75 Chicks to 10000. No Experience to Full Time Farmer. The Ronan Byrne Story (PVP062)

“The only way that you can learn is by doing.  You can’t plow a field by turning it over in your head.” Ronan Byrne

 

Permaculture Voices Ronan Byrne

 

“You’ve got to start with a small intense fire.

Suppose you’re the Apple I…I think they made 500 of those things, so all they had to do was find 500 people to buy these computers, and they launched Apple….Apple.  

You’ve got to find a small number of people; it’s necessarily got to be a small number of people.  It’s impossible to make something that a large number of people want a lot.  So you’ve got to find people who want what you’re making a lot, and that’s necessarily going to be a small number.  And that’s OK.  That’s how these giant things get started.  You don’t have to do any better than Apple and Facebook.”

Paul Graham co-founder of Y Combinator 

Y Combinator is the firm behind the giants such as DropBox, Air BnB, and Stripe.

That’s the venture capital world and this episode today isn’t just about tech or business, and it isn’t just about farming.  It’s about starting with that small intense fire. Doing that thing that you always wanted to do even if you don’t think it is possible or know how you will do it all. 

It is about taking that leap off the cliff into the unknown and building your wings on the way down.

That quote by Paul Graham embodies what it is to get started.  Any business, any sector, or everything for that matter.  Starting small.  Think about that quote…starting Apple with 500 computers, now they are a $500B company.

That’s how Apple started, that’s how Joel Salatin started, and that is how my guest for this episode, Ronan Byrne started.

This episode today isn’t just applicable to farming.  Ronan’s story and what he is talking about is a metaphor.  These ideas are applicable to everything under the permaculture umbrella and beyond.  It all comes down to starting something small, making some mistakes, and learning and adapting along the way.

Ronan’s story is so simple, so common, yet uniquely inspiring; IT IS GREAT.

This is a real story from a real person.  Starting with 75 chicks eight years ago and growing that to over 10,000 today.  Going from the corporate world to full time farmer; Ronan didn’t start as a farmer, he became a farmer.

In a world of negativity there are a lot of people out there doing absolutely great things.  People just like you.  People that listen to this show.  Ronan is one of them.  These are the stories that inspire me to keep doing what I do and give me hope in a better future.  The change is happening out there.  You might not see it yet, but it’s happening..

75 chicks to 10,000.  No experience to full time farmer.  The Ronan Byrne Story…

 

Turkey

 

4

The stone wall fields of Ireland.

 

 

Key Takeaways:

  • By starting small you grow with the business.  You have a small amount of customers, you can serve them well, grow with them. 
  • Forget everything you see in other farms, build your own vision.  A lot of mistakes went into building every farm you see.  They all started from the same place.
  • Use what is under your two feet.  Find a method to suit your land.  Look at the options that are out there, but find what works for you and gets you direct to the customer.
  • Pastured poultry allows you to start small and test the waters.
  • Adapt and be flexible with ideas.
  • Listen to what the customers want and are asking for and produce that.
  • Start by prototyping.  Start simple.  Don’t throw a bunch of money at a new idea.
  • Use books as a guide, not gospel.  You have to adapt techniques to your land and your biome.
  • Don’t throw yourself into everything at once and end up doing everything half right.  Focus on doing something well first.  Then add more.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Just start and learn from mistakes.
  • By doing less you can do more at a higher quality and possibly save money and get to your goal faster because you are focused.  By spreading yourself too think you can get too caught up in everything and actually accomplish nothing.
  • Little wins gives you confidence along the way.  Starting out it is easier to sell a chicken than a pig.  Each sale builds confidence and the customer base.  And that cash flow allows you to try new things.
  • At the start you need to do it all, but as  you grow you need to learn to let go of some responsibility.  Don’t try to do too much forever.  Hire people better than you and focus on what you do best and what ads the most value.
  • Realize what you are good at and do that.  Don’t pretend to be something that you are not – marketer, accountant, etc.
  • Pick a price point that allows you to take some of the profit and put some profit back into the farm.
  • Realize the importance of marketing and getting your message across.  Seek out your target market and tell them your story.
  • Share resources with other farmers if possible to cut costs.
  • Focus on efficiency to decrease labor costs and increase productivity.

 

Quotables:

  • “The only way you can learn is by doing.”
  • “You can’t plow a field by turning it over in your head.”
  • “The only way that you learn is by your mistakes.”
  • “Produce good food and sell it to your neighbors.”
  • “I think you have to get one thing right on your farm first.”
  • “Every egg that we sell makes a massive, massive difference in how food is produced in our area.”
  • “Knowledge is not power, it is what you do with that knowledge that is power.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for the price that you know the bird is worth.”
  • “I never compromise on the quality of how we do things.”

 

 

The chickens on pasture.

The chickens on pasture.

 

The grass pasture on Ronan's farm.

The grass pasture on Ronan’s farm.



Every egg that we sell makes a massive, massive difference is how food is produced in our area.Ronan Byrne



Ronan’s Chickens on Pasture



Polyface Farm Managed Grazing & Chickens




Joel Salatin Discusses Chickens with Dr. Mercola




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You Can Farm by Joel Salatin on Amazon



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Pastured Poultry Profit by Joel Salatin on Amazon

More information on Ronan Byrne:

The Friendly Farmer

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Comments 1

  1. I’m wondering if combining with a restaurant would bring to convenience and enjoyment together is an option. Ordering to food items online, then arriving at a cafe for a nice family meal and carrying your food purchase as you leave.
    Some of the value added products could be introduced in the meals offered.
    The feeling of connecting the farmer and his experience with food both prepared and fresh. The podcast as always was so interesting.

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