March was pretty slow here on the hobby farm. It was so slow that I considered not even writing a report. Better late than never, I guess.
Chickens & Ducks
Right now there are 17 birds in the coop. We had a single chicken die in March. Before that happened, I suspected that something fishy was going on. I noticed that kitchen scraps- including large potato chunks- had been dragged into a building across the fence from the chicken area. While some of the chickens do sneak under the fence, I highly doubted that the chickens could or would drag food items into that area. It seemed more like something a pack rat would do. A few days later, I found one of the chickens, mauled, in front of the chicken coop. Of course this was upsetting, but it was, again, fishy. Usually when a raccoon gets a chicken it will drag it out to the boundary of the fence. Raccoons almost never leave their prey right where they killed it. Hawks strangle their prey and carry it off.... so, what was I dealing with?
Obviously, I started shutting the chickens in at night after that. Some people shut chickens in all year long, but I get lazy in the winter and just leave their little door open. That way I only have to go out there once a day. Anyway, two nights after the mysterious killing, I turned the light on in the chicken coop and caught a opossum in there- red handed!! Thankfully he didn't have a chicken, but was probably just stealing eggs. Either way, he was... exterminated.
In March, the chickens started picking up laying eggs a bit.
Not much to report for the garden I started some seeds using a Jiffy greenhouse. I think I'll do this with almost all of my early start seeds for next year. It's so convenient and I lose fewer seedlings because I don't have to transplant so often.
My bee project for March was putting together my Langstroth hive. I ordered the first deep, cover and bottom board assembled already, but assembled two honey super boxes and 20 frames myself. I also realized that I should have another deep, so I ordered an unassembled kit for that as well.
Profit & Loss
Expenses: $72.65 (extra hive deep)
Net profit: ($72.65)
Year-to-date net profit: ($616.83)
My profit and loss is turning into just a loss. I guess it really is a "hobby" farm now. I'm not selling many farmers market books, and the ones I do sell wouldn't begin to cover chicken feed, let alone a new bee setup. During the first quarter of 2018 I spent $64.00 on chicken feed ($21.33/mo.). The rest of our net "non-profit" is from my new bee setup. They are less like value-producing livestock at this point and more like cash-sucking pets.
For a couple years now I've been slowly transitioning the priority away from earning and more toward just saving money with our farm (and doing it for my own pleasure). I feel like if I want to be earning money, my time is better spent writing. In order to measure the true "profit" of the hobby farm, I should be calculating how many eggs and other food products I harvest, since that' now the goal instead of earning with dollars. Perhaps I will try to keep track of this in the month of May.
I'll be coming out with an April report pretty soon. Stay tuned!