Senile Texas Aggie - comic relief for the rest of you

Beekissed

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About putting lime on the land...be careful of how much lime? Apparently too much can cause copper deficiency in livestock, even in sheep, which need minimal copper intake to stay healthy. Copper deficiency is rarely talked about with sheep, but it happens and it can cause abortion, birth defects, lamb death, etc.
 

Baymule

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This was the second cutting of hay. While I don't remember the number of bales they got off the first cutting, they got 74 bales off of about 50 acres. The guy leasing the fields did not fertilize the fields either last year or this year. Early this year he asked about using manure for fertilizer. I told him no, because while I could not smell the manure, my Beautiful Gal has a nose like a bloodhound and she would have been able to smell it. That is why I put in the lease contract only chemical fertilizers, not manure. So i guess he decided not to fertilize it, or maybe forgot about it.

The guy leasing your land for hay offered to put manure on the land, which would improve it. For what it's worth, this would be the easiest way to go. You have been adamant about no animals and I really don't think your heart would be in it. It would take a lot of animals, time and expense of buying them, feeding and caring for them, to equal one application of chicken litter--which would take no effort on your part.
 

farmerjan

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Okay, I am going to be frank. And I am not trying to hurt any feelings. You are not in a position to have animals. You are talking some serious fencing for animals to be able to utilize the land. You do not have any experience and honestly, like @Baymule said, you have said no animals in the past. If you were really wanting to have animals, you would be looking for a nearby farm to do an "internship" of some degree. Offering to help out for the experience. Learning about fencing, learning about working with animals, feeds and what animals need for good nutrition.
I am not criticizing.... animals are not a passion with you. They have to be a passion..... there is too much that can go wrong, difficulty birthing, sickness, getting loose....animals are great if you truly like them and enjoy working with them.
I really think that if you are considering animals, then you need to find an existing farmer that would be willing to do the work to put up electric fencing to contain whatever animals they have. You need to have a certain temperament of animal to contain it in electric fencing.... not all will stay in it.
But at this point, I think that you should consider letting the existing farmer fertilize with whatever means he has to do so. I am not sure of the purpose of having the farm if you are not in it to improve the land or to make it make money and the only way it will do that is to be healthy soil to be able to produce healthy crops for either direct harvesting or harvest by livestock.

I honestly think that you have gone like so many who buy a nice big parcel of land..... you get the "new equipment" I need this and that fever, and wind up spending much more money than the return will support. Your tractor was a very expensive purchase for not having more for it to do..... like feeding or other working with livestock; hay making etc.... Most people who do buy new equipment like that still have another job to help pay for it. Or farmers that need to lower the tax burden on their farm and it makes sense to replace it when they can do so at a reasonable interest rate. And with the way the economy is, loan rates are very cheap... and I would have financed it as it would have been a small monthly payment with your core money still safely invested. I don't like having the mortgage.... but at less than 3% it is STUPID to pay it off faster right now. Better to take the extra money I have, once these repairs/renovations get done.... to get other things done and stash some money back for future. Our economy is going to get worse regardless of who gets in to office.... we are going to have to start thinking about the country's debt level... Interest rates are going to go up.... and I will be alot better off with the LOW LOW interest rate on the mortgage when everything else gets more and more expensive. If interest rates go way up, interest on savings will increase.... so then I will be better off stashing money in the bank.... If it doesn't become fair game for all sorts of taxes....
But I digress......
You are worrying about your retirement and rightly so as you want it to last for a very long time. I think that you might want to reasses the thoughts of animals. Fencing costs, shelters, things we call infrastructure; feed, vet work, vaccinations, sickness and death loss.... not knowing what prices to buy at, a possible downturn in market prices, selling at a loss....
There are a thousand different things that you have no experience with that could bury you in a few years. You have to have either a very experienced mentor, helping along the way, or such a passion for what you are doing that you have an instinct for things. NOT EVERYONE HAS THAT. It either comes from your "genes" or it comes from doing with someone that can help prevent you from making some major mistakes.

