Tightening the Belt

Farming does not make very much money. It feeds us. But makes very little cash unless I actually sell animals. piglets

I am doing the sums.  And they do not look good. It is hard and near  impossible to create security from a little farm unless you grow your own grain. And feed is expensive now. I need to cut down to hay eating animals for the winter. (and a few mother and father pigs). And Sheila.  And Tima and Tane of course.  Time to start selling. (And you know how I hate that.) And because I am not an Illinois native I have no network for the selling. Everyone here knows someone.  Except me.  I am, by nature, much too shy.  I can grow wonderful animals.


But I think there are too many of them this year!


I hope you day is lovely.




54 Comments on “Tightening the Belt

  1. morning, in my area on facebook there is a group that covers about a three hour range around me that is a local livestock selling site and there is a second group that connects buyers with local farmers. both of them are outstanding, one from the stock end and the other from the farmgate sale end.

    It would be well worth looking into if something like this is all ready set up in your area as well

    I hear you on the belt tightening, I am there myself and its amazing how much food those healthy piglets go though, can you offer CSA pork? so that the buyer pays x amount upfront for feed costs, I have never done that but others due

    • I did advertise with the local fB group and got interest then disappearances, I got piglets ready for people who did not turn up, etc. Very disappointing. There are just so FEW little farms around here.

      • I would give ANYTHING if you were closer. We struggle every year trying to find weaned piglets to feed out. We drove over 260 miles to get them this year and they turned out to be not so good — think a lot of inbreeding went on. You have to be very fast to get the ones closer that are listed on facebook — one gal had 15 for sale and they were gone in 15 minutes with a waiting list.

  2. ps, speaking of the feed store, do they have a bullentin board like mine do, mine will let you put up ads on it, weaner piglets, rabbits, chicks and more for no cost and then when someone like myself that was new to the area said, where do I get weaner piglet, they had a number an name to give me, win-win for them, they help the farmer and we buy the supplies from the feed store

  3. I remember you saying that your boots were falling apart. Earlier this yeat l bought snow boots from Finland ready for my holiday and then a week later l bought another pair that l saw. So the first pair have no owner and i wondered if i could send them to you. They are size uk 6/7. And fur lined and are thermo…what you think?

    • That is the problem really – to grow a piglet for your freezer I have to buy the feed first – 6 months of feed.. feeding 13 piglets is a LOT of feed – just too much I am afraid.

  4. It’s tough, as a farmer’s daughter I grew up with this, but on a large farm they don’t become friends, they are just part of the flock or herd. I can imagine as a smallholder just how difficult it must be, but as Mad Dog said , there will be more piglets.

  5. Gosh, do I know what you mean Celi. We are cutting back on our pig breeding, and are considering not raising pigs, although my John has not decided for sure. It is so hard to let them go. As you know, he loves the pigs! And also after the goats have their kids next year, we will sell half of them. Being small farmers can be difficult, and costly. And taking them all through the winter, super costly. Good luck with the sellling of the animals. We have a ‘Trading Post’ around here that advertises online and on the radio each day at noon. Also some facebook sites as was suggested above. Hopefully you have options like these in your neck of the woods. xoxoxo

  6. Wow the piggies have doubled in size in the last week or two – amazing and I can see your impending problem. Is there a 4-H programme in your area or is this litter too early? Poppy’s upcoming litter may be better timed for spring and the kids. Also are these piggies big enough for the freezer yet? Good luck with your decision making. Laura

    • Not big enough for the freezers.. and 4H want piglets they can show – these are not show pigs.. I am happy to sell them that is fine.. this is what I grew them for after all..

  7. But selling animals is part of the farming business. Molly’s 11 piglets I know has been a BIG strain. While she raised them – 11 OH MY! And you do have quite a few bovine too. Just part of the circle and cycle.

  8. Maybe ask a local butcher shop /slaughter house? They seem to know everyone.

  9. I’m with you, Celi. I’m am not native to Oregon, only moved here a few years ago. Trying to network my little homestead…get the good deals on grain, hay, and straw….know that farmer who will drive their tractor down the road and come bail your hay in barter or a few bucks, are just not known to me. It is very hard to break into those tight knit groups. I end up paying way too much for things I need or when we need an extra pair of hands to complete a project. I am shy by nature too….it is not natural for me to ask people for help, especially to reach out to someone I don’t know well. Take care.

      • Yes, you are probably right. Although, I do feel that I have landed on a different planet sometimes moving from the SF Bay Area to a little country town. LOL

      • When someone mentioned that you had been a drama teacher for 11 years, I got the idea that you might approach selling your piglets in the same vein as directing a play. You have wonderful piglets to sell. Your commodity is terrific and people would be lucky to get your little piglets. So direct the play and get it done. As for me I am one of the best sales persons that I know. I have sales in my blood . But can I sell my own beautiful jewelry? Hah! much you know what from you know who.

  10. You’ve done a great job raising them and people have lots of good ideas. I know everything will work out It would be nice if you could pay bills with livestock. Facebook, kijiji, your blog are all ways of reaching a large number of people. Best of luck. I guess selling t shirts and calendars won’t raise enough to feed those little plonkers for long. We will keep brainstorming. The solution is coming.

