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Life with chickens!

Wow! That’s all I know to say. It’s been 7 days a week, 10-16 hours a day since the 28th. Seems something is always amiss. Every time I tell myself I’m going to take a little break today, something happens. This is the quietest it has been here at the farm in months. I’m hoping things are finally slowing down a little before the eggs start coming from daylight to dark. Still alot to do, but atleast now they are small things. Hopefully nothing else breaks!

I expected there to be problems initially with this new equipment, but I wasn’t sure really how much to expect. I certainly didn’t expect to come in and find the inlet machine had pulled itself off the wall. That was a real pain. Literally, I might add. Somehow I managed to mash the fire out of my finger putting it back up. The motor on these things is really strong. It pulled 6-4 inch lag bolts out of the wall. I told the service tech I was going to bolt it more securely this time and he was quick to discourage me from that. Seems another farm bolted it to the wall and it just pulled the wall in about 6 to 8 inches. Think I’ll settle for making sure I’ve got it adjusted properly and secured with the lag bolts again.

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Feed spills have been another hurdle. I’ve had to duct tape, screw, and plain reassemble some of the feed systems. The chickens will peck anywhere they can see feed. That means if they see it below the slats they peck until they injure themselves even though there is no way they can reach it. In turn that means it all has to be cleaned up. We’ve either been taking a shop vac and sucking it up or I have literally crawled under the slats and used a dustpan as a shovel. Then we carry it out in 5 gallon buckets. Just yesterday the feeder came apart where the auger runs into it and spilled about 300 – 350 pounds. The contractor who installed the equipment (4 State Poultry) has not been back to fix the small things they were supposed to. Luckily the service tech came yesterday and I got him to help me put it all back together. He’s new at this too so we are learning together. I told him yesterday I feel like I’ve been thrown out of a boat in the middle of the ocean and now I have 2 choices, sink or swim.

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I spent about 5 hours yesterday trying to get the drives in shape with the 7010. Temps got up into the 70s and it got hot in the cab so I tried out the air conditioning. I moved 52 tons of #3 gravels and smoothed them out as well as drug the rest of the drives. I just don’t like the bucket on it as good as the 6000 for this type work. Maybe it because it’s new and I just don’t want to get it all scratched up. My brother borrowed the 6000 2 weeks ago and I still haven’t gotten it back. I’ve lost my lease on 40 acres of hay field. The neighbor who I loaned my equipment to all last summer cut my throat on it. Lifes lessons, no good deed goes unpunished. I simply did not have time to roll his hay for him last year so I loaned him my equipment and in return he goes behind my back and undercuts me. He had the nerve to ask me would I roll it for him. What’s wrong with people? Oh well, let him get rich cutting hay!

The chickenhouse has put a real strain on time I get to spend with the kids. We did get away for a few hours Sunday to go shopping. Mattie picked out a new bicycle since she’s outgrown her old one. She is growing up on me. It’s hard to believe that she is riding a bicycle all by herself. Seems like just yesterday she was born. Garett is more into computers and games so he picked up a game for his Nintendo DS. Drawn to Life I believe was the name of it. He is becoming interested in art. Every time I turn around he’s doodling something. Kaylee got clothes and we got a new basketball goal and wiffle ball set to share. Kaylee is becoming less and less interested in the farm. She’d much rather live in a subdivision somewhere around all her friends. She says she is embarrased by old blue and wants me to get a truck that’s not a diesel. One of her friends moms is dating a guy who lets her drive around in his Hummer. Now the race is on in Kaylees mind to one up her friend. She has asked me a couple times in the past few weeks when I was going to buy a truck or if I was going to buy another Trans Am like I wanted. How do I make her understand life isn’t about things like cars and houses?

I geuss the chickenhouses have put a strain on the entire family. My dad and I are partners in this. We had not uttered an ill word toward one another in 15-20 years until this, but we sure have now.  He has chosen the book keeper against my wishes and now they can’t agree on what salary I should receive. Just happens to be my brothers wife. I didn’t know that book keepers set salaries, but in this case I geuss they do. My hands are tied because the contract is in both our names and the money goes directly into a checking account that requires 2 signatures. I’m working for free as of now and have been since November. I’ve exhausted my 401k and savings and can’t hold out much longer. If they can’t agree on something soon I’ll have to find a real job and let the chips fall where they may. I’m really discouraged because this was supposed to be my way to stay home on the farm and it may turn out to be my way off the farm. I have asked both of them to sign a check to get grass seed for the land we had cleared and as of yet neither have been willing to. I’m used to taking money out of my pocket to do these things with and now I have to ask permission from someone else before I can spend the money I am rightfully earning.

