There’s not a lot of filtering in the version of Sandi Brock’s sheep farm that she shows to the world. It’s real and it’s popular with viewers of her YouTube channel.
On the channel she talks about what she does on her farm in great detail, from lambing processes to barn design to shipping to how to stay married while farming with a spouse.
Why it matters: The Perth County sheep farmer has become one of the most successful Canadian farmers in connecting to consumers. She does it through her YouTube channel Sheepishly Me.
Brock recently told a visit with the members of the Eastern Canada Farm Writers Association that she started the video log as a way to reach out. But she’s never done it with an agenda, other than reflecting what she does.
“At the end of the day I want to connect with more people,” she said. She also uses Facebook and Instagram to reach consumers and farmers.
The video logs, now numbering over 100, may be Brock’s long-term legacy in the industry. Where someone else may have written a book about their farming experience, Brock is putting her experience on video.
“I’m writing my book talking to the video camera,” she says. “I’m not trying to do more than that. I’m not trying to create public trust. I’m not trying to convince people to eat lamb. I want to write my story and every time I press record, I have no idea how it’s going to end and every week it is a different chapter.”
Brock says she doesn’t have the ability to focus long enough to write enough to make a book. But taking videos as she goes about her work, just talking as she’s doing is something completely different.
Not only is she talking plainly about what she does, in the language of sheep farmers and that is interesting to consumers, she’s created a vast library of information for prospective sheep farmers. Farming close to 500 ewes, she knows her stuff. She also brings in other people in the industry to talk about what they do, related to her farm.
Niche channels tend to be the most successful on YouTube and her popularity is building there.
The YouTube channel now has more than 18,000 subscribers and her most-recent videos are viewed by tens of thousands of people.
That large of a following would be seen a marketing opportunity by some, but Brock isn’t there yet. Sheep prices have been healthy for the past couple of years, so there’s not an economic incentive for her to sell lamb meat to her viewers.
Her channel is also coming up high on Google searches on lamb, as shown by a recent viewer who was just starting to eat lamb and found her high in a Google search. That ability to compete with animal rights search results has been a challenge for people in agriculture.
She says marketing is not her forté, but it is an option at some point if selling direct was needed.
“I think this will contribute to some kind of good, business-wise to our farm. I just don’t know what that is.”
She dedicates several hours per week to the videos that she edits herself, but says that experience with shooting and editing video has made her more efficient.
The authenticity that Brock brings to what she does means she believes that if she is ever targeted because she is a livestock farm, her viewers will have her back.
She already shows everything, the good and the challenging, on her farm.
“If they want to go in there an expose me, ok, well I’ve already done it.”