I AM NOT PICKING ON YOU. You were fortunate to be able to buy this farm and that you really seem to love the land. But are you trying to learn how to become more self sufficient in small ways? Are you growing a garden and canning and freezing and putting up for the future????? Buying a half beef or a lamb or something? The easiest way to get your feet wet with animals are small livestock..... rabbits that I don't have alot of experience with, but that seem to grow fast and make good food to put in the freezer. CHICKENS are one of the easiest small farm animals to get started with. With not breaking the bank to get started. You can go to TSC and buy a "coop kit" that will house 4-10 hens. For those that are not very carpentry inclined... like me. You buy 6 pullets ready to lay, you buy some feed, a feeder, a waterer, and you can get in business for say $500.00 . You are going to pay that for one feeder calf or 3-4 lambs just to buy them. That is before any kind of fencing or pens or shelters.....You will be able to go away for a day, or 2 if the chickens have a secure coop to protect from predators, as they will be able to "feed themselves" from automatic feeders and waterers. You will get the benefit of fresh eggs. You will be able to have the hens to sell after they hit 2 years, so some salvage value, if you do not kill them yourself for "soup chickens" and that sort of stuff.
Some people are just not designed to raise and then kill their own animals..... there is no shame for that. I am not designed to be a computer programmer, or a rocket scientist, or any of a million other intellectual jobs that are way over my head. Everyone has specialties.... and many can learn to do some other things that they can become decent at but maybe not great at. But if animals are not your passion, then you will not like them, and they will become an expense and you would do good to just break even. And if there are animals around, there are smells, and flies, even the best managed animals have a smell all their own....flies happen in any operation.... there are flies in our day to day living now...don't have to be a much bigger a problem, but there will be a small increase. If, something gets sick, you could get covered in manure, animal fluids, blood..... can you handle that?????
If I am not mistaken, you do not even have a dog or a cat.....The cleanest house pet still has smells, food issues, having to be walked and doing their business or having a litter box..... vet costs/vaccinations/whatever.... sheds or needs baths and grooming.....That is a good way to get accustomed to the responsibility of day to day animal care.

If this is not what you really want......then lease it to someone who is able to do what needs doing.... and if the smells bother your wonderful wife, then maybe there is a compromise..... or maybe being on the farm is not where you need to be....
I like to read your journal, and what you have accomplished. There has to be some way to come to a compromise, but I personally, ONLY FROM READING YOUR JOURNAL, and comments on other's, do not think that trying to own animals is in your best interest until you figure out a way to get some experience with them without the initial outlay for purchase.
 
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Bruce

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Instead of using a grade 5 bolt he used a grade 10!
WHAT!!!! I'm glad the dealership fessed up to that and I'm glad you've gotten it back so soon.

One thing the soil needs is lime, as it is too acidic.
OK, another idea - blueberries, blackberries, raspberries like acid soil. I'm sure there are a lot of others as well. Maybe you'd like to make use of some of the land to grow such crops if you think you would be able to sell the fruit.

But I have a whole forum of folks to help and inspire me on what to do or not do.
Oh, we'll enable you just fine :D

You can go to TSC and buy a "coop kit" that will house 4-10 hens.
Don't do that! Those prefab coops are (and yes I'm going to say it) crap. Too expensive, too small, made with inferior materials. You'll end up replacing it. You can build an easy basic coop with dimensional lumber and 4x8 plywood (get exterior, skip the "chipboard" which will rot out when it gets wet). Put in a couple of windows for light. If you build it with a dirt floor you won't need to "waterproof" the floor as you would with wood. I have 1/2" hardware cloth (so nothing can dig in) on the floor if my converted horse stall and the horse mats that were already there.

Chickens are not at all picky about their housing. You could spend $5K on a fancy smancy coop or a few hundred on a simple one. They need VENTILATION, out of the wind while on the roost, dry housing with roosts and nest boxes. And you don't need a lot of nest boxes. I've seen coops where people have 1 box per 1 or 2 birds. You can do this, then you will find that the birds will pick their few favorites and most will go unused. I have a community box 4' long, 3 separated nests on another wall. The left side of the community is favored by many of the girls. And they've made a nest in an old cat litter box in the "feed room". Nests lower than the roosts because chickens will roost as high as they can get. Fence a run (2x4 knotted wire or get a poultry electronet) to keep them safe from predators during the day.

