I spent July on the farm. Working alongside the boys and Charlie, I learned a lot about running a farm. The freezers were delivered. The boys selected the chickens to be butchered, and they went at it.
As the boys had done with the eggs, they started to sell the chicken. The first place they hit was the cafe and the family. Only the family got free chicken.
“We should give the family live chickens. They can kill them and handle the waste.”
When Gene came over to get a bottle of my wine, he said he had a date and wanted to take a bottle of wine to her place. “Are you going home?”
“You can take a chicken home for your mom and dad.”
“Okay, but you have to kill it.”
If I killed it, I would have to remove the feathers, so I gave him one from the freezer. The boys were watching, and they were laughing.
I did get them to agree to no more than 100 chickens. Anything over that would be for the freezer. With the freezer filling up, we had chicken three times a week. I did try and make sausage with chicken, but I didn’t have the right herbs. The results were okay, but I thought they should have tasted better.
Sunday dinner, I told Mom about trying to make sausage from chicken. She wanted to know what herbs I used, so I showed her.
“These are the wrong herbs. They are good for the pork and veal but too strong for the chicken. I’ll bring you an herb mix and try that. I think your sausage will turn out okay. You may need to add some chicken fat to your mix.”
I wasn’t so sure I would try that anymore. “Charlie, our freezers are getting full of chicken. The refrigerator we bought is filling up with butter. We need to find an outlet for our chicken and butter.”
“How about that family grocery store on the other side of town. They are having a hard time competing with that supermarket over on Main Street.”
“How will selling them our chickens and butter help them.”
“They could advertise farm-fresh, that supermarket buys from large producers. Farm fresh will taste better.”
I thought about that, and I wondered if that could be an outlet for our chicken, eggs, and butter. Over dinner, I mentioned Charlie’s idea. I watched Brad and Tom as Charlie added to my comments. Then I sat back and just listened.
A decision was made, Brad and Tom would visit the store on the pretext of shopping. While there, they would check out the prices. I did give them a list of items I needed. When they returned, they had a friend with them.
“Tony, this is Ted. He’s going to make a sign for us advertising farm eggs for sale.” That was the story, but what Ted made were signs to be posted on the property’s gates.
Three weeks later, Ted brought over two signs, with a copy of the crest on my ring and Craignano Farms’ name. “What do you think, Tony?”
I couldn’t say no, or I didn’t like them. I didn’t want to hurt Brad and Tom’s feelings. I went with them as they posted the signs, one on each side of the entrance. I laughed to myself as I thought what Mom and Dad would say when they saw the signs. That night I told Pa about the signs. He just smiled.
The boys went shopping at the family store and returned with their eggs, butter, and chicken prices. “He has a butcher in the meat counter, which cuts the meat to your specifications.”
“Did you talk to him about buying our eggs, butter, and chicken?”
“Yes, I told him we would give him a sample. We should develop a brand, like Craignano Farms, and let him advertise.”
“I don’t want to get into a weighing and packaging operation. We could offer him a sign to use indicating fresh farm products from the Craignano Farms.”
“Tony, can we give him a sample as we did with the cafe?”
“Yes, we can. We will need a scale to weigh the butter and chicken. Then we can charge base on weight. Eggs are simple, and we sell them by count.”
“Maybe you can sell your sausage and salami.”
“No, that would require too much work. I won’t have the time, and neither will you once school starts. Take a sample and see what happens.”
The following week, Brad and Tom took a dozen eggs, a chicken, and a sample of our butter. I was working in the study preparing lectures for my classes. I didn’t have tenure, but I did have two additional classes besides the freshman classes.
At dinner, when they returned, “We talked to the butcher. He said our chicken looked healthier than the ones he was selling?”
“How does a dead chicken look healthy?”
“I don’t know, but he placed our chicken next to one he buys from his supplier. There was a lot more fat on the one from the supplier. He pulled the skin back, and you could see some of the fat. When I mentioned that, he said it is the difference between a free-range chicken and one that is raised within a restricted enclosure.”
“What did say about our butter?”
“He didn’t think there was that much difference.”
“Maybe he needs to create a market for our products.”
“What do you mean, Charlie?”
‘Well, a lot of people buy food at farmer’s market because they think it is fresher.”
“Yes, cuts out the middle man.”
“Maybe that would be a gimmick he could use to sell out products, Fresh from The Farm.”
I watched as Brad looked at Tom. The boys got up from the table, “We’ll be back.”
I looked at Charlie. He just smiled. “I think you will only need one freezer. You may have found an outlet for your chickens and eggs.”
I was hoping he was right. Brad and Tom returned about one hour later. They both were smiling. “Okay, why the smiles, and what did you do.”
“We got the owner of that store to advertise free-range chickens. He said he had customers who have asked if his chickens were free-range. Now he has an answer. Only, we agreed that he would sell on consignment.”
“What does that mean?”
“We would supply the chicken, and he would pay us on the chickens he sells.”
“So we don’t get paid for our chicken until he sells them? Did you agree on a price?”
“Yes, he will only sell whole chickens to start at twenty percent premium over his current price.”
“Then you need to find out what price he charges for his chickens, so we have an idea of the price of our chickens. You will have to negotiate with him his share.”
I left the boys to think about that. Like I did with the eggs, I would share the profits with the boys.