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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Realities of Selling Livestock on the Homestead

Now, let me say I'm still quite new to the homesteading life style ...just going on 4 yrs....but its been 4 long years! lol!
Most homesteads raise some animals for meat, maybe some for milk( dairy animals are only for those not afraid of commitment!)... some for fiber..or fiber as a by-product of the animal many times.

And having meat/milk animals means you will have to breed them and you will have some to sell, in hopes to cover the cost of raising and/or milking them..... even with fiber animals many times you will need to breed them to make money for their feed since making enough money off raw fiber sales is next to impossible with as high as feed and hay are!
If you have animals that live on pasture alone...and you have pasture all year... well... you are lucky ...but you probably still have to vaccinate, worm them have medicines (or herbs) in case they get sick.. if you have sheep or alpacas you will have to buy an expensive shearing tool or hire a shearer and pray its a good one that takes bio-security pre-cautions with their shears and blades.

Example: I like Alpaca fiber and I had Alpacas for a very short time... this is not why I sold them(well its one of the reasons)  but....I figured it cost me around $105 (I figured much lower at first...then I remembered wormers and shearing fees) a year to keep a non-breeding fiber male Alpaca with mid-grade wool (of which these days the market is saturated) not to mention the management of the animal and my time... he will give me about 4 lbs of prime wool and maybe 2 lbs of seconds... I can buy good mid-grade wool for around $8 a lb... and a huge bag of seconds for $5... So $37... easy-peasy I got my fiber with no work or time keeping an animal healthy and fed... and more $ to spent else where!
Ofcourse times I have paid much less... Selling fiber is a market,,, like all markets..prices go up...way up sometimes... and also way down!

Same with the actual animal...whats hot and trendy (yes, livestock has trends!) now may be worth half tomorrow, or even bottom out to the point people are just turning them loose or giving them away (example: mini donkeys, Nigerian dwarf goats, llamas, certain breeds of sheep,..yep alpacas!)

So anyways...my point is, you may have to maximize your livestock potential earnings on the homestead to make it work.. most peoples ideal of homesteading is living off the land and raising animals that pay for themselves and hopefully make alittle extra to expand things here and there... not going to work to pay a feed bill for animals that do not need to pay for themselves...and if you do... then its a hobby farm (check previous post) nothing wrong with that!!! Nothing at all... Wish I could do it that way... but its just not the path I'm on...

... that was alittle background on what I've experienced in this short time.

Most livestock sells here are non-eventful... they call, they ask a few questions...they pick up and I never hear from them again...I'm good with that... sometimes they ask LOTS of questions...thats ok too...and sometimes for LOTS of pictures..even when your ad or website has every angle pictured they need...thats annoying, but if they are an out of state buyer..I cut them some slack... though sometimes theres seriously just nothing left to take a picture of!

Then sometimes they 'pretend' to be a buyer...acting interested in something you have for sale just so they can bring their kids on a free field trip to a 'real farm' (locals do this alot)  and waste hours of your time while you worry that one of their 6 ill mannered children, that they do not keep up with will get attacked by a rooster or bite by a guard dog!
You get the picture... selling is work! If you've never liked working with people you probably won't like selling livestock to individual buyers... it can be very hard and unrewarding.

