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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Changes to the livestock status quo!

I got to doing some serious thinking (yep, it's that scary) and came to some conclusions.  I love our Suffolk sheep flock, but the reality is that with Lyndsey off to college and out of 4-H, the money that she made with her sheep at fair won't be there (this year she made $3500 between auction, premiums and side sales).  I spend about $300 a month for feed for the flock.  The write off on taxes is probably only about $1000, so it definitely doesn't add up.  I decided to keep Two and Sydney, our two long-timers. They are bred and due in January, I'll advertise the lambs at weaning.  Mojo the ram will be going to live with our shearer. I will go pick him up in August and bring him home to breed the two ewes and local 4-H member ewes.  She isn't buying him, it's a gift from me to her, and she'll shear our girls for free.  I sold one of the young ewes (who is pregnant) and have the other up for sale.  That'll bring it down to only 2 sheep to feed, making my budget breath a little easier.

I also finally talked to Steve about the turkeys.  He was seeing heritage turkeys posted for $75 for a breeding pair and thought we could make some money.  About 1 1/2 years ago we bought 8 heritage turkey chicks, lost one and ended up with 2 toms and 5 hens.  They started laying (and setting) this spring.  I learned after letting one of them stay on her eggs and hatch them that turkey mom's aren't the best.  We lost 5 chicks in 1 day.  So, we incubated hatched and sold babies, from 2 days old to 12 weeks old.  We practically gave the 12 week ones away for $10.  The amount of feed they ate daily was adding up.  And turkeys aren't like chickens.  They don't lay at all during fall or winter or early spring.  So, the older turkeys were just going to hang around, eat a ton and pick on my laying hens.  We are in the process of selling them (down to 3, which are sold but won't be gone for a week).  I sold a tom and 2 hens for $80.  Ouch! Oh well, lesson learned and soon, less feed bought.

We are going to save the money to put into brand new beehives and bees. I'm going to do a lot of research first though. We'll see how that experiment goes!

Change used to scare me, but now I realize that lightening the load is actually a relief.

And, just for a smile, don't you all agree that I have the cutest little "grand-bear" ever!


5 comments:

  1. What a sweetie! He makes a fine bear!

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  2. As far as the animals go, it would be a different story if one could grow (produce on the land) all the feed they all needed, but that's probably impractical. If the critters are your hobby, and you can afford it, no problem. But as you've found out, times and family structures change so we need to be flexible enough to make wise decisions within reality. (So hard!) They say no change is easy . . . even a good one! So true. Like with gardening, I think keeping livestock is all an experiment. And what works at one time, doesn't at another.

    That costume on your grand "bear" is adorable. Especially the "feet!"

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    1. I tried to get a picture of him chewing on the claws, but he wouldn't let me.

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  3. Your grand-bear is absolutely precious!

    I could really appreciate this post. Decisions about critters are always hard, but it has to been done pragmatically, as you have done. And I always have to remind my self that hard lessons learned are truly valuable in the long run, even if they siphon of the $$. I think you came to some good decisions.

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  4. I sure have been there/here, too, Ruth. So often my wants outstripped my can affords! Sounds like you're making good, sound decisions. Not always easy when it comes to livestock. I LOVE your grand-bear! He is adorable!

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