Building A Quail Business

town_642ESTABLISHING A MARKET FOR QUAIL

So last week I called on three restaurants to sell our quail eggs.  We had done our research and we knew a guy who sold eggs last year to a couple restaurants, so I had some idea of the cafes/restaurants/wine bars who would be interested and what they should/would pay.

I walked into the first place, presented my spiel, all the while holding back on the price quote because, quite frankly, $6 per dozen seems a bit steep for miniature eggs.  You know what I mean?  But I was assured by my friend that chefs would pay that much, so finally I quoted the price and….

The chefs didn’t even blink at that price.

Six dollars per dozen for miniature eggs?????  I wanted to yell at them “ARE YOU CRAZY?”

In an hour I had two pretty solid sales (I’ll know for sure this week) and one who wasn’t sure they could use them.

Six dollars per dozen?  ARE YOU CRAZY?????

Needless to say, I’ll be going out next week to try and secure more restaurant sales because, well, daddy didn’t raise an idiot.  If people are willing to pay that then I’m willing to take their money.

QUAIL ARE CONSIDERED A SPECIALTY ITEMtown_358

Well sonofagun, who would have thunk it? Those little birds are pricey because they are positioned quite nicely in a little niche specialty market.  More and more people want nutritious. More and more people want locally-grown foods.  More and more people want quail.

And we seem to be the only people in Olympia raising them on a large scale.

Whoop!

We had a $200 week last week and we did nothing more than advertise, for free, on Craigslist.

Just wait until we really try!

AND THAT’S WHAT THIS WEEK IS ABOUT

This week I’ll visit more restaurants and this week we start our farm stand on our front yard. Every Saturday from 8-10 we’ll sell quail and chicken eggs until supplies run out.  The stand is out there right now.  I’ll put a sign on it tomorrow letting people know in advance what to expect.

And then we’ll see how it turns out!

SO THAT’S WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE’

Stay tuned! I’ll tell you more about it next week.  Right now I have to go feed our newborns.

By the way, guess what item on restaurant menus has the highest markup…..give up?  Raw oysters, on average, are marked up 3000 % on menus.

That was 3000%, my friends.

Suddenly I don’t feel too bad selling quail eggs for $6 per dozen.  LOL

Bill

 

Advertisements

Learning from Our Mistakes Raising Quail

In the brooder as chicks
In the brooder as chicks

Welcome back to our humble urban farmyard.   This is the time of year when I feel guilty sitting down writing about all the work that needs doing because that means I’m not out there doing it.  LOL

My wife and I have spent two years getting our act together regarding raising quail.  Trust me when I tell you we have made just about every mistake known to man as we stumbled along on this journey.  We set out with the best intentions, and thought we had done diligent research, but we were woefully unprepared for the task ahead….and our mistakes meant wasted money and sadly a whole lot of dead birds.

I am happy to report that we have finally arrived in the quail business.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Well, for starters, it means we can go to bed at night knowing that when we wake up we won’t have slaughtered birds on the ground of their pens.  In other words, we finally learned how to defeat the predators that roam an urban environment, the raccoons, possums, rats and weasels.  It means we only use hardware cloth to enclose the aviaries and never chicken wire.  It means we dig down two feet before installing the hardware cloth to protect against burrowing predators.  It means we are constantly on the lookout for signs of tampering by predators.  In other words we take nothing for granted.

We have learned how to incubate properly, which incubators work the best, the proper time frame for incubation, the proper humidity and constant temperature.town_358

We have learned how to take care of the chicks and the proper ratio of males to females in the aviaries.

We still have things to learn but we are finally to a point where the eggs arrive in big numbers and the chicks are growing strong and healthy.

AND NOW ON TO THE NEXT STEP

Now we move to marketing, and that’s what I’m working on as we speak.

There is a market out there for quail and quail eggs, and it is a market that grows daily, but it is still my job to get the word out that we are in the business and we provide quality birds and eggs.

