Since this is the grandkids farm, it only seems appropriate to give a periodic report on the state of the farm, so here goes part I.
We still own the farm, no liens or encumbrances - Ye Haw!
Soil fertility balance sheet:
- (-) We sold a small amount of alfalfa hay last year and about 2 dozen calves
- (-) Traded about 25 bales of grass hay for putting up the other 25
- (+) We didn't hay all fields - mowed some and let it drop as usual.
- (+) We continue purchasing/bartering for feed concentrate imports
- (+) We brought in a good wagon load of straw (with help buckin' from your pregnant Auntie/Mom!).
- (+) Most of our firewood last year was from off farm.
Still my biggest concern long term is water, both quality and availability. We are downhill from two dairies. One uses a lagoon to capture and spread from a freestall barn, the other is more traditional with lots of runoff. I don't mind receiving some of the "tea" that runs off but worry about the groundwater quality as well as level as dairies really use the water.
Good news is there isn't any new (or old) industrial development nearby or uphill, no big CAFO ag barns/lots and no new urban refugee barns either!
Stay tuned for an upcoming post on water.
Capital Improvements [cash costs in brackets]
- Greenhouse Project: increased solar gain, new poly roof covering, new (recycled) south glass, hydronic heated benches, propagation cabinet [mostly recycled, $100 plumbing, $75 poly, misc hardware]
- New hen house. [a few 2x4s]
- New back steps [recycled lumber, new composition railing]
- Still working on Gram's kitchen...
- 9 new calf hutches [2x4s]
- New 8x12 calf shed [2x4s]
Last year was pretty tough cash-wise: Pops got sick, graphics work was virtually non-existent, calf market was in the toilet. But, work has been picking up since the first of the year, calves are bringing better, Uncle Sam is happy for a while, we're working the hospital bill and meds/supplies aren't nearly as bad as we thought.
I was kind of slow this time last year and Gram did lots of the gardening. This year I've been doing more graphics work so she is doing most of the gardening. We had thought this would be the year went much more into market farming as a necessity but we pulled back at the last minute as graphics jobs started coming back. We did wholesale some starts to the feed store, and depending on his success selling them we may put up a small hoophouse this fall.
We ate lots of homemade beef and pork and potatoes and onions and beans last year! We went shopping a couple times at Sam's and used the pantry a lot. We've worked on our few utility bills; the phone is a bare bones plan, the Great Thunder Bottom Internet Antenna is at the lowest level of service available, we have plug strip switches on the Evil Standby Red Eye phantom loads if we can remember to use them and of course we have had curly lamps everywhere since whenever.
We haven't had cable or satellite TV for years but I recently splurged and signed up for Netflix - $8.95/mo - good time are here again! I finally watched Crude Awakening!
All in all, the last couple of years were a good experience. Our income mix is is much improved. Although graphics still comes exclusively from CA, 2 new clients are more diversified than I've had in a long time - health care and small business advertising. We have even more experience with sick calves, one day we hope to be able to keep most alive.
We remembered too that pantries (and Rule #4) are there for a reason.