Rules For City Slickers Gone Country

Posted on: April 26th, 2017 by
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Missouri Macon County Bridge

Missouri Macon County Bridge

When I was a kid people living in the country were mostly farmers or at least people who grew up farming. Times however are changing fast, very few people have any real experience with farming anymore. When people left the farm for the city the population of the countryside fell, farm acreage grew. The large family farm I worked for farmed land that once supported over 20 farms. One farm family was now farming what more than 20 farm families did in the past. This is made possible by a lot of hard work as well as modern equipment and practices.

www.JLMissouri.com Ford 8N with Ford 501 Sickle Mower Cutting Prime Brome Field

This isn’t all bad, but it does make for a big disconnect between farmers and everyone else. The average person has no first hand experience with any kind of real farming. There is a big difference between a garden or hobby farm and depending on your farm as your source of income. I am not saying having a garden or hobby farms are bad, just saying their is a difference that many don’t understand.

The countryside population in the middle of the country is a fraction of what it once was. I can drive down just about any country road and see what were once farmsteads dotting the landscape. A stretch of land that once had 20 or more families living on it will now only have one. The country is actually becoming more remote, more wild. Like I said it isn’t all bad, wildlife is much more numerous than it once was. When my dad was a kid seeing a deer was worth talking about, now almost every evening I see a couple. Conservation had a major role to play but I think many discount the demographics that played a role.

www.JLMissouri.com Joe with bass at Sawmill pond

It isn’t all good either. Where there were once 20 or more farming families supporting each other there is now only one. Neighbors are further apart, and often they are not even farmers anymore. Country folk are vastly outnumbered by city slickers. The countryside is being invaded by city slickers. They may live in the country, but they commute to the city to make their living. They are no more dependent on earning their living from the land then their city brethren. So here is my guide to the country living city slicker or the city slicker who has come to the country to become a farmer or to give it a try at making a living off the land. These rules are similar to what you may have heard from Joel Salatin or others, although it will have my take from my personal experiences.

#1 Shut Up and Listen. Especially if you are coming to the country to try your hand at farming. Your advise isn’t needed. When someone has been doing something their entire life and is likely a couple generations down the line of others doing it your advise is like a kindergartners advise to a college grad, dismissed without a thought. You don’t have the expertise to advise. Even if you have good ideas you must prove them by doing them, only talk about them when asked. Trust me you have a lot more to learn than you realize.

#2 Keep control of your dog. The country is not a free for all for dogs. The biggest predator problem I have is dogs, these dogs are often allowed to free range by someone who has not grown up in the country and has no livestock. Dogs are a predator, while they may be loving to those they consider part of their pack they will heartlessly rip the throats of others. Sometimes they will even attack calves and chase other large livestock. I don’t want to shoot a dog, but when that dog is attacking my stock my choices are limited. These same irresponsible owners will often be mad at the farmer who wasn’t given a choice and had to shoot their dog. If my kid went over to your house broke the door down and slashed the throat of you pet cat and any other living critter in your house you would be appalled. Yet a dog does the same thing, and many don’t realize it.

#3 Assistance is Expected. For people living in the country especially in the past their neighbors were their lifeline. When something went wrong there wasn’t someone to call, you leaned on those around you for help. If you are asked for help by your neighbors within reason do everything you can. They will be there for you when you need the help. If you see someone in need and you can help do so. This is starting to go away but it is one of the best things about country people.

#4 Nothing is Secret. Don’t tell someone something you don’t want everyone to know. News travels in the country. Everybody knows everybody else and everybody talks about everybody else. This is both good and bad.

#5 Respect Everyone. While everyone is not deserving of respect you should give everyone a clean slate at the start. That new neighbor of yours with a junky place might know a thing or two. He may be dirty because he works. The last thing anyone should do moving to the country is to look down on someone or think they are better.

#6 Keeping up with the Joneses. This doesn’t exist in the same way in the country. A multi millionaire might just wear dirty blue jeans and drive a beat up vehicle. Appearances are often deceiving in the country. A reputation as a fair and honest person is more important then outward appearance. Working gets you dirty, and who wants to get a good pair of clothes torn up. All true wealth comes from the land, and to get it you have to work.  Straight rows, good crops, a good last name and owning prime land are the country equivalent. Unfortunately the city mindset is creeping into the country.

#7 Savor the Freedom. In many states like Missouri the country is the last bastion of freedom. Don’t try to control what your neighbor is doing, it is their freedom, their land. They can build what they want, how they want and store their stuff as they see fit. They can mow their lawn or let a jungle form. Isn’t this the real essence of America? You can only experience it in a few places that are left, so don’t try to change it.

 

Just like I stand out when visiting the city, those not from around here stand out in my realm. We grow up with different values, different jobs and different slang. We spend our free time differently and have different hobbies. Many of my hobbies are impossible inside the city limits.  You can be a good upstanding city dweller just like you can be a druggy meth lab running country dweller. My goal is to give a glimpse to how people in my area think, if you plan on joining us it will help you make a smooth transition. My main goal is to encourage more country dwellers who make their living off the land.

Frenchman's Bluff Missouri

Frenchman’s Bluff Missouri


The All Black Chickens (Ayam Cemani) Come to LFF

Posted on: February 26th, 2017 by
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Ayam Cemani Chicks

Ayam Cemani Chicks

In the major shakeup of our chicken business last year we went from volume to rarity. When we first got chickens we started with run of the mill chickens purchased at the local farm store more than a decade ago. For a home flock these birds were ideal. We then started hatching our own to avoid having to purchase replacements. Eventually we started selling these chicks which were a mix of the different breeds we started with. We had pretty good luck but we soon noticed that others selling purebred chickens and different kinds of poultry were getting higher prices. So we got turkeys, quail, geese, guineas and ducks along with several flocks of purebred chickens.

www.jlmissouri.com LFF 8-20-16 Ayam Cemani Chicks, Home (5)

We sold a lot of chicks. By selling chicks instead of eggs we made more money. Selling eggs in our area is hard as there is a lot of competition, and even if we could sell at a good price we could make more money by selling the chicks with just a modest extra investment in time and equipment. So several years of selling chicks commenced. We went from a single styrofoam Little Giant incubator to several, then eventually a large cabinet incubator and a fleet of plastic digital incubators. We were hatching hundreds of chicks a month through the summer.

Ayam Cemani Chickens

Ayam Cemani Chickens

While this worked the chicken chores were taking over the farm. We also soon realized we didn’t like certain types of poultry and had bad luck with others. Turkeys were easily my favorite but we had very poor luck hatching them for unknown reasons. Then problems with blackhead made us give up on turkeys. Guineas have their place, but when you reach a certain population of guineas they start to loose their appeal. Guineas are load, wild, and while they sell for a good price and are good at foraging they didn’t fit what we were looking for.

www.jlmissouri.com LFF Embden GanderThe geese were awesome in certain ways but without a way to keep them from coming to the house they became a menace. While normally docile during breeding season they would attack my kids. As I mentioned before they thoroughly enjoy going to the restroom on concrete. I really think they hold it just so they can make it to the back porch slab. I would have to hose off the concrete daily. I will get geese again, but after I have a perimeter fence to keep them in the backyard.

Ducks sold well but were more work than 5x the number of chickens. They will make a mess of any water www.JLMissouri.com Muscovy Ducksource. It took more work maintaining the chicken tractor that had ducks than the other four tractors housing chickens. For some this may be worth it, or maybe the way you keep your stock is different enough to make it worth it, but for us it wasn’t worth it. So by by ducks.

