3/21/11

Welcome to the Poor House


I usually don't discuss current events in my posts because I like for my blog to be a happy place to visit.... but we're feeling the pinch of the bad economy around the farm these days. Those of you who have any kind of animals, whether it be cats, dogs, or farm critters know feeding them is not cheap- and getting more expensive all the time. Our feed bill is becoming higher than our grocery bill and it's not that our animals are eating more because we carefully ration everyone's feed to eliminate waste- but the price of feed is going through the roof. Grain prices have almost doubled in the last year.... a bag of scratch feed for the chickens was around $7.50 just a year ago- now we're paying over $11 a bag and layer mash (which is vital to the hens egg-laying parts) is an unbelievable $14 a bag. The sheep feed is also higher than it was just a few months ago, but thank goodness the pasture is starting to green up which means the sheep will be eating mostly grass now.

But even that isn't free- we need to put down a bag or two of seed mix in order to have quality pasture.
At $40 a bag. *Sigh*

I had high hopes last year when I bought some new laying-breed chicks to raise that by now I would be selling fresh eggs on a regular basis to help with the feed bill, but it hasn't worked out the way I had hoped. The local farmer's market wanted so much commission off what was sold I wouldn't have made enough to break even. I also thought about trying a "fresh eggs" sign at the end of the driveway, but since we live off the beaten path I'm a little afraid of strangers driving up to the house with me here alone during the day.
So, it was with a heavy heart I decided over the weekend to sell off my 6 Rhode Island Red hens to help cut back on feed..... it was not an easy decision, but one I felt was for the best. I still have my green-eggers and the 4 young New Hampshire Red girls from last year, and that will be enough to keep us in eggs with a little left over to give to some of the elderly ladies at our church.
And of course I still have my fuzzy-bottomed Silkies who I love having around just for the entertainment value, and they don't eat much so they're not expensive to keep. (Although they would like to think they are...)
We are also hoping gas prices don't skyrocket any more than they already have... we have to fill up the diesel barrel for Hubby's tractor to cut and bale hay this summer. Yikes!

What about you.....
Are you feeling the pinch more than usual these days?

Sorry for the downer post today...
I promise this week's Friday Farm Fotos will be a happier place to visit!

38 comments:

  1. I hear you sister! Same story here. I have to cut back my laying flock to only what we need for our family. I tried the sign at the road, but little or no customers. It's too bad b/c you know every Saturday all the wives are going past your place to buy the anemic eggs from the grocery. I even did a CSA with only 3 customers...not enough to pay for the scratch and mash ($4 a day during the winter...gulp).
    I found the best way to sell eggs is to send them in with hubby to work. They love them.
    Glad to hear I'm not the only one trying to peddle healthy eggcellent eggs with not success.
    Kim~ with 6 dozen in the fridge

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  2. So sorry to hear that you had to sell some of your chickies. We're all feeling the pinch here too. We were putting gas in the tanks for the lawn mower and I started thinking "wow, we're gonna have to cut back mowing the yard this year!"
    Take heart sister, God is still in control.
    We look forward to your Friday Farm post. Have a great week.

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  3. Aww...I know it must have been really hard to get rid of some of your chickens, Paula...I'm sure they've become almost like family to you. I can't believe how gas prices have gone out the roof! Sure hope things get better before they get worse! In the meanwhile, we have to keep plugging right along...believing and trusting that everything will come up roses in the end!

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  4. Hi,
    We have a dog, a cat, a goat, and 8 hens.

    Since my husband has been underemployed, here's what we're doing.

    The dog eats the cheapest food at Dollar General. He's 14 and sleeps most of the time.

    The cat gets the cheapest food at Dollar General if we can afford it that week. If not, she eats mice, moles, voles, and dog food. She's a working animal. ~grin~

    The goat got some goat chow and leftovers during the winter. Now she is primarily on her own because the grass is coming up. She was acquired to be our resident poison ivy eater; because, my son is highly allergic.

    The chickens got some corn scratch during the winter when we could afford it. Other times, they got leftovers, a little oatmeal, vegetable scraps, or day old bread. They free range; so, they're our tick and bug patrol.

