Mouse war update

This morning view. 
 
The mouse war continues!  I killed two more mice yesterday and two more today!  All of these without any bait!  It is crazy that I have nabbed so many by just having them run over the traps. Three of them have been caught by just the tail but all are dead by the time I go out to get eggs in the evening. I keep expecting to get some no hitter days so that I am forced to break out the peanut butter. 

We have been putting Zeke on the run because he keeps getting out of the yard. Sometime today he leaped over the fence and got stuck because he was on the run! I keep hoping he will stop getting out of the yard but until I get the new side fence installed I seriously doubt it. 
 

2016 Annual summary

2016 Annual Farm Summary.


INCOME:
 We sold $2025 worth of sheep (33 animals),  $658 worth of eggs, $567 our portion of 3 cows, $295 worth of hay and made no profit on the alpacas at all.  Our total income for 2016 was $3545.  

EXPENSES: 
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.  There is no other neat way to do this.  It worked last year so I am going to stick with it.  I will add a little more description to the categories in hopes that it will make my life easier next year when I go to add the totals up and figure out which category they go in. It did make it a lot easier to figure out my categories this year.  Annmarie told me I had to separate out all equipment purchases for tax reasons. Luckily we didn’t have any this year. 
  
ANIMALS: This covers the baby chickens, medicine for the sheep and chickens, bedding, straw, salt and supplements we also bought a new ram in April for $150.  We are also trying a new tagging system on the cows using necklaces $205. Labor to clean out the chicken coop was $100. Total cost: $943 
FEED:  This covers all the chicken food, sheep grain and hay. We purchased 23 ton of hay this year for $2400, $375 for working dog food and $647 in chicken feed  Total cost:  $3422
GENERAL:  This covers the general supplies, gloves, safety gear, nails, clips, hardware for gates, locks for gates, hinges, $26 ammo and $68 safety gear.  Total cost:  $439
EQUIPMENT:  This covers $882 for pickup repair: used tires, new shocks and repair fuel leak and oil change.  $67 for chain saw repair and $112 for weed whacker repair.  Total cost:  $1062
VET:  This covers $181 Zeke vaccines and $216 Mouse vaccines and $800 two cheat grass removals and a neuter for mouse. Total cost:  $1197
TRACTOR/SPRAYER/SPRAY:  This covers the $512 for tractor maintenance at the dealership, $93 for sprayer repair and 
(tractor fuel  24 gallons $61) Total cost:  $667
BUSINESS EXPENSE:  This is for $50 license renewal, $635 for farm insurance we are required to keep now due to number of animals and buildings and $350 new computer programs.  Total cost:  $1035
BARN IMPROVEMENTS:  This is for repairing the barn and any improvements.  
We removed more flooring from the milking area so the horses can be placed under cover and locked in as we also added gates. $90 Supplies and $300 Labor costs to dig out old straw from sheep:  Total cost: $390
FENCING:  This needed its own category.  We have been improving the fencing all over the farm and cross fencing to control our over grazing by the animals.  This covers the posts, wire, railroad ties, gates and labor. We replaced several gates and I purchased wire whenever I found it for a cost of ($1505), labor 
($900).  Total cost: $2405
MACHINE SHOP POWER:  This covers all the materials needed to dig a trench out to the shop and run conduit and wiring.  Total cost:  $689
IRRIGATION: This covers $231 pump improvements, $697 sprinkler heads, $450 pump repair, $51 pump power.  Total cost:  $1429
ALPACA:  We had to sharpen blades and get some more tarps. Total cost: $101
[Total Alpaca lifetime expense is $958]

Expense total:  $13,090 for the entire year.

GRAND TOTAL:  A loss of $9545

That is a pretty accurate number as I was very good about keeping receipts again this year. I think some of my glove receipts went missing. I use up about a dozen pair a year. I had to replace a set of ear muffs for when I run the tractor. I keep them on the steering wheel so there is no excuse not to use them. 

