, whether in the States or the Durham Dales where I now live is becoming unfeasible, that factory farmers are producing cheap but rubbish quality food. When we were young we ate meat occasionally but it was good. Now people expect to be able to eat what was once expensive food on a daily basis and pay nothing for it. We have lost quality to quantity. I am so sorry that you are forced to sell up but so grateful that there are still people like you who are willing to at least try. Soon there will be nobody left to give it a go.

  • Alana Mautone

    I am sending some virtual hugs your way. I’ve shared this on Facebook and tweeted. It brings back too many memories of years ago in Arkansas, when my husband and I had dreams of having a small farm – we found out very quickly it would not work – as one example, our free range eggs cost more to produce than to sell and we didn’t even feed the chickens organically (which the health food store we supplied started to demand we do!!!) – we abandoned our dream before we poured our life savings into a lost cause and went back to the city. We do shop at local farmers markets but we do not often purchase chicken or beef – we understand well that the prices farmers charge are realistic but my husband only works part time – we have to budget carefully, being relatively close to retirement age. And many people we know could never afford the prices for quality meat. How sad! I hope you find a way that works for you and lets you keep your dream.

  • Sara

    Wow. This just breaks my heart :( I agree with most everything you say and wish so much that this could change. Somehow it just needs to become more affordable to raise animals healthfully; $17 for a chicken is not possible for me to buy (that is most of my food budget for a week) as much as I would like to and want to support farmers like you. So instead, I rarely buy meat.

  • Anonymous

    The cost of food doesn’t reflect the real cost of raising it because most farming is subsidized with tax money. This is why people are generally not prepared to pay as much for non-subsidized, good real food. I wish I could, but although we spend much less than average on housing costs and very little on anything else but food and necessities, jobs don’t really pay that much and we just barely make it buying generic organic food. I’d be willing to pay more for good food if I had the money.

  • Bill Jacobs

    Wish you and your family could have made it all work out.

  • The Logical Prepper

    Sorry, but there isn’t a chicken alive worth $17.50. one can say they are until blue in the face. It does not matter. Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay. That is a basic economic fact. How do people know the broth is more nutrient dense than other broths? Has it been scientifically analyzed? People are living longer and healthier than ever before, yes… even with all the grain fed birds and beef. A doc tells you your birds are superior. How does he know that? Does he buy your birds? What scientific study did he do to make such a determination? You say your own studies already proved that out. What qualifies you and what scientific methodology did you use? Internet research? That does not count.
    Look, I am all for you raising you birds however you like. However, you make scientific claims about what you are doing without performing any scientific studies. Just what should be based on what you read somewhere. Then you sound like you blame others “who just don’t get it” for your misfortune or poor business planning. Please!
    Anthropomorphic Global Warming anyone?

  • The Logical Prepper

    Smart man.

  • The Logical Prepper

    Heck, just work and raise the food for your own family. Surely, you don’t mind all the cost for yourselves. Do you? Chicken 20 days a month @ $17 a bird = $340 a month just for the birds. A real bargain compared to $5 a bird or $100 a month with absolutely no possible way of proving the cheaper bird kills you.

  • Diana McNamara

    Hi Brenda,
    First, apologies if I repeat anything that anyone else has contributed, I’ve not time to read all the comments. Second, fantastic effort on your farm, so impressive, :) I hope a solution will present itself to keep you farming there. I was struck by two things when I read your post – mail order & write a book about your experiences! :) a great example is ‘The Dirty Life’. She just wrote about her experiences on the farm and people snapped it up! Unfortunately, as you noted, people often don’t want to pay the full value of their food, but, they will sit in their couches and read about your good work ;) plus, there’s greater leverage in publishing so it will compliment the low leveragability of farming due to it being organic & (as you know better than most) thus restricted by natural limits. Second point, a farm here in England uses mail order to broaden its customer base (I order my bacon from them because its organic & nitrate free). I currently live in UK but grew up in NH. Laverstoke Park Farm
    http://www.laverstokepark.co.uk/
    Produce organic beef, lamb, pork, poultry and buffalo meat.

    You and your family are truly trail blazers and the food you produce more valuable than gold! And yes, you are correct, cheap food = diseased humans & animals! :(

    All the best,
    Diana

  • Diana McNamara

    This is a great suggestion! :)

  • Hogsquash Hollow

    That 38.50 for a chicken is right on par for our new world market. An ounce of gold used to be worth $20. Now it is around $1700. If you figure inflation has cut the value of the dollar by 85 times, that chicken would have sold for 45 cents before inflation.

  • Geniene

    MsGredenko, I think you have raised a great point here, and this was my thinking, as well. I would love to eat Brenda’s birds rather than Walmart’s or others, and although the woman mentioned might have handled it rudely, perhaps her thinking is like mine: I simply can’t afford it. Yet, I will allow for the possibility that she is like the average American extravagantly spending on leisure and pleasures where she could be purchasing quality food for her family instead.

    However, we really can’t afford it. We have always lived off my husband’s income alone, which has been barely above poverty levels for much of our marriage. We, too, have been led to homeschool, and in spite of my husband’s brilliance, alas, he does not have the magic paper (college degree) which “qualifies” people for well-paying jobs (but that also means no school loans and therefore no debt for us.) Granted, we could make better choices of eating—eg. less meat and more produce [or less food in general?]—which might help our budget if we don’t try to buy organic produce (which is simply not sustainable on our average income), but as I am not my husband’s mother, I am somewhat limited to his eating/budget preferences. And lest someone question our other purchasing habits, we live very simple lives. I happen to dislike spending period, and I can’t remember ever shopping frivolously. I don’t buy homeschool curriculum, we especially don’t buy toys or any other entertaining devices, nor do my kids or I get a new wardrobe every year. We do what it takes to walk in obedience to God and live gratefully and cheerfully within the confines of the income which He has provided.

    As a rabbit trail… In fact, this last year my husband lost his job, which meant no income for an entire year. Only God sustained us, and I thank Him almost everyday for what He has been teaching us about faith and following Him. Never losing utilities or our home, and never missing a meal, we trusted Him every day as we waited for “our daily bread”. And with His provision, there were many foods provided that I did not wish to offer to my children because of our food allergies and other autoimmune psychological conditions. Thankfully, God is bigger than all of that, so we threw some “flour” into the pot (2 Kings 4:41) and gratefully ate.

    Brenda, I applaud your efforts to farm and I commend you and your husband for your hard work and ingenuity. And now, as I see you are selling/moving—not completely up-to-date on your story—I would urge you to just keep looking to your heavenly Father for His direction, because only He can sustain you and unless the Lord builds the house… you know the rest! ;-) Allow your husband to lead as God directs him, and please… never be ashamed of the work that your husband does—whether farmer or janitor—as he does it unto the Lord, as gifted by Him. If God has called you to be a “Software Test Manager’s Wife,” there is absolutely NO shame in that. Embrace it and lovingly support your husband’s giftedness. He needs to know that you are proud of him, rather than possibly feeling like a failure who doesn’t fit your ideals. God bless you in all your endeavors, and especially as you care for the “orphans”.

  • Nissa Gadbois

    Vicky,

    We have a farm, too. We have considered crowdfunding. I’m curious to know what you felt made your campaign successful.

  • Nissa Gadbois

    I disagree. At least, I really feel like it depends upon the project. If your project materially improves your ability to serve your customer, or reduces your expenses by its efficiency, then it can be an answer. If, however, you are looking for operating capital, then I agree.

  • Kim

    Your only mistake was probably going into debt…

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