Monday, November 28, 2011

Fencing completed for year!

I did it!  I finished all the fencing I was supposed to do this year.  The barn lot is totally enclosed by sheep wire.  I should probably hang a small board under one of the gates so the sheep don't crawl under it, but that doesn't count since the sheep are staying in the barn lot currently.  Zeke (new puppy we just got on Saturday, border collie) and I spent half a day finishing the fence.  Zeke does not care for the horses.  He hid under the pickup when they came over.  I had some scratches on the hood of my pickup, the curved edges at the sides of the hood that I thought were from the dog trying to scramble up onto the hood in a storm over the summer.  Imagine my surprise today when I caught the horses dragging their teeth on the curve and trying to bite the hood.  They took paint off with their teeth!  I had to chase them off repeatedly.  This did make Zeke happy, he kept wanting to bark at them.  He ignored the sheep and chickens today when we were outside. 

I went to the far end of the farm and managed to get the old gate up so no one can drive into the CRP and park and party.  Trash was accumulating at the far end of the farm due to no visibility from the houses.  It looks like my mother-in-law may not lease out the pasture next year.  So I now have a whole new chunk of fencing to repair and weeds to spray and mow.  It is going to be a busy next year. 

I called the insurance company today and the adjuster told me to just go to the shop and get a quote.  The shop is a preferred provider so they can just fix it.  I will do that tomorrow.  I also picked up the lumber for the light access panel in the upstairs bathroom today, $20 worth of lumber for the whole thing.  I will start framing it tomorrow. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

October chicken financials

October report:  I lost $17.34 for the month on an average 22.5 hens laying(a increase of 5.5 hens/day. predator issues again!).  My net income total is - $275.25 for the year .  I had $59.34 in expenses for feed (250#) this month.  For the year, my monthly expenses are $94.85.  We collected a total of 253 usable eggs (decrease of 63 eggs)  averaging 8.2 eggs/day collected.  My productivity for the month was 36% (decrease of 2% from last month).  The chickens ate 0.99# food/egg (an increase from last month of 20.2%).   It cost $0.23/egg or $2.76/doz for feed (an increase of $0.48/dozen over last month).  My monthly net income is a loss of $27.53/month this year (a decreasing loss of $1.13/mos).  It is slowly getting better, but winter is coming and my feed expenses are going to go up.  Now there was a large increase in the cost of feed in early summer but that has gone away.  I am currently paying around $11.89 for a 50# bag of layer pellets at the feed store.  In Pendleton it is running around $15/bag that would add$12-$15/month in feed expenses if I had to buy it in town. 

September chicken financials

September report:  I made $21.52 for the month on an average 28 hens laying(a increase of 8 hens/day).  My net income total is - $257.91 for the year .  I had $59.48 in expenses for feed (250#) this month.  For the year, my monthly expenses are $98.79.  We collected a total of 316 usable eggs averaging 10.5 eggs/day collected.  My productivity for the month was 38% (decrease of 13% from last month, I had to add in all the chickens that are old enough to lay).  The chickens ate 0.79# food/egg (a decrease from last month of 16.4%).   It cost $0.19/egg or $2.28/doz for feed (an decrease of $0.36/dozen over last month).  My monthly net income is a loss of $28.66/month this year (a decreasing loss of $6.32/mos).
This is starting to look better for the year.  I would prefer to only loose about $12-15/month as this is our normal egg consumption but I am still not there yet.

August chicken financials

August report:  I lost $32.88 for the month on an average 20 hens laying(a increase of 1.7 hens/day).  My net income total is - $279.43 for the year .  I had $70.38 in expenses for feed (290#) this month.  For the year, my monthly expenses are $103.71.  We collected a total of 316 usable eggs averaging 8.5 eggs/day collected (a increase of 1.7 eggs/day due to my leghorns getting old enough to produce).  My productivity for the month was 51% (increase of 5% from last month).  The chickens ate 0.92# food/egg (a raise from last month of 17.4%).   It cost $0.22/egg or $2.64/doz for feed (an increase of $0.48/dozen over last month).  My monthly net income is a loss of $34.98/month this year (a decreasing loss of $0.24/mos)
My leghorns started laying this month and boosted my egg production.  

July monthly chicken financials

Another month ready to go, some may wonder why I post this stuff.  Initially, it was a way for me to just let friends and family keep up with the things going on around the farm.  Then it become a log of things not to do.  Now it is a record for me of the things that have gone on and the times they occurred.  I can look back and find information and facts of things that have happened.  So now I use it as a journal and log book for the various things around the farm.  Next year, I will start posting some of the sheep facts also. 