    We cannot afford to buy special food for our animals right now. I'm doing my best just to feed our family. Thanks to God, our animals have been very healthy. We're getting all the eggs we need right now. It would be great if I could sell some; but, we'll just have to see how things go.

    Remember dearie, folks have had to make do with what they have throughout history. We can do it, too. Thank God for creativity!

    By the way, I do use chick starter in the beginning with new chicks. I've never even heard of mash. Maybe I am just too ignorant of proper chicken care. I've only had chickens for two years.

    Enjoy this beautiful weather we're having!

    Laura in Carthage

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  5. Yes, our feed bill has gone up a lot in the past couple of months. One of my favorite horse feeds (safe for my one horse that has foundered) went up $2 a bag recently! And bird seed too. And scratch feed.

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  6. oh Paula, I can only imagine how that tugged at your heart to have to sell off your chickens. They kinda' become our family even if they are so-called barn animals. I do feel for you and the cost of taking care of a farm. Trying to think of some way you could sell your eggs??? Places want 50/50 split on what you sell. I know they have overhead but that is road-kill in my book. Setting up a roadside stand would have been my suggestion or asking some folks in town if you could put some eggs in their stores and place that maybe know you. Or if you have some friends closer in town that could put up a roadside stand for you and pay them in eggs. I know there are folks like me that would love to have some but shipping cost would be so high and then I doubt they ship well. I so feel for you and we all in some way or the other are feeing the pinch.

    I cook for my parrots but I still have to buy pellets and some seed for them. Then there are the chew toys they have become accustom to ripping up, that keeps their beaks trim. Those have almost tripled and I was going to call the place today I get them from to tell them they just lost me. 15 years of business and I have watched prices skyrocket not to mention the shipping going up too. I will have to look at some trees around here I can trim and see if my spoiled gang will chew in those branches. But I still need the pellets and seed. When I cook for them, its all organic grains, wheat, rice, legumes and veggies. I guess I will have to switch from organic to regular as those prices at the farmers market have gone up. I don't mind if for us but for them, I try to feed them with healthier options.

    Not to mention the utilities keep going up and gas for the car then we have our medical and ...it keeps going up higher. We do not eat out, maybe a take- out once in a while and we have not been on a vacation in over 16 years. Trying to bank all we can for retirement but then the house always needs something repaired and eats into our general savings. Hang with new clothes. Hubby just got me a new pair of tennis sneakers from target and I about flipped over the cost from a discount store.
    I keep turning off lights and appliances that seem to soak up power just sitting there even when they are not turned on. HUBBY gets mad when he goes to turn on the TV and I have turned off the power box. But every little bit helps.

    I so feel for you gal, I had no idea until I started reading about farm life just what all is required on a daily basis just to survive and then grow crops and feed the animals and take care of the equipment. MY heart is with you and my prayers and if you need someone to talk to... just yell at me. I am here anyway I can.
    HUGS TO YOU!

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  7. I think everyone is in the same boat. I work off farm to help pay for feed. Yes, our feed bill is higher than our grocery bill. Just pray.

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  8. Whoops! I just deleted my comment!

    Sorry 'bout your chickens...life never seems fair or easy, does it? I don't think many people are having it very easy lately. Gas, utilities, food, tuition, feed...it's all up. Just don't give up...things always turn around.

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  9. I was sorry to hear about you having to sell off some of your babies.
    Yes, it is really getting out of hand on all fronts. The gas to get to work is my big thing. I will soon be paying my boss to come to work.LOL
    My son drives truck and he hears complains about the high cost of freight but he has to make a living too and with diesel so high he has slowed down also. We just need to keep our faith and God will get us through each day.
    Hugs.

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  10. Oh that is sad. I'm sure you let them go to a good home. I do believe things are changing and life may not be as easy as we are used to having it. I am finding that country living is expensive! But like Mrs. JP said, God is in control. I pray your grass just grows and grows quickly for the sheep! Your farm pictures and posts cheer me up, and bless you for that!