I decided it takes as much work to keep a $100 chicken as a $2 chicken. While the initial investment is greater for the $100 chicken that is a one time expense and the pay off is for the rest of the time you keep that more expensive breed of chicken. While it is true that many expensive breeds are that way for a reason, many are expensive just out of rarity. These chickens are the ones to acquire if the demand for their eggs is great enough. This is where you can make more money in chickens than just about any other way.

www.JLMissouri.com 8-20-16 Ayam Cemani Chicks, Home (2)

In my research I picked the most expensive chicken breeds I could find. Of these I picked ones with the best sources for a flock of chickens to turn around and sell hatching eggs from. Enter the Ayam Cemani, an interesting breed currently in high demand. During the spring of 2016 Ayam Cemani eggs were bringing $10+ each. I expect the price will drop and it may be just a fad, but there is enough time for me to turn around and profit from my flock of Ayam Cemanis. In addition to Ayam Cemanis I also started a flock of Bielefelder chickens and will pick a couple more rare breeds with enough interest to sell hatching eggs.

Ayam Cemani Plucked Whole Chicken

Ayam Cemani Plucked Whole Chicken

The Ayam Cemani is a very interesting chicken. From the comb to the toenails they are black. Even their mouth, bones, eyes and skin are black. Their meat is even dark to black. This interesting fact makes them a curiosity and even when the fad has ran it’s course and the price falls they will probably still bring a premium for years. As the price falls and they become more affordable it will open up the market to buyers that were not willing to pay the higher price earlier. This makes the Ayam Cenami an ideal breed for selling hatching eggs for.

www.JLMissouri.com Ayam Cemani Rooster

Most of my Ayam Cemanis were from hatching eggs purchased on Ebay. It was the cheapest source of eggs, but it was also a poor source. Ebay is an ideal market for many things, but the dishonesty in the hatching egg market on Ebay is something to look out for. I purchased eggs that were a different breed than advertised, hybrids that were suppose to be purebreds and other downright dishonest sellers. I had to have Ebay step in three times to get my money back from these dishonest sellers. A rare occurrence in the hundreds of purchases I have made on Ebay. 99% of sellers on Ebay are good and reputable dealers, the hatching egg market seems to be one sector where the dishonest few are selling. That said I eventually did get some good stock, and even considering the problems the cost was less than half of anywhere else I could have acquired my stock.

So far the Ayam Cemani seems to be an okay layer and is hardy. They are wilder than other breeds of chickens I have had. They are also meaner to each other than other chickens I have raised. They are much harder to catch when loose. Overall they seem like a more wild chicken than our domestic breeds.

Ayam Cemani Eggs

Ayam Cemani Eggs

The myths:

Ayam Cemanis lay black eggs. This is completely false, Ayam Cemanis lay light brown to cream eggs. Any other color is a good indication you are not getting an Ayam Cemani from that egg.

www.JLMissouri.com LFF DSCF0159

An all black chicken is an Ayam Cemani. In reality their are several breeds that have hyper-pigmentation like the Ayam Cemani. The Svart Hona is a Swedish chicken very similar to the Ayam Cemani that is also all black. There is also a silkie that is all black. The all black condition is from a genetic mutation called  fibromelanosis.

Purebred Ayam Cemani hatching eggs for sale

If the Ayam Cemani is something that sounds interesting and you would like to give them a try, well I now have them for sale. My Ayam Cemanis are laying well and I am selling hatching eggs from them. I will also be selling them on Ebay. But my prices here should be better unless you get a good deal on an auction.

 My price is $30 for six eggs, priority shipping is included in the price(continental US only). I will accept money orders, checks or paypal. You can contact me through the contact page to pay by Paypal or you can send a check or money order to:

Check the For Sale Page for egg availability

(please include a note on where to ship and what you are ordering, I sell many breeds of chickens)

All pictures on my post are of my flock. All eggs will be fresh and no older than a day when shipped. Until the rest of my flock comes online I can only ship a dozen at a time, so if you order more they will be coming in two separate packages.

 

 


Changing of the Colors, Tractor Fleet Update.

Posted on: January 6th, 2017 by
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Ford 8N Breaking Ground on 1 Acre Field at the Sawmill

Ford 8N Breaking Ground on 1 Acre Field at the Sawmill

LFF www.jlmissouri.com Ford 8N Breaking Ground, PlowingI started farming with a little Ford 8N. It did everything, from breaking new ground, running the combine and baling thousands of bales of hay. The 8N earned its place on the farm and with years of hard use it rarely had any problems. In all those years I replaced and exhaust manifold gasket, an axle nut, and the oil sensor line twice. Besides common maintenance that is how few breakdowns the little 8N had.

While rock solid reliable and fuel efficient the little 8N had few modern features. With no live hydraulics and no live PTO you had to plan ahead. I got very good at throwing the 8N out of gear and letting up on the clutch to keep the PTO spinning and the baler going when I hit a pileup of hay in a windrow.

LFF 8-31-14, 861, Plowing, Big Field, Farm

Ford 861 Breaking Ground at the Farm

As our farm started to grow we went from a one tractor farm to a multi tractor farm. One of the first additions we had was a Ford 861 diesel. With twice the power, live hydraulics and a live PTO the 861 was very advanced compared to the 8N. The 861 took over running the baler and the combine, the 8N was used as the mowing and raking tractor. The 861 with its little 4 cylinder diesel was even more fuel efficient than the 8N.

LFF Ford 861 Tractor Diesel

Ford 861

The 861 had an engine failure while idling. Since we were doing a lot more work than before we needed a replacement quick and a Ford 860 gas tractor was purchased to fill in until something better was found. The 860 was basically the same as the 861 with a gas engine.

Once I was spoiled with all these fancy features we started rounding out the fleet. We bought a Ford 4000 and a Ford 2000 as well as a Ford Jubilee with a loader and a AC backhoe. The three cylinder Ford tractors quickly started to shine. With independent PTO and hydraulics strong enough to lift the front end off the ground it was clear our farm had officially arrived at 1970’s technology. With eight gears to choose from and fuel efficient and simple engines the 1000 series Fords quickly started becoming my favorite. The entire tractor was built heavier than the previous generations.

Ford 4000 & JD 350 Sickle. It doesn't have to be pretty to get the job done.

Ford 4000 & JD 350 Sickle. It doesn’t have to be pretty to get the job done.

When I started farming I did so with technology out of the 40’s. I have since advanced up into 1970’s technology and until more land is acquired it is probably where we will be for awhile. My little 8N isn’t going anywhere, our farm was built on its back and it has rite-fully earned its place on our farm forever. It still does a lot of work from raking hay to discing it is far from obsolete on our farm. That said the leap forward in technology on Ford’s three cylinder tractors has obvious advantages. With cheap parts and an easy to maintain design we will be basing our farms horsepower around these tractors.

Ford Jubilee with Loader

Ford Jubilee with Loader

I don’t regret starting very small and building up to what is still a small farm. This approach has kept us out of tractor and equipment debt, we paid cash for everything in our equipment lineup. We moved forward slowly and we are soon going to consolidate and sell of some of our starting equipment. We have no plans to get big quick, we have plenty of work to do on our small holding of 75 acres. We will keep our row crops planted and cultivated two rows at a time.

Ford Jubilee with Loader

Ford Jubilee with Loader

Ford 2000 Diesel

Ford 2000 Diesel

Our largest buildup in the coming year will be modernizing our hay operation. Since the start we have depended on a Ford 501 sickle mower. I have purchased a disc mower that needs work and will probably purchase a mower conditioner this year. Some day we may even consider buying a round baler but I worry about getting about getting lazy.

 

So I guess the moral of the story is stay out of tractor debt and don’t think antique equipment cannot get the job done. We are able to plant row crops and feed our cattle very inexpensively thanks to antique machinery and that is important when you are building up from nothing.