We bought hay as a just in case move and it paid off amazingly!  The winter was long and brutal with tons of snow, worst in at least last 20 years. We fed almost 13 ton of the big bales already. They last longer when feeding the cows than the small bales.  This saved us a ton of effort scrambling around at the last minute to find hay to feed. 

The big project was trying to get internet via satellite. It was a long drawn out failure. The only bright spot was we now have power to the machine shop and a light on the hay area. 

The sheep are doing fantastic. Our new ram is throwing amazing lambs. The only problem is he has developed a superiority complex!  You can pet him but do not turn your back and he may try to run you over at any moment. The dogs are the cure for idiocy. Mouse loves to chase him and put him in his place. 
The cow necklace debacle is not working out. The chains are a little too long. We need to shorten them a few links and give it another try. 
The pickup costs more than planned to fix last year. We still need to get the muffler fixed. It has a huge hole in it. I just didn’t want to spend the money last year. 
The stupid puppy could not figure out how to keep chest grass out of his ears.  We battled it all summer long and the vet won. 
I took the tractor to the dealer for a five year checkup. It was a celebratory visit for paying off the tractor. I am good for another five years. 
This is the year of the alpaca.  I need to construct a shearing table this year for $400.  If we get 25# of hair then we can pay to have it made into yarn. Plus I just got Annmarie a loom!  
It will be an interesting year. 

Chicken annual summary 2016

These are the financials for all of 2016. I want to preface theses numbers with a disclaimer. I have not even reviewed the numbers prior to writing this blog entry so as to not be influenced by its results. While inputting all the chicken egg financials I noticed one disturbing trend, I didn’t particularly care for getting eggs every day. I collected them around every fifth day until December when I told Annmarie I would collect them every day I have been doing that this year and it is helping. I also started culling roosters at the end of November. This allowed the hens some much needed rest and it cut down on the number of mouths I was feeding which boosted productivity. 

  On average I had 24.4 laying hens (I am down to 22 hens in 2017) giving me 7.4 eggs/day(decrease 0.8eggs/day) for a productivity rate of 30% (3% decrease). I am going to blame most of this lousy productivity rate on piss poor egg collection and rooster harassment.  I am feeding on average 166.7chicken feed/month(increase 11.1 #/month) for a grand total of 2000# this year already (600#increase).   My monthly feed bill is $38.69/month (increase $1.83/month).  My feed costs are $2.28/doz (increase of $0.34/doz)with my total cost of production at $2.44/doz (includes feed and bedding only this year, no chickens).  My chickens are consuming 0.74 lbs food/egg produced (increase 0.11 lbs/egg).  It is costing me $0.16/egg (increase of 0.01/egg) in feed.  I have collected 2695 eggs to date (increase in 1204 eggs).  My total feed costs are $425.64 (increase of $113.91). 

In summary my income was $658 and my total expenses were $494.82.  In 2016 I made a profit of $163.18!  This is horrible, if I had purchased chicks it would have been around $50.  So say I only made $100 for the entire year and I collected 2700 eggs my profit per egg is $0.037.  So using my daily average eggs collected I am making $0.27/day!!  So for anyone complaining that $4/doz is too much you can clearly see that it is not.

 If I were to raise the price to $5/dozen I would only gain $224 annually for a new total of $387 annually. This point is really moot as Annmarie does not want me to raise the price. The real problem is the cost of feed has gone up every year. The only way I have kept costs down is by buying a ton of feed at a time when it is on sale. If I bought it by the bag my costs would increase $3/bag or another $120 annually. So if feed prices were standard and I had to buy chicks I would have been in the red!!!  This is why fresh small farm produce, animals and products are expensive. It costs a lot to produce them. Annmarie found us another egg customer today so we should be good now. I have been keeping track of expenses and egg costs since 2010. My format was pretty bare bones when I started so it would be hard to compare years but by 2012 I had this format. One of these days I should put it all into an excel spreadsheet and compare the years for fun.  I can make some graphs. My work is definitely bleeding over into my personal life. 

