"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Putting the Pork in my Pocket (Farm Finances)

The time finally came to call our local meat processors and schedule the pigs for execution. These two have been slow growers - probably due to the time of year more than anything else - and just as loud and obnoxious as every other pig we've ever owned, and we are heartily sick of them. Sometimes, pigs actually bowl me over when I head out to feed them. These two haven't actually knocked me down into the mud, but they do chase me, push me with their horrible snouts, and scream. I am not actively frightened of these pigs, but I can't say I enjoy their company either.

There were two reasons for getting two pigs this time around. The first was that pigs are very social, and a pig alone gets lonely - so I've been told - and we thought they would be happier if they had the company of their own kind. The other reason was to bring down the price of our own pork. As I think I have mentioned before (Big Pig, and Big Decision), raising your own pork isn't actually any cheaper than buying it at the store. In fact, it probably costs somewhat more. It's the vastly superior quality of homegrown pork that makes it worth it - plus, of course, the able-to-sleep-at-night factor of not participating in the evil, earth-destroying factory farming industry.

If we raised two pigs, the thought went, we could sell one and recoup some of the costs of feeding both of them, thereby rendering (haha) our own pork somewhat cheaper. I am not at all sure that actually works... that would require about fifteen minutes of math and I don't feel up to it at the moment. However, without doing more than fifteen seconds of math, I can guesstimate that one of the pigs will bring us about $350, which, when you discount the $80 he cost in the first place, is $270... which is probably somewhere close to as much money as we spent on feeding both pigs. So, very broadly speaking, I feel more or less somewhat confident that this scheme actually reduced the price of our own pork by something between five and fifty percent.

There is a totally unrelated reason to sell pork. Our land is classified by the tax man as farmland. We enjoy low property taxes (relatively speaking, of course), but in order to maintain that status we have to be able to show we are reaping actual financial gain from agricultural endeavors on this property, to the tune of $1,500 three years out of every five. So far, we have met that goal... by the skin of our teeth, and by doing some creative accounting as regards barter arrangements. But it is a constant struggle to make good, and $350 bucks or so from a pig goes a fair way towards meeting this year's goal.

I made another $65 today by selling a half a dozen young laying chickens. My chickens have been hiding their eggs quite craftily for the past few weeks and I am getting sick of feeding two dozen chickens and getting bupkes in the way of eggs. Yesterday I put up a Craigslist add offering my 6 month old layers at $10/apiece, with a five dollar discount given for every rooster taken as well. So today, a lady bought seven hens and one rooster: $65. That leaves me with about fifteen hens and three roosters, which seems about right.


Fiona said...

Thanks for sharing this -- both your experiences raising pigs and the money crunching aspect (and I'm so not a math person!). I've been thinking about adding two pigs to our farm this year, one for the family and one to sell in the hopes that we could as least break even (unlike the other creatures that are costing us money!). Unfortunately we need to generate $7,000 gross in sales to get the preferential tax rate -- that's a lot of pigs... and eggs... and...!

Laura said...

Pig harvest - it's the best time to have pigs!!

As to chicken ratios - I have 1 roo and 16 hens. He's getting replaced this year (summer), as he and all the other dark brahmas are 4, and just not producing as much as they used to. I'll put up a CL ad and they can go to "retirement" homes (someone's freezer is ok...).

I'd like the cochin hens to raise me up another batch of the brahmas, as I really like them. However, I have a ready buyer for all the eggs I produce (which pays for their feed), so I'm just going to get some day-olds as replacements. Still trying to figure out what kind.

How are you going to (or are you going to) take your "harvest" with you to Mexico? I would think that would be verbotten...

Hope said...

Laura, all the animals are staying except for our pet dog. The meat we will just have to throw lots of parties and gorge until it's gone!

AnyEdge said...

I seem to recall buying something like $100 worth of cheese, right? I'd be happy to send you a receipt to that effect...