Ford 8N, 860, 4000

Ford 8N, 860, 4000

Farm Updates:

Construction is under way on a nice brooder house that will be used for hatching and caring for chicks and storage of eggs. The dining room has been getting crowded with the chick rearing and incubating and it is time to move it out and up scale it.

Our first steer to be slaughtered and sold was a success. We have buyers lined up and the beef will be picked up next week. 2016 marks the first dime I have made off cattle not counting the full freezer and beef independence in 2013. We sold two bull calves and will likely sell a couple more. Five years in the making it feels good to be approaching the top of the hill. We have also purchased a new bull, Lobo Clive who will replace Arod. Clive is homozygous polled so horny calves will be a thing of the past. Arod is now for sale.

 


Marketing Beef, Grass Fed Dexter Beef Now Available For Sale

Posted on: November 19th, 2016 by
2

Look Closely and You Can See Spider Webs Everywhere

Look Closely and You Can See Spider Webs Everywhere

Since adding cattle to our small farm we have been building the herd. The day is finally here where we have more than we can consume, so we can finally sell the surplus. Since we don’t have a ready market waiting we have to try our hand at sales. I figured my thoughts on this process would be helpful to those in a similar position or those hoping to be in the future. As I have mentioned before we plan on building our herd to 50 cow calf pairs. Before we get to that point we need to make sure we will not be doing all this work at a loss.

Sweat Pea

Sweat Pea

In my previous post MDCA Dexter Sale Report I had given my thoughts on what the value of a Dexter steer was. I will know a lot more in the future, until then I have to go on the best information I have available.

 

 

Heifer Emma Rose

Heifer Emma Rose

My cattle are grass fed and finished with no added hormones, antibiotics or vaccines. I do my best to raise a healthy natural steer. Checking on prices I have found a wide variance on ways to sell beef. From selling based on live weight, hanging weight, or finished product. I have also seen where the butcher fees are included in the price or added to the price. In selecting the way I wanted to sell my beef I wanted no hidden costs. Most sales of beef are going to be made to city dwellers that have no experience with butchering beef. Those living in the country with experience are usually not in the market to buy as they have their own.

Arod my Bull

Arod my Bull

To make things as straight forward for my buyer as possible I didn’t want to tack on the butcher’s fee to the price. I wanted my price to be as easy to determine what you were actually getting as possible. The downfall is my prices may seem higher than what others are charging even though they are usually much cheaper. For example if I am selling my beef at $3.50 a pound with the butcher fees included and others are advertising their beef at $2 a pound live weight or even $3.00 a pound for the hanging weight they may seem cheaper to the un-informed. Those prices are soon inflated by the time the butcher fees are tacked on. When you figure out how much meat is actually yielded versus the live weight you can also be in for a big surprise.

Milk Jug

Milk Jug

I would ideally like to offer packages in the future with the weight of the butchered meat clearly stated. For example a 75 pound variety pack of meat that includes hamburger, steak and stew meat. I would price my packages at a $200 starting price so that I don’t spend my time selling small amounts. At the current time we don’t have the space for the freezers necessary to store the meat, so that leaves us with selling it directly from the butcher. The easiest way to sell directly from the butcher is to price off the hanging weight. Most butchers don’t actually weigh the finished product.

#1

#1

To set my price I searched to find what others close to me were selling their beef for. Primarily focusing on grass fed beef. From what I gleaned I have decided to offer my beef at $3.50 a pound based off the hanging weight with no hidden costs. I will pay the butcher fees and everything else needed. This makes it very easy to figure with no surprises for my customer. It also makes it less expensive than any other grass fed beef I could find advertised on Craigslist.

Heifer August

Heifer August

So if you are interested in grass fed and finished beef in the Macon Missouri area it is now available at Lewis Family Farm. Our steers are finished on a prime pasture of brome, clover, timothy and fescue. We still need to make final plans with our butcher but will be selling halves and maybe 1 quarters at $3.50 a pound. I am guessing the hanging weight will be 350-400 lbs so that would make a half $612 and a quarter $306. Contact us through the for sale page.

Farm Tidbit

Alex the Steer

Alex the Steer

On our farm we have a naming theme going on for our cattle. Our first big year for calving was 2014 when we started naming each calf with the first letter of the month it was born in. So for August we had heifer calf August and bull calf Aaron. For 2015 we used the second letter of the month. That is why in September of 2015 we named a bull calf emperor and a heifer calf Emma Rose.  For 2016 we are using the third letter of the month and will continue with this theme until 2020.

Heifer Yolanda

Heifer Yolanda

After 2020 I am open to suggestions. I like the current naming theme but once it starts wrapping around it will get harder to do the math in your head. I have considered in 2020 starting with the letter A and going down alphabetically. Maybe even using middle names to denote month. For example the year 2020 would be A and the month of February would be B giving a name like Aaron Boy. We have not decided on a theme and I would be interested in other farms naming systems.

Goat, the Matriarch of the Lewis Herd

Goat, the Matriarch of the Lewis Herd

 


MDCA Dexter Sale Report, Cattle Sales & Value

Posted on: October 18th, 2016 by
3

LFF Cattle Herd

This past weekend our family went to the Missouri Dexter Cattle Association Sale in Marshfield Missouri. The purpose of our trip was to judge this sale as a future market for our registered Dexter cattle. While this post will be mostly about Dexter cattle I will give my thoughts as we prepare to start marketing our first cattle after five years of raising them. Be prepared for a lot of conjecture and just plain out guessing.

In order to take advantage of the MDCA sale some conditions must be met. This isn’t a normal cattle sale, all cattle sold in this sale must be halter broke. If you are like me and accustomed to regular cattle sales there is a lot going on differently here. The Dexters are not sold by weight, weight isn’t even stated for most cattle going through the sale. The animals are walked out on a halter in front of the auction attendees and bidding begins. All Dexters sold in the sale must be ADCA registered. Bulls are limited at a ratio of 1 to 3 and are required to have a trich test or virgin bull certification. The commission for the sale is 5%, sellers are also allowed to decide not to sell if the price isn’t to their satisfaction. The No Sale fee is $25 or 5% of the bid whichever is lowest if you decide not to sell to the highest bid.

There were 35 head in the sale. Three bulls, one steer, one cow, one cow calf pair and 29 heifers. The average sale price for the heifers was $1585. If you go with the system of throwing out the top ten percent and bottom ten percent (3 each) you would come out with an average sale price of $1493 which I feel is a better representation of what to expect. The sale price varied by a wide margin, the lowest heifer went for $900 and the highest went for $3000. I couldn’t tell a good reason for that great of a difference in price.

The steer went for $900 and the bulls went for $850, $1150 and $1500. There were not very many bulls for sale and they did not sell as well as I would have imagined. At the bottom of this post will be a picture and price for every Dexter at the sale that was taken from the flyer at the sale. I think this will give a good idea on what to expect at the sale. I wrote on each Dexter the sale price and if the seller decided not to sell I marked No Sale but I still wrote the last bid amount.

LFF Nigel the Dexter bull CalfSince acquiring my Dexter herd in 2012 I have been building the herd. This will be the first year I have some cattle for sale and this will also be the first year I will have Dexter Beef for sale. I will only be offering Bulls and Steers for sale until 2020 when I hope to reach 50 cows and can then start selling an occasional heifer.

In order to come up with a sale price I had to come up with a value for my cattle. That is why I attended the MDCA sale. The majority of my herd is not registered however. These unregistered Dexter’s cannot be sold through this sale. I have gleaned the internet trying to come up with what a Dexter steers value in beef is in order to figure a value for the whole animal. Heifers of course are usually more valuable as breeding stock than burger, so my focus has been on finding a value for my steers.