Pest war declared

Late last week, with this weird weather, the box elder bugs started coming into the house in droves. I mean herds, waves of attackers with constant stragglers.  I broke three fly swatters in that time period. These are not your average run of the mill flywatter. These are telescoping!  They have 1.5 times the reach of a standard swatter and can shrink down to 1/2 the length also!  They are truly amazing. I have been killing a hundred bugs a night in the house. I have utilized chemical warfare inside and outside the house. This has resulted in a slight decrease only. I started popping the ceiling tiles out and using silicone caulk in all the crevices. That helped some more. I then sprayed the ceiling seams with more chemicals. I moved the vacuum cleaner down to the living room so I can use it several times a night to suck the bugs away. I use it on the live ones. 
All of this effort over a two week period has resulted in me only having to kill three bugs tonight. I think I am finally gaining ground on the bugs. The best part is four more of my fancy telescoping bug swatters have arrived. I will wield my repaired weapon until it is no more functional. I sealed the beam edges with spackle today. I want to get the sheet rock work done before I start the tile floor. 
 I was assaulted from another front while I was in the midst of my bug battle. The mice have invaded my chicken coop!  They are so brazen now that when I go to get chicken eggs I see them scurrying around in broad daylight. Unfortunately, they have been eating my chicken feed. There is grain all over the floor so I am unsure what to use as bait. I asked Annmarie to pick up some mouse traps. She got me a dozen. I had determined that peanut butter was going to be my death temptation. Four days ago the traps arrived and I snagged a pack of four with the intent to put the fear of Steve into them. I just set the traps with no bait. I was hoping they would just run over the trap and trigger it. Three nights ago I caught two mice with no bait. Two nights ago I caught one mouse and triggered an empty trap. Yesterday, I caught another mouse and another trap was triggered. I found two old traps out in the chicken coop and set those. There are now six killing potential energy machines awaiting to be triggered. 
This does not include the 9 mice the dogs have killed out in the barn hay pile in the last week. 
The barn cats are a very necessary item for the farm. We never had this problem above five cats. We only have three now and we started with nine. So it looks like we will get 4 or 5 this summer and hope they can survive 7-9 years. It is just so outrageous to get them all fixed. We don’t want kittens every year. 
The war is not over. 
I went out today and started my first fire in the ram pasture. It took a while but I got it going. By the time I drug all the boards and twigs over to the fire over a course of three hours I was exhausted. After a shower I was good for nothing. 
 

Nah, it snowed

A lot has been happening but nothing is really moving. It’s weird. The weather is very unsure of where it is going. Today we are again surrounded by snow on all the mountains. I had a conference all weekend so I took Monday off to catch up.  I actually left a little early on Sunday, after four days I was tired.  Sunday I needed to go out and check in the hay in the lean to for the cows. I figured I would need to pitch fork it to the front for the cows so I was carrying a pitchfork with me as I left the barn. 
I had just gotten past the sheep about 30 feet from the barn when I realized the ram was sizing me up and getting ready to bum rush me. He charged, I turned the pitchfork around and clobbered him upside the head!  We kept this up four more times. At this point I realized my grave error in not bringing the dogs with me. Yes, we usually do chores with the dogs but Zeke has been sneaking off and pissing me off. So I just left them in the yard, not a good decision.  I had to get serious about thumping the ram upside the head, he just kept charging me!  I started swinging for all I was worth and finally laid one upside his head and ear that made him turn and saunter away with his head held sideways. I managed to get to the cow feeder. The sheep had managed to get into the area and make a mess. I shoveled hay back up to the front of the feeders for the cows. 

There was a moment there were my love of the new lambs went away and survival started to kick in while battling the ram. We love his babies but I will not be ran into the ground. I now take the dogs every time. 

