Website owner: James Miller
It is very easy for a farmer to deceive himself. He can very easily be working hard from morning until dusk and think he is doing great and in actuality be working stupidly. He may in reality be working for little or nothing or even running a money-losing operation. Whatever you do, even if you are running a homestead in the country, it is important to work smart, not stupidly. That means you have to think, figure and calculate. You have to know how much your operation is really costing you in time and money and if what you are getting out is worth the cost. To do this you have to keep detailed records and know the cost in both money and time. And that adds a lot of overhead in itself. It may not always be practical, in which case there may be some ambiguity as to how well you are doing. If you are producing things like meat, milk, eggs and other kinds of food it is important to produce only as much as you will use (unless you are able to sell the excess that you produce for a profit --- which requires that you have a market, and may not be practical). If you produce more than you can use the excess is wasted and you are expending money and work that is going down the drain. If you raise goats, for example, that produce more milk, meat, etc. than you can use you must either be able to sell the excess at a profit or you may be deceiving yourself with an operation that is returning you very little or nothing on your labor, money, etc. --- a system whose input is greater than the output. If you are raising animals the animals are supposed to be supporting you. They are supposed to be not only paying their own keep but providing you with a decent return on your time and labor. If you are calculating wrong, you may indeed be supporting the animals in the same way you do children or pets. If you are looking for financial self-sufficiency you don't want to raise pets. It may indeed be more sensible to buy meat and milk on the market (that has been produced by modern, efficient mechanized methods). The same thing applies to raising potatoes, tomatoes, melons, etc.. Grow only what you will use (unless you can sell the excess at a profit). Otherwise you may be working for nothing, investing a lot of work and money, when it would have been more cost-effective to just buy on the market. Many things can be produced so efficiently by modern mechanized means that the smartest thing to do may often be to simply buy it on the market. You can't compete. If, for example, you attempted to raise rice or wheat, you would likely spend many hours of work in raising a dollar's worth of grain (as much grain as could be purchased for $1.00 on the market). You can't afford to invest in the big expensive equipment required to raise it by modern mechanized means and you can't compete with them. Let us examine a specific example. Suppose I and my wife were living on a homestead. Would it be cheaper for us to raise chickens or to just buy chicken and eggs in the supermarket? Answer: It would be cheaper and much easier to just buy in the supermarket at current supermarket prices. Analysis. How much chicken would I estimate that we would consume in a year? Even if we were consuming a lot of meat we wouldn't have chicken for dinner more than three times a week (on average). Other days of the week we would have some other kind of meat (i.e. ham, turkey, tuna, salmon, etc.) or have a meatless dinner. Three times a week amounts to 3x52 = 156 days a year. Assume a serving size of 1/4 pound. That comes to 2x156/4 = 178 pounds of chicken a year for the two of us. Assume a price of $1.80 a pound (although you can often find it on sale in the supermarket for half that). That comes to $140 a year. We don't eat many eggs. Assume ten dozen a year at $1.00 a dozen. That comes to $150 a year for meat and eggs. Can you raise chickens for that price? No. First you need a chicken coop. Assume a cost of $1200 for an 8'x10' chicken coop built on a slab. If you assume a 5% interest rate you are losing .05x1200 = $60.00 per year on interest. Assume a 20 year depreciation on the chicken coop. That gives a depreciation cost of 1200/20 = $60.00. So lost interest plus depreciation adds to $120.00 per year. That leaves $30.00 per year for the cost of chicken food and other expenses. And you haven't even tried to put a cost on all the labor involved in raising chickens --- feeding and watering them, cleaning the chicken coop, slaughtering them, defeathering them, cleaning them, cutting them up, etc.. Suppose your labor amounts to 30 minutes per day. That is 182 hours per year. How much do you want to allow per hour for your labor? $6.00 per hour? That would come to $1095 per year. Another problem: Who would take care of the chickens if you wanted to take a trip or vacation? You could apply this same kind of analysis to raising rabbits (or anything else for that matter). How much rabbit are you likely to consume in a year? How much would it cost you in a supermarket (it or an equivalent meat)? How much would it cost you to raise the rabbits? How much time would you spend on them in a year in feeding, watering, cleaning, slaughtering, dressing, etc.? What dollar value would you wish to put on that time spent? Would you average 15 minutes a day on them? At $6.00 per hour that would be $547.50 a year. If you averaged only 7.5 minutes a day on them it would be $273.75 per year just in the value of your labor. Then there is the question of who would take care of them if you wanted to take a trip or go on vacation. Apr 2001 More from SolitaryRoad.com:
On Self-sufficient Country Living, Homesteading
Principles for Living Life
America has lost her way
The really big sins
Theory on the Formation of Character
You are what you eat
People are like radio tuners --- they pick out and listen to one wavelength and ignore the rest
Cause of Character Traits --- According to Aristotle
These things go together
We are what we eat --- living under the discipline of a diet
Avoiding problems and trouble in life
Role of habit in formation of character
The True Christian
What is true Christianity?
Personal attributes of the true Christian
What determines a person's character?
Love of God and love of virtue are closely united
Walking a solitary road
Intellectual disparities among people and the power in good habits
Tools of Satan. Tactics and Tricks used by the Devil.
On responding to wrongs
Real Christian Faith
The Natural Way -- The Unnatural Way
Wisdom, Reason and Virtue are closely related
Knowledge is one thing, wisdom is another
My views on Christianity in America
The most important thing in life is understanding
Sizing up people
We are all examples --- for good or for bad
Television --- spiritual poison
The Prime Mover that decides "What We Are"
Where do our outlooks, attitudes and values come from?
Sin is serious business. The punishment for it is real. Hell is real.
Self-imposed discipline and regimentation
Achieving happiness in life --- a matter of the right strategies
Self-control, self-restraint, self-discipline basic to so much in life
We are our habits
What creates moral character?