LFF Val Helping Tag Missouri GentlemanIn addition to Dexters I also have other breeds of cattle, and they are the first ones in line for the butcher. I will have several steers ready for butcher this year, but don’t have much first hand information so I did the best I could. We have only butchered one Dexter so far and didn’t get proper weights on him and he was also butchered early due to attitude.

Figuring the value of an Angus or other commercial breed is pretty easy. Currently the market price for a live feeder steer is $1.20-$1.58 a pound at the local livestock market (New Cambria Livestock Market, acquired from their market report). If you placed the same value on a Dexter steer a young weaned steer at 300lbs would run around $400. Problem is you will never get that at a regular livestock auction as the buyers are not looking for Dexter’s and you will take a big hit on the average sale price usually. Also you must consider future potential as that steer is hopefully only going to get bigger.

LFF #1 and her calfFrom averaging the rough figures I have gleaned from the internet I am guessing my Dexter steers will have a 400lb hanging weight. The hanging weight is not the finished product however. To get that figure I even had less samples and who knows how accurate any of my samples are anyway. Many people include bones and organ meats in their finished product and I want just the easier to sell meat cuts, steak and burger. The best I could figure is 65% of the hanging weight so for my example 260lbs of meat from the 400lb hanging weight.  Figuring a value on this meat was again a shot in the dark but I figured a safe value would be $4 a pound or $1040.

The value of the meat however is not the profit potential. You still have to take the price to get that meat to market. The butcher I am going to use charges a flat $50 kill fee and $.50 a pound based on the hanging weight for a total of $250. So that drops my profit potential to $790.

2nd Cutting Brome Hay

2nd Cutting Brome Hay

The $790 dollars isn’t yet profit however as I had to house that steer for two years and feed him two winters. On average my Dexter’s eat half a square bale a day or 45 bales a year. I produce all my own hay and last time I calculated my cost it ran $.15 a square bale. There is however a lot of labor involved in that bale as well as intangible wear and tear, parts etc. There is also the market potential of that bale which would sell for $3.50 if I didn’t use it myself. I usually feed my stock the lower quality hay that I wouldn’t want to sell so I decided to value this hay at $2 a bale. So two years of feed will have to come off this sale price. $180 to feed this steer drops my best guess steer profit potential to $610.

LFF Hay WindrowsThere is a lot of intangibles or hard to quantify costs and benefits with raising cattle. In this example I didn’t include the cost of acquiring my land, taxes, fuel, trailer & truck expenses, infrastructure like fences and corrals. I could add many more items to this list. I also left out the value of having home grown beef, the experience, the added value to my property by being grazed properly, and the sale of some incidentals from the butcher process to the profit side. I figure these are very hard to figure and probably even out.

LFF Hay BalesYou can see why a lot of people will claim there is no profit to be had in cattle. If you are buying newer equipment, expensive land and importing your hay it would be very hard indeed to make a profit. Since providing my hay makes enough excess to pay for the whole operation I have been running in the black or maybe a tad in the red even though I have not sold a single head of cattle. I look forward to cattle becoming a fourth leg of income for me in the future. You have to play for the long run as it has been years in the making and I am only half way there.

LFF Dexter HerdRunning this thought experiment clearly shows the best profit can be gleaned from selling registered breeding stock. Prices will likely be very different in areas outside my rural area. Markets in urban areas are much more expensive, but of course land close to those areas will also be more expensive not to mention all those city slickers you would have to tolerate. In the end lots of things even out, my lower prices are part of the territory in a rural area with cheaper land price, lower taxes and less people. I wouldn’t trade, money isn’t everything.

With a better idea on the value of my cattle I decided to price young steers at $650. Registered bulls will run about double that. After I keep the steer overwinter the price will of course increase or I will keep him all the way to the end and try my hand at selling beef. Checkout the for sale page for the current cattle I have for sale. If nothing is listed on the For Sale Page then I am sold out, but you can feel free to contact me if you would like to be on a waiting list for a steer or registered bull.

Here are the Dexter’s sold at the MDCA Sale in 2016:

LFF mdca-lot-1

LFF mdca-lot-3

Lot 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LFF mdca-lot-4LFF mdca-lot-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LFF mdca-lot-6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LFF mdca-lot-7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LFF mdca-lot-8

LFF mdca-lot-9 LFFmdca-lot-10 LFF mdca-lot-11 LFF mdca-lot-12 LFF mdca-lot-13 LFF mdca-lot-14 LFF mdca-lot-15 LFF mdca-lot-16 LFF mdca-lot-17 LFF mdca-lot-18 LFF mdca-lot-19 LFF mdca-lot-20 LFF mdca-lot-21 LFF mdca-lot-22 LFF mdca-lot-23 LFF mdca-lot-24 LFF mdca-lot-26 LFF mdca-lot-27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LFF mdca-lot-28 LFF mdca-lot-29 LFF mdca-lot-31 LFF mdca-lot-32 LFF mdca-lot-33 LFF mdca-lot-34 LFF mdca-lot-35 LFF mdca-lot-36 LFF mdca-lot-37


Cattle 101B, Acquiring Your Stock

Posted on: September 20th, 2016 by
2

LFF Cattle Herd

Before I begin this post I will again state I am no expert, but I have built a nice herd on a very low budget. Acquiring things at a good price is something I have a knack for. I will mainly discuss how I found my cattle, and ways to get the best cattle at the best price.

LFF Red Dexter Heifer CalfMany people buy their stock from a livestock auction. I have bought some chickens and other critters at auctions, but it isn’t my preferred route. In most situations you are buying blind, not knowing the history of what you are buying. I would much rather have the time to look over the animal and talk to the owner. You can make a better decision with more information and if you are patient you can beat the stockyard prices a lot of the time. For these reasons auctions are not my preferred way to get stock.

Keakwa

Keakwa

So where did my cattle come from? With the exception of Keakwa (my first calf) all my cattle came from ads on Craigslist. Craigslist is my preferred source for many things. For cattle it has some advantages. One advantage is setting up automated searches that can use whatever words and price range you want. I have automated searches for any Dexter listed in all my close Craigslists. These automated searches allow me to set back and wait for the deals to be delivered to my inbox. There are also Apps available for smart phones that can do automated searches on Craigslist. There is one downside to Craigslist, you only find what someone has posted. If you are after a rare breed you may not find anything as they are often sold by word of mouth.

LFF Dexter Calf NursingIf you have decided on a rare breed the best source will be doing some footwork to locate a breeder. For registered stock you can often find breeders listed on the registry. For example the American Dexter Cattle Association has a list of all breeders and owners of stock on their website, it is even broken down to breeders within a state. This makes finding a breeder in your state easy. I am sure other registries have something similar. If you are seeking a certain breed and want registered cattle this is a way to find breeders close to you. You may have to make a cold call but most people are happy to talk to a potential customer. Even if they don’t have stock for sale they may know where to acquire some locally.

LFF Red Dexter CalvesIn addition to registries there are often forums and groups for different breeds. This is a great way to find people who are raising the breed you are looking for and these groups are also full of valuable breed specific as well as general information. Be aware that many people involved with cattle have very strong opinions, and what works for someone else may not work for you. The best way to learn what works best for you is to get your hands dirty.

