A 13- year homeschooling mom (youngest graduated in May 2015!) who is also a cattle and sheep farmer married to a cattle farmer. My three children and I enjoy traveling and spending time with family and friends. While this blog will chronicle our journey of Faith, Family, and Farm, opinionated articles on frugal living, traveling, recipes, and homeschooling experiences may be found sprinkled throughout!
It’s not hard to understand why most young people have no interest in farming as a career. Low wages, working conditions can be brutal at times (weather related or dangerous), and very low return on investment coupled with high financial risk. Not a good combination. The average age of principle operators continues to rise and is now over 58 years old – a time when many in other sectors are planning retirement. However, the young people who are starting up do seem to work smarter and not harder with the result being a more balanced family/work lifestyle. Also, mechanisation and better ranching principles continue to make the work more pleasant and give farmers/ranchers the opportunity to expand without working harder or longer hours. There is hope that agriculture will continue in the US, just with fewer operators and sadly, still supported with off farm income. There is a joke amongst farmers and ranchers that when asked what they’d do if they won a million dollars, the answer is ‘farm until it’s gone.’
Land cost per acre: $93/acre (my Bowyer Place)
Cow Prices: $20/cwt (20 cents per pound)
Fed Steer Price: $25/cwt (25 cents per pound)
Wages per hour: $1.25 (minimum wage)
Land cost per acre: $2800/acre (similar land sales in Linn County, MO)
Cleaning and sorting through old stuff and ya never know what you’ll find. In an old truck of stuff my grandma had saved for me were these rationing stamps. Don’t know if she meant to put them there, but it gives me a chance to look up the history of fuel rationing in America. As the photo shows, these were for my grandparents’ 1929 Ford.
According to historical records, fuel and other major commodities was rationed after the attack of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1942. These A stamps allowed the general population to receive 4 gallons of fuel a week!
Found a reliable logger locally who got started on my farm several weeks ago. He has been terribly hampered by weather (especially now that the ground is thawed and we are receiving about an inch of rain!) With Missouri’s unpredictable and challenging weather, it may be July before he can get back in!
Should be enjoying fresh pullet sized eggs in about 3 months.
From delivery of chicks to first pullet eggs is typically about 6 months.
25 female chicks (26 actually, but 2 were roosters and one hen is deformed) – $100
Starter feed – 3 bags each 30 lbs at $90
Mixed feed about 1 gallon (or 4 lbs) per day: $2.20 per day times 120 days – $396
Labor for 180 days varies, but averages about 20 minutes a day at $15/hr – $900
So before 25 hens are even laying or producing anything at all, your backyard laying hen project has invested a total of $1486. That’s a lot of eggs you could have bought at $4/dozen. But now that they are laying, there should be about 1 1/2 years of good laying, but of course the feed and labor expenses continue. Labor will slightly increase because I’ll be moving the chicken tractor to fresh grass everyday and collecting, sorting, washing (if needed), and packaging the eggs EVERYDAY.
Total costs (not including building the brooder and chicken tractor): $1486
So figuring forward:
Feed for 1.5 years (540 days @ $2.20) – $1188
Labor at $15/hr for 30 minutes a day – $2025
Egg cartons if you buy them are at least 50 cents (281 cartons) each: $140
Assuming a lay rate of 1 egg per two days (this is an average including a harsh winter where costs will continue but few eggs will be laid) per hen (times 25 hens) – 3375 eggs
(270 days/2 = 135 times 25 hens – 3375 eggs)
Total costs during laying period of 1 1/2 years – $3353
Final costs of raising 25 chicks to laying age plus production for 1 1/2 years: $4839
Cost per potential dozen (281 dozens): $17.22
Value of spent hens is negated completely by labor costs associated with butchering.
All this assuming that in one night along any part of this route, a fox, raccoon, neighbour’s dog or coyote doesn’t come in an annihilate all your hens.
Now winter laying could be increased somewhat by keeping heat and light on the hens.
Certainly, i could be the typical farmer and say ‘well….if i don’t count my time….but that would be unfair, right? He’s taken ALL the risk, done all the labor, built all the infrastructure, and cared for them every single day. If i removed all the labor costs from the scenario, cost per dozen is $6.63/dozen.
Why am i doing this? good question. it’s ridiculous actually, except i cannot buy eggs from hens on pasture being fed non-gmo and mostly organic grains in our part of the world and they do taste better and have more nutrients (according to various tests).
These are real costs to produce eggs from hens on pasture, not inflated or overpriced. Lowering production costs is easy – stacked cages with 67 to 76 square inches of usable space per hen being fed well balanced diet of conventional grains and no chance of being eaten by predators. Automated egg sorting, washing, and packaging. Find employees who will work for minimum wage or less in dusty conditions. Tightly confined conditions allows for fewer employees. Hens will be allowed to lay for less than a year (until first moult) and then replaced to maintain high production year round. This part can also be done on pasture raised as well and would be a good idea. Production drops considerably after that first moult, so replacing them with younger, higher producing hens would reduce costs a little.
Found a local producer (Don Hoover) for pretty good hay late in the season (January). He delivered an unloaded 2 semi loads (76 bales) each bale weighing 1385 lbs. (Still have my 100 bales or so of warm season grasses stored in the barn. Hope i don’t need them – depends on the season.)
Sadly, I’ve already fed them all out (the 76 delivered bales), but back on decent (cow quality) winter stockpile grazing for a few weeks now.
The extended extra cold is really sapping the energy out of the cows although with good feed, they and their calves really don’t notice the cold – thankfully, it has not been rainy and wet – it’s really tough to keep cows and 8 month old calves in condition then.
Supposed to warm up to just above freezing tomorrow, then a few days clear up into the 40’s and maybe 50’s. Happy camper here!
I basically followed this recipe from Chef Edward Lee sans the fish sauce, where do you get that anyway? Ivis and i never had opportunity to go fishing this summer, so there are no fish in the freezer from which to obtain fish sauce. In place of soy sauce, i use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. Additionally, i just sliced the brussels sprouts rather than shredding. No coriander or chili flakes (my husband is allergic to chili) and i used lemon juice in place of lime and red wine was substituted for the vinegar. Don’t let the lack of ingredients keep you from trying nifty recipes. Many can be eliminated or substituted and the dish will be just as great, not to mention your own creation. Go for it!!
Grassfed lamb is one of the most delicious and healthiest meats around. These chops were raised on a farm just north of us: Golden Circle Farms, Unionville, MO and are available for purchase in vacuum packed, USDA inspected packaging. Best way to contact Tom and Laurie Salter is by phone for now: 361-318-7745. Know your farmer to discover the cleanest and healthiest food for your family.