July report:  I gained $10.11 for the month on an average 18.3 hens laying(a decrease of 1.2 hens/day).  My net income total is - $246.55 for the year .  I had $46.89 in expenses for feed (200#) this month.  For the year, my monthly expenses are $108.47.  We collected a total of 263 usable eggs averaging 8.5 eggs/day collected (a decrease of 2.6 eggs/day due to predator kill).  My productivity for the month was 46% (decrease of 11% from last month).  The chickens ate 0.76# food/egg (a raise from last month of 1.4%).   It cost $0.18/egg or $2.16/doz for feed (an decrease of $0.12/dozen over last month).  My monthly net income is a loss of $35.22/month this year (a decreasing loss of $7.56/mos)
I made money this month!  Thank goodness for Summer and plenty of bugs and green grass.  The decrease in feed costs helped lots even with the decrease in hens.   

June monthly chicken financials

Yes, I realize I had gotten behind on the chicken financials.  Sarah helped me catch up and got all the data input done for the spreadsheet.  Now I only have to choke back a tear and post them for public consumption.  I will be unable to run the year to date results for each month.  This is something that totals itself from the data already in the system.  Another reason to keep it up to date.  

June report:  I lost $63.13 for the month on an average 19.5 hens laying (I realize that I thought the chicken butler was going to end my predator problem, but that did not turn out to be the truth.  I also purchased another 25 pullets at a cost of $65.05).  My net income total is - $256.66 for the year .  I had $62.58 in expenses for feed (250#) this month (I purchased baby food for new chickens).  For the year, my monthly expenses are $118.74.  We collected a total of 332 usable eggs averaging 11.1 eggs/day collected (a decrease of 2.7 eggs/day due to predator kill).  My productivity for the month was 57% (increase of 4% from last month, most likely due to me keeping the chickens locked up and the weak chickens are succumbing to the predators ).  The chickens ate 0.75# food/egg (a raise from last month of 63%).   It cost $0.19/egg or $2.28/doz for feed (an increase of $1.08/dozen over last month).  My monthly net income is a loss of $42.78/month this year (an increasing loss of $4.07/mos)
 Like I said, painful.  The predators and the faulty chicken butler killed me this year. 

Thanksgiving work party completed

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend!  Doug and Linda came up and we had great food (best prime rib I have cooked in years), great company and we got some projects done around the house.  As always it is nice to see long distance friends.  The weather was incredible.  On Saturday it was 60 degrees, unbelievable for the end of November.  Annmarie and Linda worked on recovering the cushions for our loveseat.  Annmarie should be able to complete them today.

Stone/cookie sheet holder
Doug and I tackled a few small projects around the house.  Annmarie wanted a baking sheet/stone holder for the dead space next to the stove.  We built it on Thanksgiving before dinner.  It was the first time I have ever cut grooves in a project for a central dividing wall.  It actually worked. The best part was we just scrounged around the house and old house for lumber that was laying around not being used.  The whole thing cost NO money just time.  My super favorite kind of project.

On a side note, I felt guilty about not finishing our project from last year (the utility sink cabinet). Here are the completed pictures for the utility sink.  I had it all done before Doug arrived.

stained and door on.

The utility sink still needed a shelf over the top of the back splash.  I glued some hardwood flooring together before his arrival and had it ready to go.  We cut it down to size and attempted to install it.  It is on now, but I kept hitting something in the wall and ended up stripping the head out of one of the screws.  Of course it is a colored wood screw so I will have to stop at a large hardware store to find its replacement.  I can stain it in place now.  I will do it this week some time. 

Utility sink shelf, even 3 screws are holding it up.
  The laundry room seemed to be the mini focus of this year's projects.  We also fixed a door on the pantry.  It fell out due to the screws coming out of the wood, too much useage and wear and tear on the holes.  I had found some little metal tabs that you cut to size, bent in half and inserted into the oversize holes then you just reused the old screws.  Doug seemed kinda doubtful they would work.  His solution was to drill out oversize holes, glue in dowels and then redrill for door hinge hardware.  This is a viable option, but labor intensive.  The metal tabs worked great and were much faster.  The door held with no difficulties. 

