Chickens & Ducks
Ducks: All of my ducks here are doing fine. Right now we have two females and two males. I intend to butcher the male ducks this month (like I say every month...). I think one of the female ducks may have gone broody, so I've set four duck eggs under her to see if they hatch. If not... I'm out four duck eggs.
Speaking of broody... the duck eggs I gave to my brother last month have now hatched!! Our fall hatching experiment was a total bust (half of the 20 eggs were fertilized, and only two eggs hatched out of those). This spring I gave him 22 eggs to hatch. ALL of the eggs were fertilized, and 16 of them hatched!! Two died after hatching, but the rest are still growing and being happy little ducklings. They are the cutest things EVER!!!
Chickens: We had one chicken die this month of natural causes, and one rooster died of natural consequences. About a week ago, one of our barred rock roosters started chasing me around. Last Tuesday, while I was milking my goat, he flew up onto my back and launched a full-on attack. I decided that was going to be his last attack. That very afternoon I boiled some water in a big pot, got out my boning knife and made him supper. No rooster attacks since.
As much as I hate butchering chickens five or six at a time, doing one wasn't too bad. It took about 45 minutes from start to finish (yes, I'm really slow at it). Plus, I felt better knowing that I wouldn't be bothered at milking the next day. By butchering the non-productive rooster, I not only saved on feed, but also extracted an extra $5.00 worth of meat from my farm. This could technically go in the "income" line of my P&L (because it's money I saved on groceries) but I'm going to leave it off for now (see below about my "value" spreadsheet I'm making!).
As for egg production, the chickens are laying an average of 10 eggs per day. I'm giving them $0.66 worth of feed every day, which means my cost for a dozen eggs is $0.79. In order for the poultry to be self-supporting, I need to be selling 11 dozen eggs per month, or just over three dozen per week. In May, the chickens more than paid for themselves because I was able to sell some eggs at the farmers market. In months that I DON'T sell at market, though, I will need to bring in more out-the-door sales.
As of May 31st, all of the goat kids are sold and happy with their new owners. I did the castration all by myself (first time ever) and it went great. CDT booster shots went great. The only complaint I have about my goat kids this year is that some of the horns grew back a little. I thought I burned them with the disbudding iron pretty hard, but apparently not hard enough. Next year I am going to do it sooner and maybe hold the iron on just a touch longer.
Right now I'm making a spreadsheet to determine how many dollars worth of food I'm getting from different hobby farm items (eggs, milk, meat, produce, etc.). It's neat because I can punch in my morning "haul" and see exactly how many dollars I saved. I can also punch in how much time I spent, and then see what my hourly wage was. This is helpful because it will show me which products are most worth my time to produce, and which ones aren't.
Profit & Loss
Shelled corn- $20.00
Milk products- $25.00
Goat kid sales- $170.00
Baked goods (market)- $13.36
Total income: $248.36
Net profit: $228.36
Year-to-date profit: $147.85
Yay, we have actually cleared a profit for the year! I have a feeling that the rest of 2017 will not have so much income, so I am working hard to cut costs down to the bare minimum. For June, my goals are to make more goat's milk soap and also butcher the male ducks and two more roosters. I still aim to do one farmers market per month, weather and schedule permitting, and that will give a boost to the income.
New Sources of Hobby Farm Income
Slowly, I am hoping to shift hobby farm income from farmers market to other things:
1. Soap sales (online and off)- Soap is something I enjoy doing, doesn't cost very much, and I can do a majority of the work when I have extra time. I also believe in the product and know there is a market for it. I will probably try Etsy again, and might do some Christmas or other craft shows, just to see if it's worth my time.
2. Roadside vegetable/fruit sales- for those of you who don't know, I put in 300 strawberry plants this year and next year hope to sell them at a roadside stand. Even though this venture is a lot of work, a majority is work that I can do whenever I want to. It's also family/baby friendly and there is the potential to make several thousand dollars per year doing it, which would MORE than pay for my little hobby farm. Plus, it is outdoor, physical work that will keep me in shape.
3. Online book sales. I know from experience that a well-written, interesting book can bring in at least $10.00/month in royalties, and twice that if you do a little marketing. And that's AFTER the initial launch (my launch months have brought in anywhere from $40.00 to $200.00+). I really enjoy writing/researching/projects, and again, this is something I can do in my spare time. The residual income every month is really nice, because all I have to do after the book is published is watch money come into my bank account. $10.00 per month doesn't sound like a lot, but over the lifetime of the book it really adds up. If you have several books making $10.00 or more per month, it can be a fantastic little side gig. Plus, did I mention that I love writing?
Hopefully these other pursuits will bring in more money per hour than the farmers market. I've more or less enjoyed doing markets thus far, and they are a good backup plan, but at this point I am trying to do some of the prep work and shift gears a little for 2017. I'll do one more market in June, and then after that I am going to change markets and only go weather/schedule permitting.
Til next time,