That means fliers and meeting restaurant owners. That means a little farm stand out front of our home and ads on Craigslist.  It means establishing ourselves with local urban farmers and farm suppliers.

It’s a lot of work but we are slowly reaping the rewards.

And do you want to know the best about it all?

We love doing this!

We love raising quail, and we love providing a healthy, organic food alternative and yes, we love being our own bosses in a business we established.

So there you have it!

Are you interested in raising quail?

Shoot me a question in the comments and I’ll get back to you.

Bill

Providing Quality of Life on an Urban Farm

QUALITY OF LIFE

We will never be great urban farmers and we can live with that fact.

Oh, we aren’t bad growing food because, well, we don’t struggle with moral decisions with plants like we do with animals.  Bottom line: we are too caring to ever really be an economic force to be reckoned with.

Here’s the thing:  we believe that all of our animals and birds should live good lives.  We do not believe animals should be raised in small cages.  Period!town_832

Examples?

We have three aviaries for our quail.  Only two are currently being used for quail; one has rabbits and two silkie chickens, but that’s another story.  Anyway, in the two aviaries for the quail there are currently 75 quail residing….maybe 80….they are hard to count, always on the move, that sort of thing.

I was reading about a commercial quail farmer who had 500 quail in the same-sized space that our 80 live in, basically 12’x14’.

500!!!!!!!!!!!

What that means is the quail  barely have room to do anything other than eat, drink and mate.

We won’t do that to our quail, so that means less production, fewer eggs, etc., which means less profit which means we will never be great urban farmers.

And we can live with that.

SOMEONE ELSE’S BLOG

I was reading another urban farming blog by someone named Nysia….anyway, she was recounting her horror stories about putting rabbits and chickens in the same enclosure and how the rabbits basically dug a tunnel to China to get out.  I’m kidding but you get the point.  Rabbits are prolific tunnel-builders. We have found this to be true with our rabbits.  The solution is simple: put the rabbits in cages and monitor their breeding. They live out their lives in a 2’x3’ cage and make little bunnies.

We won’t do that!  Nysia chose not to as well.town_429

Quality of life!

BOTTOM LINE

Urban farming means more to us than just sustainability and making a little income.  Urban farming, for Bev and I, is about getting back in touch with the land and all its inhabitants.  It’s about rediscovering that which we, as a society, have lost, a connection to all life.  All of us have been put in charge of this planet, and Bev and I take that responsibility seriously.

I’m done with my sermon.  I’ll get off the soapbox now.

NEIGHBORHOOD VISITOR

A little girl who lives across the street comes over to our place occasionally.  Bev takes her by the hand and walks her through the aviaries, and if there are chicks she lets the little girl hold them.   The smile on that child’s face is priceless.  Kids and animals, man, there is nothing like it.

UPDATE ON HAY BALE GARDEN

town_884

I promised you all an update on our hay bale experiment and as you can see from the pictures, the experiment is doing quite nicely, thank you very much.  I’m not surprised by how well the plants inside the bales are doing because we filled that interior section with great compost and rabbit poop.  The potatoes are growing so fast it is almost unbelievable.town_882

But we were very curious how the seedlings would do when planted ON the hay bales and the answer is, they are doing quite nicely.  We even transplanted some strawberries, late in the season, onto the hay bales, and after a couple days of shock they rebounded and are doing very well.  So, so far, the experiment is a huge success.

GREENHOUSE PROJECT

We fully intended to have our greenhouse up and running but alas, it was not meant to be.  It is now our number one project for next spring.  We have the area for it, and we have the frame for it. What we didn’t have was the time for it.

And so it goes!

NEXT PROJECT

Our two new ducks (running ducks, by the way) almost have all their feathers, which means they will soon be in need of a pond.  Now I can certainly take the easy way out and buy a little kiddies’ pool….reasonably cheap and oh so easy to install….or…I can dig out a place for a pond, put in a liner and have a real pond.

Guess which way I’m leaning?

See you later. I’ve got some digging to do.

Bill