LFF Dexter Bull ArodRegistered or Not? For general homestead use registration isn’t necessary. I don’t believe for a second that papers are going to make an animal tastier, especially considering everything else is the same. There are however a few advantages, but they do come with added cost. If you are a professional breeder having registered stock allows you to look into the pedigree of your stock and consider various outcomes of breeding. But for the average cattleman registered stock has one main advantage, higher prices. While not an advantage at the start you will eventually be able to take advantage of those higher prices when you sell your stocks offspring. The higher price paid for registered stock is the biggest advantage I see to having a registered herd.

If you have good registered stock one profit source would be supplying other breeders with good bulls for herd sires. With an unregistered herd there will be a lower price and potentially fewer interested parties in your bulls. The main end destination of your bull calves would most likely be steers. That isn’t all bad, most people who have cattle eat beef.

LFF Evening Dexter HerdRegistration isn’t everything. Registration can be a pain, and starting with a registered herd can be much more expensive. If you don’t plan on having a herd that is large enough to supply more meat than you can eat and plan on keeping everything in house registration probably isn’t worth it. Despite popular opinion registered stock isn’t necessarily better. My most dependable cow isn’t registered. There is plenty of good stock without papers, so don’t be a Nazi. Registered stock is an added expense, and unless you are recouping the cost of that expense it can be a drain.

LFF Jersey SteerIf however you plan on running a herd large enough to supply your family and then some the advantages of having a papered herd should be considered. Often a registered animal will sell for well over its market value as a beef animal. There is more work involved in keeping registered stock and getting those papers isn’t free. For Dexters registered with the ADCA tail hairs must be sent in for parentage verification and then you must pay the registry for the papers. For each animal you can expect to pay $50 or more to get it registered. If you want more tests than just the minimum that price only goes up from there. I have started testing a lot of my herd and the calves. Often I am spending $100 each on some of my cattle to get all the test done. As more of my herd becomes tested these prices will go down as I will know what genes their offspring will inherit.

LFF Dexter Cow, Milk JugThe majority of my herd isn’t registered. If given the option I would prefer to have the entire herd registered, but the cost was prohibitive and the registered stock was harder to find. Since a large percentage of my herds final destination is the beef market registration isn’t needed for these cattle.

LFF Dexter Heifer Emma RoseMore important than registered animals is obtaining good starting stock. Starting with a herd of questionable quality could haunt you for years. Price however is not the determining value for quality. Some of my best cows were also the cheapest to purchase. I have seen many people selling overpriced stock, most of the time you can find someone else selling stock with the same genetic background for a lost less. The price difference often cannot be quantified. Shop wisely if you value the time your money represents.

I cannot go into nor do I have the expertise needed to explain the details of selecting good stock. If you don’t know what you are looking for I suggest taking an experienced cattleman with you. Most cattleman could pick the better stock out of a lineup regardless of breed. So while familiarity with the breed would be an advantage it isn’t always necessary.

LFF Dexter Bull Calf EmperorWhat breed? This is as much about personal taste as anything. I do however have my opinion based on hard fact. Pick a breed bred for your environment. You don’t want to be trying to raise Zebu in Alaska or Highlands in Texas. While it is possible to keep cattle breeds in an environment they are not designed for you are rowing your boat upstream. You will have an easier time selecting a breed adapted to your conditions and management style.

LFF Dexter Heifer AugustWhy did I go with Dexter’s? Dexter’s are well suited to Missouri’s climate. There small size makes them have a lower impact on the land, ideal for the abundant rain we can get. There smaller size makes them easier to handle, and also lets you run higher numbers on your acreage. Dexters are not for everyone, but they came close to the perfect breed for me. In a future post I will be going more in depth with Dexter Cattle.

 

Website Updates:

Since I am talking about cattle I figured I better update my Dexter cattle page. I will be adding a lot more pictures of my herd. Our herd has grown to thirty head. This year will be the first year I have some stock to sell as well as some beef.

#27. Nigel is the son of Milk Jug and Arod. He is a Chondro carrier and is not register-able. He is For Sale

#27. Nigel is the son of Milk Jug and Arod. He is a Chondro carrier and is not register-able. He is For Sale

 

 


Building Cheap Temporary All Weather Farm Roads

Posted on: July 16th, 2016 by
2

Kirksville's Giant Mulch Pile

Kirksville’s Giant Mulch Pile

On many forums I have ran across people discussing roads and how expensive they can be to build and maintain on farms. While the way I handle this problem might not be perfect for everyone’s situation I bet some will find it useful. If you have more time than money you may find this solution useful. It is also ideal for temporary roads and as a way to fix ruts in fields.

HPIM0032.JPG

HPIM0032.JPG

In my area as is common throughout Missouri most cities have free mulch composed of wood chips. In many cities they will even load you for free. This is a great resource that I have utilized for everything from making trails through the woods and gardening to a wood chip access road to my big field. Just in my area the cities of Macon, Kirksville, Moberly, Mexico and Columbia offer free wood chip mulch. I am sure there are even more cities offering this resource in the area but these are the cities I have gotten mulch from.

My Bevier Driveway Almost Completed

My Bevier Driveway Almost Completed

I have used a blade on the back end of my Ford 8N to carve a driveway on my Bevier property. Adding a bucket on the back would have made the job even easier. While not as fast as a dozer or bigger tractor the rig costs well under $2000 and gets the job done. It is often better to spend time than money. Once you have a roughed in road all you need is some topping to prevent erosion and provide an all weather surface to drive on.

By covering a dirt trail in gravel/mulch or other materials you are preventing it from turning into a rutted eroded mess in wet weather. For most country access roads this is accomplished by gravel, but you might get sticker shock on the price. Even a short road can require hundreds of dollars in gravel. Luckily this is where a local free resource can be used.

Big Field Access Road Under Construction

Big Field Access Road Under Construction

To get this job done I use mulch. while not a permanent solution it can last up to two years and is very inexpensive. I was out time and fuel costs to build a quarter mile access road up to my big field. This road cuts through the middle of my property and runs across the big pond dam. Before I started this road was not usable by my small truck. There were ruts and mud holes that would easily stick my little truck. The pictures here are the second time covering it with mulch.

LFF Dumping The Mulch, Building A Road

I have used this method for years. It will eventually break down and turn into dirt but in the meantime it allows you to have all weather travel. Anytime a mud puddle or ditch will start to develop I fill it in with more mulch. This keeps my access lane nice and usable. During the growing season grass can grow up through the mulch and will help to stabilize the area. The hardest use of the road is during winter when I have to haul hay everyday to the cattle. Winter weather is often wet here, and things can get very muddy. The mulch road allows me to get this job done without digging ruts all the way to the cattle.

Mulch Road

Mulch Road

To build my road I asked permission to bring my loader down to the city yard in Macon. The Macon mulch pile is a mere five miles from my farm. Macon is the closest free mulch, but they don’t load it for you. During the winter of 2013-2014 I covered the worst areas of this access road using only a pitch fork and my Mazda truck. I would get a load everyday when I dropped my son off at daycare in town. This time I utilized bigger equipment, a loader, tractor and dump trailer.

LFF Getting The Mulch

Even in the wettest winter weather this access road has been usable. The worst areas just get an extra layer of mulch. When we first bought this farm the access road was rutted terribly by tractor traffic. By filling in the ruts with mulch I have turned this road into a serviceable and flat road. Maybe some day I will put gravel down, but so far this approach has saved me a lot of money.

LFF Building a Mulch Road

LFF Building a Mulch Road

 

 

 

 

Farm Updates:

 After trying many different breeds of chickens and other poultry we have slimmed down. It started last year as we pared down to three breeds of quail, two breeds of duck, Embden Geese, Two types of Guineas and six breeds of chicken. By the middle of this year we are down to four breeds of chicken and Muscovy ducks.

