That's what we're down to now. We've done all the belt-tightening we can do, now we're facing the brass tacks holding it all together. When there is still not enough money coming in to cover expenses, it is time for drastic measures. Wave good bye to the last of the middle class folks. Give our do-nothing, no-common-sense, in-it-for-just-themselves-congress the big bird. Pick up our guns, shovels, and pea-shooters. It is time to do what's necessary.
It wasn't like we haven't been warning everyone. We are all now feeling the effects of President Reagan's firing of the FAA workers in the 1980's. (Well, all except the wealthy 1%, that is.) The beginning of the end of collective bargaining, contract negotiations, fair labor standards and practices. A contract used to mean something binding, but now it isn't worth the paper it is printed on. Ask ____ ______, the company Doug raises broilers for. They throw a contract down in front of him every year. If he signs it, they bring him chickens. If he doesn't, they don't. He has NO input into this "contract." Furthermore, they can come to him in the middle of the year and say, "we are going to change the way we pay you, and yes, you will be losing another $200, but that's just how it's going to be."
You all should know that when you go to your favorite chicken restaurant and buy a $10 bucket of chicken, that restaurant paid $3.10 for that chicken from _______ ________. However, you should also know that __________ ________ gave Doug only $.20 for that chicken. Twenty cents. Out of that twenty cents, he has to purchase his heat, electricity, water, rice hulls, repair parts, and labor to raise that 3.7 lb bird. JULY 7, 2016 UPDATE: we still get paid only 5 cents per pound--still about 20 cents per chicken.
To reply to your, "yeah, but..." "NO!," we don't get any farm subsidies. And, by the way, did you know that 80% of the Farm Bill goes to food stamps? We don't even qualify for food stamps! The next time I hear some ignorant idiot mouthing off about the farmers in this country and the high price for food, I won't be nice like I was the last time. I will give them a high-five right in the face and go to jail laughing about it.
BUT, that is not what this blog is going to be about. Really. What I want to do is share our day-to-day life here on the farm--at the WP Ranch. The good and the no-so-good, but in general why we both feel blessed to have the opportunity to live and work here.
The first 10 days of 2014 have been busy. The Company delivered a new batch of baby chickens on Dec 31. They brought about 120,000 or about 30,000 per barn. It took Doug and a helper about 8 hours the day before to set up the barns. This entails placing cardboard trays and plastic trays out and filling them with feed, adjusting the feed and water lines, and making sure the heaters work and the barns are a balmy 92 degrees. We place approximately 4 tons per barn of feed in the trays--all done by hand with 5 gallon buckets and a side x side. On delivery day, it takes about 4 hours to get the birds placed in our 4 barns. Afterwards, he walks through and adjusts the water lines. Thus begins our 24/7 work shift which lasts about 33 consecutive days. Each morning and evening for the first week, Doug "runs" feed. This refills the feed trays for the babies. The temperature outside, if you'll recall, is in the single digits for this first week we have chicks. Our barns burn over 400 gallons of propane a day to keep them 90 degrees + for the first week.
Jan 4, 2014: we are informed that our propane company is having trouble getting delivery of their booked fuel. We pre-booked 20,000 gallons in August of last year at $1.39 a gallon. They will be rationing us to 250 gallons per week at our pre-book price, but we can get all we want at the market price of $1.69. Our question is this: what good is a contract when it can be voided at the company's whim? The key is when drafting a contract, to put a clause in there that states the contract can be retracted at anytime by The Company--they "reserve the right"--language such as that. That is how you get around a contract.
Jan 7: We are nearly out of propane. Doug calls Gary, our Field Tech with _____ _____. "Gary, I only have about 10% of propane left. There are going to be some really cold birds in my barns if someone doesn't get me some propane. You may need to put _____ or ______ on it and have them see that I get some propane or there are going to be 120,000 frozen birds here." A few hours later, Doug receives a text message that he can buy propane from Company X for $2.50 per gallon. "My Ass! Who is going to pay for that? We already make NO PROFIT during the winter months to grow these birds. Are you going to pay the difference for me to keep your birds warm?," Doug asks. No answer, of course.
I finally gave in and went back to the eye doctor today. Need new Rx so I can see. $462 for the exam and new lenses, not new frames. Wow. I am one of the however-many-millions without insurance. I'm going to have to sell a lot of patterns and crocheted socks to pay for that!
Jan 8: The wonderful lady that works at ______ calls to tell Doug they got a shipment in and she can arrange for 200 gallons of gas to be delivered at $1.69. The birds will stay warm for a few more days. The temperature outside is rising to the lower 50's. In the meantime, at the house, I'm doing laundry, sweeping floors, working on the bookkeeping for year end.
Jan 9: Doug is out most of the day running errands. He talks to the Natural Gas Company of Benton to see about getting natural gas run to our barns. Yes, we can do it for about $5,500 which will pay for itself in about 3 flocks. Why didn't he make this switch sooner? Because "I felt I needed to honor my contract with _____ Propane. But, now I see that our contract doesn't matter to them, so I need to do what is best for us. It is business."
