So, Chris. How much money do you make?
None of your business. But let me say this, we wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have a job in town. 10 cows, 8 pigs and 100 layers and 1,000 broilers amount to little more than a hobby. This blog earns me a negative $27 each year. Nobody pays me to write. I just need a creative outlet and appreciate your readership and feedback. That said, I’m uncertain of the value of the time I spend writing. Certainly something to consider.
With that in mind, it’s time to figure out what we’re going to do next year, why we are going to do it and how we are going to pay for it. No real answers in this post, just questions.
I need the farm to grow. I have this weird dream that someday I could derive the majority of our income from the farm itself. But it’s not going to happen with 10 cows. It may not happen with cows at all. But we’re going to drive that direction until we hit a roadblock. How much will that crash and burn cost me? A lot. But how much will it cost me next year? We have to figure that out.
And not just that. We have to budget pasture usage. What ground will rest? What will be stockpiled? Where will we plant trees? Where will we calve? When will we schedule a bull? What will that cost? Should we AI everyone and just use the bull for cleanup? Where will we cut hay? When? With what? Are we going to put up a few thousand square bales this year or should we buy a round-baler? What about next year? Will we have enough cows next year that we’ll utilize the whole pasture and just buy in whatever hay we need? How can I partner more closely with my father to build a multi-generational future now?
What about pigs? I am already receiving orders for July pigs. How many should I raise? Where will we raise them? They are awful hard on pastures. How will they fit into the rotation?
How about chickens? We obviously need more layers as we can’t begin to meet the demand for eggs. But that also indicates we need to raise prices. What is the next price target? How many customers will that scare away? Should I shoot for 250 layers June 1 and begin a 6-month replacement program, selling birds at their first molt? Should I keep birds until their second molt and make stewing hens? We haven’t seen a lot of success marketing stewing hens to this point. Maybe I should protect first year layers behind netting but just let second year birds roam behind the cows in egg-mobiles, knowing we will lose some. How can I lower our feed requirements? Can I eliminate soy?
And turkeys!? Just today I got orders for turkeys. Do they really fit into our operation?
If the overarching goal is for me to earn my full-time income from the farm and to build an empire that will include my children and their families, well…I have to get off of my tookus, sharpen my pencil and figure some of this stuff out.
There is a lot to think about with the coming year. A lot for me to figure out. Not just goals but how to pay for goals and how to determine which goals will pay for themselves. And this is just the farm…just a percentage of our total household budget. I have the rest of the household to figure out too.
This is a lot like work. I hope you are working on it too…both in your business and in your personal life. Money is hard to earn and easy to spend. A little purposeful reflection and restraint go a long way.
Next week may simply be next week. But next week is also next year. Next week or next year, head toward it with a plan…a destination in mind. Don’t be like Alice.
‘Cheshire Puss,’ she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. ‘Come, it’s pleased so far,’ thought Alice, and she went on. ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘—so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’
Where are you going?