What's Going On

I’ve been an absentee blogger lately, haven’t I? I don’t think I can say it’s because there’s nothing going on. There must be something going on that causes me to be just plain too tired to type in the evenings. And we’ve been watching Olympic ice skating late into the night this week.

Matt had President’s Day off, and accomplished a couple of things. He paid a visit to both the Osage and Little Cedar elevators, and talked to them about feed requirements for Niman Ranch pork producers. Our elevator doesn’t have any Niman Ranch producers yet, but they seem very willing to work with us. That was nice to hear. Sometimes I wonder if they think we’re too small to be worth messing with. The other elevator he visited already has about 8 Niman Ranch producers, so they know exactly what we’d need. So one way or the other we’d be able to meet the feed requirements.

We’re meeting with a Niman Ranch field agent in a couple weeks, exploring the program as another market for our pigs. We really like raising the pigs and would like to raise more. We still want to direct market as many as we can, but Niman might be a good market to have available to us.

He also separated Winston and Sara and got Sara’s shed set up for her to farrow in a couple weeks. But Winston keeps taking out the fence between them, so tonight’s project is to move him somewhere a little further away.

Now that the taxes are in the hands of our lawyer, we’ve been crunching more numbers. Profit & Loss analysis on each “product” from the farm, projected budgets and cash flows for 2006, and reviewing & updating the business plan we wrote last year.

Another week or two and I’ll succumb to starting seeds in the basement.

I’m not very good about coming back and answering questions in the comments, so I’ll just answer a couple here.

Pablo asked if the trees we’ve taken out of the yard will be firewood for us. Mostly, no. We don’t have a woodburner, but it’s on the “want list” now that the kids are a little older. We kept a little to burn in our outdoor fire pit next summer, and gave the rest to our neighbor who has three woodburners in his house.

Wildrose asked what kind of chicks we buy. Our meat birds are Cornish Cross Broilers from Hoovers Hatchery in Rudd. We’ve toyed with the idea of raising something that’s slower growing, less hybridized, more of a heritage breed. We might try a few someday, but not this year. These meaty, double-breasted birds are what people are used to and they sell well. I order all cockerels because, well, I’m a computer programmer. I like an orderly, uniform product 😉

I’ve been waffling about starting some more pullets. I’ve been easily selling all the extra eggs I’ve had this winter, and I think I could sell more if I had them. I’m not sure if that will hold out come summer when they’re (hopefully) laying twice as many eggs. But egg sales don’t begin to pay for the feed. I’d need to charge $2-$3 a dozen for that, and nobody around here is going to pay that for them when you’ve got other people around here keeping a few chickens for themselves and selling their extras for 75 cents a dozen.

I’ll leave you with a teaser…I’ve asked Matt to write the next installment of Our Farming Heritage about his foster parents. Their story has always fascinated me, and it will be good to have it recorded for our own kids. It’s turning into a multi-part series, so stay tuned for that.

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