Wow, I’m a really bad blogkeeper! Been over a month now. Well you can’t expect much when school’s out, lol. I’ve learned a lot over the past few months. Allow me to share with you:
Always, always, always, with no fail, label your plants. I thought I could remember what I had put in the ground. HA! I planted green beans, cream peas, and pintos. So, one day, after things were lookin’ about ready to pick, I thought it was time to pick me some peas. So, I waited till the pods looked a little dry and got my friend and his son to help us ‘shell some peas’. I did not realize my mistake until about 2 weeks later when my REAL peas matured. We had actually picked PINTOS and had the worst time trying to shell the little boogers because they weren’t ready yet! I thought those were funny looking peas! Now I know!
Keep out the chickens. In my rose-colored little pea brain, I imagined some kind of idyllic symbiotic relationship between my chickens and my garden. The chickens would remove all the pests while simultaneously fertilizing my garden with their nitrogen-rich poo. I had about 30 – 2mo. old chickens loose in my garden. At first, all was bliss. Then, over time, I noticed they were eating my cherry tomatoes. No big deal, I thought…I give most of ’em away anyway. THEN they started eating my big tomatoes. That definitely put a hitch in my giddy-up. Now, I work hard on my ‘maters and I’ll be danged if some stupid chicken is going to eat my meal (I still like chickens, mind you, I was just really upset with them. I really don’t think they’re stupid.) Then, I found that my squash had been slowly but cluckingly methodically picked on. THEN, they poo’ed all over my porch. But not just the porch. The chairs, my blankets, my tables, and to top it off, trampled my moonvine and my poor, poor Christmas cactus. Now I was really hot. OUT, OUT, OUT!!! I screamed as I snatched them up. Anyway, now they’re safe in their own coop, and no more poop for me to contend with!
God praise canned green beans! You would think they’d be easy to grow. Apparently, this year at least, not so. I know this because not only did my lovely, lush vines only produce 8 measley pods, but my mother harvested her bumper crop of 4 pods, and her friend reaped 3. God Bless the Jolly Green Giant.
Goats: After several months of budgeting, I found that having 12 goats costs me approximately: $25 a month in hay, and $29.24 a month in feed. Not including their wormer, which, by the way, is quite pricey at $80 a bottle! Fortunately, though, it lasts a LONG time. We are planning on selling 8 goats, so I figure I can quarter my costs. $15 a month isn’t bad for having some brush trimming!
Poultry: It costs me about $43.75/mo. to feed my chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys. Now, the geese and ducks don’t do anything besides honk, quack, and crap, but I really do like my geese. The turkeys are endearing except for the fact that they lay on my plants and would eat a 50# sack of corn in one sitting if I let them. Plus, now they’re too big to butcher. Now what? The chickens are the most useful so far, as they are giving us copious quantities of lovely brown eggs. I think I will always have some chickens till the day I die! They also love to eat lots of grasshoppers and i haven’t seen hardly any around lately.
In General: While free livestock is appealing, the reality is that you have to feed ’em, house ’em and clean up after ’em. You really have to ask yourself if it’s all worth the cost and effort. As far as my geese go, they love to eat grass, which I think it hilarious and they honk when they see someone they don’t recognize, which I also think is hilarious. They are definitely more ‘pet’ to me than useful livestock. The ducks quack and crap. I hope that will change and eventually I’ll get my 100 eggs a year out of them. Maybe next spring. The goats are very useful for eating brush. You will be very amazed at how clean they leave a wooded plot behind. However, twelve is too many for me at the moment. The turkeys are very interesting, but gobble down food at a phenomenal rate. Granted, I do have a breed which is very large, so I am not sure how the ‘heritage’ breeds would do, but I can tell you that these guys totally chow down. Bottom line is that my chickens and goats are, so far, the most useful livestock that I own.
For the past 3 months, we have been budgeting. I’m bringing this up because I feel budgeting is very important to everyone, and especially for farm folks so we can assess our profit to loss ratio. I have learned that I just can’t currently sustain as much livestock as I thought I could, and that’s ok. Actually, it’s a weight off of my shoulders to sell off some of my flock, not just financially, but also mentally! After a major talk with myself, I decided to whittle down to bare minimum, and really throw most of my efforts into my gardening. After all, so far, it seems to me that my garden has paid off more than any of my livestock (except, perhaps, my laying hens), and it is SOOOOO much less effort for me to ‘keep up’. Sure, it’s work, too, but I don’t have to worm my plants, or chase after them, or clean up plant poo. So, I’ll always have a garden. The other thing I like about vegetable/fruit gardening is that you can sell the produce, sell something you’ve created with the produce, like baked goods or canned goods, or even just sell seeds. Anyway, I think it’s a win/win situation all around.
So, with budgeting in mind, for a very, very small initial fee, I can have a great big, gorgeous garden for pennies on the dollar. So, plants are in, new livestock is out for now. And that’s the farm report for this time!
My favorite thing for the moment: Ever listen to talk radio? I didn’t either until a few months ago when my favorite oldies station morphed into a talk radio station. That’s when I discovered Dave Ramsey. After I had listened to his no-nonsense style for about a week or so, I bought his book, The Total Money Makeover. So, I am currently on Step #2, which is the Debt Snowball. I have never done a real budget before, and before this April, budgeting was very hard because of the way our business was set up. Now that we get ACTUAL, REAL PAYCHECKS (lol), I can budget. I did my first budget in May, and thought, my God, no wonder we’re always broke! I have faithfully stuck to my budget sheet (which I print out monthly from daveramsey.com) and I have never, ever had this much money left over at the end of the month. I even amazed myself! We have paid off about 6 of our debts already and are slaving away to pay off our next debt. I even have enough now, saved up, to pay for our house taxes for this year. I have NEVER had that happen! You can do it, too! I like Dave because it’s not some weird scam, and he seems to be very down-to-earth about things, and seems to have good ol’ common sense. One day, I’m going to call the Dave Ramsey show and scream, “WE’RE DEBT FREEEEEE!!!!” Just you wait and see!