I continued feeding the goats a small amount of grain (half corn, half "sweet mix") and hay.
In the middle of December, it got very, very cold. I did have two chicken fatalities this month; both were older birds. I figured that some of my birds would die over the winter due to old age. One of my favorite hens, a little white bantam that I had named "Princess", was one of the chickens who died. So, that was a bummer.
My "baby" ducks grew up into adults. I've determined that the two ducks I hatched in September are drakes- male ducks. I was kind of hoping for girl ducks so I could hatch more ducklings this spring from their eggs. But I'll just have to be happy with boy ducks.
We cooked one of my ducks for Christmas Eve. The duck meat itself was pretty good; it tasted a lot like chicken, but all of the meat was dark instead of just the drumsticks. The breast meat turned out nice and tender, but the drumsticks were dry. I am going to try cooking the breasts and drumsticks separately the next time.
One thing I loved about cooking my duck? The FAT! There was so much of it. Unfortunately my bowl of fat tipped over and most of it ran down the top of the oven. But what little I did salvage smelled like potato chips. I can't wait to try cooking with it.
In the middle of December, my brother-in-law was in a car accident and hospitalized with broken ribs, a punctured lung and other minor injuries. Though he is now at home, he hasn't been able to take care of his bunnies. So I am the new bunny caretaker.
To make chores easier, Hubs and I moved the four bunnies into the feed room of my chicken coop. They each have their own "cubicle" that Hubs built out of scrap lumber. Right now, the rabbits are pretty low-maintenence and only need corn, water, and hay every day. BIL breeds and sells the baby rabbits as pets (I think they are Holland Lops), so like all of the other animals, the bunnies are non-producing this time of year.
Profit & Loss for December
Layer Mash- $93.60
Total Expenses: $116.60
Net Profit: -$114.60
Year-to-Date Net Profit: $318.62
We used more grain this month than I estimated. I was not as strict with the amounts due to the accident, extremely cold weather and Christmas, etc. Plus I used some corn for the bunnies. Next month I am going to re-calculate the amounts and also experiment with fodder. This will hopefully bring the cost down a little.
Another forthcoming expense is hay. At the time of this writing we still have two bales left, but will need to purchase 10-15 bales for 2017. This will set me back $50.00-$75.00. That expense, plus $80.00 per month for feed, will probably drain my little farm wallet dry just as money starts rolling in from eggs, baby animals and farmers market.
Overall Budget Report for 2016
Regardless of upcoming expenses, for my 2016 Overall Budget Report, I am going to call net profits for this year:
Here are some other interesting tidbits for 2016:
Total recorded income for the year: $1166.37
This is "recorded" income. I was not consistent in how I recorded net vs. gross income in the blog posts, which is unfortunate. However, I know that I sold at least $1166.37 worth of goods at farmers markets and in out-the-door sales. Some of the things I sold were baked goods, soap, and eggs. I also sold some other things hit-or-miss from home. One big moneymaker was the two goat kids I sold in August for over $300.00.
Total recorded expenses: $1039.21
Wowza! I spent a lot of money on animal stuff in 2016. Recurring costs were things like goat mineral and feed/"sweet mix", shelled corn, layer mash, and/or hay. Non-feed items I bought were:
Flea and lice powder- $6.49
Fiber processing- $65.00
ADGA Registration fees- $50.00
ADGA transfer fees: $12.00
Tattoo kit and dehormer- $122.90
Cattle panels- $60.07
Vet visit- $94.88
Bottle nipples $10.90
The Goatkeeper's Veterinary Book- $4.71
CDT vaccine: $6.99
Green tattoo ink: $6.50
Goat collars: $9.00 ($3.00 each)
Trash cans to store feed: $40.00
Chicken watering nipples: $6.40
Herbal dewormer-: $28.17
Chick grower: $6.30
New chicks- $11.00
Light bulb for heat lamp: $2.99
Heat lamp- $8.99
Poultry watering cups- $5.99
Duck incubation- $20.00
Chick starter- $7.41
Gardening For Goats ebook- $1.99
If you are thinking about starting a hobby farm, that is a partial list of the things you will have to buy. It is not easy to break even with so many purchases!
Successful projects in 2016:
I bought two ducks at our county fair this year, and got a third duck from the owner of the first two. I loved having ducks around. They were pretty consistent egg layers and laid big, fat eggs. The butchering process was not too complex and rewarded me with gourmet meat and beautiful golden fat. Ducks are a nice addition to chickens, if you are willing to meet their water needs. The water cannot be kept inside the chicken coop, because ducks fling water all over the place. They also dirty the water, so it must be changed frequently. I have to change their water every day.
Farmers Market, Year 2
I made major improvements this year in the farmers market department. I made more money with less time involved. You can read about my second season here.
This was my first year with a sizeable amount of egg-laying chickens. I priced my eggs at $2.00 out-the-door and $3.00 farmers market, and had NO trouble selling them. I could have sold more eggs, if I had more. $2.00 per dozen was a break-even point for the chickens (that is, they paid for themselves at that price), and at $3.00 I could actually make extra money with the extra eggs (I did keep a dozen or more per week for us). I would highly reccommend egg selling for those of you who are trying to make the hobby farm pay for itself.
In August I tried incubating ducks, with a 10% hatch rate. Out of 20 hatching eggs, we hatched out two ducklings. The time spent hatching and nurturing two ducks was not worth it, especially when they turned out to be male ducks.
I tried keeping fiber goats in 2016. Ultimately, we did not have enough pasture to support the 5-6 goats, and I could not sell the fiber fast enough to pay for the herd. There were some breeding problems as well. I did send some of the fiber in to be processed, and it turned out great- but including the cost of shipping TO the fiber mill and gas to pick it up, processing was just under $100.00.
If I had been able to sell the fiber for what it was worth ($8.00/oz.), minus the cost of processing I would have come out ahead $150.00+. Selling the kids from each doe (there were three) would have paid for the goats' upkeep. However, my goats had issues with breeding. Two out of three did get bred, but one died before she kidded. The last goat gave birth to one kid, but had a deformed udder. After having the vet out, I discovered that mama goat would not have any extra milk for me, plus it would be unwise to breed her in the future because of the udder defect.
So there I was, left with five goats (plus one kid) that I didn't have enough pasture for, couldn't breed, couldn't milk, and didn't want to butcher. Plus, I had a pile of luxury fiber that I couldn't sell and wasn't skilled enough to spin into a sellable product. In the end, I chose to sell the goats. It was a project that could work for someone else, but in my case it didn't.
Alternative Poultry Waterers
During the last year I also tried using chicken nipple waterers, and individual "cup" waterers. Not only did the chickens completely ignore these waterers, but the small parts froze during the winter. I needed an open water container for the ducks anyway, so it was a waste of time and money to make the alternative waterers.
Til next year,