Farming – even for your own needs can be expensive – not real sure we are saving any money. In fact, unless my math this morning is way off – we are eating probably the worlds most expensive eggs at a hard cost of $6.33 per dozen (no that doesn’t factor in any labor or bedding – just feed!) I couldn’t even ask for that kind of money for the eggs – who would buy them? And we are likely drinking the world’s most expensive milk this winter (I don’t even want to know what that is costing me)!
Non-GMO/organic grains to supplement the free-range poultry and the cows’ diet is quite expensive, as is the organic hay and the straw they need in the winter. Factor in that the hens lay far fewer eggs in winter than in the warmer months and we have only one cow of the five that is currently milking, and I am running a farm in deep, dark red each winter month! No, I won’t make a huge profit, if any, come warmer months when the hens' laying picks up – likely only recoup summer feed costs and maybe, hopefully, put back enough to give a little help with the following winter’s feed bill.
And then there is the garden. We grow most all of our own produce – enough to sustain us throughout the year until the next summer’s harvest is ready. Yes, seeds are relatively inexpensive and the hard-cost for growing is almost nothing compared to buying at a grocery store. However gardening and preserving the harvest is probably the most labor-intensive part of growing our own food. This past year we decided to double the size of the garden so we could sell some of our fresh, organically raised vegetables. Things were off to a great start and all was growing really well with the perfect amounts of rain and sunny days, it looked like it was going to be a great harvest and we might make a few dollars as well. That is until I accidentally left the gate to the garden undone. (Or it could have been that my cows are smart and know how to undo gate chains!) Anyway, all the cows found their way into the garden, trampling and eating to their stomachs content. Thankfully we caught them before all was lost and were able to salvage about half of our produce – enough for us but not enough to sell at market.
So why do I do it? First, and probably the most important is I want to know what we are eating – what went into the food, how it was grown, how it was treated. There is no better feeling than sitting down for a good home-cooked meal and knowing that I grew it all, it is healthy fresh food, and the taste is the best. No chemical fertilizers or weed killers, antibiotics or hormones infect our food.
Secondly, I just love watching the chickens roam around the property watching their antics and interactions with each other and the other animals on the farm. As for the cows – they are just like really big puppies curiously watching your every move, nuzzling up to me for an ear rub or back scratch.
So yes, farming for us is as of yet profitable, but my love for my family and what I feed them and my love of animals makes it worth the labor, time and money spent.
Do you turn a profit with small-scale farming ventures?