Thursday February 19, 2015
I remember the first day I took over my restaurant like it was yesterday. I was so green, so young and so ignorant about what I was getting into. I’ll never forget standing at the back door watching with pride as the delivery of our first supplies arrived. It was really happening and these first products signified the beginning. I was about to dive into an adventure with such optimistic zeal that it was sure to be an easy success! Sure, I had heard stories about how difficult the restaurant business was but my business partner and I had a plan that was bound to ensure easy success. We did build a successful place but it was not without times of stress, sleepless nights of worrying, and realizing that those deliveries had to be paid for in 30 days after receipt. Being a business owner taught me about actions and the consequences that follow. Farm life is proving no different but with a little less pressure because right now it’s a hobby. You think I would have become a little wiser in my growing age.
“Goats! We need goats!’ I argued my case to Mary Ann, “They will eat down the pastures for free and we will not have to spend money mowing the fields.” I explained how in turn we would not have to spend money for feed, as they would eat from the pastures! Sounded like a win-win to my inexperienced ranching ears not realizing that the fields did not provide food year-round. I selfishly wanted these goats and downplayed what comes out the other end of them to Mary Ann. And of course they could provide milk and cheese having no idea that we needed to breed them and wait for babies; Oh yes the babies were another thing! I had convinced myself of the perfect goat selling scheme that was bound to pay for the whole lot with money left over for wine! Free wine Mary Ann! Imagine that! Oh and I could easily find a free buck for studding service. Goats cost nothing to feed, clothe, vet and clean up after! We bought 6 and now both Mary Ann and I have second jobs.
We do have predators in the area so I hatched a plan to buy guinea hens as guardians. Some people use them to scare off predators with their alarm-like call. On telling my husband of this brilliant idea, he silently walked me over to the computer to pull up a YouTube video of the sound guinea hens make when they spot predators or are scared. The most ungodly sound erupted from these fowl like nails scratching a chalkboard crossed with the sound of a screaming velociraptor giving birth. Apparently they are scared of everything and they make this sound at even the slightest movement of a leaf all day long. Suffice to say, I did not get them. Maybe next year?
I cannot fault the chickens. They do rock providing eggs, pest control, scrap removal and entertainment. I will not admit that we probably could buy the best gold dipped farm eggs and save money. I just act like cleaning their dirty coop is an action that I have to do like breathing. It is required and involuntary. I purposely do not know how much a bag of chicken feed costs and will spend my entire life in ignorance. I just love them too much. I do dream of selling eggs out front to cover whatever this cost me. In my mind, this will work.
I am embarking on my first moneymaking chicken venture in the spring. One night I drunkenly ordered 20 specialty chicks online, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Hey some people drink and dial, I drink and order livestock. Don’t judge. Friends think I am cruising the Internet for pornography but really I am looking at sexy chicken breeds to add to the flock. My perplexed husband did confirm this order in the am with a phone call asking, “Did you just spend a couple of hundred dollars at mypetchicken.com? This seems like you but just wanted to confirm.” There was no way I could cry credit call fraud. The plan is to raise them for a few weeks, keep a few, and sell the rest for a premium and watch the money roll in! I have totally blocked what it will take for me to raise them. As I explained my plan to the chicken lady at my local feed store, everyone there basically rolled on the floor with laughter of my plan to make money off of chickens. I’ll show them this spring! Time will tell.
The mini horses were not my idea. I repeat, the mini horses were not my idea but Mary Ann fell in love with them. She had to have not one but two of these poop producing machines. Let me be the first to tell you, mini horses may look small but they produce regular sized manure and it stinks. We’ve experience the same thing with Springer Spaniel puppies. Do not be fooled. Yes, the minis help with the lawn mowing and some people get them to pull wagons (not us) but the reality is they are just lawn ornaments. And depending on the day sometimes they are friendly lawn ornaments and sometimes they are not so friendly. You also have to feed these ornaments, brush these ornaments and hire someone every few weeks to give a full mani/pedi to these Jekyll and Hyde creatures. But Mary Ann loves them and because of that I will gladly look after them. I just wear nose plugs when picking up after them.
Yes, I do have grand ideas to add sheep, more goats, more chickens and continue with my huge money making plan but I will try to take the time to think all these decisions through. Or not.