Well need to be working on those little things so I’ll go! Be sure to check out all the pics I’ve added and check back soon!


22 Responses to “Life with chickens!”

  1. Gladys Burns Says:

    Joel you sounded so down in your last entry. It isn,t easy when you don,t have full say about decisions that are necessary. You will do great once all the adjustments are made. You are a hard worker and you will be rewarded. Hang in there

    Kaylees friends maybe making a big deal out of comparing cars .Some friends are not friends at all you know that. She is too young to understand life. A lot of things she will learn to solve herself. Just give her lots of love and listen to her when she talks to you. You will find the answers for her.

    Sorry about your dad and your squabble. There maybe a money strain that is causing everyone to be on edge. That will pass.
    Wishing you happy and prosperous days ahead.
    Gladys

  2. Rick Young Says:

    Hang in there buddy, after some of the dust clears and the feathers unruffle life will return to just a lot of hard work with things breaking down on a regular basis to keep you on your toes… That’s right I used to work on a chicken farm for one of my uncles growing up back in Ohio. It seemed like the work never stopped. Of course we weren’t completely automated like you; at first we ran this hopper cart up and down the isles to feed, water trickled down troughs in the back eggs and feed on the front. I can’t remember a day I didn’t have need of bailing wire, pliers, and duct tape..keep them close, their your new best friend!!

    Later,
    Rick “Demonmaster” Young

  3. paintsmh Says:

    Oh geesh. And I thought I was having a bad month, what with my internship and still working on the home farm. Granted I have a new boss I want to smack half the time, and am working 16 or so hours a day, but it aint as bad as your days! At least when something breaks we generally already know how to fix it! Such as the corn silo unloader the other day. Had it fixed in an hour or so. Hope it gets better for you!!! At least all I am dealing with on the home front is trying to keep cows fed and keep the calving moving along as smoothly as possible…that and gripe about all the danged bull calves I am getting. Try to find a bright spot in everything as much as you can at least. I’ve found that helps a lot!

  4. joelw Says:

    Gladys,
    Thanks for the vote of confidence! I think things will be fine we are all just so darn busy it’s unreal. I know Kaylee’s friends probably pick at her about old blue. I don’t blame her for being embarrassed. I probably should buy a new truck. BJ is pretty rational. She said “I just don’t understand why you’ll pay $35,000 for a new tractor, but won’t buy yourself something to drive”. She also pointed out that I’ve bought 2 new tractors and still have the old truck. She says it’s my money, but she’d be looking for something that started every time she turned the key. I think that’s directly pointed at old blue and it’s starter issues. Kaylee is a good kid and I don’t want to make things hard on her. I know some kids can be really mean these days. Hopefully during this trying time she can learn that some friends aren’t really friends at all. Thanks for the comment and again thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Rick,
    I’m sure things are going to get better. I’m just a little overwhelmed right now. I’m already using the duct tape and pliers. Never thought about baling wire maybe I should pick some up. Thanks for the comment!

    paintsmh,
    I attribute all this stress to too much work! There are so few of us left actually doing the work anymore that it overwhelms us. It won’t be too long into this thing and I’ll know how to fix all this stuff. I’m going to take a walk today. That always seems to help. Get out on the farm where I’m not distracted by anything and just enjoy the beauty of the place. You can send me some of those bull calves if you want! Thanks for the comment!

  5. paintsmh Says:

    If you were closer I would GIVE you my Jersey bull calf happily. He isn’t worth anything at sale but is about as well bred as a calf can get. We’re getting at most $20.00 for healthy bulls at sale right now. Not even worth the gas to drive them over to the auctions.

  6. joelw Says:

    paintsmh,
    I know what you are saying. I have 2 right now that are nothing more than pets. Raised them on a bucket. I bet they wouldn’t bring what I have in the milk I fed them. Still I like having them around.

