Actually, I'm doing my bi-annual read-through of Joel Salatin's 'You Can Farm' and doing one of the exercises he recommends for expanding your vision and encouraging innovation for your farm business.
I would dearly love to bounce ideas off a fellow small-farmer who is successful. Walk the land, point out problems and possibilities I have not thought of. Where's a mentor when you need one? :) The problem with diving headfirst into dairying like I have is that you are not free to intern for six months at Polyface in Virginia. :bangs head on desk:
"We must view ourselves as earth stewards, not cattle farmers, grain farmers or vegetable producers. The whole mentality of viewing ourselves as species-specific practitioners destroys the holistic mindset that sees the farm and, indeed, our whole lives, as being a non-compartmentalized whole. We must stop this mental divorce and appreciate that as farmers or would-be farmers we are caretakers first and foremost. Within that context, we will find things at which we excel, and things on which we may want to concentrate. Just because you have a proficiency to grow vegetables does not mean you know nothing about livestock or pasture management. Nature is diverse, and it is a whole. Let's be done with compartmentalized thinking. ~ You Can Farm"
I am a land steward, with an affinity for dairy farming.
Many states do not allow farmers to make use of what I believe to be one of the most financially lucrative farming business: raw milk dairying, selling direct to consumer. With five cows in this region of Portlandia, you can easily gross $50,000 a year on 5 acres of prime pasture, with a net earning of around $25,000 if you become established in the niche market which is rapidly growing.
...Here's a few things that make me tick, and that I either am currently raising or would love to raise on a farm...
Heifers for families wanting a milk cow
...Brainstorming exercise for how to improve current set-up and realization of above dreams...
MiG renovations: better water set-up, shelter, more portable inner fencing
Business renovations: sell calves instead of raising, purchase parlor dishwasher, barn extension/renovation for winter cow housing/hay/biomass storage, establishing herd shares and co-op purchasing, implement proper compost spreading/regular foliar feeding of pastures, stockpiling carbon from sources like wood chips from road crews.
Advertising: website, business card, regular farm tours, 'milking' experience/lessons for homeschool groups/families.
Let's see... divide myself in half, grow an extra arm or two, and this list is a distinct possibility!
Actually, I have a bad head cold, my back is hurting (thanks for the dose of humility, God, I'm falling apart), and it's snowing outside, otherwise I'd get out there and start tackling the handwritten chore list of spring preparations. There is just so much to be done, and I'm only 3 years into the 5-7 year learning curve where my farming projects will not be profitable enough to earn a decent salary, so I can't pay my siblings to help as I would wish. I have to keep telling myself the experience I am gaining is invaluable.