In July, the raccoons came out with a vengeance. The first thing they did was destroy my feed area. Previously I stored my feed in 5-gallon buckets, but they kept opening and tipping over the buckets. I decided to buy two new feed containers.
Something needed to be done. I spent all of June patching up holes in our fencing, but of course racoons will always find a 3" hole and somehow squeeze through. After some talk about a chicken tractor, Hubs decided to build me a chicken coop. He was determined!!
Egg production dropped dramatically because of the heat. I went from getting 18 eggs per day, down to 6. I've had enough for two regular customers and us, but definitely not any extra.
At the end of June, I was tired. Exhausted, really. I felt like I spent several hours each day fixing fences, chasing in goats and worrying about if they had enough grass to eat. I complained to my husband about it, and he recommended selling the goats. I didn't want to, of course, but after some thinking I decided it was the best thing to do.
My original plan of breeding the goats did not work out as planned; only one concieved. It turned out that she had a defective udder, and was therefore unsuitable for breeding again. The wool has also not been an easy sell, so it put pressure on me to make money from the other goats in order to pay for the Pygoras.
With far fewer goats, I will be able to do more thorough care (using herbs, more diverse feeding, training, etc.) and more learning about goats instead of spending all of my time taking care of them. I realize that next year, when Adi has babies again, I need to sell them as soon as possible. Thankfully I won't have to wait on paperwork, which will help a lot. I am wondering if I should breed a little earlier (kidding in March instead of April) in order to sell the kids sooner in the year. We ended up bringing Adi inside to kid anyway, so perhaps it doesn't matter when she kids.
Milk products: $39.83
Other farmers market stuff: $18.00
Total income: $99.83
Layer Mash: $44.00
Feed Trash Cans: $40.00
Chicken Watering Nipples: $6.40
Total expenses: $110.40
Total Net Profit for June: -$10.57
Year-to-Date Net Profit: $56.92
So, this month we were down on our net profit. I debated whether or not to put the trash cans in "expenses", because they are a one time cost and we could have found cheaper trash cans somewhere else. However, the fact still remains that I did buy them, and I probably would have bought SOME kind of container because of the urgency of the situation, instead of sitting around waiting for a free garage sale garbage can.
What I Didn't Include
Two things I didn't include on the month's bottom line were 1) the sale of the goats and also 2) the cost of the chicken coop. I didn't feel like it was fair to include the income from the goats because I got them for free. I will not be selling a herd of goats every year... it was just something we tried and it didn't work out. We had a similar thing happen with a sheep we bought last year. It just wasn't a good fit for our farm, and we had to let it go.
About the coop: my idea for the chickens was to build a small chicken tractor with scraps and used chicken wire. It was Hubs' idea to build the 5-star chicken hotel, which probably cost at least $1000.00 in materials alone. Both the sale of the goats and the building of the chicken coop were kind of crisis/paradigm shift decisions. It will take years and years for my chicken flock to pay off a chicken coop that is valued at almost $2000.00. I might even die before then.
Here is the thing to remember about big purchases, though. First of all, they likely have resale value. Second, the coop will save a lot of chickens from being eaten, which in turn saves a lot of money. The Craigslist value of laying hens right now is anywhere from $5.00-$10.00 each. I have heard stories at the farmers market and read Facebook posts about entire chicken flocks being wiped out because of raccoon issues. How much money is wasted every year by chickens being attacked? It's something to think about.
As with many purchasing decisions we make, the chicken coop was tied in with Hubs' business. It is being used as a display that he can show his customers, and when we are done with the coop he'll sell it on the lot. The materials that way can be counted as a business expense.
With fewer animals to take care of (and hopefully less, soon!), I'm getting excited about having a self-sustaining homestead again. The one milk goat can more than support herself. I am in the process of making more soaps, gearing up for the fall farmers market season. Previously I had thought about doing more retail soaps, but now that the farm is smaller there is no need to sell that much.
My farmers market gig thus far has worked okay on a small scale. It is a simple way to sell my farm products. However, in order to pay for the booth fee and gas to get there, I still have to spend at least an afternoon in the kitchen making baked goods, which count as half of my gross sales (more or less, depending on the day). I don't enjoy baking as much as the other things I do, so my long-term plan is to sell primarily soaps and non-perishables, with perishable products only as I have the time to make them.
I figured out in July that I can make more money going to a small market than a large one. The difference between a $20.00 booth fee and a $5.00 booth fee is quite large when you are selling items with an average profit margin of $3.00, and only make 15-25 sales the whole day.
Of course I will still be at the farmers market during the three September weeks I signed up for, and possibly another fall market (our July "Moonlight Market" this year was cancelled, and/or moved to a later date). However, in future seasons I will be happy to only attend markets once a month. Doing this May-October will give me a good $200.00-$300.00 per year to fund my little homestead with, in addition to sales I make from my home and selling goat kids in the spring.
Til next month,