Today a bit of a rant.
Last Friday, there erupted on the local Craigslist (of all places!) a nasty series of posts regarding haying, farmers, quality of the hay, etc. Someone obviously is really unhappy with the prices farmers charge here, and one of the participants took pains to take a swipe at me personally.
Let me just call it out now-whoever posted to me, is a coward!
Not enough backbone to sign their name, and not even brave enough to chose to accept return emails via the Craigslist remailer. Having done hay up here, I am sure my anger was echoed by the many hard working folks attempting agriculture here in Alaska. I was furious at the exchange of misinformation and the general concensus that they are all out to rip people off.
Myself included of course-I mean, who else brings in van loads of hay to the Valley, and uses a forklift to offload? No one. Which is how it was easy to deduce the post was aimed directly at me personally. Since I seldom post the landed price online anywhere (because I typically don't know exactly what it will be until just a few days before it arrives anyway) except a local Yahoo group, I know it originated from someone who is either on the group-or has a buddy forwarding stuff to them.
They claim that my cost is under $400 a ton for hay.
Here's my response-it includes the offending post:
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2008-07-25, 9:26AM AKDT
$3000 / 22 = $136
+ $235 if you believe that you can get it a for a lot less even one person admits she pays $150 for her stuff but charges over $500 when it gets here
$136 + $235 = $371
$136 + $150 = $286
if it costs another couple hundred dollars to get it from the port spread that over 22 tons and it adds maybe $10 a ton
that means the hay costs around $300-$385 to get it here but those same people selling it for $500 a ton and more are claiming they are all doing us a favor and selling it at cost
funny that their costs is so different depending on who's asking! ever wonder why the price is never mentioned in public?
Since this is an OBVIOUS slam at me personally.....here you go, a FEW FACTS for your enlightenment.
The cost to ship a van from L48 is MORE than $3000. Why don't you take that number, and add in the fuel surcharge? Its over 30%. Add in another $1000, approximately, with another surcharge increase coming in October of about $14, $15 a ton. Growers COST is over $200 a ton. Of course the grower shouldn't make a profit for his labor and investment, right? Because after all, everyone is out to rip off the horse hay buying public, right? Gimme me a break!
Then, must be moved from farm (trucking!!) to the press. Pressing COST is $50 a TON. Weighing and wrapping, or just wrapping, is another $10 to $15 a TON. From there, must get to port (more trucking!! Know what it costs to roll a semi these days?) Do you think the hay magically loads itself into the containers or what? More expense! Then there is destination charge-what you get to pay for bringing the van to your location. What's it cost YOU to drive to Anchorage and back with a semi? What do you think the overhead is for a professional commercial truck driver per hour?
Gee, I add it up to about $450 a ton, before all the trucking! And, I don't know the exact cost of the hay to the grower....but it IS more than $200 a ton. My most recent invoice is for $13,939.20. I have it on my home computor. I'll be happy to email you the scan if you need proof.
I spend $70 a load mailing back the ropes on the bundles. My phone bill goes up another $45 each vanload. I spend about $50 a month for ads-whether I have a van or not each month. I have to reimburse my boss for equipment time and fuel. I also give up two weekends for each van, usually 8 hours per day. I spend many hours putting these loads together, speaking with people, showing the hay that I have on hand, trying to get them what they need.
Since you are convinced I am ripping people off, please feel free to step into the void and DO IT YOURSELF. Contract for some Anderson hay from WA state, see what it costs to get it here-and hope you get GOOD hay, not junk since you are new at it!
Blogger back in:
A follow up post detailed the use of the forklift and loading it into pickups. And in my attempted response to them, I didn't even include the extra $150 to $250 it costs me to hire some help should the van be impossible to offload using equipment. If it has to be done by hand, you can bet the majority of the customers here aren't going to work at it! Nope, they would rather sit in their truck and watch someone else load it for them-and some even expect it.
I guess my point here is that I don't have to do this. I do it because I prefer to feed the finest quality hay I can get to the horses in my care. I do it because other people do recognize it, rely upon it, because some horses don't fare well on other forages, because some are deadly allergic to local, etc. We need this source here-and you can bet what I charge is cheaper BY WEIGHT than what you can find at the feed stores-and higher quality too!
But I sure don't need to be accused of lying.
I have been called all number of things over the years-it doesn't bother me since a lot of it is probably true :) Opinionated, forceful, too aggressive, independent, know-it-all, etc. But no one has EVER called me a liar before-and for good reason. It doesn't happen.
So, all you lookie-lou's here.....pass it along to your buddies and the folks that are having you snoop on their behalf-I will be happy to discuss the hay cost, more than willing to fax the invoice on the vans. I am more than happy to explain that the 30 to 40 hours I devote to each van is NOT tacked onto the price. And when you are unable to purchase local hay due to the poor supply, and feed store is out (and that happens too) I will not ever turn anyone away. I care about horses too much for that-and I don't let ego and jealousy dictate my feed choices.