First quarter chicken financials.


My plan for making millions will not be involving chickens.  I have definitively ruled that out after Annmarie started making me keep track of the financials. 
For the first three  months of this year I averaged 17 laying hens/day, 3.4 eggs/day, 20% productivity (total slackers), 1.14 lbs feed consumed/egg produced, feed cost $0.37/egg, income $20/month, expenses $45.90/month, net income $35.05/month loss, profit to date $105.15 loss, amount of feed consumed 350#.  This is where it gets painful.  My feed cost per dozen eggs produced is $4.07 and total cost per dozen eggs is $5.08.  I currently charge $3/dozen for eggs.  No wonder I am at a loss. 

My chicken experiment is not going well.  I only collected three eggs tonight, 2 white and 1 green.  The sad part is there are only two chickens that lay white eggs and two older chickens that lay green eggs.  Tomorrow is day seven of the experiment.  I am thinking of culling 13 others and saving the rooster just so I will have one.  He looks cool, tends to keep the girls together and on track.  He also calls out when he finds a good food source. 

Two more lambs sold.

I got a call today when I was trying to catch up on my sleep.  Someone was interested in buying some sheep.  This didn’t really excite me as much as it should have.  I have had three separate parties interested in over 20 of the sheep and none of them are sold.  When the cash crosses my palm, I will believe you are interested.  They seemed excited and wanted a boy and a girl.  I told them the only boy I had was the “one- nutter”, and he might not be able to perform.  They wanted to give him a try anyways.  Which is great because I don’t have to get rid of him at 6 months old now.  He had one huge testicle and was very rambunctious after catching him.  One of the little girls that came with the parents picked out a white colored lamb ewe.  We spent about thirty minutes talking about the sheep and how to care for them.  We loaded them into the back of their minivan onto a tarp that had been thrown in the little cargo space.  We got the back hatch closed without the sheep jumping out of the car or into the back seat.  They took number 23B and 29R.  All six kids and two parents piled into the minivan and off they went into a new adventure. 

Zeke was the man today!!  The sheep were up on the back hillside when the people came to pickup the sheep.  He was sniffing and harassing them when I hollered from the front yard that he had “WORK” to do.  He came running back and headed for the sheep.  I then confirmed we were going to work the “SHEEP”.  I walked out the ram pasture and was able to send him up to the top of the hillside, he circled the sheep then pushed them down and toward the gate into the ram pasture.  He then took them all the way to the barn and guarded the door, a whole five minutes of work and all I did was stand in the pasture and holler commands!  Truly amazing.  We are never ever not having a working dog as long as we have animals. 

We have started to clean up around the house.  I picked up tools and scrap wood today a few more days and it will all be cleaned up. 

The chicken experiment is going, but not producing the results I wanted.  We collected 11 eggs in the last two days.  I wanted to be at a dozen per day.  Annmarie worked on the chicken spreadsheet and added a feed cost/dozen eggs and a total cost/dozen eggs.  My average is around $5/dozen now.  Ugh.  I will get the financials posted soon. 

Chicken experiment now in progress.

Wind damage over winter.  Door now falling off.

Yesterday Sarah and I finally repaired the chicken coop enclosure.  The wind had blown the posts over during the winter and the constant slamming of the people door had caused it to come off its hinges.  There are rocks about 12 inches down and I could not sink the posts very deep.  We attached a board to the coop building and outer wall then added a second board to stabilize both sides of the door.  It is pretty secure now.  I want to do a quarterly chicken report but the chicken tracker is acting all funky.  It wants the data from one month only to be the years values.  When you add the second month’s data it changes the previous month to match.  Annmarie will have to give it some TLC (10 minutes of magic) to make it work correctly.  Once that is done I will get the abysmal 1st quarter report out. 

Fixed!  Support added to building.

I locked the chickens up last night.  Today we got a whopping 5 eggs, not that great for 17 adult hens and 7 teenagers trying to lay eggs.  I have hope and the experiment is going to go on for seven days.  My iron barrel trough I use to catch water runoff in the chicken yard has a hole in it!  It was a hand made trough from forever ago.  I will drag it out and toss it on the scrap pile.  I have the other half over by the wood shed so it will just get relocated. 

