Any startup operation is hard, and being first generation farmers without guidance from someone who has come before us on the land is even harder. When we were brainstorming what we wanted our life and farm to look like, we had a lot of big ideas and were not quite sure how to handle them all. That is when we decided that Carroll Creek Farms would be a partnership with Jess’s aunt Kathleen and uncle John who were full-time farmers on a farrow-to-finish family hog operation for 30 years. We lacked some of the infrastructure and experience to go it alone, and they had just sold out their commercial operation and were missing livestock, so it has turned out to be a great collaboration. We didn’t stop there though!
For the grass fed beef, we lacked the type of fencing needed or enough pasture on our home farm (in its current state), so we found a fellow Farm Bureau member who let us rent his farm, which is already set up for cattle, as long as we also cared for his horses, which was perfect. Well except for that time that we had one cow- calf pair escape last fall. We chased them around for two months only to have the saga end when they found their way into oncoming traffic. There are always moments in farming you cannot control, be it the rain not coming for your crops, the litter of hogs being stillborn or even your calf struck on the road.
We needed a website because we wanted to have people be able to pay for their side of freezer beef or monthly CSA from their phones since that is the future of money. At the time we needed a website developed, the farm was still an idea with no sales. We pitched a trade to a local website designer — we would give him beef for his freezer if he designed and maintained our website. Our website is amazing, and we are glad that Legend Web Works made that trade with us! You can check it out at carrollcreekfarms.com.
We also needed a farm truck and trailer. Adam’s family had both sitting around, however not in working order, in the back of one of their barns. We made a trade for repairing them for the right to use them. While they look rough to most of you, it actually has worked well with the brand we have tried to create and best of all, they were almost free!
Starting up a farm can be tough, but working with others beyond the few examples mentioned here has taught us that if you have passion and work hard, others will go out of their way to support you in pursuing your dreams.
Ohio Farm Bureau is another partner of our farm that helps our success. They have local programs that can address key issues facing us like CAUV, statewide programs like Young Ag Professionals where we can attend sessions to help us with developing our farm, and they even sent us to the national Young Farmers and Ranchers conference last month where we networked with young farmers from across the nation.
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