This past weekend, home for a family matter, I brought up to my sister that we should probably think about starting a website for the farm of it's own, rather than me try to push product through my own. Social media and marketing is the way the world is turning, and if we have to move 4 animals worth of meat, or several hundred pounds of honey, it seems like this is something we should start building now, rather than when there's thousands of pounds of meat that need new freezer homes.
"No. I don't want to do that."
"I can't push product on my own channels forever. Why not?"
"Because then people would know where we are and I don't want the crazy animal rights people starting to show up and screwing every thing up. I don't want people protesting because we butcher our cows. I don't want people watching us all the time."
I understand exactly why she feels this way. A lot of it stems from the incident just over the state line, in which a farmer was charged on multiple counts of animal abuse for reasons that boil down to him simply doing farming things in winter. He has had to pay well over $50k to get the charges dropped and some of his animals back. But now he sees people driving by his farm all the time, watching him, taking pictures, presumably waiting for him to screw up. We were also made aware of an "Animal Sanctuary" That started up over on the other side of town that has taken it upon themselves to save all the farm animals from the eventual fate of all farm animals. (I'm curious how many bull calves they must have by now, and how exactly they afford their hay.) She's worried that this person might come around and start making trouble. She's afraid of the reports of activists who trespass and harm or steal the animals in the name of "rights". We love our cattle, and never mind the cost of such a thing, but we would be devastated if we couldn't protect them.
Ironic, I know.
On the other hand, I work in the world of marketing. The local grown food movement is hot, and now is the time to cultivate a relationship with current and potential customers. Now is the time to convert people into return customers, and that means interacting with them in ways they expect - insight into how the farm works, and the good lives their food is living via communications on Facebook and elsewhere.
You can't do both. You can't both hide your operation on the off chance of radicals and also cultivate a relationship with new customers.
I don't have a compromise solution for this situation, and I don't know if there is one. Short of building afence or digging a moat, I don't know what to do.