I finished the upper fence today.  Another 300 feet done (almost done, it needs stays but I don’t have any yet, not till late May or June) and ready for animals.  Tonight, Monica and I went up on the hill and relocated the electrical fence straight up the hillside.  It opened up another 200% of pasture for the sheep.  On a plus note, all that fencing in the yard gave great respect of the white fence to the sheep.  I forgot to plug in the last two strands of fence and the sheep never even tried to push past it!  They just saw an evil biting white fence and stayed away.  This time I remembered to plug the electrical connections together.  This should buy me a couple more weeks.  I will start working on the next 300 feet of fence next week.  I need to dig out the weeds, remove the bottom three strands, straighten half the posts, build a rock crib then tighten the top four strands of wire.  Most of the woven fence is approximately the same height, so I am just going to set the top four strands at the newly completed neighboring height and hope the woven wire fits.  If needed I can add a single strand either above the woven or at the top of the fence to make up any difference.  I called a guy about buying a lot of the sheep, the price is only $1/lb live weight for lamb no matter the age (as long as it is under 1 year old it is still lamb).  So I renewed the craigslist ad.  I didn’t change the price but next week I will lower the price on craigslist.  I plan on butchering a couple myslef this year.  I would like to do that in about 6 weeks.  The sheep need to fatten up. 

New cattle guard decoration plans.

Fancy wheel fence in the making.

I needed another project because I don’t already have enough!  Years ago when we lived in Moscow, ID there was an old farm house outside of Pullman, WA on the road to Lewiston, ID that had an iron tire rim fence.  The farmer had collected them over his entire life and welded them into a huge fence that was over 1/4 mile long.  It was gorgeous!  I loved it and always wanted to do something like it.  I talked to Annmarie about doing it front of our house but it is about 250 feet of fencing and I didn’t know how long it would take me to find that many tire rims. 

Wheel fence will go from left of picture to right side on either side of cattle guard.

I had mentioned my desire for a tire rim fence last year to the owner of the metal scrap yard.  I had noticed he was saving iron rims at the scrap yard.  Even at scrap metal prices I knew it would be kinda spendy so I had been putting it off.  The scrap metal yard is cleaning up and getting rid of “junk” in an effort to clear enough space to build a shop.  So I went over and collected about 3000# of steel tire rims!  They are going to go on either side of the cattle guard out by the road.  This will set off the drive way very nicely and still keep the animals inside.

Goose checking us out for nesting spot.

We had a couple of geese come by the other morning to check us out.  We figure they were looking for a nesting spot but our ram pasture is pretty busy with all those sheep so they didn’t stay long. 

Fencing again.

Creek crossing with no fence in place.

 We put up the temporary electric fence on the back hillside.  The yard deal just did not work out.  I still needed to cover the creek crossing and about 30 feet of fencing on the hillside.  It took three tries of stringing the fence to get it the way I liked it.  That doesn’t sound so bad but the hillside is very rocky and it was hard to find places for the poles to go into the ground.  I am sticking with the cow panel concept for creek crossings.  It is just easier.  If needed the panels can be lifted and moved fairly easily (doesn’t take hours on end).  I got the upper creek crossing done and then used some wire mesh to cover the last 30 feet of the electric fence. 

Creek crossing with fence in place.

I then went up on top of the hill and started working on getting the barb wire moved. I rolled up the bottom strand and cut it loose from the fence.  There used to be several rock cribs on the fence eons ago but they have disinegrated into a pile of rocks with the occasional piece of wood sticking out.  I needed one to pull the woven fence tight.  Luckily, right were I ran out of woven fencing is where an old rock crib used to be so I implemented my new rock crib plan and used a cow panel.  I used a 12 foot section and formed it into a circle and then bent the cut bar pieces around their neighbors.  It is mighty sturdy.  It took a lot more rocks to fill than I expected.  I had to toss rocks for over 20 minutes to get it full and the rocks were right next to the new crib. 
This is the design I saw when I went and picked up the cows in Antelope, OR last year.  They didn’t add the wooden post but I like nailing the fence to wood so I added it.  My total cost is $20 for this crib, not bad at all.  The sheep finally came out and explored the back hillside.  We will see how they do overnight. Tomorrow, I will finish getting the other two wires removed and then I can raise the four remaining strands and attach the woven wire.  Once that fence section is completed we can run the electric fence straight up the hillside and open up about 400% more pasture than is fenced now.  We opened the gate and are going to allow the horses to roam the upper pasture.  The fence won’t keep the sheep or cows in but since the horses won’t cross the creek and don’t usually try the fence we think they will be okay.