Day old chicks are cheap, even cheaper if you have a hatchery close enough to pick up from (but if you are looking for layers make sure they have a good record on sexing or get sex link or auto sexing breeds). They need food, water, some bedding (I use pine shavings, some use hay or straw) and not much else. I spend maybe 10 minutes in the morning and evening on "chicken chores" (except when I cleaned out the 1.5 years of shavings last week, that was a definite chore). If you are going to have them for egg sales, yes plan to sell them after their second summer as they will GENERALLY slow down after that. You could sell them as "decent layers" as opposed to "make money layers". I have 19 hens, one of the 8 year olds was still laying regularly (3/week) this summer. Of course that is not something one would expect, especially in a money making operation.
 

farmerjan

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I am going to disagree with you @Bruce . Chicks are not cheap when you are paying $3.00 a piece for day old or a few days old. Then you are paying for starter feed, you are going to have to be careful of possible coccidiosis, and sometimes respiratory problems.... you are going to feed them for an average of 20 weeks before you get the first egg. There are many pitfalls for someone who doesn't know much of anything about chickens.
But if you don't have one single problem with them from baby chicks to 20 weeks.... you are still better off as a NEW CHICKEN OWNER... to buy ready to lay pullets at $10.00 each. If the chick costs $.50 per week to raise, you have $10.00 in them already.....
I know that some of the coops are not the best built.... but they are a faster way to get a start if you are not a great carpenter. Some of them are not so bad. I have bought a few over the years. Have all still, with a little care and a few replacement pieces they have a longer life than you suggest. If someone doesn't know if they really want chickens, they are still a quicker way to get started and there is a resale value if you decide to get out of them. More so than a homemade type coop would be.
If you haven't priced lumber lately, you need to. This house project has opened my eyes to the recent costs. Lumber has nearly doubled due to several factors; and most all is in short supply. So building a coop will not be such a cheap project. 2x4's are over $6.00 each now. I used to buy them for less than $2.00. So if someone is a good carpenter, they might save some money, and build a nice coop. But it won't be cheap anymore. Converting a horse stall into a very serviceable chicken pen is a whole lot different than if there is no building to start with.
I agree that they need ventilation without a draft on them. They also will pick their favorite nest boxes as you said. There are ways to take care of them that is less restrictive than some, but for someone that doesn't know anything about them, they need more care than some realize.
Most all of us have a few favorites, and some that lay decently well past the "norm".... I keep more "seasonal type layers" because of keeping them into older ages; because of my raising purebreds and wanting to hold on certain genetics rather than just as layers. But the practicalities of keeping hens that will pay for themselves dictates that they are normally kept for 2 laying years.

Yes there are fruits that prefer more acidic soil. They also need care, pruning, and then harvesting and marketing. It is not a get rich quick deal. There are viruses that can attack canes of blackberries and raspberries. And then you have to take some sort of care to protect the fruit from birds so that you can get a harvest. I don't think that @Senile_Texas_Aggie is looking for a fruit producing farm of that magnitude. If the land needs lime, you can compensate with some crops that prefer more acidic crops.... but there are alot of acres there and that is going to be a BIG expenditure to turn that into a fruit producing farm. With HOURS of work to get it established and then maintained.....and the soil report will still show if there is other stuff that is needed.
I am trying to give suggestions so that he can find something that will not bankrupt him in the process of keeping the farm so that it is productive for the guy renting it... and to get an introduction to the real life of animals on the farm by maybe having a small chicken coop and seeing if that is something that they could deal with as far as poultry litter possibly being spread on the farm. I am trying to help with practical suggestions for preservation of the farm that they can work with.

Okay, that is my piece of mind for the day.
 

Senile_Texas_Aggie

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All,

I feel so blessed. I have read and reread the posts above and am so amazed and humbled at the many words of wisdom. I especially thank you, Miss @farmerjan, for your insights in your post, and am thankful for you other folks.

We bought this farm because we wanted to reside in the country after having resided in medium sized suburban communities, which in turn were often near large cities like Dallas, our whole married lives. A combination of my strong introversion and my Asperger's made me long for the time when we could leave such "crowded" and noisy conditions, finally doing so after we retired. So being out here in the country where it is so quiet and peaceful compared to where we had been residing has drained so much tension out of our lives. It is so inspiring to get up in the morning, get a cup of coffee, sit on the porch and watch the sun come up.

Once we got here on the farm, however, I figured I needed to get serious about putting this land to use. My Beautiful Gal and I immediately got to work on cleaning up places where briars had grown over so much, such as around the gate to the farm. We both loved cleaning up the briars and overgrowth. It made the place look better, a little bit at a time. While researching about how to take care of pastures, Miss @Baymule's thread "I Hate Green Briars!" came up in my search results. It proved to be SO FUNNY that I ended up joining the forum.

