Chicken financial update

Having gone to quarterly updates i am now able to procrastinate even longer than before.  Unfortunately, they are not true quarterly reports, they are progressive annual report for the first three, six, nine and twelve months of the year.  I will have to talk Annmarie into alterring my report spreadsheet.  She is very busy now at work so it is going to have to wait.  I want a predator tracking section also.  I am thinking about making a tunnel to connect my greenhouse to the chicken coop.  I just need a greenhouse.  I am picking up the windows next week and after taking some measurements I can start working on some dimensional plans for it.

The first six months are on track for a possible break even year.  The sad part is I have stacked all my major expenses in the last quarter.  I dug out the coop and installed new litter and bedding for a cost of $90 and just ordered 25 baby chicks to arrive next month at a cost of $77.  I am still having issues with my chicken door.  It keeps blowing fuses and I am not sure why.
For the first six months of this year I averaged 25.4 laying hens/day,10.7 eggs/day, 43% productivity (slackers), 0.35 lbs feed consumed/egg produced, feed cost $0.09/egg, income $69/month, expenses $46.38/month, net income $22.62/month, profit to date $135.70, amount of feed consumed 640#.
For the first nine months of this year I averaged 23.5 laying hens/day, 9.6 eggs/day, 41% productivity ( should have been better over summer), 0.33# feed consumed/egg produced, feed cost $0.09/egg, income $59.33/month, expenses $37.31/month, net income $22.02/month, profit to date $198.22, amount of feed consumed to date 840#.

Rainy chores

It rained most of the day, which just makes working outside miserable.  I had on two light jackets, a heavy vest, a knit cap, gloves and a baseball cap.  I thought I would be cold.  I was supposed to be working on the barn yard gates but got distracted.  I ended up digging out the front creek.  There was still an upper section that had not been done yet.  I dug it out with a metal rake from each side.  I had to drag over two wooden panels to go over the creek so the sheep cannot crawl under the fence.
Annmarie`s plan was to make the barnyard sheep proof so we could let sheep out both ends of the barn.  Plan B was in order, I cleaned out all my tools in the anteroom just inside the barn in front of the tackroom.  I moved a feeder in and tossed out a bale of straw.  The momma and baby got moved in and now they can get themselves to water and shelter.  We did shut the sliding door tonight so no predators can get them.
I found a local source for straw and am picking up a ton on Monday.  We are using it on the floor.  It was only $60/ton, which is a great price plus I don`t have to drive very far.

Babies… it really is time again.First

 It is that time again.  Annmarie went out to let the sheep out of the barn two days ago and found this little guy laying next to one of the feeders.  She coaxed momma into one of the prepared jugs (sheep creche) so the momma and baby can hang out together separated from everyone else.  This lets the baby get stronger without having to run around everywhere and try to keep up with mom.  It also keeps them out of the weather and warm.  This is our first baby from the new ram.  If you look closely you can see his face is more square than our other babies from years back. 

First baby of the fall and our new ram.

He was also very healthy and strong.  We are not sure if it is because he is a single or if it is the new ram.  The first few twins will tell whether the ram is the cause.  If he is throwing stronger lambs then go boy!  The jugs worked out great.  The only problem now is I don’t have the barn subdivided to keep the mommas and babies in one side and everyone else in the other.  Subdividing is not the big deal.  The big deal is there needs to be two separate entrances into the barn and the outside fencing has to keep the two groups separate with both groups having access to running water.  We hate carrying water in the winter and since the front creek never freezes we don’t need to as long as the animals can get to it.  This means more fence building for me.  I need to put hanging boards off of two gates so the sheep don’t crawl under the gates.  I also need to drive in two metal posts into the ground on the back fence.  Hopefully, this will make the main barn lot sheep proof.  The momma/baby area just needs a panel across the creek so they don’t crawl under the fence at this location.  I also need to finish nailing the back barn lot/ram pasture dividing fence in place.  It is currently held in place with two fence tighteners.  Not ideal, but really I have been busy at the new job and haven’t had a lot of time. 

I also need to make a metal lid for the grain bin in the barn.  I have decided to do this out of two pieces of tin roofing.  I am just going to beat them flat on the anvil.  I also have to make a handle so you can let the grain out of the bin.  So fencing and grain bin are the next two projects.  I really want to get to the sorting chute, but alas not yet.  This may very well become the Thanksgiving project with Doom. I was hoping to do a closet in the laundry room instead of the chute.  There are still two closets that need to be built in the laundry room. We will see. 

There are seven more ewes that will deliver in the next few months.  Our babies are not old enough, we don’t expect any of them to birth until they are over 12 months old.  On a plus note we have already gotten almost 9/10 of an inch of rain this month.  Amazingly, the ground is not muddy and sloppy.  The ground has absorbed every drop of rain and croaked for more.  I think we could tolerate another whole inch before it started to stay on the surface. 

