Meet the Farmers: Early Bird Ranch
Kevin & ShaeLynn Watt, Early Bird Ranch
Chicken, Pork, Rabbit, & Eggs
Pescadero, California
Established 2010
 

Early Bird Ranch is a family run operation made possible through sustainable farming. By partnering with their landlords, Left Coast Grassfed, the two purveyors have created a feeding system that gives back to their California farmland.

Through a symbiotic relationship, Shaelynn and Kevin Watt have developed a system for raising some of the healthiest chickens, turkeys, rabbits and pigs; while using no antibiotics or artificial fertilizers. As they continue to work on growing their farm, the Watts hope to help transform more dinner tables around the Bay Area with their organic sustainable meat, poultry and eggs.

 
Feeding the pigs, Photo Credit: Jonathan Fong

Feeding the pigs, Photo Credit: Jonathan Fong

Tell us about a little about your farm…how did you get started farming?

We [Shaelynn & Kevin] started working on farms when we were in graduate school, both volunteering and working with a mentor. Our mentor, who had a rare fruit tree orchard, showed me true happiness through farming. After that, I went on to take on two internships, one with Polyface, where I focused on accessibility and affordability, the other with Bobolink Dairy, where learned about raw milk, cheese and making bread. Learning from these experiences, we decided to embark on our own journey with a focus on nutrition, gourmet, affordability and accessibility. 

What are some of the specific business challenges you’re currently facing?

Due to the serious drought California is facing we can not currently raise our pigs. This has had an impact on our business, therefore reaching enough clientele with our other products has been of the utmost importance. Through the help of Kitchen Table Advisors support system we have continued to prosper.

So tell us a little about the start of your farm and what sets your business apart?

We had an interest in the lifestyle of farming because it helped us to focus on the tangible while also challenging us mentally. So when we were able to link up with Left Coast Grassfed, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Their land and vision helped us come up with our sustainable concept, while testing our ability to come up with a farming system.

How did you decided to collaborate with Kitchen Table Advisors?

Throughout my university courses, both graduate and undergraduate, I took finance and accounting courses. But all of my knowledge was geared towards large scale businesses, not small business or farming. I realized there was a huge difference and I had to learn to not only turn this into a lifestyle, but a profitable business for me and my family. To be honest, starting a farm was not the hard part, our first year we were successful. It was when I came to the conclusion that I didn’t know how to turn this successful business idea into an actual career, where Shaelyn and I did not have to put in 16-hour days every day, that I realized I needed some business advice.

How has Kitchen Table Advisors helped you through your journey as a farm owner?

Kitchen Table Advisors linked up with someone who was willing to share his knowledge on business to help us learn to mold this farm into our career. Anthony [Kitchen Table Advisors’ Founder and Executive Director], advised us on how to gain credit, apply for loans and begin a plan to reach our long term and short term goals. With his help, we are now able to have a set schedule, a salary and 10-year savings plan to help support our growing family.

Where do you see your farm 5 years from now?

In 2-5 years we will have a sustainable strong business that works for us, or we will realize this isn’t an endeavor that will be profitable for our family long term. Regardless of what happens, we will know why. It won’t be a mystery why we failed or why its not a sustainable business model, KTA has given us the knowledge, guidance, and information to make that possible.

What will be your next focus for your business and how can Kitchen Table Advisors help you achieve your next goal?

We have mainly worked on accounting and finance, now we want interns and employees. Teaching our trade is crucial for our success, so we need to learn human resources. We have no idea what regulations are set in place, if we should wait to hire, go the contracting route, etc. As we continue to grow there will continue to be avenues, where we look to KTA for support, human resources is one of them.

Do you have anything else you would like to share about Early Bird Ranch or your collaboration with Kitchen Table Advisors?

Through the continued help of KTA we have been able to turn our dreams into reality and deliver nutritious gourmet meat, poultry and eggs to more people in the Bay Area. With a goal of changing the food supply chain and making organic sustainable food more affordable, Early Bird Ranch will continue to create accessibility through our unique farming solution.

Wondering where to find Early Bird Ranch’s products?

  • When their products are in season, you can purchase them online and have them delivered to you through Good Eggs.
  • Early Bird Ranch currently does not have a CSA or attend any farmers' markets. 

Want to learn more?

For more information on Early Bird Ranch, you can visit their website or Facebook page