I also decided to tear up the gravel road and smooth it out. It was pretty smooth but the top three inches were loose. It rained for the next two days causing even more mud!  I need to rework the driveway when it is a little drier and we can pack it down with vehicle travel and not rain. 

We are going to have to order another 10 yards of 1.5 ” gravel and 20 yards of 3/4- gravel. The big rock is for our dirt road and the little stuff is for fencing and drainage in the barn lot. We are going to have to rework the entire horse area. It’s needs new fencing and a new drainage system so it is not an 8 inch deep mud pit. 
 

Spring?

 
Everything is changing so fast. One minute it is freezing cold, the next it’s warm and rainy then it’s snowy. Mother Nature cannot decide which side of the fence to stay on. 
I found a dead lamb in the barn a couple of days ago. Mouse found it buried in the straw, neither AnnMarie or I ever saw it alive. It was the only lamb we had die out of 50 babies. Not too shabby. 
I am ever grateful we bought an extra 20 ton of hay. We are almost halfway through it. This winter has been long and brutal. Something killed one of our cats in the yard last week. All of our dogs were inside with us. We think it is a raccoon. Unfortunately, we will now have to get a bunch of kittens this spring. We will get an entire litter and create a kennel out of metal wire and raise them in the horse area of the barn for a few weeks. Once they are settled into the barn we will feed them every day and see if they take over. Our goal is to get them attached to the barn. When they get old enough we will get them all fixed. We are not real keen on having more kittens. We are down to three cats now. So we will get 5-7 kittens. 
The cows and sheep in the barn lot are eating the large hay bales very fast. Tonight I managed to push a bale behind the lamb shed and almost into the lean to. I then cut all the strings and jammed it into the building. There is a feeder panel across the front that will let the cows eat but no one can play in the hay and waste it.  I am hoping this forces the sheep to eat some of the barley hay we have been feeding them. I would like to get it all used up this winter. 
Donna called yesterday to let me know that the lower cows needed feed also. One of the new babies had slipped between the smooth wire and was on the road. Someone stopped and put the calf back in the schoolhouse pasture. I will probably have to line the fence with sheep fencing. Those cows actually let me get the bale in place and the feeder around it before rushing in to eat. 

I counted laying hens today. I have 22 hens and am collecting almost 14-15 eggs a day. We have a pile of eggs on top of the fridge. Both annmarie and I need to find another customer. 
 
 
 

Back creek started up

Yesterday the back creek started running. It is purely fed from mountain snow runoff.  The weather was warm but we had a couple of days of rain and I don’t think the ground can absorb any more water currently. So our creek is now running. The screwy part of this is today we are now under three inches of snow with a predicated total of ten inches coming tonight. Winter is truly unwilling to let her hand off the snow switch.  
It has been busy around here the last week. We had another calf for a total of two in the last ten days. In the next two weeks we will need to run our bull band into the shoots so we can tag and band. 

Our sheep have had two more lambs. We have a few who are obviously off cycle. I have four lambs to tag and band now. That will need to happen in a couple of weeks also. 

Thank goodness we bought extra hay. We will have fed about 40% more than normal this winter. I am super excited about not having to scramble for hay. 
Another great thing has just occurred. We had our tractor place RDO haul in the old 1950’s International gas powered tractor to revive it. It had not been started in over 8 years. They put in a new battery, new starter, spark plugs, distributed cap, oil filter, fuel filter, hydraulic fluid filter, partially rebuilt carburetor, changed oil, cleaned out fuel tank and lines, new ignition switch, added headlights (it had none), pumped up the tires and it is a mean running machine!!!  We only had to pay $2435 to revive it!!  It should be able to lift the big 1300 lb hay bales. I just have to drop off a check from Donna for the tractor and we will be able to load and unload hay ourselves!!  This is great news. As soon as we get it back to the farm I am going to see if it can handle a large bale. 
The chickens are going to town and I am now getting almost a dozen eggs a day. We are going to need a couple more customers.