We got this fancy USDA survey in the mail last week. It is “required” by them for all agricultural providers. We fall into this category as we have a business license and are selling the sheep and eggs. We have been doing it for a couple of years but this year they added hair sheep to the sheep section. It is very detailed and asks quite a few financial questions. I had not yet totalled up all the reciepts from last year so today was the day for that wonderful task. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I almost stayed on budget for the barn and if we include a 10% estimate error I actually made it! I have several categories so I will give a brief overview of each one and then my rounded expenses. I am not going to add them all up so the numbers may not add up to my real total but it will be close enough for record keeping purposes.
ANIMALS: This covers the baby chickens, medicine for the sheep and chickens, salt and supplements. $415
FEED: This covers all the chicken food, sheep grain and hay but last year we did not purchase any hay. $375
GENERAL: This covers the fencing supplies, gloves, safety gear, nails, clips, hardware for gates, locks for gates, hinges. $1400
EQUIPMENT: This covers the 16ft flat bed trailer we purchased, 8 ft disc set and rental of generator. $2520
VET: This covers Zeke only, his vaccinations, neutering and cheet grass removal from his ears. $635
TRACTOR/SPRAYER: This covers the tractor maintenance and fuel, mule fuel and sprayer repair and upkeep (tractor fuel $140). $340
BUSINESS EXPENSE: This is for a license renewal and some advertising signs. $125
BARN IMPROVEMENTS: This is for repairing the barn. We added two external doors and repaired three doors, replaced 100% of the floor on the animal side, resheathed the Southern exposure, covered the animal side with metal tin roofing, repaired the 20×20 foot section of roof that had blown off, added hurricane straps to the roof to tie in walls, added sheep jugs to the animal side and patched West side. (We used 130# of screws for a cost of $600, lumber cost of $2900, labor cost of $2000, misc expenses $1160) Total $6670
GRAND TOTAL: $12,500 for the entire year.
That is a pretty accurate number as I was very good about keeping reciepts this year for everything.
The chickens made $645 for the year in egg sales. We sold $600 worth of sheep (1 ram, 3 unproductive ewes, 3 lambs). We also ate several for personal consumption. We are now feeding four cows. This seems extravagent I know, but we are setting infrastructure in place that will last another 30 years. A few more years of fixing up the place and then reseeding and it will be minimal expenses for the year. We are looking at this as a long term investment and it is starting to show. The animals are a lot easier to care for and we are spending less time managing them. Once I get some more fence completed and the barn done it will go a long ways in cutting down our expenses. We already have some lambs reserved in advance of birth and more people are aware of what we do and sell. It takes time to generate a customer base and provide a quality product. We are willing to work on these things a few at a time. I am pretty proud of the place and the changes we have made. I cannot wait to see what it will be like in five more years. I never would have envisioned myself doing this twenty years ago. I have grown to love it and appreciate the way it fills our lives. A lovely home, wonderful wife, happening and exciting job not many people can beat that.