Friday, December 30, 2011

Enjoying The Last Of The Year

 The weather has been quite mild around here lately and everybody has been enjoying the warm sun!  Nights are cold enough to keep a fire going though.  I told Jack yesterday that I certainly appreciate these days in the 50 degree range but I would like to see a little snow this year too.  Anyway, we have been taking advantage of the sunny days by having a little fun.  It being the last week of the year, and in keeping with some traditions of the 12 Days of Christmas, we have taken time to visit with friends and just enjoy some time to ourselves instead of working so much.  We went to the city yesterday to see some of the decorations before they take them down and just see what there was to see.  We've enjoyed a couple of dinners out and taken advantage of the good sales to get a few things.  For instance, I bought a stoneware bread pan (for baking) that I have had my eye on for some time.  It is environmentally friendly and made in the US and, I got it for $10!

 Soon enough it will be time to get back to business as usual though!  We need to harvest about half of the meat chickens soon.  Real soon.  They are eating us out of house and home!  We have learned quite a bit having these though so I know if we have them again I will definitely do some stuff differently.  We underestimated how long it would take them to mature for one thing.  It's been about 14-16 weeks instead of the 6-8 that you read about.  They have also grow at vastly different rates.  Some are well past time to harvest and some are still a couple of weeks out.  I don't know.  We have fed them well and they get a vitamin supplement in their water.  In addition to the natural feed they did have grass to eat, which they devoured in no time.  After they mowed all that down I have taken to going each day and digging up clumps of grass for them and putting it in their run.  This gives them the greens they like and something to do so they don't get so bored.  They love digging and scratching through the clumps.  I also harvest spare leaves off the broccoli and chard (and whatever else I can think of) for them.  Jack even grows sprouts for them!  I believe next time I will grow a whole crop of greens, like collards or such, just for them in the garden and then throw them so much a day to supplement the grain.  If we only get them in cooler weather I would have plenty of room in the garden for this.

They LOVE chard, broccoli, cabbage, anything like that.  By selling some eggs at $2.50 a dozen and letting the hens out to forage all day, we are pretty much covering our feed costs for the hens.  I have even had some people insist on giving me $5 a dozen for the eggs so that helps to cover some of the cost of these meat chickens.  Not much but some.  Once all of the hens are laying consistently (selling 5-6 dozen eggs a week) I believe I could completely make up the cost of feeding the meat birds, with the addition of growing a crop of greens just for them. 
So, it's all a learning experience and each year you learn more and more to refine your operations.  I have been very pleased with the amount of poop these guys are producing too, which goes right into the garden, which helps greatly to produce more crops!  We are finally beginning to see success in this cycle of things and it's great!  A permaculture system is really what we are going for. 
I am waiting to hear if I will go back to the construction job after the first of the year, as the plan was.  In a way I hope they don't call!  But, I could use the money. 
Now that Christmas is over I suspect the pottery orders will slow down some but I think I have made headway into that cycle also.  As your work becomes more well known you can develop better sales all year 'round, rather than just at holidays when people are buying anything!  As soon as I finish, one way or another, that welding job I can focus on getting more places to carry my work and therefore more revenue from that coming in.  2012 looks to be a very promising year!


Caroline said...

My friend, Mary, has chickens who adore the green stuff too. They indulged in some slightly fermented drop apples last fall and we teased her that our scrambled eggs tasted like apple pie!
I bought chicken for dinner tonight, grocery store style, since that is what is available. I know it won't be as tasty as what you are going to be roasting shortly!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Annie and Jack, our best wishes for a wonderful New Year ! Enjoyed reading this post about how you are definitely becoming more and more self-sufficient in producing your own food. We are enjoying the bounty of Grenville's gardening from the past couple of years with lots of veggie meals and soups. We would certainly be buying eggs from you if only we lived closer. And there has been any snow in our part of the country either.

Phelan said...

Have fun with all that butchering. I still have a handful to do and a hog. Then a nice break. Happy New Year!

edifice rex said...

Hey Caroline! Yeah, I hope these buggers are tasty! I think they will be. We have tried to feed ours apples but they don't seem to care for them.

Hey Bea! Happy New Year to ya'll too!! May your gardening success continue! Maybe we'll both get a little snow soon.

Hey Phelan! Happy New Year too! Yeah, I kinda dread the butchering but I think we are only going to do about 6-8, so it won't be too bad. Ha! doing those 12 roosters here while back was tiring!

HermitJim said...

I really like the fact that things are moving in the right direction for you and Jack.

You continue to amaze me with being able to make a plan of action and mainly stick to it.

Happy New Year to you and your house, my friend!

Curmudgeon said...

We had about ten inches of snow here in a couple days. Be glad your dog is not rolling in snow.

I wonder if I could raise chickens here. I lived in a remodled chicken coop in Denver once and my neighbor has a chicken coop, but he just stores junk in it. Maybe I'll try it for fun.

Happy New Years.

edifice rex said...

Hey Jim! thanks! well, I guess I stick to my plans! it just seems to take forever sometimes! lol! Happy New Year to you!

Hey Dan! Yeah! get you some chickens! they are great fun, and the eggs are nice!