Chicken Coop Blues

Chicken coop deep litter hand dug out.

 Today was the day to clean out the chicken coop.  I love the deep litter method because you don’t have to clean the coop out all the time.  I am supposed to clean it out yearly, but I think I went almost 18 months this time.  It needed it badly.  It wasn’t helping that Annmarie and Monica were getting eaten by some bug.  I shoveled out the entire coop and then drug the shop vac in and went to town with it.  I vacuumed all the cobwebs and dust from the coop along with the floor.  I vacuumed out the nest boxes also.  After it was nice and clean I used two bug bombs in the place and locked all the chickens out.  Two plus hours later when I went in to lay down the new floor litter I found all these tiny little bugs covering the floor outside of the nest boxes.  I had some powder to dust the chickens with that I used in the bottom of all the nest boxes first before filling them with a layer of pellets then some pine bedding.  Now I just need to get some more wooden eggs out to the coop.  Two boxes are missing wooden eggs.  Annmarie asked me what I was going to do with the pile outside the coop.  I am just going to spread grain over the top of the pile every day until the chickens have spread it out evenly over their yard.  Much more energy efficient that way (no energy on my part).

Baby area ready for chickies.

 The baby chicken area is all ready to go.  I just need to install a new light bulb in the warmer and get the feeder and waterer down and ready to go.  Next week we will mail order some new baby chickens.  I only have 17 hens now and they are only producing about 7 eggs/day.  So it is time for new blood.

It rained last night we got 1/2 inch of rain.  That was the second longest dry spell in recorded history for us. It is supposed to rain again on Sunday and Monday and we need it.  I would love to get at least 1 inch total. 

Chicken coop looking in from front door, cleaned and ready for use.

More Work.

More work.

 I had been meaning to go by the scrap yard and look for some more fencing.  I ran out after this last round of fence building.  I had just dropped Sarah off at school after her job shadow so I figured I would just drop in on the metal scrap yard.  I was actually greeted by a nice rough looking gentleman and inquired about some woven fencing.  He asked if I wanted sheep fence and I said yes.  Mind you I was wearing a t shirt, no hat, cargo pants and my slippers, not exactly scrap yard attire.  He had three very large rolls which is plenty to get me up the hillside.  It might even be enough to put some on the horse fence my brother-in-law installed this summer.  If I could stop the sheep at that fence it would cut down dramatically the amount of outside fence I would need to repair before I could turn the sheep loose.  On the off chance I asked about a small set of discs.  He showed me some that had just came in yesterday.  The set I had seen this summer did not last.  Packy, the owner, had told me that they typically don’t last, but they come in every few months.  So I told him I would take those also.  The price for scrap is $0.25/lb.  I ran home, put some boots and a hat on and hitched up the trailer.  I showed up and he loaded the trailer for me.  I picked up 584# of fence and a 742# disc for a total of 1326lbs at a price of $331.50.  In other words, I paid $150 for the fence and $180 for the disc set.  The fence new, it is red brand, would cost about $750-$900.  So I saved a minimum of $600.  I was also able to put in my order for more used tin roofing and more sheep fencing for the spring.  I LOVE the metal scrap yard!!  They have saved me a small fortune already.  The nice gentleman gave me a business card, “Irish Iron” a subsidiary of the Doherty, LLC.  I love the name.
I need about 10 minutes of welding on the disc to make it 100% functional.  I was pretty excited.  I passed up the 3 point plow with two blades.  I just don’t think I need that yet.  In the future maybe, but not now.  I have been resting for the last couple of days.  My left elbow has been bugging me for a couple of months and fencing always makes it ache.  The chicken coop has priority this weekend.  I will get it all dug out and bug bombed and new wood pellets in it. Then I need to fix the gate in the barn lot and put a handle and lid on the grain bin I mounted in the barn.  We are getting there slowly. 

Disc set so I can start getting ground ready for reseeding. 

Fencing and decorations, Farm 3, Predators 10.