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  11. Paula... welcome to the poor house, where we're are staying for a while :)
    It is hard, and it certainly gets discouraging. I am sorry that you had to sell off some of the girls, but I completely understand. We live in a very farm oriented area, and the poor ecomomy and high prices are taking their toll on everyone. Remember when I told you about our friend having to sell off a bunch of his horses. Sad thing is, there are so many people in the same boat, that he is having a very hard time selling them. What can one do ?
    I try to pray always, and have faith, and have gratitude for all my blessings, and use my creativity and ingenuity as much as I can. We all are on a pretty bumpy ride right now, and hopefully the road ahead will even out.
    Take heart in knowing that there are many of us feeling the same emotions.
    Hugs.... Kerin

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  12. Everything has gone up. Gas is eating us up. Hubs gonna ride his Goldwing to work to help with that while the weather's good. Food keeps creeping up,especially meat and dairy AND grains. Empty nest helped; we lowered our auto ins., utilities and groceries. We don't have anyone else to get rid of! We almost didn't take a vacation this year, but, hey, we need some incentive! You may send Lily over here and she can share Beau's food.
    :D

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  13. Things ARE going up and still climbing! Buy in bulk when you can....Anything AND Everything! I buy extra everytime I go to the store...I'm now up to 17 big cans of coffee....Hahaaa...well, I am!
    Flour, sugar, dried milk, beans, rice...you get the picture.
    I'm not an alarmist, just pragmatic. Better safe than sorry. My sister raises horses and is griping about the cost of feed...I told her, if it's not too late to Sell them! Hard times are a coming...
    hughugs

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  14. My husband and I are blessed to both still have our jobs.We are feeling the pinch of higher prices on just about everything. I really feel for folks who have the higher prices AND less hours or NO job. Keep praying.
    Blessings,
    Lorilee

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  15. I am sad about you having to sell some of your chickens but for a brief minute I thought we were saying goodbye to Miss Lily. With me willingly quitting my job I had to give up my lust for all things yarn, hence the "yarn diet". I have now gone nearly three months with not buying any yarn. Nine more to go. I have not missed buying things. I am happy to knit with what's on hand; afterall I bought all of it for that very reason. I don't shop anymore so that I can stay home and be with the dogs, have my backyard garden and be a housewife again. I have not missed the hussel and bussel of the work-a-day world. So I gave up racking up debt to stay home and am enjoying every minute of it. Gas has gotten really expensive for my mini van so trips to knit with friends will have to be rationed out. Now some of them will have to come to me instead of me always going to them. We all have made cuts in some way! So you are not alone darlin'!

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  16. Darlin',
    I know where you are coming from. These 9 little dogs seem to eat more every day. I always measure out their dog food so I know they don't but it seems to go faster all the time. Now the 20# bag weighs 16#! Just like the 1# bag of potato chips weighs 11 oz.! We have always been the kind who stock up when things are on sale. But you can only store so much and there is only so much you CAN store. I just praying the garden does better this year so I can fill all our empty jars. We will have to mow on a schedule instead of when it needs it. Our 'day'cations will be restricted by timing and appointments and need. We are hoping to sell our truck. Mike has resigned his part-time job as soon as they find a replacement. That will save a lot of gas money but he won't get that monthly pay check. It was a losing proposition the last few years. It is tough all over. Honey, I am really sorry you had to give up some of your hens. I know how much they mean to you. Just know you are not alone-ever. I'm there for you in my heart and mind. If you need to talk, we can chat on here. I love you!
    ★Linda★

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  17. Everyone is speaking of the high prices in everything these days, We use to take rides in the country to relieve boredom...with the price of gas continuing climbing..Home and garden takes the place of boredom because there is always something to do! I'm glad I got into the "living on the land" growing and saving foods and learning to make them in different ways,,,I think times are going to get worse before better..I'm glad I'm using my "Almost an Acre" and having gardens to sustain us, Not allowed to have chickens , maybe I'll set a rabbit trap, they taste like chicken :o).

