That’s a Lot of Chicken Scratch
By Rima Austin
I listen to talk radio on the way to and from work, and lately there has been a lot of time given to the water crisis in California. I understand all too well what it means to have a shortage on water, but I have never been in a situation where there was a threat that I would wake up one day and have no water at all and the thought of it scares me.
I have mentioned water before but it seems like water issues are something I have to address on a weekly basis, if not a day-to-day basis. I remember the days when I could go to the tap and turn it on and not think anything about standing there for two or three minutes with the water running waiting for it to get hot. I think a majority of people do not give water a second thought, and why would we? In the region I live in especially, water is not an issue. We have a long rainy season and being so far above sea level, and in a mountainous region, flooding is not a major issue either. A lot of readers may ask, “Why do I need to worry about this?”
My daughter Heather enjoying Tennessee waters.
The answer is you don’t … yet. But why wait until there is a code red? If anything, a family could cut down on their water consumption anywhere they live, whether it is on a farm or in a high rise downtown in a city. Think of the money that could be saved just by collecting water in water jugs and operating solely out of those for everything other than baths or showers. You’re probably thinking that the money you save wouldn’t be worth the massive sacrifice, but even if you saved $30 a month, that’s a lot of chicken scratch! So, I took the liberty of making a list of things that a conscientious water conserver could frivolously spend:
150 pounds of chicken scratch – The local co-op in my hometown sells 50 pound bags of chicken scratch for around $9 a bag. Of course if you would rather buy organic scratch the cost would most likely be a little higher but still, that’s a lot of chicken scratch! This also goes for feed for other farm animals too; it seems there is always a need for feed.
Extra tank of gas – Depending on what you drive I don’t know if you could get a whole tank but you should get pretty close. This also falls under the heading of gas for the mower, the tiller, the tractor, etc. This is approximately 12 gallons of gas (in the southeast) and that would be an extra 144 gallons of gas per year. Buy a holding tank and save it and you have your own gas station in your backyard.
Groceries – Most of us shop at the farmers’ market because that’s how we roll, but there are certain things we cannot get from there or choose to buy at a grocery store such as sugar, flour, cornmeal, etc. The extra money could be used to stock up on non-perishable items to keep in storage. If stored correctly all the items I mentioned above, and many more, can be kept for months, maybe even years.
Subway/Train passes – I couldn’t ask my friends in the city to cut back on water without giving them an incentive as well. In Chicago, for instance, a one-week subway pass if $28. This allows the purchaser to ride anywhere the trains go and the buses as well. In a year’s time, this is 12 weeks of passes that you otherwise would not have had.
Land taxes (and magazines) – Thirty dollars a month does not seem like much, especially when you think that is only $360 per year, but in the end saving it for land tax pays off as well. Like everything else, taxes are different for each region so I can only use us as an example. Our land tax for the farm is $800 per year, if I took my new $360 and applied it to this that would only leave me with $440 difference. Instead of putting back $67 a month I would only have to save $37 per month, and the $15.38 a week I was having to put back is now only $8.46; this means I now have $6.92 extra a week I can do whatever I want with. I guess I can finally afford that magazine subscription I have always wanted. You get three guesses which one I get and the first two don’t count.
Close up of chicken scratch. Courtesy: The Backyard Chicken Site
Courtesy: Petroleum Services
Chicago ticket prices, courtesy of my daughter Bo and her partner Alex Joss who live in Chicago
Courtesy: Ken Jennings
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