Monday, May 7, 2012

Hobbies - Backyard farming

The other day I was outside spending time with of my favorite hobbies…farming.  I never knew I had a passion for farming until I got a job at Fidelity Investments and moved to Kentucky.  Farming is very American, and can be an easy hobby to get into.  Growing up in the suburbs farming seems to have a negative image for some reason.
Couple of fresh eggs from my farm
Laws are put in place to discourage you from raising a few pigs, a couple lambs, goats or few chickens in your backyard.  However, there are no restrictions on having 8 barking dogs, pit bulls that bite people’s ears off or 100 cats.  You won't see my chickens pooping in your front yard or scratching up your backyard.  You won't see them attacking small children, or attacking you while you are out for a jog.  Never are the cops called for domestic abuse.  Why?  Because chickens are good people.

Personally, I'd rather have a pet sheep that mows my lawn.  I don't like those noisy lawnmowers.  They cost a lot of money, it is truly a waste of time cutting grass.  People might say...oh but I want my kids to play in the backyard.  Do kids play in the backyard anymore?  No, they are inside watching TV or playing video games on their iPad or iPhone.  My kids do play in the backyard.  They chase the chickens around, collect the eggs, play on the playground, and jump on the trampoline.

I believe people are trained to be ignorant.  People don't even know where their food is coming from.  I met one lady that didn't even know vegetables came out of the ground and had dirt on them.  I think farming has a negative view in people's minds.  I feel farmers are categorized with smokers, drug dealers, beggars and blue collar workers like mechanics.  Mechanics?  Why are they on there?

I know people...if you are a blue collar worker like a mechanic, and have several cars in your driveway...people don't like that.  It is looked down on.  Why?  To many people they want every house to look a certain way.  Cars should be in the garage.  No weeds in the lawn and grass needs to be cut twice a week.  A nice lawn and house is important.  It is a status symbol.  Forget raising a good family that is diverse, and teaching them skills that will last a life time.  No, kids should be put in their place...just like those beggars...sight unseen (This is sarcasm).  You can't go to a party with your kids right?  If you bring kids to an "adult" only party...shame on you. All of this really needs to stop...the hate, arrogance and egotistical mindset.

This is why Home Owners Associations have become so popular.  A place where everyone's yard will look a certain way, and NO privacy fences...because that would prevent people from spying on you.  People like to look and see what you are doing in your backyard, and be envious of your new grill.  Envy is good for the economy.  Drives people to buy things they don't need or have the money order to keep up with your neighbors (who you don't like).  Reminds me of reading about the Cold War.  How did America win?  We out spent the USSR.  Perhaps that is the goal...see who goes bankrupt first...then finally you can get rid of those neighbors you don't like.

I heard on the radio the DJ was making fun of the "People of Wal-Mart".  You know what?  They don't want to be like that either.  They are nothing more than a product of their environment.  The great movie from the 80s...Trading Places talked about this.  Given the chance and training...anyone in America can be successful.  However, those things probably rarely ever happen.  Or do they?  Except perhaps in sports, and more importantly...the Military.  I think the U.S. Military could list countless success stories from rags to riches.  However, for some reason I do not think it is covered.  Probably because it isn't negative news.

Some American citizens don’t want people to be productive, independent, self-sufficient.  The problems we face in this country today is caused by our "modern" way of life.  It is not sustainable.  Instead of making small changes, we prefer disaster.  Why?  Disaster makes certain people very wealthy and ignorance fuels the fire.

Getting back on track...having pets can be an expensive hobby.  According to the Investopedia article pets on average have the following expenses per year:
Large Dog – $1,300 food and $356 medical expenses
Cat – $208 food and $190 medical expenses
Over a 10 year life this means you would shell out about $16,560 for a large dog and $3,980 for a cat.

Typically pets such as dogs and cats produce zero income, and thus can potentially be a large liability.  Being the type of person who doesn’t like liabilities, I have four pet chickens.  

Like most pets, I received these chickens for free.  I was sleeping one Saturday morning and my wife and kids went to Korean church.  I was awoken by a strange chirping sound as my daughter yells excitedly, “Daddy Daddy, guess what we got?  Chickens!”
Yes, 4 cute little chickens of all different types.  I had read several books on chickens when I lived in Kentucky.  It seemed to be a very profitable business for many farmers.  So, I wasn’t too upset.  However, of course my wife didn’t have any food.  I’m off to the local tractor supply store.  Chicken food costs about $15 for a large bag and lasts about 2 months initially.

The great thing about our chickens is they are very friendly and want to be petted.  Best of all they eat most of our food scraps that we don’t eat.  They keep the bugs away like ticks, mosquitoes, beetles, etc.  I'm not certain...but I think I found a new solution to getting rid of head lice. 

They lay about an egg a day during the winter time here in Ohio.  One of them lays a green egg.  I believe is an Easter Egger chicken.

The economics part of this is the following:
I pay $30 for food that lasts about four months or more during the winter time and after they are mature.  Costs have gone down since they can forge more for their food.  I recently bought a bag for $15, and I think it will last four or five months.

They lay three large and one extra-large eggs per day.  This is 480 eggs or 40 dozen in 120 days.  Getting about $3 per dozen that means my economic benefit is $120 less $30 for food or $90 I save in food costs every four months.
These are conservative numbers…and I do hope my food costs do come down now that Spring is here.

Let us know of any hobbies you might enjoy or had in the past.  Or tell us a story when you were a kid that helped you make or save some money.  Maybe you bought and sold baseball cards, or garbage pail kid cards.  Input your comments!

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