  7. Jim Says:

    Hey bud sounds like things are going a little ruff. being in biz with family gets a little tough. sounds like yall need to sit down and have a nice calm meeting
    and talk about the problems a come up with the soulion to them. As far as a saliry goes that realy needs to be something you and your dad set as partners. Also I realy would say that the bank acount needs to be changed so you or he can get cash or other wise get money as needed for the farm if you all cant trut one another with the money with out the fear of one or the other walking off with all the cash you should not be it biz together. You should be able to trust your partner and visea versa.yall realy need to be making all biz decisions together. Me and the wife run the truck and the farm together and we have a policy if it cost 1000.00 or less we do not ask one another if its ok to buy it we go and buy it with out talking about it. Also its realy abad idea to let the book keeper control what yall spend. we do all our own books wife dose the day to day books i do the tax work. If yall want some one elese to do your books you both need to deside who dose the books.nothing that plays a big part in the biz should ever be left up to one person remeber your partners you dont work for him and he dont work for you.My dad is not a partner in our farm but we do talk about whats going on and how we are going to do it.hes wanting to get in to the hay biz for him self so hell prob. be looking for som land of his own to work as well. By the way paintsmh ill tak one of those bulls off your hands i live in ohio my son wants to get one to bring up on his own.hes 10 and loves bulls.lol
    Joelw as far as your little girl gose she will find out real soon that life aint houses and cars.You may want to sit down with her and BJ and talk to her im sure she would respond better to it if she knew you and mom once was her age.Our kids say they would live in a card bord box if they had to so they could stay on the farm.lol they realy love it on the farm. hope this all helps keep looking up and reaching for the stars. god bles you and yours and happy easter. From 7csfarm.

  8. paintsmh Says:

    I know the feeling on “pet” cows. We have this 14 year old Holstein that had her first calf as a two year old, when I first started milking she was one of the first ones I was in charge of. While we really don’t have the room to keep her she gets to stay as long as she lives because she is such a sweet old dear. And though I learned an awful long time ago that getting too attached is a bad plan she is my baby.

    Does your girl’s friend have stock like you guys do? Cause growing up I had the same deal with friends. I just pointed out I had a big farm to live on, horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens (though not as many as you guys) and a “field truck” to drive getting hay in the fields. Which were things they never got to experience.

  9. joelw Says:

    paintsmh,
    Good that you’re letting the old girl stay around. She deserves it. Out of all those years I’m sure she made you a little money. If not just think of all the fond memories she’s provided you.
    Kaylee’s friends don’t have any animals besides dogs or cats. Here in this county the government owns a large part of the land. Something like 2/3. There is the Daniel Boone National Forest and the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area both here in the county. I try to point out exactly what you said to Kaylee, but that’s just not what she wants right now. See this is all work and all her friends folks have a 9-5 job and then they get time to play especially on weekends. I see her point just not a lot I can do about it. She’ll be grown before I know it and have to find her own place in the world. Until then I geuss I’ll just try my best not to embarass her!

  10. John Says:

    Hi Joelw,

    I know my grandpa always said the best times of your life are right now, so enjoy it now.
    I think we all have been in Khaley’s shoes growing up. It’s tough when you’re young from not focusing on the material things in life especially when friends are caught up in the material things. Her best times are now also, it just doesn’t seem like it yet. Old Blue will someday be her favorite memory of growing up on the farm.

    I know how it is to have an old blue truck as I bought mine new 24 years ago and just replaced it a couple years ago. I still kept it though. I figured if it lasted me 20 years I felt I got my money back. I bought 6 different tractors in that same time frame. Much rather buy a tractor.

    I hope you work everything out with your father and the new book keeper. If you haven’t done a business plan yet, I would make that a priority. We did one 5 years ago and in a strange way it has all subconsciously worked out. A road map of where you are going and where you expect to be should lessen alot of stress. Most Ag Universiteies has free info on all of how to’s and resousces to complete one.
    Just remeber a good plan now is better than a better plan later. It doesn’t have to be perfect as much as done. We didn’t think we had time so here is a good saying I remember reading, I don’t have time to buy a car because I am too busy walking to work. Doing the plan was the toughest thing to do and has been the most rewarding.

    Good Luck and Happy Easter!
    John

  11. Kevin Says:

    Hi Joel!

    All I can tell you is to just hang in there and go with the flow, you really don’t have much choice otherwise.

    When it comes to your partnership and the bookkeeper situation you need to have a sit down with Dad and outline a couple of things with him. First you ain’t a slave and you won’t work for nothing. Give him a date and if he doesn’t work out a salary with YOU, then you will just quit working. (Big talk, but it might get his attention.) Next tell him that both you and he need a different bookkeeper. It is never wise to have all of the family involved in the family business. (Specifically, it can create hard feelings over trivial things. It is a lot better to have a disinterested, unrelated third party advising you on your financial situation. Plus, at this point your sister in law and your Dad might be trying to be more conservative on spending than what they need to be.) Third, tell him that you have to have some sort of “petty cash” account so that you can purchase supplies and other things necessary for the farm without dipping into your pocket. (Show him all of the bills you covered out of your personal funds, and make sure and detail how much money you had from your 401k and how much you have left.) Fourth, advise him that if you can’t work with him all you have to do is hire an attorney, file for dissolution of the partnership, and go back to work for Kingsford, then he can figure out who is going to take care of those 15,000 chickens.

