What Do You Get with 9 Goats, 30 Sheep, and $10K? A Farming Business on Its Way

Meet Vincent VanGoat, Hermione Grazer, and Meryl Sheep, just a few of the cute and wildly efficient animals from Broken Boat Farm LLC. This livestock landscaping business was tailor-made for the Granite State, and it has seen unbelievable growth in a short time span.

A white sheep.In 2020, the farm’s goats and sheep got their first off-farm job clearing an overgrown patch of land for a neighbor. Since then, Broken Boat Farm has expanded into residential and commercial solar grazing, municipal landscaping, and field reclamation.

As the goats and sheep chomp their way across Central New Hampshire, it’s hard to believe this successful farming business began with a whole bunch of birds back in 2016. That’s when Kelly McCutcheon, owner and chief executive operator, and her husband Josh first bought their Henniker property.  

“We immediately started with ‘Live Free or Die’ chickens because the ticks were so bad,” she recalls. That led to raising hogs for several years, but the couple shifted gears when they decided to host their own backyard wedding. “We switched to goats and sheep because I still had bittersweet, poison ivy, wild raspberries, wild blackberries, and wild grapes,” Kelly describes.

As the animals worked away, they had no sense of the big changes that arrived in 2020 with the pandemic. Kelly was laid off from her restaurant job when eateries were ordered to close and she felt at a loss. But as fate would have it, a regular from the restaurant, who was also a neighbor, had an idea during the downtime.

“He said, ‘I think there’s a rock wall somewhere on my property. They said it was there when we bought the house. But I’ve never seen it.” Kelly describes. Together, they decided to find out if her goats could unearth it. She set up welded wire fencing around the property and bringing in the goats.

Kelly and her husband, Josh, posing in front of their livestock trailer with animals in the background.The goats were successful, rediscovering a beautiful, historic stone wall. Word spread, and from July to September, Kelly made several thousand dollars helping other locals reclaim yards and fields. “Based on demand, my husband Josh left his full-time job with benefits,” Kelly says. The duo was all in. Since that first season, their farming business has now started bringing in over $100,000 in sales per year.

Current gigs include a 10-year contract with the New Boston Conservation Commission to reclaim multiple pastures. Kelly is also working with a property owner in Loudoun who wants to reestablish a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm and create space for an entire winter wonderland experience, hot cider included.

“That’s why I was like: ‘Girl, make sure you apply for Radically Rural!’” Kelly laughs. Knowing big things were ahead, she joined the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship’s (HGC) Pitchfork Challenge in 2023. During the two-month program, she crafted and practiced a compelling pitch in front of a panel of judges in a bid for $10,000 in small business funding.

The Challenge culminated with an ultimate pitch session, which took place at the Colonial SHOWROOM in Keene at the end of September as part of Radically Rural (RR). RR is an annual summit hosted in partnership by HGC and The Keene Sentinel. It draws passionate people from across the country (and beyond!) to share ideas and offer opportunities for transformation in rural communities.

The PitchFork Challenge is a perfect fit for the summit’s Entrepreneurship Track and draws a highly committed group of small business owners each year. In 2023, after evaluating Kelly’s pitch, as well as her business’ viability and trajectory, the judges awarded her the $10,000 prize.

“So, wow. Okay. I got in, and I won the $10,000! And I’ve been telling all the small business owners in Henniker about it,” she says. She’s also been sharing about HGC’s Farm Business Lab with everyone in her agricultural network, especially since the Lab welcomes not just crop farmers but those with livestock and other areas of focus. It’s an eight-week business-planning program with support designed to change the course of your farm.

Kelly holding an orange bucket of feed with the sheep and goats trailing behind her.As Kelly looks toward the future, there’s a great deal happening at her own farm. The money she earned through the Challenge has enabled her to purchase a significantly larger trailer to transport livestock, seriously enhancing her business’ potential for growth.

Until now, “I had a two-horse trailer, so it took four trips to move all 30 sheep,” she describes. It could take almost an entire day just to get the livestock to a site. But thanks to her incredible pitch, that will no longer be a barrier to the growth of her unique farming business.

“The financing part for everyone is hard—all small businesses—it’s really difficult. I lucked out finding out about the Pitchfork Challenge and now I tell everyone about Hannah Grimes,” she says.

Written by Caroline Tremblay