The geese had pooped on the porch for the last time, I hope to have them again, but with better fencing to keep them away from my house. Geese are awesome, they can sustain themselves on good pasture. They do have some drawbacks though. During breeding season my son was afraid to go outside because they were aggressive towards him. We tried to train them, but they refused to respect the kids or the concrete and we decided to sell them.

We suffered a major disaster as a suspected mink or opossum wiped out 20 quail in one night. It was a bloodbath and not something I had experienced before. I thought the small 1/4″x1/2″ wire provided protection, unfortunately the real protection was our dog who in his old age isn’t much help anymore. We also think the geese did a good bit of guard duty. The disaster continued when they attacked another cage we thought was even safer as it was higher off the ground.

Our losses made sustaining the quail program unfeasible. The survivors were sold at auction and we will not keep quail until we have an electrified perimeter or a better guard dog. The culprits are not getting off the hook though as it is war. With the use of a driveway alarm set under the cage we are alerted in the house when motion under the cage triggers the sensor, not as good as a dog but lead does solve the immediate problem. We also started using traps by the cages to get the perps.

On a good note our Dexter’s have added Five more to there numbers with more on the way. So far we have 3 bull calves and 2 heifer calves. Arod seems to throw a lot of bull calves. Our little herd is now numbers 28 head.

LFF Dexter Heifer Calf Lewis' Naomi #29

Heifer Calf #29 Lewis’ Naomi

Bull Calf Nero #26

Bull Calf Nero #26

Bull Calf Nigel #27

Bull Calf Nigel #27


Jacob’s Cave Missouri, The Largest Poultry Swap Around

Posted on: May 1st, 2016 by
2

www.jlmissouri.com LFF Jacob's Cave Entrance Sign

www.JLMissouri.com LFF Jacob's CaveIf you are into poultry and live in or around Missouri you may already know about Jacob’s Cave. If by some chance you have not heard of this swap, let me enlighten you on what is the largest poultry swap in the area and maybe even America. Jacob’s Cave is actually a tourist cave located in central Missouri North of the Lake of the Ozarks. Three times a year a swap is held here that has a focus on poultry but includes a little bit of everything. The size and variety is unbeatable.www.JLMissouri.com LFF Jacobs Cave

I have no affiliation with Jacob’s Cave. I have never worked for them or been involved more than going there as a buyer. In the future we do plan on selling there. I am writing about Jacob’s Cave because I think it will interest those who read my posts. After all where else but Missouri are you going to find a poultry swap of this magnitude.

www.JLMissouri.com LFF Jacob's Cave

The swap meet has hundreds of visitors and tens of thousands of attendees during the four day swaps. I have seen all kinds of poultry and animal breeds there, everything from run of the mill chickens up to Emus. Like all swap meets the prices and quality will vary by the seller, but there is a good chance you will find something that interests you there. The swap isn’t limited to poultry, many other small animals as well as regular items will be found.

Parking at Jacob's Cave

Parking at Jacob’s Cave

The rates for booth spaces are cheaper than many other similar venues with more people in attendance at this swap. This makes for a great place to sell your items. I read somewhere on the internet that attendance at Jacobs Cave surpasses 36,000 with hundreds of vendors. While trying to find the facts at the time of this writing that article cannot be found now. The article was older and I am sure the swap is now larger. The event has been growing and it seems the limiting factor to this growth will be the hilly terrain limiting available usable land.

www.JLMIssouri.com LFF Jacob's Cave

Getting to Jacobs Cave can also be a challenge as traffic will back up all the to highway 5 and often start backing up on the highway itself. If your arriving at the heaviest traffic times (Around Noon on Saturday) I advise entering the swap from the south on hwy TT or else you may spend an hour waiting in traffic. Coming earlier during the day is a good idea to avoid the congestion, something us rural Missourians are not used to.

Traffic Backed up on HWY 5 During Jacob's Cave Swap

Traffic Backed up on HWY 5 During Jacob’s Cave Swap

Parking Entrance at Jacob's Cave

Parking Entrance at Jacob’s Cave

One of the times we went to Jacob’s Cave traffic was backed up on Hwy 5. It took us awhile to make it to the turn off on Hwy TT. When we were able to turn on hwy TT it took us over an hour to reach the entrance to the swap which was a mere 1.5 miles down the road. Parking was available, although traffic inside the swap was heavy.

Jacob's Cave Inner Road to Parking

Jacob’s Cave Inner Road to Parking

There are a lot of booths, and to see everything will take the better part of a day. The layout is sprawling with parking and booths layed out on the top of mountain ridges. The topography is Ozark foot hills, so the valleys are relatively deep. With a location just north of the Lake of the Ozarks it can make for a great weekend if you want to do some exploring after the swap.

www.JLMissouri.com LFF Jacob's Cave Shower House

www.JLMissouri.com LFF Jacob's CaveWhat is available will vary as there are regular vendors, but also an assortment of random vendors. The biggest day is always Saturday and Friday is the second largest day. Saturday afternoon a lot of vendors will start packing up and while still open Sunday it is a much quieter day. On Thursday not all vendors are setup and the crowds are smaller. So for me the ideal day is Saturday, although you might find the rare stock on Thursday and Friday being an early bird and get some great deals on Sunday from the vendor not wanting to pack everything home.

www.JLMissouri.com LFF Jacob's Cave

www.JLMissouri.com LFF Jacob's Cave

The closest city to Jacob’s Cave is Versailles Missouri. Versailles will have all the major stores like a Walmart, fast food and gas stations. There is also an open air flea market every weekend at the Versailles city park which provides extra bargain potential if you have the energy left.

www.JLMissouri.com LFF Jacob's Cave

So if you like such things Jacob’s Cave is well worth checking out. In the future I would like to sell at Jacob’s Cave just for the experience. You never know what kind of deals and such you will find in events such as these.

www.JLMissouri.com LFF Monte Carlo Trailer Truck Conversion Homemade

 

Jacob’s Cave has an official website. That is the best place to find when the next swap will be and other up to date information. Click Here to be taken to the Jacob’s Cave Website.

www.JLMissouri.com LFF Jacob's Cave Ariel View

 


Cheap to Build & Operate DIY Freeze Proof Chicken Waterer

Posted on: April 1st, 2016 by
2

LFF Homemade Freeze Proof Chicken Waterer

Here it is, my homemade freeze proof chicken waterer. Cheap to run, hygienic, easy and inexpensive to build. Using a bucket, a Thermo Cube, an electric stinger, some styrofoam board, wire and a roll of duck tape I built a homemade freeze proof watering bucket. I have thought about doing such for years but finally set down and did it this winter.

Testing

During several weeks of testing it has performed flawlessly, using very little electricity and keeping the nipple on the bottom frost free down to single digits. It never got any colder than 8 degrees during my testing so I am not sure how cold of weather it can withstand. That stated I have no doubt it can handle much colder weather.

Commercial Heated Waterer

Commercial Heated Waterer

There are some commercial alternatives that run $40 or more, but I find them lacking. Without insulation they cost much more to run, are more expensive initially and are not user serviceable. I am equipping my tractors with this homemade waterer for next winter, ending the sport of ice bowl chucking at my farm. I also prefer a chicken nipple to the open water design of other styles which creates a mess and isn’t hygienic. The homemade bucket waterer also holds a lot more water.

The backbone of my simple design is a Thermo Cube that controls the water heater. The Thermo Cube can be purchased at many stores and online for around $12. Anything plugged into the thermo cube comes on at 35 degrees and turns off at 45 working as an inline preset thermostat.

