Thursday, January 21, 2010

Learning From This Winter & Last

As we grow as a business, winter becomes more and more challenging. Our first winter here, we had no functional exterior water source, so it all came from the kitchen sink (I am serious, it sucked). At least this year, we have a functional water system with several hydrants (one right next to the barn) and we have a frost-free water source for livestock. That being said, we have a long way to go in order to really do some larger scaling-up and other items that will just make Janice and my life function with less stress.

Hay Supply & Handling
First, I need to increase my hay supply. I have been buying small square bales because they are convenient, but you pay for that convenience. Small square bales really have little place in production agriculture unless you make them yourself. There are also some hay auctions that I could be tamping into at my wife's work if I could handle large round bales. To increase out hay supply, I seeded down all of our crop land (13 aces) in June 2009, but the results does not look promising (it could be a failed seeding). I plan on getting a 3pt bale spear so the tractor can move large round bales and handle purchasing hay more efficiently.

New Livestock Facilities
I must finish my fencing. I simply can not continue as I have been with temporary fencing. Temporary fencing on reels and netting will be a large part of my rotations, but I must have more internal fencing and finish my exterior fencing. As my herds grow, I will need more small (relatively cheap) portable structures. I have plans for building two simple animal bedding sheds on skids so I can move them with the tractor.

Existing Livestock Facilities
I got frustrated the other day and cut the only entry to out barn off its hinges. I could only open it a few inches. The door now just sits in its frame with a block against it. I have to replace that door, add eaves to the parts of the building that do not have it, insulate the point where the soil makes contact with the soul on the north side, and modify one of the doors on the south side of the building so it can be opened from the outside (that would give me two doors into the building).

Snow Moving
I need to move snow with more then just a shovel. I am looking at a 3pt blade and a pair of tire chains for the tractor. I should be able to bust drifts and get Janice to the pavement (otherwise I have to wait a long time for the county to break us out) in the winter and clear the south drive.

Farm Vehicle Access
The house and buildings on this farm are located in a small dip between to hills. This protects us from much of the north and west wind, but we struggle with water flow through the farm and just getting up out our two steep driveways (one is paved & one is rock). The paved drive way is the shallower of the two and goes into our one car garage and our rock one goes down to our retail building and is really quite steep. I want to build a good size carport north of the garage so we can park two more vehicles up there and allow our customers to park up there if they like. I am working on shifting the farm south to a field access point. In order to push this process along, I am planning on rocking that access in 2010.

This is a pretty large post, but much of what I want to work on in 2010 are these items here. A lot of this hinges on a functional tractor. I have inherited a tractor that could use a little TLC and I am not much of a mechanic. I have been working on the tractor and if the repairs I have made are good enough I should have it running shortly. Sorry for the long post, but this post has been on my mind for some time.

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