Open-Source Sheep-Raising

Another year, another business plan.

At least, that’s how it feels.  My grand plan is for a 50 ewe operation, and can’t really be applied until I have 20 or more ewes.  With seven ewes and perhaps ten lambs projected, I’ll need to choose my marketing more carefully.  But what should I do?

I have successfully sold my lamb and mutton to family and friends in the past, and ten lambs and perhaps one ewe is within the parameters of what I’ve sold so far.  It is easy enough to re-use my list of previous buyers.  On the other hand, it doesn’t feel like a real business if your family is buying a lot of your products.  I have the option of selling lamb at the Burlington Farmer’s Market, which is bereft of lamb and has a high proportion of people who can afford lamb.   Both are equally remunerative, but the Farmer’s Market would spread my name around more, and would possibly allow me to sell more of my yarn….

….buuuuut….If I sell more of my yarn through the Burlington Farmer’s Market, I’ll have less inventory for the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival, where I had a fabulous 2014 sales experience.  Selling at the Sheep and Wool Festival was pricey, but the lambs I brought were a hit and I cleared out many of my products with a dedicated knitting crowd.  A good booth should have plenty of product.  Lots of product makes people feel like your business is serious, it seems.  What is the proportion of knitters at the Burlington Farmer’s Market?

One seeming solution would be to bring the yarn to the Sheep and Wool Fest, and to sell the meat at the Farmer’s Market.  A farmer’s market is only worthwhile if you’re making a certain amount of money per hour, so I would hesitate to bring less product just for the sake of having a full booth at the Sheep and Wool Festival.

All of this is moot, of course, if I don’t find a place to keep the sheep within the next six weeks or so.  I’m also searching for a job that will allow me sufficient sheep-time.  Whew!

Any thoughts you have are more than welcome.

2 thoughts on “Open-Source Sheep-Raising

  1. Whew, is right. So many questions. Here are some more: Can you get in the Burlington Farmers Market? If not, do the other markets in the area draw enough people? What is wrong about continuing to sell direct to friends and family?

    1. I can get into the Burlington Farmer’s Market – the market manager said that they want lamb really, really badly.

      I want to be able to supply friends and family, but it doesn’t really grow my business because it consumes most of the lamb but not always all of it, and then I need to sell, say, two lambs to other people. Two lambs are not enough to bring to market. It’s the old “more than I can eat, not enough to sell” conundrum!

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