Well the predators are back.  I lost two more chickens for sure and maybe a third one (dead chicken bodies are a sure thing.  Zeke finds them from wherever they are hid on the farm and drags them around).   This calls for a trap.  One trap is still at Grandmas but the other one was up on the hill from the skunk incident.  I had assumed that the trap was just up on the hill airing out.  NOT SO!  There was a dessicated rotting skunk in the trap when I went up to get it today.  Not very pleasant.  I could not find a stick on the hillside (bone yard) so I ended up using an animal femur as a stick and scraping the skunk out of the trap.  I hosed the trap down once we got it to the house and will proceed to set it and kill whatever is eating my chickens.  We know there is at least one possum in the area as we snuck down to Donna’s house the other night to try and shoot one eating cat food off the front porch.  It left before we got there.  The lousy part is everyone wants eggs.  We could be getting rid of 10 dozen a week at least now and we are only getting about five dozen.  The price of feed has skyrocketed to $17/50# bag.  This is mostly due to the fact that I don’t drive by the feed store in Hermiston very often so I cannot save the $3/bag.  I am going to have to load up next month on the chicken feed.  I may just buy it in large quantities of 500#/trip.  If I time it with the sheep and horse food I could take the pickup and buy about 1500#, that should be enough to get us through a few months.  For me to get enough for all of winter I think it would be around 2500#, maybe less.  I will try and keep track of it this winter so I know.

Back of in-law’s garage.

Oliver Horse drawn plow.

Jason came over today to help me get the old horse drawn plow off the hillside for my mother-in-law, Donna.  Monica (foreign exchange student) spent the day with me helping out.  We drove up to the plow and after digging it all out Jason suggests that since the wheels are on it and it is intact why not just pull it off the hill.  This idea holds way more appeal then trying to chain it up and get in on the trailer.  So we raise the plow height with the adjustable handles and I lift the moving end with the bucket.  Jason chains it in place and off I go pulling the plow with the tractor.  It is slow going but smooth.  One hundred feet later one of the metal wheels falls off.  There is a special clamp that holds the tire onto the shaft of the axle while letting it turn and one side does not have this clamp.  We chained it up and struggled but finally got it onto the trailer.  Once down at Donna’s house we pulled the plow out the back of the trailer with some difficulty and I drug it while Jason continually kicked at the metal wheel to keep it on the shaft.  We found eight more metal wheels for decoration at Donna’s house, for a total of  11 or 12.  I lost track of the exact number.

Just before plow.  I need to stand them up.

Monica and I went out after lunch to finish fencing.  Jason had to go back home and do something that paid.  Now on a plus note, the trailer was initially filled with discard wood scraps so we took it over to the lamb shed and cleaned up all the scrap from tearing down the pig enclosure and got it all on the trailer.  This was all emptied out on the hillside at the burn pile before we could get the plow.  The barn yard is almost totally cleaned up just the freezer and a small pile of metal, about one hour of work and it will be done.  We managed to get the “H” supports in for the new fence in the ram pasture and stretched the woven wire.  I am going to have to stick a panel across the creek as the fence leaves an eight inch gap over the water.  I have some old wooden panels from the pig barn I will use to patch up the holes.  We need about another four hours to finish that fence.  It is getting cold here, it was 26 degrees F this morning.

I also finished hanging the rings and horseshoes in the barn today.  There are over 80 used horseshoes in the barn now.  I am going to go find all the different pitchfork heads I have stashed everywhere and take them in to the hardware store so I can buy new handles for them.  They do not make pitchforks like they used to.  I am also thinking about bringing all the yard tools with no handles that I have stashed out in the wood shed over to the barn and hanging them up on the walls for decoration.  A project that may eventually happen but not any time soon.

Before I can put in more fence up the hillside I will need to go to the scrap yard and buy some more used fencing.  I only have a couple of small rolls left, not enough to do anything of significant scope. 

Barn yard fencing almost done

Upper corner, gate access on the left side.

The goal was to finish the fencing on Saturday.  It did not happen.  We had six wooden posts to sink into the ground.  The water I put on the ground via sprinklers helped with two of the holes.  I broke two different safety bolts trying the last two holes.  I ended up using the scoop to dig down to solid bedrock a lousy 18 inches down.  Jason came up with the idea of sinking the rock jacks into the ground.  We had used a cattle panel earlier for one rock jack and it worked great.  So we sunk the new rock jacks into the ground as far as they would go and then back filled with dirt around them.  It worked pretty good.  This took us a day just to set the posts.

Y gate for sorting sheep into separate fields.

Buried Rock cribs. 

By Sunday we were starting to wear down and get tired.  The entrance door had to have a ramp built up to it.  We reinforced both sides with rocks.  This of course necessitated multiple trips to the rock pile to get enough rocks for every thing.  When we got to the right side of the barn near the ramp we tried to move rocks and dirt but the rocks were huge!  The tractor can lift 800# and I could not lift two rocks.  I rolled them out of the way one rock at a time with the tractor. 

Length of fence to front creek, new on right hand side.

We didn’t get the entire fence up.  I need to put up another 3 or 4 strands of smooth wire and hang the outside gate. 

The Y gate needs a little more stiffener so it is easier to latch against either wall.  Hopefully, I can get it completed later in the week.  Very soon it will be done.