Spinning a PR catastrophe into a success story

From 2018 through spring of 2023, our family had a successful small farm in Bucksport, Maine. In 2029 we were forced to change our farm’s original name, Hobbit Hill Homestead. This was a serious blow after having just become popular in my local area. The word Hobbit is intellectual property, not simply a humble woodland dweller, akin to fairies and trolls, as I’d presumed.

To announce the upcoming name change, I created a poll on our Facebook page for a new farm name. The local news caught wind of the story after dozens of social media followers shared our poll. One connection can mean everything, if you know how to work it. The next day our farm was on state-wide news, then national.

Mandy Wheaton of Wheaton Mountain Farm with goats in Bucksport, Maine

The resulting article and local news station clip gave our little family farm substantial recognition in our rural area. When there isn’t much news, it’s easier to make the news. Bangor Daily News visited again that following spring to film a goat milking lesson, and frolicking goat kids.

When my prices spiked, fake accounts began popping up on social media. I shared fake account screenshots and links to report them. Followers reported them in droves.

I shared fake accounts to chicken-related groups that prohibit sales by spinning it as a PSA. Organic brand recognition lead to sales via private messages shortly after posting. Each of them were sent to a landing page

One-year of intensive WordPress and WooCommerce development with automated email marketing and social media integrations. This resulted in a waitlist over 120 people wanting to buy rare breed chicken eggs for $10 an egg.

While I was working as a graphic designer in Searsport, Maine, I would drop off as many as a dozen prepaid boxes of carefully-wrapped eggs to the post office, to ship all over the US. On several occasions, I sold live chickens out of my trunk in the parking lot.

I held a one-day chicken sale when we sold our farm in June of 2023. There were several cars waiting for the advertised time by a sign and rope I’d placed across the private road the night before. Two people cut around other cars, and proceeded to take the rope down.

The former website for the farm has been turned into a digital publication, Maine Homestead Magazine, for passive ad revenue. This current project utilizes articles I’ve written to address FAQs over the years, and repurposes them, in addition to upcoming guest posts by other farms.

We decided it was time for a change following a series of tragic events in both of our families. We sold our farm for a substantial profit in five days using our Facebook page, and purchased a 44-foot catamaran to live on. After some time at sea, traveling the eastern US coast in summer of 2023, we decided the sailor’s life is not for us.

Since then, we have settled in a remote hunting cabin on 223-acres of wooded land in Maine. We have installed solar panels and a Starlink to provide consistent internet access that exceeds local speeds, and a reliable power source.