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  18. absolutely feeling the "pinch" feels more like a vise grip here! Our livelihood (other than retirement income)is real estate and the market is SO bad around here. Gasoline is high, food going higher and I hear you about animals - will have to cull our little goat herd and it'll hurt my heart - but would be worse to have husband do without something than have a goat go off to parts unknown! It isn't a downer when we are all sharing it -

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  19. Don't be sorry..we are all feeling the squeeze in one way or the other for sure. Sorry you had to sell them though. It HAS GOT TO GET BETTER..HANG ON :D

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  20. So sorry. I think everyone is feeling the pinch in one way or the other. Gas is so high people can't buy enough to get to work and if you don't grow your food your in a fix for sure. It's getting worse for people instead of better,. Susie

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  21. I'm sorry about your chickens Paula. I know that was a hard decision. We, too, are experiencing high food prices for the cats. Kaboodle is "diabetic" and has to have a special food and since there's no way to feed the 3 indoor cats separately, they all eat the "good" stuff. We try to save and cut back in other ways to make it up. Our gas is almost $4 gallon now and still going up. Looks like it will be a tough summer on everyone. Hope you have a restful night. We are having really warm temps - how about you?

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  22. I am sorry to hear you had to sell some chickens Paula. I'm sure that was hard for you.
    I know waht you mean about being in the poor house...me too!!
    These gas prices affect everything else too....UGH!! Well, on the positive side at least we've got lots of good company in the poor house with us!
    Tracey

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  23. Sorry to hear you had to sell your hens...times are hard all over. Groceries just keep going up and up...I guess all we can do is hold on for the ride and pray ! !

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  24. Paula, you must have read my rant from last Thursday. I talked about much the same things. Feed prices have gone sky-high here, too, and I have recently quadrupled my birds. (The new henhouse is laid out now). I have wasted much food because of how we feed... and have a mouse problem, too, because of it. We are changing the way we feed, and once in the new henhouse it will be a lot different, and the birds will have to get used to it. We are buying much less feed than before. This would make a good blog entry, just as you did, in fact.... because animal feed and people feed are both feeling the pinch. Many of our eggs go to our local food kitchen (why I ramped up).... so we will use as much supplemental feed as possible (garden leavings, stale bread, etc.) to make up part of the ration.

    I'm so sorry you had to give up some of your hens, I know how it leaves the heart heavy. Ours were never meant to pay their way, but we are being more frugal, and about time!

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  25. So sorry to hear about having to sell your chicks. Our feed price has also gone up...and now I'm having a terrible problem with my chicks eating their own eggs. arggh! She may just turn up in our pot next week. Well not really...but that's what I'm threating her with.

    Irma :(

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  26. Oh yes, we are feeling the pinch too. I am in the process of deciding which sheep are going to be sold, and soon. The bantams ( as you said) are easy to feed, and my layers are paying for themselves only because my brother-in-law sells them at work and I trade a dozen every other week for a POUND of Starbucks coffee from a Starbucks employee.

    Good thing you can keep a few layers and those pretty fluffy bottomed Silkies _ as far as I'm concerned they pay their way by making me smile every time I see them.
    Times like these explain a lot about the world's economy and why most of the world does not keep livestock and poultry as pets, but as food source.They pay their way or are eaten!(do you think if I explain this to my animals they will be more economical in practice?)

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  27. BTW, I forgot to mention, at one time I took eggs all round my rural neighborhood (where no one keeps chickens) and gave each of the households a FREE dozen eggs with my number and told them I would deliver the eggs weekly for the paltry sum of $2.00 a dozen.The price was cheap then too. Only one neighbor took me up on this and soon moved away. So , I guess it is just plain easier to buy them at the supermarket and get inferior eggs for the convenience? I have never figured this out...disheartening to say the least. Like you, I am not too keen on putting a sign out for just anyone to come to my door.

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  28. It's not a downer post; it's a REAL post and yes, the pinch is being felt all over. I've never had chickens and don't feel now is the time to start, but do buy eggs from local folks.
    I keep telling Dave we need to let the sheep graze the lawn but he's agin the idea -smile-. I told him the White House used to let sheep graze their lawn but it fell on deaf ears.
    The horses and sheep eat pasture and hay we put up last year; no feed for them. Trips off the farm have to have many errands attached so as to conserve petrol and other such "economies". I'm planning a large garden and orchard so I can put up more food this year so we can eat locally.
    "Cast your cares upon Him for He careth for you." You're tucked into prayer.

