As another year draws to an end, it makes good business sense to take some time to reflect on what we’ve done with the past 365 days. Many times as homesteaders we’re used to plowing ahead. This life can be hard at times, so if we quit every time something wasn’t easy we wouldn’t be homesteaders. In our first few years of tending our farm, we just kept on keeping on and never looked back. While we accomplished a lot, it left us exhausted and overwhelmed.
We had a preconceived notion as to what a farm “looked like” and it felt like we were faking unless we did it all. All of our meals must come from home-canned jars of “put up” food, with fresh goat milk and vegetables from the garden or we felt like we were cheating. It was stemmed from pride and a romantic idealism that wasn’t practical. I know that now.
After a while, we realized that the standard that we were holding ourselves to wasn’t sustainable for us. If we only had the farm to fill our time then maybe…but Zach was working a full-time day job and I was writing and raising our daughter.
Reflection helped. It helped a lot.
And since we’ve taken a step back and asked ourselves “what’s working?” and “what isn’t”. I feel like our farm is more successful than it’s ever been, and we’re happier and less stressed.
As you look back on 2017, ask yourself these questions:
- What was a true success?
- Are there elements in that success that you can apply in different areas of your homesteading business?
For us, last year was the first year that we offered a U-Pick sunflower field with the plan of offering a U-Pick Lavender filed this coming year. It was way more successful than we ever could have anticipated. I believe some of the main reasons for our success can be attributed to the following.
-Since most of our traffic was drive by, it helped that the sunflowers were close to the road and made a visible statement.
-Everything was self-serve, self-explanatory and uncomplicated which made our customers feel un-pressured and relaxed.
-It was a great atmosphere. Most of our Facebook feedback was what a great time people had sitting in the sunflower field watching the sun go down.
The things we learned by offering sunflowers will translate to our lavender business as well. The sunflowers also offer a great statement crop that will gather attention and work as an advertisement for the lavender.
Another success we had was by offering a Paint in the Field Class
Toward the end of the season, I decided to host a Paint in the Field class, which is like a Paint and Pour only out in the sunflower field.
Why was it a success?
I’ve been to other paint and pour type classes and they are really upbeat. My class offered something different. It was more of a relaxed setting with soft acoustic music and the sounds of nature and the farm. We also timed the class so the sun was just beginning to set and lit the sky up with beautiful colors.
Now that we have most of the supplies to host the class, I’m excited to include more painting options earlier in the year and in our lavender field.
Each person reading this is coming from a different set of circumstances. Each homestead is different from the next and presents its own set of challenges and benefits. In summary, the best advice I have is to:
-Be intentional in your reflections. Write down your answers if need be and be specific.
-Really read your online reviews or post questions to your customers on social media.
-Ask them what they enjoyed about your product or service.
-Ask what you can do better and heed the advice.
-Focus on the successful parts of the year and brainstorm how you can incorporate those ideas into other parts of your business.
-Remember to be joyful, grateful and celebrate your success. Take a moment to be proud of what you’ve accomplished.
Here’s hoping that 2018 is the best year yet for all of you! I wish you every success in the coming year.
Check out my Part 2 in this series on letting things go that aren’t working on your homestead.