I will jump straight into the meat of the matter, here is how I built it:

Tools I used:

11/32 Drill Bit For Chicken Nipple Hole

11/32 Drill Bit For Chicken Nipple Hole

7/16 Paddle Drill Bit For Adding a Fill Hose

7/16 Paddle Drill Bit For Adding a Fill Hose Hole in the Side

A Drill Of Course

A Drill Of Course

A Adjustable Wrench

A Adjustable Wrench

A Hot Glue Gun For Gluing Down Stuff

A Hot Glue Gun For Gluing Down Stuff

Small Drill Bit For Support Wire Holes

Small Drill Bit For Support Wire Holes

 

 

 

 

 

Materials:

Duck Tape

Duck Tape

Wire

Wire

Chicken Nipple Waterer

Chicken Nipple Waterer

Bucket & Lid

Bucket & Lid

Short Piece of 2" Pipe

Short Piece of 2″ Pipe

Styrofoam Board

Styrofoam Board

Thermo Cube

Thermo Cube

Stinger/Water Heater

Stinger/Water Heater

Holes for Stinger Support Wire

Holes for Stinger Support Wire

I started by drilling small holes in the top corners of the bucket to attach the wire. The wire supports the stinger, keeping it in the center of the bucket directly over the chicken nipple. This location ensures the chicken nipple does not freeze up, and also keeps the stinger in the water.

Side Fill Hole

Side Fill Hole

I also drilled holes in the side of the bucket for adding a fill hose and a hole for the power cord for the stinger to exit the bucket. Then a hole was drilled in the bottom for the chicken nipple.

Bucket Bottom

Bucket Bottom

 

 

I then wired in the stinger, I cut from the overflow hole to the outside edge of the bucket so that I could slip the power cord for the stinger into the hole. I then wired the stinger from the corners of the bucket supporting the stinger and keeping it in the center towards the bottom of the bucket.

Stinger Cord Exit

Stinger Cord Exit

Stinger Supported in the Center of Bucket

Stinger Supported in the Center of Bucket

 

 

 

 

LFF Freeze Proof Chicken Waterer Homemade

Putting Insulation Around Thermo Cube

With the power cord for the stinger now on the outside it could be plugged into the Thermo Cube. I glued the Thermo Cube to the bottom of the bucket before putting any foam board on the bucket. By positioning the Thermo Cube towards the bottom of the bucket under the layer of Styrofoam it was perfectly positioned to control the waters temperature.

Thermo Cube Glued to Outside of Bucket

Thermo Cube Glued to Outside of Bucket

 

I put a small piece of pipe around the chicken nipple at the bottom of the bucket. This helps to shield the nipple from wind, and also protects the insulation from curious chickens.

Pipe Protecting The Chicken Nipple

Pipe Protecting The Chicken Nipple

 

I then just started cutting the Styrofoam to size and gluing it to the bucket on every edge.

Glue For Foam Board

Glue For Foam Board

Lid

Lid

Edges

Edges

 

Bottom

Bottom

 

 

 

 

DSCF2117 LFF Freeze Proof Chicken Waterer Homemade

LFF Freeze Proof Chicken Waterer Homemade LFF Freeze Proof Chicken Waterer Homemade

Once all the sides and edges were covered in Styrofoam I put a layer of clear tape over everything. Then I tested the design.

Testing

Testing

Proof of Concept, No Frost After 24 hours 9-15 Degrees

Proof of Concept, No Frost After 2 days at 8-15 Degrees

Nipple Protected From Wind.

Nipple Protected From Wind.

 

 

 

After Several weeks of testing the concept was proven. The setup uses very little electricity. On a 8-15 degree day it used less than a third of a kilowatt, or about 3 cents. When I put the killawatt meter on a stock tank heater it was running $1.50 a day in electricity usage. Not a fair comparison, but that gives you an idea.

Obviously Well Insulated.

Obviously Well Insulated.

 

With that done I needed to protect the styrofoam from ingestion by my chickens. About half a roll of duck tape latter I had a darker colored covering that should help keep the water warm. I should have sprung for black tape. I don’t think the tape will survive much more than a season or two, but until I devise something better it works.

Bottom

Bottom

Adding Anti Chicken Skin

Adding Anti Chicken Skin

Almost Complete

Almost Complete

 

 

 

 

My Youtube Video

Materials Links affiliate links:

Ebay Thermo Cube $12.20 With Free Shipping

Ebay Stinger $7.84 With Free Shipping

Ebay 11/32″ Drill Bit $3.49 Free Shipping

Ebay Glue Gun & 25 Glue Sticks $5.95 Free Shipping

Amazon Links:

Amazon Thermo Cube $10.49 Prime

Amazon Stinger $7.64 Prime

Amazon 11/32″ Drill Bit $6.48 Free Shipping

Amazon Glue Gun & 10 Glue Sticks $3.99 FS

 

I had purchased my stinger on Ebay for $3 but cannot find it at that price any longer. These links are affiliate links for the lowest prices I could find.

New Books Added to the Free Book Page:

Dairy Farming 1862
Dairying Exemplified 1787
Facts for Farmers; Compost, Animals, Buildings, Crops, Irrigation 1865
Disease of Domestic Animal and Poultry
Dairy Farming 1912
Dairy Farming 1911
Farm Appliances a Practical Manual 1913
How to Begin and Survive a Commercial Gamebird Farm
Feeds and Feeding 1916
Managing Cover Crops Profitably Hairy Vetch 2007 Pamphlet
Farm Implements and the Principles of their Construction 1859
Forage Crops Oter Than Grasses1900
Farm Economy A Cyclopedia of Agriculture for the Practical Farmer 1915
Farm Buildings With Plans 1917
Fertilizers How to Make Them -1885
Dairy Farming What Cows to Buy How to House Feed….. 1912


Updates:

I have updated my for sale page to reflect the current season and having hatching eggs available. Eventually I will have these breeds available this year:

Chickens:

Black Jersey Gaint

Rhode Island Red

Easter Eggers

Lewis Barnyard Mix

Ducks:

Muscovy

Khaki Campbell

Coturnix Quail:

Texas A&M

Jumbo Brown

Brown

Midget White Turkey HenAfter three years of trying to get Midget white turkeys to work for us on our farm we have given up. Our remaining trio had two go to auction and one ended up as Easter dinner. I really wanted the turkeys to work on our farm, but after a disaster with black head and infertility problems as well as character problems with the turkeys killing chicks and beating up on chickens we have had enough.LFF, Midget White Turkey, Muscovy Ducks, Original PVC Chicken Tractor


Dumpster Diving For Profit & Pleasure

Posted on: December 23rd, 2015 by
6

LFF Dumpster Diver

Dumpster diving is for the rare individual that can overcome the societal and sometimes personal stigma to get something for nothing by digging in another’s refuse. My first experience with dumpster diving was as a little kid following my dad who was an avid dumpster diver. At that time it was still relatively common in Missouri to have public dumps and private dumps that you could pick through. That is long gone, and the large landfills that remain will not allow you access to their mountains of trash and treasure.

Dumpster diving was so deeply ingrained in my father that he eventually worked at a landfill. He would often bring home a trunk load full of treasure. I have spent a lot of time running the rounds inside the city going through trash. It is really amazing what people throw away. I hope to shed light on this subject, and maybe at my own peril get some competition for this treasure.

A Truck Load of Critter Chow

A Truck Load of Critter Chow

The View Inside a Dumpster

The View Inside a Dumpster

For the homesteader and any penny pincher there is a gold mine tossed behind many buildings in the city. If you are buying feed you might look at what your grocery store tosses. You will probably be amazed, and your critters will be grateful, because for them it is a gourmet meal. Dumpster diving for critter chow is well paid by healthier and cheaper fed critters. When I can I will feed my chickens from tossed produce and other food. With this free source of feed my chickens probably eat better than 98% of the US population and it beats bagged commercial chicken chow hands down.