  11. Fall is always that time of year when you have to sell the animals…a time of year I HATED! I think when a person spends lots of time with animals parting with them is very hard, although the bottom line (sometimes) speaks way too loud!


  12. We are lucky in that we grow our own feed and I can’t recommend it enough, I can’t imagine how we would cope if we had to buy in food. We are also able to scale the number of pigs we have by buying in weaners to meet the demand year on year. That said demand is now at the point that we are likely to start breeding next year. I just wish we were close enough to but some stock from you as you have lovely looking pigs.
    Looking at the market pork prices are also on the rise, so if all else fails the abattoir will take any surplus, although this would only be a last resort for us.
    Good luck and consider an arce or two of oats at least, it all helps to keep the feed costs down.

    • Hmm – I did not know that the Locker itself would take them – my last resort is the sale barn – and yes – I will be putting in oats next year – good thinking.. c

  13. All those babies are so cute, I don’t know how you keep from becoming more attached than you are. Even with non-names like Bobby and Plonker, I fall in love with each tiny tot… And I’m 1000 miles away. My father is in Illinois (the Peoria area) and has some farmer friends in the area. I will ask him if they know of a network you might access.

  14. Oh dear, I had no idea! I was thinking, with all your excess piggies this year, you’d be laughing all the way to the bank but, alas, seems that’s not to be. I note above you’ve said they’re not ready for the abattoir yet, so I am of course wondering at what age they are ready. I was thinking I had read some place it would be at four months of age, but can’t remember where or when that was that I read that… so perhaps it was a dream. In any event, hope the solution comes up very soon! The photos today are so brisk and clean looking. Hope you have a lovely day too! ~ Mame 🙂

  15. Looking at those cute rounded bottoms, it started wondering….do pig tails permanently to one side or the other, or can they change up? Made me wonder by the straight tail on the last photo. Best of luck with the sales of your excess stock.

  16. Don’t know why words went missing, one of the missing is the word curl

  17. There is a butcher shop on the north side of Chicago that specializes in sustainable, locally grown meats. It’s called The Butcher & Larder, located at 1024 N. Milwaukee Ave (312-432-6575) and they are allied with other locally sourced and sustainable food selles/producers with the website http://localfoods.com. They might be interested in the piglets, just a thought. Wouldn’t hurt to contact them and ask. Wish they were closer to me, I’d love to shop there. If I could I’d pay for you to raise a pig for me, but right now that’s not possible. I’ll keep looking, there might be something that would help.

  18. Tho’ not a farmer have come from one financial extreme to the other and well understand about the ‘best laid plans of mice and men’ coming apart at the seams. A lot of good ideas above: I suppose farmers’ markets are closing for the season? Having a farm truck now you could take some across and more than a few might be tempted? Shy: don’t underestimate yourself: you brought up a large enough family on your own, were a long-time drama teacher and a 2IC for film director. You built up a hugely popular blog and began a successful and helpful wwoofer programme for the summer months. Someone truly ‘shy’ would not have managed a fraction: methinks it is more a case that we Down Under are brought up to be somewhat less assertive than Americans . . . just don’t take ‘no’ for an answer 🙂 ! Wisdom to make the hard choices and good luck in managing . . .

  19. Aquila had an interesting idea – bears investigating I would think. Also – perhaps Chicago John might have some truly “local” ideas and possible contacts. The CSA option might work – you would need to do some solid number-crunching to come up with a “share” price that is paid up-front or in installments. I would think that there are restaurants and/or small grocers who have the customers to support local nearly-organic meat at decent prices.

    I will wrap this problem in a fuzzy pink blanket and hand it over to God tonight in my prayers. I’ll ask Her to send suggestions directly to you. You might be surprised at how often this way of approaching a problem or challenge actually works.

    Think outside the box – we all know you’re good at that already!

    Chris S in Canada

  20. I wish I had an answer or suggestion, alas all I can do is wish you time for clear thinking and planning, ending with the correct results for you.

  21. Do any of the high schools in your area have an FFA program? Those kids generally aren’t raising pigs for show, but for production. Worth a look, at any rate!

  22. Are you far from Arthur, Illinois? They have a great weekly auction. Your pigs might sell well to the Amish and surrounding community that knows that sale.

      • We have struggled with the bottom-line-face-smacking-scenario, too! It’s frustrating when input costs are so high. I’ve always admired your way of doing things – good sense. Hope your feeder pigs bring in some cash! We have to buy our hay … and that fact has culled our animal population down to Happy the donkey.

  23. Self suffcient ranching and farming is hard. My sister-in-law did start raising calves for high school FFA/4H show animals after a while – but they found you have to build a reputation for “good” quality animals that win – which takes time ( But does make money once you have the reputation.) MArla does have a good idea there – people who appreciate animals raised properly, with dignity and care. Does your feed store/grocery store have a bulletin board for notes about ? Might contact the local school district 4H/ FFA coordinators with a little note about the farm and what animals you raise. Short newpaper article about the farmie – lurch the pig’s life – peopel would like to read that and then slip in a last line about animals for sale?
    Sales is hard to get started in – but you have to do it as so many creatures are depending on you. You can do it.
    That second pix of high flying dog and piggy ears is hilarious!

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