For mid-life reasons I don’t care to discuss, my direct-marketing partners decided to get out of this gig and sell their farm. It was a good partnership for about nine years and I was sad to see it end. I wish them the best.
This summer I upped my marketing since Eric wasn’t active in the partnership. I sold most Saturdays at the West Side Farmer’s Market and I made many restaurant deliveries. I fully intended to take over the business and buy out my partners’ shares in the LLC.
I guess we should have talked price earlier in the process, as when we finally did, we were so far off it wasn’t even worth negotiating. I’m glad I didn’t buy them out as I knew I couldn’t do it all on my own, and I wasn’t thrilled to think about managing employees.
So when my disc golfing buddy Braden mentioned one day that he and his significant other, Daniele, would really like to have a small farm someday, and raise chickens and vegetables, the idea germinated that perhaps I could find some new partners.
I’ve been reading and rereading the Joel Salatin books on business and marketing. He says that if you are in your 40s or older and there is no one younger in your business, your business is dying, or something to that effect.
So I approached Braden and Daniele about partnering with me. I could give them access to land and a market and a few years experience which I hope has been distilled into wisdom. They could give me youthful energy and help marketing. Each offer other skills as well, (Braden is an electrician. Daniele is an elementary teacher).
To their credit, it took them a week to get back to me. Because I feel a bit like Tom Sawyer as this opportunity I’m presenting them, to quote Thomas Edison, is “dressed in overalls and looks like work!” But that’s what most opportunities look like, and I think by the end of the first year they will at least know if this is still a dream worth pursuing for them.
The first thing we did as partners was to go to my old partners’ farm sale. We ended up making a bulky purchase of chicken crates, which we will need if Braden raises broiler chickens as he plans. After we made the buy we had to figure out how to get the crates home as we only drove a truck to the sale. I said I would go back to my farm and get my cattle trailer. They could stay at the sale and bid on a couple more items we were interested in.
When I returned, the sale was over. By myself I would have been stressed gathering up all the purchases and loading and unloading the trailer. But they already had our purchases gathered in one spot. We loaded quickly, drove back to the farm, and unloaded quickly. I understood what Joel meant by youthful energy.
I like to strike when the iron is hot, and even though I am not ready to sell meat under our new name as we don’t have labels, etc. I thought it would be good to check out our spot at the Dane County Farmer’s Market at the capital.
We could have just drove up and walked around, but we got on the ball and gathered up some fall decorations to sell. Daniele made a sign and business cards. Our stuff didn’t sell very well, but we made some more contacts for Thanksgiving turkeys and started getting our new name out there.
Even though it was a long day with an early start, Braden and Daniele seem as enthused as ever. I plan to document this partnership with this blog and video, the new medium I’m exploring. I made a slide show of our first market.