My first post was "What Do I Do With 100 Acres of Pasture?" I received so much positive feedback that I ended up starting my journal. We started clearing the overgrowth around the pond visible from the house. It took us almost 2 months, since this was the summer by then and because of the heat we only worked 2-3 hours a day. (Hey, we are "retarded" -- er, retired -- so we can work whatever hours we want.) But I found the work so surprisingly gratifying! Prior to retiring, I had spent my entire career (except for the last 5 years) as a software developer / computer programmer in the defense industry. In the last 20 years of my career I worked in a top secret facility with no windows, doing fascinating work but not useful in the outside world. During that time, whenever I thought about what I would do in retirement, I imagined that I would develop some new software package, or maybe a game, for the market or do something just for fun, such as a Sudoku puzzle solver. (I love Sudoku.) But once we got to the farm, I forgot all of that. Suddenly I wanted to work outside, continuing to clear out brush among other things. I got so much satisfaction out of doing that -- and still do.

But as I read the different journals and postings and got feedback from others, the idea of getting goats for brush clearing seemed to be quite appealing. But as I learned more goats and other farm animals, the more I realized just what I would be taking on. So I ended up doing nothing. You are quite perceptive, Miss Farmerjan -- I have not dreamed of owning farm animals and still don't. But then prior to retiring I never dreamed of clearing brush and overgrowth, yet I have learned to love it (for the most part). So once I got farm animals, I might love them as well. Or I might resent owning them and want to get rid of them after just a few weeks or months. Starting small would be the best course, and getting chickens is probably the best choice I could make.

I wish there was a really good book or a series of books I could read along the line of "Farming for Dummies". For example, I would like to learn about different government programs available for farmers, such as the one that @Mike CHS used to get assistance in putting in fence around his pastures. On my first thread "What Do I Do with 100 Acres of Pasture" the very first response I received was from Miss @frustratedearthmother who suggested growing trees. That may be the best use I could put the pasture land if I am not going to have animals on the pastures. Yet I don't know just what the financial benefits of growing trees are, nor do I know where to go find out.

So do you folks know where I could find such a book or series of books like that, namely "Farming for Dummies"?.

BTW, I found the county extension agent's soil report and he advised that I put down 2 tons of lime per acre. The Farmer's Coop I called estimated the cost is about $35/ton. Since I only have 50 or so acres in hay production, that would mean ~$3500 to lime the pastures. A bit of an "ouch!" but not too bad.

Thanks again to everyone for your feedback and I look forward to more insightful answers.

Senile Texas Aggie
 

farmerjan

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I will say right off that I admire the way you went from suburbanite to country living... and it shows even with your "adventures" and mishaps, that you really do seem to like what you are doing. The land clearing.... and improving it as you have gone.... is a testament to how you have come to really like the farm. I don't want to see you get yourself in too deep, too fast, with a big investment in animals that you know nothing about and are trying to learn as you are doing. In this case, jumping off the deep end will get you drowned before you learn to swim. That is why I suggested chickens without having thousands of dollars invested in them. And they are a little more tolerant of "newbie mistakes" as long as they get fed and watered. If one dies you are not out hundreds of dollars, but only tens of dollars. Animals die, it happens to every single one of us.
For instance: you spend 20,000 on fencing, another 2,000 to tie into your well, and put in a watering trough. Then you buy 10 - 500 lb weaned feeder calves.....They cost 1.40 lb live weight so that is$700 each.... so another 7,000. A couple feed troughs, 10 bags of feed for the transition, initial costs for salt, mineral, and whatever else...so another 1,000,,,, You already have 30,000 put out. You have absolutely NO PROBLEMS..... and sell them 5 months later so that you are not having to buy any winter feed.... They now weigh 800+ lb (5mos x 30 days =150 days; hoping for a 2 lb per head/per day weight gain) and bring around 1.30 lb... so bring so $1050 each....for a gross income of 10,500. if you figure overall costs for that 5 months of additional salt and mineral , then costs to catch and truck them to a buyer.... total of $100 head for 1,000 you are down to 9,500. If you sell at a stock yard sale then about $30/head so another $300 so now 9,200....say a loss of 1,000 income from not being able to lease for hay so 8,200 . divided by 10 head =820. each income .... less the initial 700 each cost so 120.each income for 5 months of work. Or a 5 month income of 1200....
Yes, you still have that original cost of 30,000 put out to get started....and you got back 10,500 so you are "out" 20,000 for that year... Yes there are tax deductions and all that. But what I am trying to say is that it is going to take quite a few years at a "profit of 1200/yr. ' JUST TO PAY FOR THE INFRASTRUCTURE.... with no income in your pocket for labor to check on them.... And that is if everything goes perfect. Yes the infrastructure will last... but by the time you get it paid off, it will need some "work" as it will get worn down by animals and fence posts braking/rotting.... If you lose an animal, if they don't gain as good, if it is a drought year, if the prices aren't as good as they ought to be...... IF IF IF IF ....
This is what I am trying to protect you from..... until you get a little bit of "livestock" caretaking under your belt ..... starting with a much smaller investment that won't break the bank if it doesn't work.
No guarantees just like the stock market..... calculated risk.... and you add to that because you are dealing with a living breathing animal that can get sick, get loose, keel over dead......

