Scale Down Time

“In all labor there is profit.” and in the last few years we have profited a great deal by the larger livestock production rate. But now we need  to scale way back for a time to put a sure foundation in place. The lessons learned have given us a defined picture of what won’t work and what is needed. Too many animals to handle with our early set up defined where gates were needed and corral placement along with size. It defined how many animals we needed and how to feed and water in the deep snows of winter.  It defined what works with our lifestyle and landscape. It defined what was important and what was not.  But most of all it has helped us understand that we do need to scale wa….y back now. We have learned that  our present production rate leaves us no time to build the needed set up which will save time and give us a smoother production.

The chicken coop is a good example. We need a whole new set of four nesting boxes. We’ve had two designs already. The hens won’t use a standard size because they are super sized as they say at the fast food restaurants. The plan is to put in four in a row with two brooder boxes stacked on top. All three stacked sections will be built in a manner that they disassembled for removal from the coop and can be power washed. This will also conserve space.

The brooder boxes will be for the hens setting and the raising of the chicks. The chicks will remain in the brooder box after the mother hen is removed. When the pullets are released from the brooder boxes into the coop, it will already be their home. No more catching them each night for up to three weeks after they are put into the free range program to teach them that the large coop is now their home. Do you know how difficult that is?  The roosters will be placed in a coop and enclosed run of their own which needs built and fed a diet to help them reach butcher weight. More than one rooster running free range has caused shear bedlam and a myriad of problems the past few years before we can get them processed to the freezer or jars.

But we are not just talking about chickens. We need two pens in the barn. One needs built. On the backside of the barn outside, we now have a kid pen but the makeshift shed needs replaced. And NO, NO, NO, letting Comedy feed her young. We just a couple weeks ago figured out a set up to keep our contortionist mother and her offspring apart so they could not nurse. Bottle feeding will save us a month or more to when we can place the kids on pasture. The buck’s pen works great but a different hay feeder needs built that isn’t seen as a play toy. Still working on that design. Both the buck pen and kid pen fill with snow in winter so all the goats are housed together at that time – less snow to shovel. Therefore we’ve learned that the numbers need to remain small. That means that fewer goats need to have a higher production rate to compensate for numbers. The bonus means the labor and cost is less.

We’ve learned that many gates is a huge blessing. Some of the new gates Kirk installed need heavier posts eventually but oh how it makes moving stock, watering, cleaning, and feeding a breeze.

So no breeding of rabbits for babies in the fall. I will spend the time getting the present 22 processed and all the meat from previous litters in the freezer into canning jars. We are not using the rabbit meat like we should and could. We will put the two beef into the freezer this fall and between the chickens needing culled, the rabbits, beef, and a bit of wild meat, we don’t plan on producing very much meat for quite some time. That will give us a period in which to finish building a rabbit house, changes in the chicken coop, and a building in the kid goat pen along with a myriad of house and barn projects needing done.

Our thoughts are also on our daughter who will need far more help in the months to come as her cancer continues to consume her. We are working on a plan for when she will need to move in with us. The electricity is unreliable so the small generator we were given by Kirk’s brother will have to be fixed to run her oxygen machine. She is not on one yet but she will be.  The pile of wood flooring I’m dismantling will have to be installed especially in the back bedroom which will become hers for a time.

The slowing down on production will hopefully help us to achieve our next goal of producing meat at a pace that allows us to consume more of it fresh instead of a glutton amount of meat that has to be stored for long periods of time in freezers. It wastes electricity and excess meat left in the freezer  burns. Smaller animals will do that for us. As I’ve said Dorper sheep may be in our future with an occasional beef bought at a much older age.

We want to get rid of one of the freezers, put in a storage shelving unit in its place, and organize our tools around the garage and barn. We can’t find tools and waste time looking. There is definitely things to sell and trips to the dump needed.

We’ve learned and now we must implement those ideas into action. You can not know exactly what you need when you begin for no two places are exactly alike. The snow drifts and placement of existing building has dictated much of  what we can do. No two families are just alike. So if there is nothing else I’ve learned it is that self-sustaining survival does not happen over night. We probably will never completely reach it but in coming closer, it will allow us to better weather the bumpy ride I know is in all of our futures. There is a time and a season for things and ours right now is to step back from livestock production and put in a sure foundation.


2 thoughts on “Scale Down Time

  1. Becky

    It takes a lot of self-awareness to decide to scale down. There is an impending hay shortage in Canada, where I am, and we are planning to reduce our cattle from 7 to 5 to go through the winter. However, everyone is dumping their cattle so the price will be low. I don’t like that. I may keep 6 just to not lose money.

    On another note, you say you can chickens and rabbit meat. What is your method/recipe? I would like to can chicken, I have 25 to butcher this weekend and thought I had to use up freezer space.

    Take care out there, thinking about you.



    1. This is a great site on canning chicken.
      I have been doing it for years and the more I can it, the more I seem to use canned over fresh. I usually freeze the chickens and then can when the weather is cooler and I have more time. It warms up the house in the fall which is a desired effect rather than blasting the air conditioner to keep from becoming sick with the heat. I do not handle heat. 25 is quite a few chickens to do. I need to do about six. I take as much meat off the chicken as possible to can and then make bone broth from the bones, canning it also. We use a great deal of bone broth. Can’t beat the flavor.
      We use canned chicken any where we would use cooked chicken in a recipe and we use a great deal of the bottled chicken as sandwich meat. We chop up the chicken meat, add mayonnaise, pickles, and celery salt. We love it in a grilled sandwich with Swiss cheese. Hope you love it as much as we do. There is a bumper crop of hay around us but in states nearby they have very little They are also dumping stock on the market
      Wishing you the best. Let me know how the chicken turns out.


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