Monday, February 16, 2015

It Ain't Cheap

Eating, that is.  Eating is not cheap.  This is something that has become clearly evident since DS1 & family moved in with us last fall.  All my homegrown chickens in the freezer have been eaten (I wasn't planning to feed six people with them; only three).  My hens have not laid enough eggs this winter to keep up with our demand (mostly because DS1's dogs slaughtered all but one of my 2014 pullets, so I've older--less productive--hens left in my flock).  Deer season was a bust, with only two does put into the freezer.  Mother-in-law is no longer raising pork or beef, so our source for low-cost high-quality meat is gone.  Quite a bit of what I canned or froze from the garden last summer has also been eaten (again, wasn't planning to feed six people. . . )

Now I find myself half-way through February looking at the slightly more than half-bushel of potatoes (of three bushel harvested in October) left in the cellar and realizing that if I don't separate out some for this year's garden, all my potatoes will get eaten before it's planting time and I won't have any for seed!!  That is not acceptable, seeing as how these potatoes are adapted to the growing conditions at this little place here; having been sown, grown, saved, sown again, grown again, saved again for at least five years.

So, what do you do in a case like this?

Well, what I did was  make a list of all the veggies the garden needs to grow in 2015 (and how much of each kind I need to yield), gather my seed catalogs and open up several tabs on the computer for websites of seed suppliers I don't have printed catalogs for, and do some shopping.  $133.71 later. . . I have ordered all the seed potatoes (new varieties I don't have in the cellar; gonna try some fingerlings this year), onion & leek starts, and seeds for:

  1. corn
  2. beans
  3. peas
  4. pumpkins
  5. lettuce
  6. spinach
  7. broccoli
  8. cabbage
  9. cauliflower
  10. carrots
  11. beets
  12. tomatoes
  13. peppers
  14. zucchini
  15. winter squash (multiple varieties)
  16. pumpkins (again, multiple varieties)
  17. cucumbers
  18. watermelon
  19. rutabaga
  20. basil
  21. and flowers (beneficials to help reduce insect pests in the garden, cut flowers for enjoyment and edibles to freak DH out in his salad, lol)
that I should need to in order to produce enough food to last six people for a year.

On top of that, I will soon be working up a poultry order for our meat birds--going to raise at least 50 broilers this year, plus some turkeys, ducks and geese--as well as pullet chicks to replace my laying flock and possibly some birds (geese? ducks?  turkey?) for DD2 to raise to show and sell at the Fair this summer.  Add another $100-$200 to the 'seed' bill for those baby birds.

Plus, DH has been looking at the cost of meat in the store, and the (disappointing) quality of most of it, and has recently begun looking at the price of feeder pigs and steers locally for sale.  He's even seriously talking about a pig pen, and fencing and shelter for a couple of beef steers!!  I think this is finally going to be the year we raise some four-legged meat animals.  Add another couple hundred dollars to the 'seed' bill there, depending on how many and what type of feeder animals we buy.

Looks like DD2 will be raising a lamb to take to the Fair also, thanks to a generous offer by the family whom she is (still) doing sheep chores for.  I do believe I will talk to them about purchasing a second lamb to raise for our own table.

No, eating sure isn't cheap.  But, by growing/raising as much of our own food as possible, it can be made more affordable.  I won't get caught with my pantry/cellar/freezer down next year!  Grocery store prices for the equivalents (especially equivalent quality) are breaking my budget.  And I've got more enjoyable plans for my money than shelling it out for so-so food at the store.

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