I am not trying to discourage you from getting some animals.... but since you have no family farming background, no practical knowledge of animals, it will be harder for you to learn it. Every single person on here will help anyway they can.... but we are not right there. There are large animal vets in your state.... but they can get very expensive for a farm call for something that is very "small" but that you might not know how to deal with the first time. If you make a mistake,with an innate object, like with the tractor, you are out money.... but it is not a live animal that might suffer......more responsibility.
Just something to think about.
 
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rachels.haven

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I bet you can figure something out if you want to jump into livestock. But for manuring a field, just manure is great. It stinks for a bit, but it's low maintenance after application.

If you approach it methodically, do your research, prepare well, and keep it small I bet you can do about anything including livestock when or if you decide. The key though is testing the waters and stopping or getting out when you decide enough is enough. Keeping it in perspective helps. Why are you doing what you're doing?

And always make sure you listen to yourself and your wife.

I have half a mind to enable you on the chickens and give you tips there, but I don't think you need them terribly. Good luck.
 
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Senile_Texas_Aggie

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Mr. @Mike CHS,

Thanks for setting me straight about the assistance you received and didn't receive. Your having paid for all of those T-posts that you pounded into the ground makes it all the more amazing. I remember having gotten exhausted just from reading you talking about putting in the fences. And just when I thought I could go "Phew!", thinking you were finished, you would soon post something like, "Well it was a light day today. I pounded in 1000 T-posts before breakfast and decided to take it easy afterward." That may not be an exact quote, but it seemed like that is what I recall reading in your journal! ;)

It may have been Mr. Greybeard who told me about the assistance available for installing fences. I remember shortly after his telling me that I watched a YouTube video of someone who talked about a program similar to that. I don't recall the title of the video nor the channel. Anyway, I was trying to say that I am sure there are all kinds of things out there to assist farmers, ranchers, and wannabes like me. I just wish I knew where to look.

Miss @rachels.haven,

I will certainly turn to you (and others as well) should I get chickens or goats, or just to get advice on how best to do something, or maybe some consoling should I do something stupid, which is quite common for me!

Miss @farmerjan,

You are so wise! :bow I feel so blessed to have you impart your wisdom to me. Your costs are spot-on. I know when I first looked at fencing this property, I was shocked at just how much it was going to cost! I seem to recall that it was going to be ~$50,000! Ouch! And that was just perimeter fencing, not to mention cross fencing, building a barn to store some hay and supplies, putting in watering systems, etc. It made me back off from even thinking about that, at least for awhile.

My current plans are to put some lime on the fields and see if the hay guy will fertilize or we split the cost. In the meantime, I will be reading more about the different programs available for small farmers. I will certainly seek you folks' inputs before I do anything big.

Thanks again for all of your advice. I truly am blessed.

Now to today's activities.

The tractor has 200 hours on it, so it is time for oil, fuel filter, and hydraulic filter change. It is also the time of the year when I change the oil in the Gator and in the zero-turn radius mower and push mower and sharpen the blade on the mowers prior to putting them away for winter. On Thursday I stopped and got all of the filters that I would need (or so I thought) as well as all of the fluids (engine oil and hydraulic fluid) that I would need. I decided that I would do all of the service today (Saturday).

I started on the tractor first, thinking that if I needed some parts it would be best to find out before noon, as the dealer normally closes at noon on Saturday. After removing the hydraulic filters and draining the engine oil, I discovered that the tractor dealer had given me 2 fuel filters and 1 hydraulic filter, whereas I needed 1 fuel filter and 2 hydraulic filters! :barnieSo I went to the dealer to get a second hydraulic filter and discovered that they were closed, I guess for the holiday weekend. :he So given the choice between waiting for Tuesday to get the 2nd filter, I decided to reuse one of the old filters and hope it does the job. But by the time I finished with the tractor, I was tired and decided to postpone the mowers and Gator until tomorrow.

Senile Texas Aggie
 
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