Monday, November 26, 2012

Why do we do what we do?

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, its five year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life, and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Okay, okay, I'll stop my Trekki-ness.  But really, a mission is very important.  It brings clarity and purpose to a business and to life in general.  It's taken us a number of years to figure out what our mission is, but I think we've pretty much got it at this point.

Our ranch started out as just a hobby farm.  My dad was farming alfalfa on a separate property and we were just a farmer's family.  One day, we were getting feed for our horses and there were chicks for sale.  "Get one," my mom told me.  I looked at her like she was crazy, but I'm the kind of person who never turns down anything that's free so I picked out a chick.  Betty was a crazy looking "frizzle" chicken with feathers that curled backwards.  She was adorable.  And of course she needed friends...hence the gazillions of animals we now have.

But at some point we decided we needed more purpose in life then just breeding animals.  I learned that there are breeds of livestock that are going extinct (read more about livestock extinction here).  So we started collecting these breeds.  It was very difficult.  Our dorkings for instance took three years to find and our cotton patch geese took two years and a road trip to Texas.  We decided we loved preserving endangered livestock and maintaining our american farming heritage and diversity.  Of course it is more expensive to raise these animals.  They haven't been bred in sometimes centuries to produce consistently or at a quality level.  Our dorkings for instance have not laid in the past two weeks and we still have to feed them even though we have no babies to hatch out and sell.

We decided that we needed a way to support our mission and so the idea of a farmstay was born.  Why not invite people out to the ranch to learn about farming?  People will love that and the general population really needs to be educated about where their food comes from and it will generate more of an income to support the preservation of endangered breeds.  Plus, being on a farm in the middle of nowhere is sometimes lonely so we're bringing more social interaction to us.  It works out great all around!

Our idea of hosting overnight guests at the ranch is not the point of the ranch.  The farmstay supports the main goal of preserving livestock that might otherwise go extinct.

We also have some subgoals.  For instance, we want to hire (and have hired) veterans to work on the farm.  Veterans have a huge rate of PTSD and suicide right now and working on a farm has been shown to decrease the risk of these.  Hence our motto, The Endangered helping the Endangered.