Right hand door repaired.
The other inside project was to get the utility room door to shut.  It has not shut for over four years.  I was tired of the noise and shot expanding foam insulation into the cracks.  Well it did exactly what it was supposed to and "expanded" enough to push the door frame inward until our door would not shut. This has been an ongoing issue, but I did not want to dig all the foam out.  So we cut a couple of pieces of lumber to go against the inside of the door frame and used a bottle jack and a 4x4 to press the inside of the frame outward.  It wasn't really working then it popped out of the frame and clubbed Doug on the left knee.  We ended up digging every bit of foam insulation out of the cracks and beating the door frame back over.  It works fine now.  I even had some old pipe insulation wrap (fiberglass) that I had picked up in a whole bundle of garage cleaning out items from craigslist.  I was going to throw the insulation away next week.  That same craigslist find I sorted out about 20 pounds of scrap iron from the 7 boxes of "useful" stuff I purchased.  I found about 15 cable clamps and 7 grounding clamps in the same pile of stuff. 

We also made a three different pieces of testing equipment for Annmarie's structure class.  It is for testing their manila file folder bridges.  The bridges are supposed to hold 11 pounds.  Pretty impressive from a manila file folder. 

We also went and picked up another dog yesterday.  We now have a border collie puppy.  They had one short hair puppy but she had lost her playmate (he went to another home) the day before and would not come see us.  She was the prettiest of the bunch but we wanted a very responsive and interactive puppy.  So Sarah picked one out and we brought him home last night.  He is adjusting as are we, incredibly smart dog.  Already comes to his name, Zeke, and whines to go outside and go potty.  Amazing at 9-10 weeks old.  Of course we must have some bad with all that good (just one of those years).  A deer made a suicide run into the front driver side quarter panel of our PT cruiser a mile from our house.  I had no time to react, it smashed into the quarter panel and flew six feet into the air.  I was afraid it was going to land on the roof top.  It killed it dead.  Of course when I attempted to get out the driver side door to check on the deer, I was unable to open the door.  I had to crawl over the gear shifter and out the passenger door.  I dragged the deer to the side of the road and when we got home I called the insurance company and then the county dispatch center.  That poor car has been hit on the front quarter panel at least 8 times now. 

I am going to start in on the access panel for our large light in the stairwell.  I am going to cut a panel in the upstairs bathroom wall so the light can be accessed for cleaning and changing of the bulbs.  No ladder necessary. 
Left hand side of wall is future location of access panel.

Bathroom side with lines marked for cutting and tearing out boards.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Farm 9, Predators 22

I have been frantically trying to complete a couple of projects before our company arrives for Thanksgiving.  Last year, Doug helped me build the utility sink enclosure.  This summer we finally got the plumber here to set and install our deep utility sink.  I had not finished the wood on the enclosure or attached the door yet.  Last night I stayed up late and stained the sink enclosure and laundry room door.  Today, I cleaned up the upstairs bathroom area so the new heating guys could come in and fix our original poor heating job.  I had to pop a bunch of tiles out of the ceiling and those plastic tiles make it very easy to do. 

I even spent some time today cleaning up the old house.  I had to install a locking catch on the outside of the door.  The door doesn't stay latched any more.  The chickens and cats were making a mess inside the old house.  I am going to have to clean up again.  I emptied five gallon buckets full of tools off the porch and put them away.  Since we are having 40 mph winds with gusts up to 60 mph, I had to go out and fix the chicken coop roof.  The sheet metal roofing was tearing itself up.  I beat the edges over and screwed them in the end so the wind cannot grab the roofing and heave it up.  Hopefully, this fixes the problem. 

Our heating is amazing.  They got the new feeder duct installed.  The old contractor had left an original, not currently in use, duct in the ceiling.  There was enough new supply that we got an extra 6 inch heat supply for the living room!  They are coming back tomorrow to finish it all up and add the 3rd zone to the breeze porch.  If it stays like this all winter it will be worth it. 

I spent an hour installing the door and latch on the utility sink stand tonight.  I had found 8 bottles of bleach (courtesy of my sister) out in the old house and they needed a home under the sink.  I finished the door and forgot about them sitting outside in the wind until it was time to go to bed.  I didn't want to hunt them down in the morning so I ran to the laundry room and opened the back door.  The cats were all over the porch and this large rat thing.  It took me a second to realize it was a huge possum!!  The cats were only about two feet away from it.  It was looking for cat food crumbs.  I had already remembered to lock  up the chickens earlier.  So I ran back in and grabbed the handy Walther P-22 with laser sights.  By the time I got back to the porch the possum was gone.  I shined the flashlight on both sides of the flower bed and didn't see anything but four cats.  I bolted to the back fence and started shining the light along the running back creek.  There it was, the future chicken killer staring back at me.  I eliminated its ability to harm my chickens with extreme prejudice.  I did remember to bring the bleach in and put it under the sink. 

