Monday, January 17, 2011
The Cost of Farming ...
I've been thinking a lot about the cost of farming lately. Today it was on the front of my mind because I placed another feed order and picked up some cracked corn while I was there ... a 50 lb bag of cracked corn is now up to $6.30. That is a considerable amount more than the $4.25 or so that I was paying the the middle of 2010. Of course that is only one part of the cost of farming. Besides feed there is water, electricity, mineral or other supplements, and on and on and on!
But, the costs don't stop with just the livestock care on the farm. It seems like everywhere I turn I am buying something. Part of that is because everything on my farm is here for the very first time ... that means that I have a lot of first time expenses. For example I just went and purchased a bunch of heat lamps. There will be times that I need to replace one or two at a time in the future, but I won't need to buy a bunch at once until I expand or add to the farm in some way. The reality of it is though that having a farm means having an inventory of certain things on the farm ... no matter how low input your farm is. You'll always need bolts, nuts, screws, nails, fence staples, tools, wire, twine, water tank plugs, hoses, extension cords, and of course the list is endless!
The one cost though that I've been thinking about the most though lately is the intangiable cost of my labor. Running a farm, beginning a farm, or just working on someone else's farm can be mentally and emotionally exhausting (as can about any other job). But, when I combine my farm work with 60 hours (or more usually) in town and special weekend youth events that pop up fairly regularly my time becomes more precious.
It's the intangiable's like time and when that time takes place (meaning I do a lot of work after 10:00 PM that really starts to add up. But, I'm committed to the farm. I'm committed to the idea that something special can happen on 40 acres ... I think that I can work out a system that produces great meat and restores the pastures and the soils ... I think that it will work. But, there is and will always be a lot of "costs" associated with farming.
If I ever wrote a book for beginning farmers I think some of the "costs" is something I would cover. What are some of the "costs" you experience that sometimes get overlooked?