Type: Sheep Dairy
Years in operation: 4
Annual revenue: 10k-50k
(Average over last three years)
Black Pearl Creamery is a small sheep dairy located in Trumansburg, NY and owned and operated by Lauren and Kevin McKinzey, and their 2 children. We raise our flock of East Friesian sheep with great care and affection to ensure the health and happiness of our animals and their production of fresh, high quality milk. Our flock is 100% grass-fed on pasture and hay. Our ewes are milked seasonally, only when they are on pasture, to produce a rich, creamy milk, which we process by hand in small batches into whole milk yogurt sold in glass jars.
Inside the Farm
How is your approach to farming different than other farms in the same category?
From the birth of our vision to create Black Pearl Creamery, our goal has been to develop a small, 100% grass based, seasonal dairy farm that would be able to be run entirely by our own family. This meant that we needed to find a sweet spot in scale, profitability, and sustainability. Our intentions of remaining small run against many business strategies and have flummoxed more than a few people along our path. We have, however, managed to find a niche for our sheep's milk yogurt that has allowed us to find just the sweet spot we have been looking for. Within that sweet spot we intend to grow our profitability through increased efficiency, development of additional unique products (including maple products), and further discovery of the capacity of our beautiful and diverse 110 acre farm.
How does your different approach contribute to a long-term profitable growth strategy for your farm and other small farms like yours?
I believe we owe much of our success to our scale. Our initial loan to build our milk house and processing facility was a fairly small amount, and subsequently the equipment that we purchased was also very affordable due to it's size. We have been able to grow our flock up to our intended size in 3 years, and have been able to manage the milking, processing, grazing, lambing, distribution, marketing, etc. without any hired help, and minimal mechanization. This paired with our development of a unique product that is in high demand, has allowed our model to become sustainable and profitable after a a fairly short period of time.
How would you specifically use a Mortgage Lifter Lift or Mini Lift?
We would use our Mortgage Lifter Lift to build a barn that would allow us to store round bales of hay to feed over the winter. We currently feed square bales out by hand, but the storage is in a barn that is far enough away from the sheep's winter housing that it requires a lot of moving around in the snow and mud. We would like to build a barn that would allow us to store hay in round bales that we could feed out more efficiently over the winter, as well as house our tractor and equipment out of the elements. We would also build a small sugar shack in our maple stand in order to make our own maple syrup to use as a sweetener in future yogurt (or ice cream!-) production.
Please share why you are so passionate about your farm and/or farming in general.
We love sheep! And we love farming. We also love the constant challenge of creating a truly sustainable farm system that allows us to raise happy sheep, build rich soils and diverse and nutritious pastures, and produce delicious, healthy, food for our community and family.
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