Since Doug is going to help me with another Thanksgiving project, I figured I had better complete last years before they come.  They will be here tomorrow. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November is here and not much is getting done

This has been a crazy month.  I have just not had time to keep blogging.  I usually shoot for 10-15 posts/month.  I am working way too much this month at my paying job.  I did try to get the barn lot fence finished.  Still not done.  I have a large chunk of woven wire being held up with a fence stretcher.  I really only need about 6 hours to finish the whole thing but I keep finding other things to do.  I have started to clean the house for our company coming next week.  Yesterday, I burnt the scrap wood pile in the barn lot.  I started the fire first thing in the morning and then drug all the tree branches from the ram pasture onto that pile.  It took a few tries to get it lit.  The paper was covered in frost and I had to go get a little weed burner to get it started.  It was so cold the weed burner did not give off much of a flame.  It was enough. 

I went in and had coffee with Annmarie's grandmother, Ruby.  I try to stop by every week and see her.  She needs some rose bushes moved in her yard, but she has a very sheltered yard and all the roses still have green leaves on them.  I will try again in a couple of weeks.

I was going to change the oil in the tractor (I had already purchased the oil and filter) but after reading the owners manual I don't have to do that until 50 hours of use.  I am at 11 hours now.  I also have to change the transmission oil and filter at that time.  Next Summer's project for sure.  I won't get another 40 hours on the tractor for quite some time.  I decided to use the tractor since I was there and I had my rain suit on (very farm like, bright purple/blue and black waterproof bicycling suit leftover from when I was in the Navy riding 100 miles/week).  I was styling!  I went into the ram pasture and drug the box blade over a high spot and attempted to smooth out the hill so I would not bottom out the mower in the spring.  I had to drive through the creek and realized that I might be able to dredge the front spring with the tractor.  It was not easy and I almost got the tractor stuck repeatedly, even with four wheel drive, but I got as much cleaned out as I could. 

Since I was burning I decided to start piling all the tree limbs from the orchard into another pile.  We had a couple of pieces of tree out front of the house that had not burned completely a couple years ago.  I hooked onto them with the tractor and drug them over to the orchard burn pile.  It took a couple of trips to get that onto the pile.  I then snagged some old wood that was buried in the weeds and not visible until this year.  The only thing left is three pieces of a large tree I tried to burn up a few years ago over by our house.  I grabbed onto the first large chunk and was dragging it to the burn pile when I noticed the front irrigation ditch/spring had a leak in the ditch wall!!  This ditch so needs to be cleaned out with a backhoe.  The entire ditch is full of cow shit.  There is at least a foot of cow manure on the bottom of the ditch the whole length.  I scooped up a whole bucket of dirt and dumped it over the leak then tried to dig out the ditch with the tractor.  The one side was low enough I could drive up and reach down then drive the front tires into the ditch.  Sometimes I could pick up the mess other times I had to dump it on the far bank.  The weight was enough to stop me from getting out of the ditch.  As it was I had to rock the tractor several times to get out of the ditch.  On a wiser note, I am wearing my seat belt on the tractor all the time!  Next summer the ditch has to be dug out, no question that it cannot wait any longer. 

I also managed to finish moving dirt in the orchard so the tractor tipping ditch is flattened out enough I won't dump the tractor over when mowing.  With all these bare spots of ground visible I need to get some type of pasture grass to seed next week.  I will stop today and see what is available.  That way in the spring it will just magically appear.  Most of the areas are far enough away from the chicken coop that I think the chickens will leave the grass seed alone. 

I happened to spot an "uh oh" moment yesterday.  I was stepping up onto the front porch and noticed a dark spot on one of our columns.  The columns are wrapped in white steel from when they did our siding.  I thought it was just a little dirt.  Upon bending down and scrutinizing the spot it turned out to be a bullet hole.  More precisely, it was a .22 bullet hole.  Now I have been very careful to not shoot the house or old house when I am out and about.  On the other hand I did not have a raccoon attack me on the front porch.  Annmarie admitted that when she went outside the second time (to go to the hospital), she saw eyes glowing in the front bushes.  So she started blasting the evergreen bushes with bullets.  She figured if it was a cat it was on its own.  Turns out it was the raccoon and it came out to the end of the porch were she shot it.  So besides the scar on her left knee we have a bullet hole as a reminder that mother nature is not always predictable. 

I will get the chicken reports out this month.