But this was the most horrible experience I've ever had.... sellers beware! I have heard other homesteaders horror stories of hideous buyers...I just never thought I would personally have to deal with anything so bad here in beautiful SE backwoods TN!
Anyways....I had some rabbits for sale... so this woman calls maybe wanting to buy them, but wanting me to meet her an hour away... for a $50 rabbit that she won't put a deposit on..because I'm 2 hours away and she's SO busy on HER farm.... while I suppose I'm just hanging out all day here with nothing to do on my farm right?...I don't think so... hang up and don't think about her again...till a couple days later she calls and wants to come that day to see the rabbits...my gut tells me to tell her NO. She's a rude , know it all type person and I just don't want to deal with her ,,,BUT I do need to move these rabbits to make room for the new breed I want to bring in.. so she's supposed to be here at 1.... then at 3:30..... she gets here at 5....
I have nothing to do all day but wait on her right.... she finally gets here. She had told me she had sheep on the phone, while being an annoying know it all about raising sheep in the south , though she is not from the south and hasn't been here very long... I had told her to wear shoes that she didn't mind being disinfected. Some diseases can be spread from farm to farm on the bottom of shoes... this is basic bio-security I learned from visiting many many other farms.
Well, she gets here and freaks out when I ask her to simply spray the bottom of her shoes (now remember she was told about this and said "ok")... no one has ever acted like this was a big deal...but she really showed her ass right in my drive-way, going on about how MY sheep might have something that could infect her sheep... how stupid is this lady... I'm protecting MY sheep from something she may bring in from her farm.... 
This is basic stuff folks.....she doesn't get this and starts ranting about all the money she paid for her hair sheep... now I know she's stupid... reality doesn't mean anything to this person...MY sheep are clean and disease free as far as I know and I am trying to keep them this way .... by her not being aware of basic bio-security makes her even more dangerous to have on my land! So she doesn't set foot in my yard..instead I carry ALL the rabbits to the drive-way for her to inspect.... I have sexed them...but she has her son sex them also... one rabbit I had sexed as a male, he said was a female... thought I don't know how he could tell with his hair in his eyes like that! So she bought it as female and a couple others... funny thing here: I was thinking she was stupid...but she may have been high....because at first she asked if I had change...but as she was mumbling to herself looking through her wallet she says ' oh yeah, I stopped and got some pot! I have change'
her kids stared....I stared.... she awkwardly said...'oh, I mean pop'  yeah, ok!!!  we're in TN, honey, not CO,,,it ain't legal here and therefore not real cool to announce such things at this point...maybe this is why she was so rudely late in getting here...
so finally she went on her way...I felt total relief as she left and hoped to never ever hear from this wack-o again...

My relief was short lived... a week later she tracked me down on facebook , pm'ed and said she had sexed the rabbit wrong...it was a male after all ...like I said....and would I take him back or could she trade for a female I had...well , told her sorry, but I had already sold out of the breed she was interested in buying and I would have no use for a male this breed...
(not to mention I wouldn't want anything back from this women because of bio-security issues and I didn't have an isolation area set up.)
 She was SO pissed I had sold all that breed of rabbits... I plainly said in my ad I was selling and making room for a new breed I was wanting to try.... ya know, people sell out of one breed that doesn't work out for them to try another breed all the time..duh!
But, she cussed me out, called me names said I didn't stand behind my animals, said she was going to tell everyone about this... I told her to go ahead...this was way over the top stuff here and I just don't have the time for this non-sense! Just no sense of reality with this women... and all I can think is 'is she stupid or is she high and thinks this is ok adult behavior?'

All this idiotic drama .... All because her tween'er son had wrongly sexed a rabbit...that I had correctly sexed to begin with...and now I had nothing to offer her because I sold them all....
 not that I feel I had any obligation anyways... I mean, they sexed it and made the decision.... so there ya go...
after she cussed me out and called me names she blocked me from saying anything back.... I wasn't going to because its a waste of time... can't talk to stupid.... or high.... defiantly can't talk to stupid and high!

This is an extreme case and in 4 years I have never dealt with anything like this... a few annoying people here and there... a couple of newbies that were some mild drama....
and Not wanting to be all negative here... like I said most sales are work but uneventful... Thank the Lord! And I have sold to a few people that I feel I was truly blessed to meet and be able to provide them with good quality livestock for their homestead , hobby farm..or whatever the path they are on with their farms.

Just beware new homesteaders... selling is not all flowers and happy days with wonderful people buying the animals you so lovingly poor your heart and soul into to raise.

The ups and downs of homesteading....kinda like that market I was talking about... sometimes its way up and sometimes way down!

Praise God for getting me through the down times... teaching me to cope with them and helping me be better in the process.
And Praise for the up times.... cause when its good its just SO good on the homestead!

Y'all have an awesome weekend! I gotta go milk the sheep :-)
Blessings....