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  29. We cut back on our chickens last year - we had 17 and couldn't get rid of the eggs.....so we are down to 5. Fortunately, we can grow our own corn and oats to offset the feed bills, but Jessie's steer feed for her 4-h project has gone from $7 a 50 lb. bag to $11 a 50 lb. bag. What a bummer!
    Kris

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  30. Oh, Paula we are pinched here as well. Don't fret about the downer post. We all need to lean on each other in times like these.

    My hens are squirting out eggs (and scarfing down the expensive feed) left and right. And no one is buying.

    I have to keep reminding myself...This too shall pass. And try not to worry(very hard for me). God is faithful if we only let him take the reins.

    Blessing to you, dear heart!

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  31. We are shopping at discount grocery stories where lots of things are cheaper to buy. We bought a Toyota Prius last year to help with our rising cost of gas to get to and from work and other places. And today, my husband bought a scooter to knock around our little area with. It's being delivered this afternoon. I can't wait to see it. (smile) I know that farmers are really feeling the crunch and that it's hard to make ends meet and keep things going. I really hope that things get better soon. I really am sorry you had to sell some of your chicks. I know that was hard.

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  32. I left a long post earlier today but when I clicked publish it said...something happened and were sorry but you will have to try again...grrrr

    I hear ya girl...things are tough everywhere....we are in housing construction and the market on new start ups is all but dead.....We have been working for several years at getting out of debt and are close but not our mortgage, and its big! We are working on cutting back on everything we spend money on and have greatly reduced the amount of money we need each month just to stay afloat....my next big thing to tackle is producing a much bigger portion of what we need for food ourselves....Will see how that goes....sorry you had to cut back on some of your chickens, we are adding a bunch more this spring but I do have a large neighborhood just down at the end of our lane and will have no trouble selling my eggs and even extra milk,butter,cream ect. if we go ahead and get a cow (and I think we will). I just hope I know what Im getting myself into LOL
    blessings

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  33. You ease my mind a little about feed prices here also. Hubbie came home with a 50# bag of scratch feed last Saturday and when I looked at the receipt I nearly went through the roof $11.49, I looked back and just last month it had been $8.49,that's a $3 jump in less than a month. I'll be glad when the weeds start growing so the chickens will have something else to eat.
    And you know once the prices get up there they'll stay !!!

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  34. Paula, I know how you feel. Yes, we are feeling it in so many ways. Although my husband is stil working, his workplace only allows the workers 40 hours, no overtime now. And things are getting slow there. I did not buy any more chicks or ducks this year because of the high feed cost. I am chewing myself out now and then for quitting the cafe job.....although I love staying home.......and doing my embroidery.....no one wants to buy anything and also doesnt want to pay the costly price of embroidery when there are much more needed things to spend money one. So my hopes of making a little income from home has been dashed. So, I am grateful for each good day we have, and for each bill that we have been able to get paid. I can't seem to watch the news anymore, because the wolf seems to be howling at everyone's door. Just know that my prayers are with you and I hope better days will be ahead. blessings,Kathleen

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  35. Oh, Paula, I'm so sorry you had to sell your Rhode Island red chickens. They are such pretty animals, but I understand with the economy such as it is. We are all feeling the pinch. I sure hope things get better soon.

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  36. We're feeling the pain and we don't even have animals-except little Ruby Sue : ) You're not alone-people in my area are really hurting. 3 of my friends have lost their homes over the last 2 years. Hard times indeed.

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  37. Hello Paula, so sorry to hear that you had to sell some of your hens:(
    God cares for you! And He will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
    2 Corinthians 9:8
    Have a blessed day! ~*~Wendy~*~

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  38. I'm so sorry you had to give up some of your girls, Paula. :-(

    My retired husband has gone to work part-time, driving a big rig to deliver flat-bed utility trailers for a local company. He is usually gone 3 days at time, and comes home so weary.

    We hate being apart, but with the dogs and cat, my going with him's not much of an option. We need about $500-$600 more per month than our fixed income, so he drives. A year ago, we were getting by without this added income.

    We are trusting God to keep opening doors for us to make the necessary provisions. He's never failed us yet. It doesn't mean we don't (or won't) have trials, but I know He'll get us through them.

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