Mike and I recently attended the Shepherds Weekend that is hosted by the Michigan Sheep Breeders Assn.
We attended on Saturday, which was packed full of sessions, along with a trade show. They also offer a youth program that the girls were able to attend. They had a hands on session about parasites, which I am not sure they appreciated, even though it was informative. It's a girl thing! They did enjoy the second part of the program where they were able to tour Michigan State University's Sheep Program.
Mike took the more technical sessions about parasites, grazing, and raising replacement ewes while I went to sessions about "selling" the farm, managing small flocks, and using social media.
I really enjoyed the session "Selling the Farm"
It wasn't really "new" information, I had heard most of it before, but always nice to be reminded and to walk away knowing what I am doing well and what I need to improve on.
Some of the notes I took were on marketing and where and how we can market our farm products:
Fiber and Homesteading Groups
Determining what your products are worth, setting a price and sticking to it.
Educate! Tell people about your farm and products.
Know your products, example use your wool, eat lamb.
Offer consistency in the quality.
I also attended Social Media 202.
One of things I found interesting, was that a lot of the people that were on the panel, got involved in social media to educate others about agriculture.
One of the women said she started her blog when she had an acquaintance tell her she thought it was wrong that she would kill a sheep to get its wool. What??
She said it opened her eyes to how disconnected people can be to farm issues.
There were others who shared similar stories. I never really thought about that aspect of social media.
I agree with what was said. A lot of people are detached from where their food comes from and a lot of the other products they use every day. I have seen downright lies about how animals are raised or how products are made. I never thought to educate the masses! One farm does educational youtube videos about different farming practices. Others have websites selling their farm products and services. Overall it was an interesting discussion.
I also like that Mid States Wool Growers attend, and offer sheep supplies that we can purchase, that are not available locally. Always nice to be able to stock up on supplies.
Overall it was a great event! It is nice to meet together with other 'sheep' people. I always learn something new and walk away with motivation to improve our sheep operation.