We had the good fortune of connecting with Jake & Mollie Shipman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jake & Mollie, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My husband, Jake, already had his own business as an electrical contractor and was familiar with the ins and outs of being a small business owner. I had worked for a regional medical center as a registered dietitian nutritionist for 10 years and was frustrated with the confines of protocol that working for a large hospital brought. We both tend to be independent thinkers and personalities so starting up our own farm business made a lot of sense. We wanted to do something we felt passionate about – caring for the land and nourishing people with the best food possible – and we wanted to do it our own way. Making mistakes was a given, but the idea of being our own bosses was very attractive. Although we knew that there would be factors out of our control, we also knew that our success or failure would be more dependent on us than on a corporate system or the competence of administration and co-workers.
The thought process was that small-scale, direct-market farming was logistically doable, we had a combined skill set that was conducive to the work, it fit with our values, there was a known demand in our area for ethically raised local food, and it was a lifestyle we wanted for our children. We wanted to work together as a family.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Dooley Creek Farm is a diverse grass-based 100 acre regenerative farm located in the Crystal River Valley south of Carbondale, CO. We raise premium quality, holistically managed proteins and sell direct-to-consumer: 100% grass-fed beef, pastured pork, pastured chicken and turkey, pastured eggs. We are finishing our 3rd season in business and have been blown away by the response from the community and demand for our products. Our regenerative methods actually sequester carbon and build soil. Our careful management of our animals drives soil and forage health forward and the animals have fantastic lives on our beautiful pastures!
One thing that sets us apart is that we are one of only a handful of poultry producers in the region who use organic, soy-free feed. It is a level up from non-GMO feeds. Something we are super excited about is the Meat CSA program that we launched this season. We offer a variety box of our beef, pork and chicken delivered to members’ doorsteps each month. They pay up front for an annual membership, which helps fund our operating costs for the year in exchange for the dependability and convenience of monthly deliveries of local, ethically raised proteins. We are expanding our membership fourfold next year and already have a waitlist.
Learning the basic animal husbandry methods and skills was fairly straight-forward since there are a lot of resources available and we both already had experience. The work/family life balance has been difficult to navigate at times since we have three young children, but we are learning as we go and just biting the bullet and working hard in both arenas. It is physically exhausting work. Farming is not for the faint of heart! But it is good, honorable, life-giving work that stewards the land and nourishes the community. We are proud of what we do.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Because of the nature of our business, we are pretty tied down to the land and animals so we don’t get out and about much, but we would suggest touring Redstone, hiking the local trails, soaking in the Avalanche Ranch hot springs, having a cookout with our homegrown food by our pond, Slow Groovin’ BBQ in Marble, any of the local restaurants in Carbondale, mountain biking, checking out local art galleries, rafting one of the local rivers………there are tons of recreational options in our area for the outdoor enthusiast.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Joel Salatin was our original inspiration for farming. His methods are the basis of our farming practices and his positivity gave us the confidence to go for it.
Mollie’s parents made it all possible. They graciously allowed us to move back to the home ranch in 2016 to start Dooley Creek Farm. They continue to give us free reign to develop the farm on the acreage, they help us with infrastructure improvements, they don’t criticize our choices and they help out with the kids. They are wonderful!
Charley Speer Photography Mollie Shipman courtesy photos