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!
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.
Sometimes a stumbled upon recipe in a catalogue or magazine or flyer really resonates with your family and it becomes part of the regular menu lineup. This casserole is one such that i found probably 20 years ago. The beauty of it, is that it is easily modified to accommodate your own tastes and whatever you have on hand (within reason of course!)
The original recipe is pictured way below, but the one i made yesterday included my home raised green beans and home grown grass finished ground beef. For chopping the vegetables i use a mini food chopper and even chop the green beans if i’m preparing for Sunday’s meal with Allen’s 98-year-old Aunt June. She has lost her teeth and can’t keep track of dentures – so it is what it is.
Family sized version:
2 lbs grass-finished ground beef
1 medium sized onion – chopped
3 medium sized carrots – chopped
1-2 cups Asian long pole green beans – chopped
1 24 oz jar of Eden Organic tomatoes (normally i use my home raised tomatoes, but i’ve already run out!) Eden’s brand is excellent, but, honestly, to open them, i either need my stout son, Dallas, to do it, or i go get my long handled Channel Lock pliers. It’s really ridiculous.
2 cups of your favourite cheese, divided – 1 1/2 cups to stir into veggie/beef mix, 1/2 cup to top off the casserole. Or stir in 2 cups of cheese to melt – whatever your choice!
Brown the ground beef in a 4 quart pot and add all the vegetables, including the tomato sauce, throw in maybe a tablespoon of salt (check your tomato sauce – it may already have salt in it – i try to use straight tomatoes) and a teaspoon of black pepper -whatever suits ya, and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so. Add 1 1/2 cups of your favourite cheese and stir to melt.
Once the mix is ready, pour into a 9×13 inch pan, level it off, then top with biscuits. I make my own, but you can buy some to use. Then sprinkle about a cup of shredded cheese on top. Then add a sprinkling of parsley, basil, or oregano if you like.
Bake in a preheated oven of 375 F for about 28 minutes until cheese is melted and biscuits are golden brown. This makes 6-8 servings. Takes about an hour to make and bake, but if there are leftovers, it’s still a time saver. What does it cost? that will totally depend on the quality of ingredients you purchase.
Buggers, my photo doesn’t properly show just how yellow the fat is from these super tender grass finished beef short ribs. I buy grassfed butter from our friends, but it’s extremely expensive, so when i can, i use our home grown beef fat for cooking and flavouring.
Our cattle are fully finished on pasture only – no grain ever – which allows the fat to be high in vitamin E and betacarotenes, thus giving its yellow colour.
Absolutely tasty. The broth will be frozen up for soup making.
Sunny, but frosty out this morning and although we are expecting a high of 45F, warm soup will feel mighty good today.
1 lbs grass-finished ground beef (browned)
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 chopped onion
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups water or soup stock
1 cup diced celery
2 teaspoons salt (if desired)
1 teaspoon black pepper (if desired)
One pot directions: brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon olive oil until no longer pink, add all the other ingredients and simmer. The longer you simmer it, the more the flavours will meld and veggies soften.
Be creative in ingredients – celery substitute could be the leaves off the back of a head of cauliflower or chopped kohlrabi, leeks would work. Instead of carrots, maybe turnips, swedes, or rutabaga. I use my own frozen tomatoes from my garden and since i don’t really cook them down, there is plenty of water in with them, therefore i don’t add more water. Recipes like this are perfect for emptying the frig or freezer.
Too many times I engage in projects which end up as time wasted. Case in point this 12×12 chicken tractor. After spending time and money on it, I’m now faced with more time wasted disassembling it. I have no intention of raising layers on pasture again and it’s too awkward to move very far and a waste of space to store it. The high quality tarp from Troyer Tarp will be stored, however, since it is a $100 item. I’m learning, albeit slowly and with the wisdom my children bestow upon me, to utilize my time more wisely.