Country neighbors: Relinquish the critters.Loss of income, outrageous feed bills, it was time to ...
It's 15 [degrees] F outside today with a wind-chill of 0 [degrees]. I thought I'd spend the day inside keeping the wood stove company and take a little time to share some of the things I learned last year.
After our fall butchering was done (one steer, two hogs, 20 chickens and 40 rabbits), I reviewed the feed tickets to see how much we spent. Was I shocked!
My office job went from full-time to part-time to only occasional work, so with reduced income, changes were definitely in order.
I began reviewing past issues of COUNTRYSIDE for articles on cutting feed costs (there were some excellent ones) and did some animal nutrition research on the internet at the library.
My husband and I sat down and made a list of all the livestock we had and how much of it we needed to keep to feed our family of three. Boy, was there a big difference in what we needed and what we had!
We had two. One was mine, although I had no time to ride and this particular horse and I had a bit of a personality conflict going on anyway. I sold him for twice what I had paid a year earlier.
My husband's horse is a sweet Belgian mare mare
Any flat, low, dark plain on the Moon. Maria are huge impact basins containing lava flows marked by ridges, depressions (graben), and faults; though mare means “sea” in Latin, they lack water. who will give us a colt in the spring. We use her in lieu of Instead of; in place of; in substitution of. It does not mean in addition to. a tractor. She is broke to ride and will pull a wagon, haul logs from the woods, etc. She stays. If we decide to sell her colt, it may even pay for her hay. We have to buy hay as all of our 25 acres is wooded. Fortunately, we can buy excellent quality hay, very reasonably, just a couple of miles down the road.
We started out a few years ago with a few banties, most of which we still have. We later added some standard sized Rhode Island Reds Rhode Island red
a deep red-brown, dual-purpose poultry breed which lays a deep brown egg. It has a single comb, with clean yellow legs. , Buff Orpingtons, and Dominiques. We got the straight runs butchered, as well as most of the roosters.
This was working out just fine until our son, who's in 4-H, decided to raise 25 Leghorns for a 4-H project. The chickens were free, but they sure could eat! Then in a separate 4-H project, he got a small flock of broilers for a nominal fee, to show at the state fair. And I thought the Leghorns could eat! As a result of all this we had far too many chickens (about 80 at the time), and were getting far too many eggs.
The excess eggs (and surplus goat milk) was used to help feed out our two hogs this summer, but when the hogs were butchered, we had a problem. Yes, we sold some of the eggs, but not that many!
When we decided to keep only what we needed for eggs, we butchered the 20 broilers, sold a rooster rooster
its crowing at dawn heralds each new day. [Western Folklore: Leach, 329]
See : Dawn
symbol of maleness. [Folklore: Binder, 85]
See : Virility and six hens to a friend, and bartered a rooster and all of the other hens we didn't need, for firewood (which we did need).
Our flock is now a more manageable size. We still get plenty of eggs, enough to still sell a few, but we are only shelling out a fraction of the money that we were spending on feed.
We used to sell rabbits commercially, but decided to leave the business. We butchered and Canned about 40 rabbits, but still had too many. We only wanted to keep two does and a buck, so the other 16 breeders, cages and feeders were used for bartering. We now have a lot more space in the barn and our feed bill has dropped considerably again. It also takes far less time to do the chores now. We're saving time as well as money. The entire operation just feels more efficient.
We actually have two separate goat herds. One small herd keeps a horse company and eats brush on Verb 1. brush on - apply with a brush; "Brush butter on the roast"
coat, surface - put a coat on; cover the surface of; furnish with a surface; "coat the cake with chocolate" their five-acre enclosure. They have done a wonderful job of keeping it down, and since they don't require much more feed, they aren't costing us much.
Our two goats are Toggenburg does. We expected them both to kid for the first time last spring, but one turned out not to be pregnant after all. I still house her in the barn with the lactating lac·tate 1
intr.v. lac·tat·ed, lac·tat·ing, lac·tates
To secrete or produce milk.
[Latin lact doe because I don't want to leave a herd-type animal alone all the time. Companionship companionship
the faculty possessed by most truly domesticated animals. They are social creatures and have a great need for the companionship of other animals. Animals in groups are quieter and more productive as a rule. seems to make them happy and I believe a happy animal is more productive.
Last April, Hannah gave us twin kids and produced over a gallon of milk a day. We can't use that much, but the dog, hogs and chickens were happy to help, which cuts their feed costs a little.
I recently calculated that the goat milk costs us 42 cents per gallon -- well worth keeping the goats.
Dog and cat
We have one of each and they are pets, not livestock, and they both stay. The cat spent a lot of time in my garden last summer and would occasionally leave me a present of a dead mouse or mole on the garden path to be sure I found it.
Our "watchdog" is gentle, but lets us know when someone is here. Of course, she also lets us know when a coon coon: see raccoon. , possum possum
Any of several species (family Phalangeridae) of nocturnal, arboreal marsupials of Australia and New Guinea. They are 22–50 in. (55–125 cm) long, including the long prehensile tail, and have woolly fur. or skunk skunk, name for several related New World mammals of the weasel family, characterized by their conspicuous black and white markings and use of a strong, highly offensive odor for defense. is around, but that's not all bad. Especially the time a small possum was in the henhouse and she kept him cornered until my husband could return with the shotgun.
