Feeling the Pinch

There was a posting on Facebook this morning about Factory Farms forcing small farmers to either get big or get out.  That’s the truth and quite frankly, it isn’t just the Factory Farms that are forcing small farmers to get out, it’s the “larger” small farms trying to force the true small farms, like us, to get out.  Most of the local farms that raise chickens raise them in batches of 100+.  Wally and I talked about that last night.  We will never raise 100 chickens at a time.  We just don’t want to go there.  The problem with raising smaller numbers is that your costs end up being more because of the purchase price of the chicks (which won’t be a problem for us because we hope to hatch chicks on-farm) and processing costs.

We are feeling the pinch because I discovered yesterday that the regulations for processing rabbits on-farm are well beyond our means.  Essentially, they want an enclosed building with a concrete floor, running water and a drain.  Essentially, they want milk parlor standards. So, we’ll start taking them to the Foothills Processing Plant in Marion.  That adds approximately $5 on to the cost of the finished product.  If I brought more than 25 rabbits at a time, it would be $.50 less so that isn’t too much of a big deal.  It’s a bigger price change for the chickens ($.75).  Hopefully we’ll have more than 25 chickens to bring on the 6th.

In the grand scheme of things, however, I’m actually glad I don’t have to process rabbits today or tomorrow.  I really hated doing that task.

If I am able to get the rabbits approved through Animal Welfare Approved, I’ll have to take them to Foothills anyway so I guess I had better get used to it.  It’s 100 miles round trip to get there.  Gas prices are going up, as are grain prices.  I elected to not purchase organic alfalfa pellets this week.  They have already raised their prices!  In just six months, they’ve gone up $2.50.  That’s nuts!  We’ll stick to the local grain mixture that I’ve been getting and rely on the dairy hay to keep the goats in milk and to feed the rabbits.

Earlier this week, I had a big scare.  I walked in the rabbit barn to check the rabbits and noticed that three young babies were out of the nest box.  There were four babies in that group so I pulled the nest box forward to check on the fourth.  I felt in the bedding and felt something hard.  I thought to myself, “what the heck?” and lifted the bedding.  A snake head poked out.  I screamed and dropped the box and out slithered a black snake with a fat belly.  Damned thing ate the fourth baby and couldn’t get back out through the cage.  The interesting thing is that this mother rabbit is particularly aggressive when she has babies.  I’m surprised she didn’t tear that snake up.  I tried to catch it to relocate it, but it got away.  So now I check the rabbits many times during the day looking in nest boxes each time.  It’s been a bad year for snakes.

Today is supposed to be stupid hot today so I best get going and get the chores done before it gets too hot.  Goats are screaming; chickens are cackling; ducks are quacking; as soon as they see me, the calves will be bellowing!  Speaking of bellowing!  When I went out yesterday to check water, etc. I heard bellowing from the back pasture.  Went down with Gel and found one of the calves got tangled in some barbed wire in the back pasture yesterday.  Not sure where he got into it, but it took about two hours to get him untangled.  Luckily, no one got hurt.

Until later …