Thursday, February 20, 2014

Greener pastures

Last year my husband spent time researching and then developing a new farm business plan for our farm.  This is what ultimately led to our making the big decision to move away from alpacas and start a sheep farm.

One of the biggest issues we have had is the fact we don't have grass pastures.  When we started our alpaca farm in 2007, we looked into a lot of different options.  For example, we looked at buying a farm, but the housing market is what it is and selling our house in the woods was not possible.  We looked at renting pasture land, or buying pasture land nearby.  We looked at different options and decided we would plant grass pastures on the land we have.

Since that time a few things happened:

*  we couldn't grow grassy pastures because of the sandy soil that would not hold the grass after the alpacas ate some of it
*  hay prices more than doubled (from $3 a bale to $7 a bale)
*  sales of alpacas slowed and the price they were selling for was less

All these changes really hurt our profit margin.  The truth is that if we bought alpacas now (at today's prices) and had our own pasture land, we could have had an awesome alpaca farm.  But, we bought at a different time and things changed that we didn't expect.

Along the way we tried various options. J tried to grow fodder (a long story there), which didn't work out either.

After exhausting many options we came to the big conclusion that:

We need grassy pastures.

This is essential in having a farm.

We looked around locally but ran into the same issues we did before. It wasn't feasible to rent or buy separate pasture land.  And frankly, Michigan has a short hay season.  We want green grassy pastures, and we want it most of the year.

We decided if we really want to the make our farm a reality, we need to do it full force.  This means moving our farm to a place where there is green grassy pastures most of the year.

This past summer we set out to find our land.

We found this, green and grassy with some cattle roaming:

It's green!

We've had our eye on this land for some time, and now have solid plans to make it our farm.

You can see my periodic land updates here.

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