    As far as Kaylee goes, you pretty much hit the nail on the head; some of it is her age and part of it is because of where she lives and who she hangs out with. Don’t push her too much, just let her speak her piece, and go on about things your way. Kids don’t understand that money is limited for everyone, even the guy with the Hummer. (He can probably afford it because he is either mortgaged up to the eye balls, or he isn’t concerned about more important things, like being around his kids instead of trying to impress his girlfriend’s kids and thier friends.) If you really want to get her, go looking around and see if you can find a rusting 1950′s/60′s hulk somewhere. Tell her that it is her car, and that she and you will work together on restoring it. At first she will be upset with it, but as it comes together she may develop a sense of pride and accomplishment in what she and Dad put back together.

    paintsmh,
    When life hands you lemons, make lemon meringue pie! (Lemonade is for the lazy!) Take those bull calves and pen ‘em up, put them on the ProVimee milk replacer and roll ‘em on as veal calves! There is a lot more money it then just selling them as bobby calves. Your other option is to castrate them and figure on grazing them until they get up to around 500 pounds and selling them as feeders. The only negative is that most buyers cut the price they’ll pay for a full blood dairy breed steer (they have to put on a lot of frame before they start to fatten out.) That is why most of the dairy farmers around here use a beef breed bull on thier cows, unless they are trying to get replacement heifers.

    I talked to my Aunt and Uncle in SE Missouri yesterday. They didn’t have any problems from the 24hr, 10 inch rain they got down there. They said most of the flooding was pretty much in town. One of the guys who died in the flooding was a distant cousin. He was going from either his house to his machine shop, or vice a versa, and he got washed off of the bridge in between them. He was older, in his eighties or over ninety. Normally the creek that the bridge goes over only has a foot or two of water in it, and the bridge is maybe eight feet above the creek. Hopefully you haven’t had any problems from all the rain.

    Hopefully Western Kentucky will do well tonight in the NCAA tourney. Missouri got eliminated in the first round and Kansas got the number one seed! (Plus they won last night!) So much for “March Madness”!

    I hope you and the family all enjoy Easter! Don’t let the kids eat too much candy, and unfortunately they know the truth about rabbits, chickens and eggs (can’t tell them the Easter Bunny brought them the eggs any longer).
    Kevin

  12. paintsmh Says:

    Yeah she has earned it and then some. She was one of our first two “hundred pound cows” when we went on DHI test. She’s given us mostly daughters, all of which are as good as she is. And if she hadn’t lost a calf last year and never recovered internally from it she’d probably still be one of the top critters in the whole herd. We’ve kept a lot of old girls like her. One, Old Anne, lived to be almost 21 before we finally had to put her down. They become more like family than some of our relatives.

    And I have to say I never envied my friends when I was a kid their parents with their 9-5′s. I figured nothing could compare with bringing a calf or lamb or kid into the world and getting to help raise it, specially if it was an orphan lamb or kid and got to come onto the porch. Made us the envy of the neighborhood more than once when we had twins or trips living on the front porch in the village.

  13. paintsmh Says:

    Oh and Kevin. If we had the room we have a ready market for freezer beef. We are just ridiculously overstocked with heifers at the moment. And as they are worth about 10 times what dairy beef is up here, we keep them and raise them instead of the bulls. We’re hoping within the next three to four years to have a facility for steers but we need a larger dairy facility first. What we have raised so far we’ve done on waste milk that was left in the line from milking. We’ve done pretty well with the few beefers we’ve raised so far, also have the issue of our cows are bred for extreme dairy quality and don’t really gain as well as an average calf. Ah well we’re hoping that we don’t get too many for the rest of the winter/spring calving. Then we don’t have to worry about it.

  14. paintsmh Says:

    Happy Easter to you and yours!!!

  15. Ray Says:

    Not that I really have any reason to be saying this, but it sounds like just what happens when you mix family and business. And especially when instead of running as a farm as a family it becomes a farm ran as a business by family. Hopefully it will work out in the end and all will be happy, but I have my doubts with bumps like this in the road at so early a point in the process.

