Bootstrap @ Blue Sage Farm – Reflections on Policy and Regulation

Blue Sage Farm - In the barnI have to say I feel really lucky that I have a great dairy inspector.  I’ve heard horror stories about how an inspector can make your life miserable but I haven’t experienced that.  I think it helps that we built our facility new and didn’t try to retrofit an old barn. 

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Bootstrap @ North Country Creamery – The Year in Review

North Country Creamery - working on the dum wagonNow I understand how Kristin Kimball filled her book The Dirty Life with stories from her first year farming. I’ve been working on farms for over a decade, but this was my first year running a business, and goodness gracious, I could fill a volume with this month’s blog topic “year in review”. I started this business because I predicted I would always love the bovine, and enjoy milking them like crazy. Luckily, I still do. Little could I imagine how much else would be involved in realizing that dream.

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Bootstrap @ The Golden Yoke – Looking Back, Looking Ahead

The Golden Yoke - lots of snowIt is hard to believe that this is our last post as Bootstrap Bloggers. This year has flown by; it seems like it was just a few weeks ago that we were writing our first installment. When we wrote the first blog, we were looking forward to spring and now we are settling into winter. As I write this we are under a winter weather watch with forecasts for several inches of snow. And for followers of our farm, you might remember that out here in the west farmers look anxiously to the mountains for lots of snow, guaranteeing good irrigation water for next summer.

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Bootstrap @ Chaseholm Farm – Final Reflections on 2013

Chaseholm Farm - Chase in front of fieldsBefore I had started farming I used to think about writing in a notebook or generally documenting my first steps so that I could look back and know what I had done and how to make it better. But once I started I was so busy and so worried I was forgetting something else that I definitely didn’t remember to properly document my path. I got lucky that Bootstrap stepped in to make me take notice, to help me summarize my experiments for better or worse, to formulate opinions about my progress.

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Bootstrap @ The Golden Yoke – State Policy Comes to the Farm in Montana

Policy is one of those subjects that people either seem to love or hate. Some farmers have no interest in getting involved with policy, even though it might directly affect them. And clearly, most policy makers at higher levels of government have little interest or relation to farming. Bridging this divide to create policy that is responsive to the needs of dairy farmers across the United States is something that we both are active with and is a frequent topic of discussion on the farm.

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Bootstrap @ North Country Creamery – Farm Policy on the Small Farm

North Country Creamery - display cooler

Our display cooler: the sign on the left Steven found in the back of one if our barns! Sign on the right is what NYS Dept of Ag and Markets required us to post: “raw milk sold here; this product does not provide the protection of pasteurization” mmmm, appetizing!

The most direct interaction I have with the government in the dairy business comes through the New York Sate Department of Agriculture and Markets. Every month, the inspector comes to collect product samples to be tested for bacteria counts, and runs through the checklist to ensure we’re following cleanliness standards.

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Bootstrap @ Chaseholm Farm – Farm Policy at Home

Chaseholm farm - Dana in the field

Dana in the fields at Chaseholm Farm.

Hi all, it’s a rainy day in the Hudson Valley and the cows are inside, we made our rotation last until October 27th in our first season. Not bad…but room for improvement.

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Bootstrap @ Corse Family Farm – Thoughts on Marketing

Corse Family Farm - Organic Valley demo picWhen it comes to marketing on our farm we are in an entirely different boat than my fellow Bootstrap contributors. One of the most beneficial aspects (for us at least) of belonging to a cooperative is that sales and marketing is built into the model and not something that we as farmers need to be concerned with on an everyday basis. I personally LOVE this.

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Bootstrap @ The Golden Yoke – Marketing and Sales

The Golden Yoke - logoFor marketing, like the rest of our farm venture, we are starting small with big visions for the future. We currently have a logo, a Facebook page, a domain name, and are within a couple days of launching a Kickstarter campaign. We have visions of shirts, stickers, ice cream cartons, a scoop mobile, and much more.

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Bootstrap @ North Country Creamery – developing a marketing plan

North Country Creamery - talking with a customer at the market

Speaking with a customer at the farmers market.

This year we took a multi-prong approach to marketing. I was striving toward an ideal that we would sell most of our products through a CSA. We managed to serve around a dozen members locally, and twenty-eight members through Juniper Hill Farms’ Farmigo share (a CSA service managed completely online). The local CSA operated like a pre-paid credit system where the members start off with a “Small Share” or “Large Share” balance, receiving extra credit toward their balance in exchange for their pre-payment, and we track their purchases on a weekly basis. Members can pick up at the Farmstore or the Farmers Markets. This year we tracked balances on paper and sent out email notices, but would like to find an affordable swipe card system in the future, where members can check their balance at any given time.

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