Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

I started out the day by giving My-Own-True-Love a peck on the cheek (he was eating oatmeal) and saying, "Happy Valentine's Day". His respondent grunt was duly noted and for a while we sat comfortably together, he with his oatmeal and me with my Constant Comfort cup of tea. Memorial Day Weekend (May 24th) we will be married 34 years and we are simply at that point in our relationship where just being together is fine and dandy.

The sun alternately shone and disappeared behind snow shower clouds today. The temperature has dropped and looks like it will remain below freezing during the day for at least the next week, so my tree taps may have to be re-opened once the sap starts to flow again. I did get some sap from a couple of trees in the back yard that are still dripping so I don't think it will be too cold for much longer. It would be nice to have a good sap run like we had last year. With 32 trees tapped and potentially one quart of finished syrup per tree, we may get about 5.5 gallons of finished syrup. That would be great!

I finally made it to town and went to see Bernie at Fiefield Feed Store to talk to him about custom mixing the chicken feed. I gave him a copy of the starter/grower recipe from Herman Beck-Chenoweth's book Free-Range Poultry Production and Marketing that I want to use so he could keep it on file for the future. He needed to have the recipe to talk to the guy he uses to mix feeds, and he called me back yesterday with the bad news (er, price). Well, it really wasn't that bad since the quote was within (albeit the high end) the range I estimated, but I did have to commit to two purchases of 1/2 ton each which means I'm going to need to raise more chickens than I anticipated this year in order to not let the feed go to waste. The good thing is that once the layers begin to lay all I need to add to the feed for them is wheat. So, I guess $277 per 1/2 ton isn't all that bad. That works out to 20, 50# bags at $13.85 per bag. I spent some time working out my costs and checking on the Internet for free-range chicken prices. A non-organic, free-range 5# whole chicken sells for just under $30.00. Organic birds are going for just under $37.00 each -- minimum. I need to find the cost for food grade freezer bags to put the processed birds in and then I can settle on a cost for my birds. The added cost of wheat will go into my figures for the egg budget. (See, I AM taking learning how to price my products seriously!)

I bought a bag of game bird starter from Bernie and he is ordering chick starter for me. I mix the two feeds 50/50 and that works well for chicks as the higher protein helps keep the birds from starting to cannibalize. I also bought two bales of wood chips for the brooder in the basement and at Northern Merchandise I picked up a tarp to lay on the brooder floor under the wood chips. I re-read the brooding section of the production manual and found out I need to get three more brooder lights. There is always something to do!

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