Monday, June 13, 2011

Up Goes the Walls

We have made substantial progress on a couple of fronts and taken a few steps back as well.

We had a chicken coop raising party this weekend and got two of the walls (the long ones) up and framed. We will go back and do some cutting work to slip the windows in. I need to thank Super Jim from Pella, our regular helper who did much to guide the endeavor, and Janice's co workers Greg and Drew, and Greg's fiance Melanie. I learned a lot and I think a good time was had by all. Thanks you guys & gal for your help.

Attaching wall studs for the south wall (before raising the wall)

The finished product, two walls up in one afternoon

One of our goals for this year was to remove the Barbados ewes from our herd and process or sell all but one of the rams. As of yesterday, that has been done. We butchered 4 rams two weeks ago, sold off 5 ewes last week, and I sold and delivered 6 ewes and a ram yesterday. I did also sell my good young Katahdin Dorper cross ram that we were considering keeping. Other then that I butchered our steer this week. Needless to say, we have have moved a lot of animals this last week. The Sheep herd was at 48 animals and is now down to 31 counting our one ram. We are not getting out of sheep, we are getting rid of the bottom 30% of our herd and our extra rams. We also brought down our grazing pressure from around 15 AU to around 11 AU, so we should have more grass as we move into the leaner times this summer. 

Nice Katahdin Dorper Cross Ram I sold (I will kinda miss him)

Our Steer on the trailer (I will miss miss him)

Where we have been struggling is with our chickens. We have had very heavy predator pressure. From foxes to raccoons. We have been trapping, but it is very hard to get a handle on those issues, especially foxes. To make matters worse, we have had an illness or developmental problems with our second batch of broilers. The building we are using  and have been using is not very sanitary. It has adult birds and chicks in too close a proximity to each other. The new building will have a divided wall. The brooder side of the new building needs to be operational by mid-July so we can put our turkeys in it. The very slow development and high mortality has me deeply concerned about our July delivery dates and our cash flow moving into the late summer and early fall. Our beef and lamb is going to have to cover the spread, but our poultry building is also eating up our available funds. To make matters worse, the clutch is stuck on the tractor and I am going to need that thing soon to move new hay out of the field. As always, there are significant challenges that continue to dog us. I am hopeful though seeing some progress of the chicken building. We shall see what the back half of June has in store for us.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Caught between Mortar and Pestle

Farming has not been easy or generous recently. Our primary energizer (8 Joule output) is broken. It stopped working a month ago and it is out being repaired. The back-up energizer (2 Joule output) is not doing the best job of containing our animals and they have been out a lot recently. Other then that, we are still hurting from our chicken debacle (hatchery sending us the wrong type of birds). We have also had heavy predator pressure form the raccoons on our layers so our egg production is limping along again.

The sheep are out, again

On the upside, we did get rid of one of the  raccoons, we did butch four sheep (however their carcasses were diminutive), and we might be selling some sheep off. I am trying to butcher and sell my sheep numbers down. The goal is to purge most of the Barbados blood in the herd and bring us back to where we should be. This will reduce our total herd down by 40%.

There just has not been much upside to farming this year yet. Nothing seems to be going well and we seem to find struggles in what should be simple for us. We are looking at ways (like getting rid of the lower quality sheep) to help the situation. Customer deliveries start up again in two weeks so I am looking forward to catching up with our customers.