Saturday, August 21, 2010

David Bradley Redux

A few weeks ago, after having long grown tired of trying to start the David Bradley to do small chores around the farm, I loaded her up in the truck for a ride. A neighbor down the road had recently placed a sign out front advertising work on small engines, and so I stopped by to see if he could or would work on my old hand tractor.

Jack, of J&R Machine Shop, had recently moved to Tennessee from New York state to help care for his grandson, and was more than willing to have a look at the antique workhorse. And well, wouldn't you know, he immediately fell in love with the thing. He even offered to buy it!

He got the engine running smoother than perhaps it's ever run, and just for fun (i.e., for free!) worked a few days on the aesthetics of the old machine. Here are some photos that show the refurbishments, shiny and sleek, so that maybe - just maybe - Jennifer will begin to think my tractor's sexy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Egg Count 8

I've finally had a chance to look at July's egg count, which is the lowest since high winter. In total, the hens of Ecotone laid 1,623 eggs, or 135.25 dozen.

At the beginning of the month we transitioned both laying flocks to a certified organic grain ration, grown locally by Mr. Alfred Farris of Windy Acres Farm in Orlinda, Tennessee. Combined with the high quality of this grain, the low metabolism of one flock coming into molt (they pretty much stop laying), and the high heat of summer, feed consumption dropped considerably from previous months.

The approximately 300 chickens of both flocks, that is, ate 1,638 pounds of grain, or 52.86 lbs. a day. If you're following the ongoing accounting, that's 12.12 pounds of grain for each dozen eggs, or roughly a pound an egg. While the shape of these numbers hasn't been as sad since last winter - amid all that snow and silence - the hens nevertheless managed to contribute $66.27 of net income to the Ecotone economy.
Given how little I've been working outside because of teaching and the heat - about half an hour a day for the hens - that's roughly $4.28 an hour for my time to work with these chickens and their eggs. Not bad, really, for the chance to live, work, and learn at Ecotone: an experimental farm in the service of, among other things, a metaphysical riddle. But with the month's seasonal pressures and structural changes (i.e., the organic transition), this fact is in fact a pleasant surprise. And the eggs are pretty good too.