  16. Melissa Says:

    Hi Joel,
    Sounds like you are having a time of it already. It is hard to separate family and business, especially when it is a new business. Maybe sit them both down and let them know that in the barns, you need to be treated not as a family member but as an executive employee that is capable of making some decisions. I worked for my father for years and in the end, that’s what I had to do.

    As a mother of an 18 year old girl, I can relate to what you are going through with Kaylee as well.”What people think” is big business to a teenage girl, but trust me, she will grow out of it, and realize that what you and your family has built together is more important than any Hummer. Hope you and yours had a great Easter.

  17. James Says:

    Hi Joel,
    Been reading your site for awhile havn’t commented before now. Going from working for someone else full time and working on a farm part time is a tough descission. Throw in working with family makes it even harder. But isn’t working on a farm making your own descissions and being responsible for the success or failure of the venture what it’s all about? Hang tough in my experience living and working on a farm is worth it.

  18. joelw Says:

    John,
    I’ll have to talk to my dad about doing a business plan. We had a good discussion yesterday about “all things farm related”. I can understand the saying the best time of your life is right now. Seems like you go through life either looking ahead or looking back. Kaylee and I are gonna have to take some father daughter time and have a good long talk. Thanks for the comment!

    Kevin,
    I’m hanging tough. I don’t think things are so bad yet and hopefully will get a lot better after yesterday. My dad and I had a good long talk. We’ve both got a lot at stake here. As slow as the economy is I doubt the farm would sell for much more than the mortgage. Add to that the fact that neither of us really want to sell and it just makes more sense to try to get along. I can relate to what Kaylee is going through. It’s gotta be tough on her when her dad has a hammer pecking on the starter of his old blue flatbed while her friend drives off in a shiny new Hummer. I need to buy another truck and will when I find the right deal. She’s just gonna have to be patient. Spring is almost here and it won’t be long til she can ride around in the Trans Am with the t tops out. Surely that’s better than an old Hummer? Thanks for the comment!

    Ray,
    I sure hope it all works out. I’d hate to leave here. I love the land and all that comes with the farm. Your right about it being early to be having problems. Had I known it would turn out this way I wouldn’t have done this. I geuss we all live and learn. All I can do now is decide how much it takes to make me leave. Thanks for the comment!

    Melissa,
    My dad and I had a good talk yesterday. I’m hoping our issues are resolved except for who does the books. He feels very strongly about that one. I’m sure we’ll figure it out. Kaylee has some valid points and I’m gonna do my best to work with her. Glad that spring is upon us and she can get back to ridng in the Trans Am. I’m sure that will satisfy her for a little while. Thanks for the comment!

    James,
    Going from working full time for Kingsford to more than full time here on the farm has paid twice the fringe benefits, but none of the money so far. I don’t do this for the money though. Just being a stones throw from the kids is worth it in my book. Atleast I’m saving all that money I was spending on gas! Thanks for the comment!

  19. mlytc Says:

    Joel, I have 4 breeder houses, so I feel your pain with the non-stop work. I will offer a couple of suggestions, on the Big Dutch feeders, check all chains as they will stretch and push the trough away from the hopper(as you have found out). Taking a couple of links out should cure this problem. There should also be some holes pre-drilled in the hopper where the tray goes into the hopper, drill a hole in the tray and put a bolt through them, nut side down, this will definitely cure the pushing out problem. As far as ground and slat eggs go, in the past when I have had that problem, I have stepped up walking the houses more often(sometimes 5-6 times a day). Wish I could tell you that it will get easier, but you are going to remain busy, getting your equipment straightened out will ease things some though. Good Luck.

  20. joelw Says:

    mlytc,
    I think I have a bit of slack in one chain. Been putting off taking out a couple links for a week or so now. The equipment is the part that’s driving me crazy. Especially the vent machine. The stops keep moving and it pulls the bracket loose from the wall. I’ll try the bolt idea. Thanks for the comment and glad to have you reading!

  21. Niki Says:

    WOW!! A dream come to fruition. I’m impressed. You’ve done it! Keep your chin up and remember you have done a big thing and it’s exhausting but you’ve reached your goal. You made something from nothing….big open space. Chickens. Wow.

  22. Mike Anderson Says:

    The good old days of Farming, Hard work, good times, Great friends! Home Town living is the way to relax and emjoy like with friends. Visit us at http://www.tractorhome.com

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