One recent load of critter chow.

One recent load of critter chow.

I have not dumpster dived seriously for years. During the last couple years or so after leaving my city job I have found myself diving into it again. My wife who is from the big city decided to give it a try last year, and it wasn’t long before she was as addicted as I am. In the past year many items that we use daily have come from this hobby. We use a high dollar Kirby vacuum with an auto tranny, our bed is heated by a bed pad that has two independent sides so you and your spouse can adjust your side to your taste, a big crock pot sits on top of our wood stove boiling water, all these items and many more someone else tossed. The bed warmer was brand new, still in the package, it retails north of $80, our only expense to acquire it was the time spent dumpster diving and a little fuel for the truck.

Another View Inside a Dumpster

Another View Inside a Dumpster

While I can afford all the essentials of life without the need for dumpster diving, I enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and getting use out of something tossed. I also don’t understand why people are so wasteful, and for that matter why nobody sees the potential of the items they discard. I consider waste a sin and try to avoid it as much as possible. For me reclaiming something tossed is a good and almost noble thing to do.

I am working on another page for my website about making and saving money. Below is my article on that future page that I wrote last year. I am waiting on getting more pictures before making that page live.

Future Making Money and Frugal Living Page Clipping:

Dumpster Diving

Want something for nothing? Here is your chance to get it honestly. Can you make a living dumpster diving? Yes, you can make a good living digging in other peoples garbage. It might not sound great, but it is highly addictive and potentially profitable. The first time you find treasure for free you may find yourself addicted to dumpster diving.

Really, you can make a living dumpster diving? Yes, not only can you make a living you can actually make a good living. I am too busy and have too many irons in the fire to be a professional dumpster diver. I do go when I have nothing more pressing. I have no doubt someone could make a good living from this pursuit.

Chicken Chow Gleaned From Dumpster

Chicken Chow Gleaned From Dumpster

So how much money could someone make? Hundreds of dollars in profit a week easily. On my days dumpster diving I never came home with under $100 worth of stuff in my truck. One night it easily topped $500. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Why are people so wasteful? I don’t know and will never understand, but why not profit from it?

My average haul is over a hundred dollars in actual resell value for one evening. That is for an average of four hours of dumpster diving which will fill my truck. You will spend more time reselling the treasure than collecting it. I would become a professional dumpster diver any day versus working at a dead end job for someone else.

So what do I find that is worth so much money? I will be honest, I cheat. I know where to go through experience. This is something that you have to dive in and learn for yourself. I hit the right dumpsters at the right time. One of my most valuable single item finds was a theater style popcorn cart new in the box. A store return that was tossed. Everything was there and it was never used, it cost $250 new. It was an overpriced store so the value to me was $100, an easy sell price. I also had a literal truck load of books one night. You name it someone will throw it away.

Another View Inside a Dumpster

Another View Inside a Dumpster

Remember how I said everything has value. If you want to make a living as a professional dumpster diver you have to learn that everything has a value. As I dig through a dumpster I will bring home stuff that is broken, but may have some good parts. If I run into something that is too rough to have good parts but has a cord I cut the cord for copper which is currently going for a good price. How many times have you broken a small knob or switch on a widget only to find the manufacturer charges half the new price of the widget for that single part. What I am saying is pull those small parts off anything you find in the garbage, even if you don’t take the whole item. Those small parts are easy to ship and often sell well.

Small parts I often sell are motors off electronics, microwave turn tables, wheels off vacuum cleaners and other easy to remove very sell-able parts. Vacuum cleaners are an item that is often tossed and have many parts that sell well. The average vacuum cleaner I have parted nets $30 worth of parts.

If it has pieces that come off there is a good chance that someone out there has lost or broken that piece so do them a favor and sell it to them. If I have a bad night and have room in my truck I will bring home low value items like scrap metal, it is rare to have a night that bad though. Many dumpster divers focus on scrap metal but I think they are missing the real treasure. I do however collect a lot of scrap metal, it is lower on my priority list though.

The very worst thing about dumpster diving is the embarrassment factor. There are not many things more embarrassing than getting caught red handed digging through someones refuse. I am highly embarrassed when caught and try to avoid such situations. There really isn’t anything wrong with dumpster diving, but society looks down at it when it is actually a good thing. Instead of the item taking up space in a toxic landfill it is getting another lease at life. You would think everyone would be happy.

The second worse thing is that sometimes people throw away trash. Believe it or not I have opened some dumpsters and had to make a hasty retreat. There is plenty of hunting ground to worry about working with gross dumpsters. Fast food joints and other eating establishments usually have the grossest dumpsters.

Treasure Somehwere

Treasure Somewhere

Where are the best spots? The very best refuse usually ends up in those compactors. I have seen what the likes of Walmart and other big retailers toss and it is amazing. Since you cannot access compactors you will have to go elsewhere. I have had the best luck in commercial areas. Nice alleys to drive right up to big dumpsters that are sometimes full of brand new items. Sadly some of the best dumpsters to hit are Salvation Army and Goodwill Dumpsters. When I saw what they threw away it actually made me mad. I have donated stuff to the Salvation Army for years and it seems the best items are thrown away. Why? They could do so much good by giving these items away for free. At least the cream of the crop is left for the brave few willing to dive in.

Single Stream Self Contained Compactor with Two Compartments - 34 Yd

Compactor

There is a Salvation Army close to my home that throws away so much I could literally make a living from their trash alone. Remember the literal truck load of books? I have also found ten brand new basketballs, a case of brand new battery chargers and many more items from this one dumpster. It is really unbelievable. No kidding there is better merchandise in their dumpster than on their shelves.

Look At The Building Material

Look At The Building Material

My rules for dumpster diving are three fold. Leave it cleaner than you found it, Don’t make a scene, and don’t trespass too much. In my area there is nothing illegal about dumpster diving. A few cities are fools and make it a crime. Also some cops will tell you it is illegal when it is not, they don’t want to be bothered by you, and just want the perceived problem to go away. Follow the wishes of an officer and come back later.

Dumpster diving is an addiction I got from my dad. In all the years I have dumpster dived I have had one bad run in with cops. I have a clean record, and I have also worked with law enforcement in my former jobs for the State of Missouri, so I usually have no problems with cops. That didn’t save me that time, but that run in stands as the rare exception. I wasn’t arrested or ticketed but did get frisked and questioned extensively.

Look Inside a Dumpster

Look Inside a Dumpster

Because of the incident with the cops above I don’t recommend dumpster diving to anyone with a felony or a bad criminal record. No need to put yourself in a possibly bad situation. If you are above suspicion you should have nothing to worry about. Keep in mind I have had many encounters with law enforcement while dumpster diving and never had a problem before that night. Of course the best method is to avoid having to speak to any officers, but sooner or later it will probably happen anyway.

Many people will not even consider dumpster diving, but for the few intrepid souls who brave the bad for the good a new world awaits. What a lot of people toss is a sin in my book. By reclaiming these items you are doing society a favor. For the small farmer and homesteader there are many advantages that can be gleaned from a night or so a week spent reclaiming.

Construction Dumpster 2x4 Haul

Construction Dumpster 2×4 Haul

I have yet to even mention the valuable building materials tossed every-time a commercial building is remodeled. I have hauled home truck loads of lumber, bricks and other perfectly good building materials. I always look in the big construction dumpsters when given the opportunity. Sometimes a tenant will abandon stuff that is just tossed when the store is remodeled for the new tenant.

Give it a try, my bet is your opinion will change with the first treasure found. Just a FYI the single best month for dumpster diving is February, think about all those tossed store returns.