Friday, January 23, 2009

Winter Prep

So it's that time of the winter when you think you get a break from farming, and you realize that the spring will be here before you know it.

We have taxes to prepare. We have seeds to buy. We have supplies to stock up on.

So this is where I need to get to work. Yeah, yeah, the taxes, aren't really too hard. It's kind of fun amortizing sheep. Unfortunately, 2 of them got "expensed" this year because we never got to bred them. Which made me spend the last 15 minutes making my sheep spreadsheet. I can make anything into a spreadsheet. But as time goes on, my memory might not be able to remember who was born when, how many lambs they had, etc. It's important to track farm data. And it's important to have records. If the IRS comes calling, I can show them - because they are all listed by NAME on our schedule F - when we bought a ewe, how many lambs she has had, and when she has left us.

It's also time to buy seeds for the garden. I found a great local supplier that focuses on selling seeds that are SUCCESSFUL in the arid, Colorado climate zone. They even had a type of beet called the Detroit Red. of course, I had to try that one. But it's seed buying time, and it's also time to lay out my greenhouse and my planting rotation. With the death of my previous computer, I have lost my rotation spreadsheet - so it's time to break out Eliot Coleman's book and work through it again. I'll get it perfect this year!

I'm also buying a small, 3-egg incubator this year. It's relatively inexpensive, but it only does 3 eggs at a time. All automatic and timed, with warning bells and countdowns. We are going to try to breed my Anconas. They are the only ones we really can. The Production Reds - well, not only are they mixed breeds, but we have no roosters left. We ate them. Our Black Sex Links don't have any roosters... that's the point of Sex Links. Our Araucanas had no roosters. My Buff Cochins do - I would only breed them to sell the chicks. And my Buff Minorca hen is the last of her bunch... attacked by something. So that leaves my spotty Anconas. It's going to be a test run to see if we are OK at breeding. If we are, we may pick some good breeds of chickens and breed our own, instead of buying from a hatchery. We'll see.

So it's winter. Time to plan for the spring - for moving the chickens back outside, cleaning out the barn, getting ready for lambs, chicks, and putting seeds in the ground. It's going to be a good year!