Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back and Moving Forward

Well 2011 is now behind us. It has been a rough year for us both balancing family and working off farm for me, but also trying to keep the farm running despite considerable difficulties. The business had nearly 100% mortality on 3 chicken batches (of 5) this year brought about by illness, predator pressure, and a hatchery mistake. Our position was furthered weakened by having higher than desired mortality in turkeys and very low weights at processing time. On the up side, we processed our first beef and found to be the best grass-fed beef we have had yet, and we have almost finished constructing a massive new asset, the poultry building. Needless to say these challenges and the expense of building a structure have left us in a very tight financial position.

Started putting on trim this weekend with the help of Mark from Madison

Interior Sheeting is going up with the help of Jim and Mark

In 2012, things will get better. Our new brooder set-up should help us get past chick mortality problems, the new layer house will be much harder for predators to access the birds or their eggs, and we are going back to building fence so we can get much better at keeping our cattle on our farm. I have also just been told that my job with the Natural Resource Conservation Service will be coming to a close because the money for part-time federal employees is still not forthcoming from the United States Department of Agriculture. Next week will be my last week. I was looking at leaving in April of 2012, this just accelerates the timeline quite a bit. The time off will let me stay a home with Hazel more and will allow me to focus on my 2012 goals.

Janice reading to Hazel from one of her Christmas Presents

The 2012 master task list by month

I think we look forward to the possibilities in 2012, despite being concerned about our financial position and short on operating capital. Most of the 2012 task list is smaller items or projects that have been started but not completed. Happy 2012 people and wish us luck.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rough landing

I could not live with the bright blue chicken building. Mostly because it was so far from what I was aiming for. So I painted it with the last reasonably warm day we have had.  Whenever I get to the trim, it will be white.

Green Chicken Building

Two weeks ago, we had a mini skid steer with a trencher attachment on the farm and I trenched out the buried wires that go under our farm gates along with the main power supply line to the new building.  Janice and I put the underground line in conduit. It was a tight fit and threading over 125 feet of fairly tight conduit was not fun, but we got through it together. Last weekend, Michael Carter, my stepfather-in law came out and we finished wiring the building, then we crossed our fingers and threw the switch. Everything works as intended. 

Power supply line cut for high tensile fence

Our average turkey size was only 8.2 pounds this year. Where our typical average is between 11 and 13 pounds. With the number of turkeys we raised this year, every pound off average represents about $1000 in sales. So we did between three and five grand less in sales than we were projecting, so things are extremely tight right now. We are selling animals that have given us the slightest reason to sell. Our goal is to avoid selling our cattle breeding stock in the process of righting the ship.

Two of our original ewes that we sold

We have still been trying to put weight on some of our small turkeys. We still have 24 birds out there. This is an older photo of them when they were smaller. I am not sure where the birds will end up, but I hope to have them either sold off live or butchered within the next week.

Small turkeys that did not make the Thanksgiving cut

Well this is where we are at this point in December. I hope that we pull up and flatten out by the end of the month. Stay tuned and wish us luck.