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pollinator
Posts: 148
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I own and operate three restaurants, and struggle to stay alive financially--would take longer to explain than it's worth, but I needed to wipe your assumptions out before beginning this story.

I am making payments on a piece of land in South Texas, and on a mobile home in which I live (on that land). I want badly to believe in permaculture, and most importantly, to actually contribute to it.

So here's the rub:

Everything here will die back to desert-like conditions without slopping big, dripping buckets of cash on the ground every which way.

I began with sheep and goats in an all-grass rotational system, which broke down because "rotation" means you have at the very least an electric fence grid, which costs more than I have to spend in infrastructure. 10 acres of grass being dead, I am now dumping $50-75 in corn or other pelletized food into the gullets of immature sheep that won't feed you, and no one will buy. An immature sheep will dress out at less than 30 lb--and an immaciated one will have a yield of 25% usable flesh, the rest is bone and scrap, and make you feel like absolute shit for killing it, selling it, or serving it...which nobody in their right mind would pay for. Kill them, don't kill them--it represents a loss and a shame any which way you slice it.

I can raise chickens in this heat, but not chickens that will pay my bills. The only bird that anyone will buy here is the double breasted Cornish Cross, and if you think you're getting 3.50/#for them, you're out of your head.  You can't raise a chicken for a price competitive with Tyson, due to input costs--and my attrition rate is absolutely huge--on the order of 50%.

(Industry standard runs about 3%, with indoor CAFO enclosure, temperature control, and all the rest.) I am facing 107F degree days, hawks, a bobcat, raccoons, opposums, snakes, javelina and who knows what all. Many of them stroke. Others are killed by tremendous predator pressure: they reach through the bars, dig under, coyotes have gone right through the wire--I've had wild dogs eat one of my goats directly THROUGH my wire fence. And I'm kicking myself because I'm supposed to be the GOOD guy: I condescend upon the meat industry for "how terrible" they treat those animals...but I'm really starting to feel like I'm the real bastard here.

(here's a photo made possible by a little math: you subtract two chicks, and I'll let you handle the rest)

While costly in time and worry, I can raise ducks and sell them to my restaurant for $7/#, which could show profit after about 7# a bird, depending on their growth rate, and the goats didn't knock over the feed barrel at night and rip the bottom out of your profit margin--

but how good can you feel about yourself if, taking the sales from that duck (that you couldn't possibly afford to eat yourself...ultimately you're busting your ass to raise this animal for some rich asshole who buys it to impress his date, who doesn't even eat the damned thing...), you go and buy Tyson chicken and ramen noodles and grocery store produce to stay alive on?

I could flip hamburgers. Just cancel all animal interaction--let them all drop dead--and flip hamburgers. Spending that time in an hourly wage job, and deleting the expenses of feed and water and handling that these creatures require, my income would rise considerably, my life quality would actually improve.

What's it all for? Why am I doing this?

If it was for me, I've failed. If it's for the animals, I've failed. Seems to me the only guy who gets out alright--potentially, if I do everything right and don't miss a beat--is the rich asshole.

My mind is writhing with snakes.

(second photo is I got out of my truck to unlock my front door, and goat decided to help herself to whatever was inside.)

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gardener
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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You have my attention.
I struggle to keep a few annuals or perennials going.
You are facing much bigger challenges.


I wonder if pigs and laying hens might not be better for your situation.
Turning "waste" into product for your restaurant, or to feed your labor(you).

The sheep and goats?
Maybe just give them away.
End the hemorrhaging.


Would a greenhouse/shade house be a better place to raise animals?
Smaller, more intense, more protected.
Conserving your energy.

What I'm talking back isn't permaculture, in that its more about sustaining you, than improving the world.
On  the face of it taking care of these animals doesn't seem to give you joy.
Restaurant work seems brutal to a lot of people if it seems less stressful than your homesteading to you, well that says a lot.
I have 4 chicken, only one is producing, and the city is giving me hell, but I and the family love having them.
Not ideal, but a net positive for me.




I'm sure you pay a high markup on some things for your businesses.
Aquaponic lettuce.
Indoor micro greens.
Sprouts.
Mushrooms.
Duck eggs.
Quail eggs.
Herbs.
The choicest bits of a bird, like goose liver, chicken and duck breast, and chicken wings.
Or the least wanted bits of an animal transformed into sought  after cuisine, like bone broth, roasted marrow, sausage, lamb bacon, jerked anything.
Any nearby ethnic communities that would buy live animals for tradition meals?
Maybe those a bobcat, raccoons, opossums, snakes, javelina, etc could be food for you-I imagine it would be hard to get permission to sell them in the restaurants.

You've probably already thought of these things already, you are in the business.

I guess I'm just wanting to encourage you.

I hope you can find a net positive situation for yourself.
 
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