Farmin’ is really about numbers. How much to plant, how much to harvest, how many days in the ground, how many days the produce will store, how much to charge and I could go on forever. Really just lots of different numbers that at the end of the year you try to make them work out in your favor. This will be my fourth CSA season & so far, probably the most I’ve paid attention to all sorts of numbers. What things cost to produce, what we sell things for, what the tractor costs to fix, where can we get by with less expense, what crops are profitable and which ones aren’t?
Some days you have to cut your losses, this year we’re looking at not raising a batch of organically fed, meat chickens. The cost to raise them and have them processed, just gets to the point where it’s not profitable, not to mention hard to sell $4 a pound chicken when Festival Food sells them for .99 cents on sale. Occasionally we get asked if we have organic fed eggs, and we do…but we’re only raising them for ourselves. I ran the numbers on layer chickens and just couldn’t figure out a way to do it in a smaller scale that was profitable. And probably I’m sure some of that is my own fault. To do it “right”, ie. make money at it, you’d need to turn over your chickens every two years, not to mention have lights on them in winter to encourage year ’round production. Sure they could be raised humanely, on some pasture, but free range? Not gonna happen with 3 dogs here.
Right now, we have 5 chickens – 3 were new that were raised from chicks last year, 1 was the sole survivor of another farm’ s chicken massacre (not sure what animal got them all, but Red is our little fighter) and 1 Sultan who came from a neighbor girl who raised her for a County Fair chicken – Farah is her name, she’s pretty…and that’s all she’s got going for her right now. Being a fancy breed, she’s not much for egg production. The last time she laid an egg was probably in September of last year. If I was good with numbers, she’d be Chicken Booyah by now. But sometimes, it’s just nice having something pretty to look at.