Steer and hogs
The steer and two hogs we will continue to raise annually, as they feed us all year. Last year we mixed our own feed to avoid all the antibiotics and other "yuck yuck 1 also yuk
Used to express rejection or strong disgust. ." It seems to cost more to feed them like this, but the pork and beef are the best I've eaten anywhere, at any price.
These large animals we have butchered by a professional who has the setup to do it, as we do not. He has been in the business 30 years, but couldn't get over how good our animals looked, especially the steer. He said it had been fed right and wanted our recipe for the feed.
I've noticed that even the cuts which are usually tough, are very tender and taste wonderful.
We were able to cut the cost of hog feed by feeding them surplus milk and eggs. They even loved the eggshells, slightly crushed. They enjoyed the milk so much they would suck it Suck It is the first episode of the second season of Robot Chicken. List of skits
Renewal of Robot Chicken by [adult swim]
Seth Green thanks Adult Swim for the renewal of the new season of Robot Chicken. out of the bottom of the pan first, saving the grain for last.
The next step in our plan to cut feed costs is growing some of our own feed. Herein lies the problem: When we bought our place five years ago, there was no house, barn, fence, septic septic /sep·tic/ (sep´tik) pertaining to sepsis.
1. Of, relating to, having the nature of, or affected by sepsis.
2. or structure of any kind. We had three things on this property! trees, rocks and a little clay.
After building our cabin (well, we're almost through) and barn (okay, it lacks a little finishing too), we cleared a small area for a garden. Now that the trees in this area have been removed, we're left with two things: Rocks and clay. When I say rocks, I mean lots of them, and they aren't wimpy Wimpy
sloppily dressed comic strip character; always “forgets” to pay for hamburgers. [Comics: “Popeye” in Horn, 657–658]
See : Irresponsibility rocks either. More than once we've had to use the comealong to get a rock out. (Note: Teenage sons come in very handy here.)
The way I see it, I had three choices here:
1. Biointensive --a tiller would never make it.
2. Build borders for raised beds and haul in all the dirt (my father-in-law's suggestion, but too expensive for us).
3. Move to a new location with fewer rocks.
I chose #1. (My husband says anything with the word "intensive" in it means a lot of work. Actually he's right, but I still believe it's worth it.) I started small and added new beds each year.
We had an exceptionally hot, dry summer, so I wasn't expecting too much from my garden last year, but it really surprised me.
In a bed that I prepared and planted for the first time, I put in 15 tomato plants of three different varieties. I watered a little and mulched a lot. My total yield was 104 lbs. 8 oz. That does not include the occasional one I'd find with a blemish blem·ish
A small circumscribed alteration of the skin considered to be unesthetic but insignificant.
blemish of some kind and feed to the goats, hogs or chickens as a treat.
I only had a couple of crops not do well, and they were things I had no experience growing. The peppers did great, and I grew several different kinds. But what grew the best were the sweet banana peppers. I only planted four of these and it's a good thing! They grew taller than me (5'4") and I had to stake them. I harvested almost 20 pounds of peppers from these four plants alone.
I have several beds of herbs, with a few flowers mixed in. These did well and I'm drying bunches for culinary, medicinal medicinal /me·dic·i·nal/ (mi-dis´in-il) having healing qualities; pertaining to a medicine.
Of, relating to, or having the properties of medicine. and ornamental use. Treats of herbs seem to be among the goats' favorites. They love mints, basils, lemon balm lemon balm: see bee balm.
symbol of compassion. [Herb Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 164]
See : Kindness and parsley parsley, Mediterranean aromatic herb (Petroselinum crispum or Apium petroselinum) of the carrot family, cultivated since the days of the Romans for its foliage, used in cookery as a seasoning and garnish. .
To cut back on animal feed costs even more, I plan to start a bed of comfrey comfrey
Any herb of the Eurasian genus Symphytum (borage family). Best known is the medicinal common comfrey (S. officinale), used to treat wounds and as a source of a gum used to treat wool. Traditionally it was also taken internally for various complaints. soon. I like the fact that most animals will eat it and it is a perennial.
Two things have amazed a·maze
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.
2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.
v.intr. me over the past few months of being home:
One is how much work I can accomplish at home in a single day, and two, how much money I save by not working a job in town.
Besides all of the obvious expenses of working a town job (gas, vehicle maintenance, wardrobe, lunches out, etc.) there are other, less obvious expenses too. I'm finding new ways to save money all the time. Our son says I'm "tighter than a clam at high tide," to which I can only reply, "Gosh, thanks!"
A real money saver
One big money-saver for us was when we stopped eating out. Now it's not that I minded cooking, but when I worked eight hours all day in an office, only to come hose to a messy mess·y
adj. mess·i·er, mess·i·est
1. Disorderly and dirty: a messy bedroom.
2. Exhibiting or demonstrating carelessness: messy reasoning. house I hadn't had time to clean (never mind the mountain of dirty laundry dirty laundry
Personal affairs that could cause embarrassment or distress if made public: Let's not air our dirty laundry in front of our guests. Also called dirty linen. ), I couldn't even begin to think of cooking.
Now that I have time to cook and keep the house tidy, do the chores and run the errands, I'm in a much better mood. Our entire household runs more efficiently.
SHERRI FREEMAN RT. 2 BOX 958 DARDANELLE, AR 72834