Jan 10: Doug spends the day working in the barns, picking up deceased chicks, refilling the pans with food, adjusting water lines. At 5:00 pm, supper is ready, but he comes in and announces he has to go back up and fix a gas line leak which was bubbling up through our rain-soaked ground between barns 1 and 2. He drives into town and is about to procure the copper tubing he needs to make a temporary fix--above ground-- to get the tank flowing propane again to the heaters in barn 1. $86.00 and 4 hours later, he makes it back to the house for supper, a shower, and the evening news. Eleven p.m. and he is sound asleep.
Jan 11. 8:00 a.m.: Doug is on his way to load hay to delivery to a Murray State student. Twenty bales which will give him $120 gross; $20 in the gas tank, $94 to pay towards, fertilizer, herbicide, equipment insurance, and baling twine. Six dollars profit. He stops by the pool at MSU to help his pals with the scuba class clean out the pool area, lockers, and equipment before scuba classes start next week.
Meanwhile, here at the house, I have been trying to keep the stubborn fire going in the wood stove. I've done my typical, everyday chores of laundry, sweeping, dishes, jiggling the toilet flusher handle every hour so it will quit leaking, feeding and watering the dogs, cats, and chickens (my yard birds here at the house which give us the most delightful colored eggs everyday!). The ground is saturated and I sink in the mud across the yard up to my ankles in my rubber boots. Thank goodness for rubber boots! I've planned my spray schedule for the orchards and will be rounding up the various sprays I will need starting the first of February. I really need to get our fruit trees to produce well this year for us. Most of them are now of the age where, with adequate disease and pest prevention, we should get a good fruit harvest this year. Time to attend to my sewing room: I've got a knitting machine to do some maintenance to, and want to photograph and list a few more patterns for the website. I give myself until noon each day to do the general housekeeping chores before I spend time on extraneous projects. What's for supper? I'll be trolling the freezers here in just a few minutes....
I spent most of the day cancelling our webpage accounts for WP Ranch, working on sales tax returns, paying bills, and trying to figure out how to make $1000 stretch until the end of Feb. Perhaps 2014 will be better for us all! Last night's supper: Tinga and fresh tortillas, Yummmmy and filling for winter day.
Dianna's Recipe for TINGA
1 chicken and 5 bay leaves, boiled until cooked, reserve broth, remove bay leaves--add water and a chicken bouillon cube to make 3 cups of broth. Remove meat from bones and shred. Set aside.
Heat 1/3 c olive oil in soup kettle with low heat.
Add 1/2c chopped onions, 1T minced garlic, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the shredded chicken and continue to stir-fry on medium-low for about 5 minutes, lightly browning the meat, add 1 chopped bell pepper and continue to stir fry for another couple of minutes until bell pepper is softened.
Add 1 can of Rotel original or Mexican style tomatoes with green chilies.
Add broth, 5 whole cloves, 8 whole peppercorns, 1 heaping T Chipotle in Adobo sauce (chop the chilies into small pieces before adding), 1-2 t salt, 1/2 t ground pepper, and 1 T of epazote pesto or just dried epazote if you don't have it in pesto form. Cover and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes, while making and cooking the tortillas.
Turn off the heat. Add 1/2- 3/4 cup of cream or La Leuchera. Stir until completely blended. Serve in bowls with warm tortillas.
High noon: The Gang of Five and I took a 1/2 mile walk and I made it back without collapsing. Must get back into shape this year....must....and now I am going to take pictures and post some new patterns to the store!
2:00 pm: time to let our 14 backyard chickens out for the afternoon and collect their gifts of eggs.
Pulled a venison roast, asparagus from May 18, and our new Dog Food from the freezer. I'll elaborate more on the Dog Food, but to clarify right now, NO, that is not part of our supper. Doug has just gotten home, has split some firewood, and is off to the barns. I've finished posting some new patterns for today. My goal is at least 20 per day as long as our data allowance holds that.
4:11 p.m. What would you do if you received a water bill for $506.19? We just did. I'll leave everyone with that information for the evening because my eyes are burning and I need to get supper going. Doug is still working in the barns, I'm heading out to feed the dogs and horses.....the sun is sinking lower in the sky as the temperature drops into the 40's....
who are we?
We are avid seamstresses and crafters since the ORIGINAL 1970's, and we're still going strong. We're also yarn, fabric, and pattern hoarders. ("Speak for yourself," protests Alice.) We, ok, I haven't parted with my stash in over 40 years until now. Maybe we'll have something that you just can't live without! Enjoy browsing!
Click on box above to go to our Compost site for information on usage guidelines and how to purchase!
All photos and stories on this website are the property of Dianna Johnson unless otherwise indicated. Please don't copy them and call them your own. Plagiarism is not only really rude and mean, but it is against the law. I have made every effort to give credit to other artists when I have used their work, and would ask that you do the same if you use mine! Thanks.