Posted by: morrisoncorner | May 14, 2009

Bunnies

Bottom line?  Sheep, in particular sheep kept for their fleece, are not what I’d call “profitable.”  Profit would be where the outflow of cash is rather less than income from sales of fleece, yarn, or other lamb generated lucre.  Thus far, as stated rather unfortunately on my Schedule F’s, outflow has exceeded income by a not inconsiderable margin.

At least as the IRS calculates it.  The IRS does not count as income a mountain of rich compost which is rolled annually into the expanding vegetable garden, spread under fruit trees, and feeds the berry bushes.  I closed down the freezer the other day and am now, such a luxury, eating vast quantities of last season’s berries… I put up so many berries last summer we didn’t consume them all this winter.  The IRS doesn’t have a spot on the form for overproductive berry bushes created by sheep waste.  Nor is there a spot for fuel savings generated by not having to mow down the fields twice a month… last summer, with fuel at $4/gallon?  Those savings were more than significant.

No, the IRS expects to see cash income.  Which leads us to… bunnies.  Angora rabbits produce something in the neighborhood of 3 pounds a year of angora fiber.  Lovely, lovely, stuff.  My flock of lambs will generate about 10 pounds of Icelandic lamb fleece… nice stuff, but in New England, not remarkable.  But if you add 3 pounds of angora rabbit to 10 pounds of Icelandic wool, you’ve got a 30% angora blend which is eyepoppingly marvelous.

Now, didn’t that sound sensible on paper?

Of course, we all know the real reason for getting rabbits: the 10 year old female child.  Who, when consulted on bunnies lit up incandescently, as if she’d swallowed a handful of fireworks.  So.. in my ongoing quest to thoroughly corrupt the child and ruin her early years with Farm Magic… I’m in the market for angora rabbits.

Stay tuned…

Advertisements

Responses

  1. How do you go about selling your angora blend?

    Love Your Site, Jen

    • We’re in the process of putting together a yarn sale cooperative (woolfromhere.com), and we’ll offer the angora blend there. I’ve found that Icelandic wool has become ubiquitous here. The Icelandic is so popular, because it is durable and there are now enough small farms with them that keeping your blood lines fresh is relatively easy, that you have to be doing something very special with your wool if you expect to be able to sell it for what it costs you to produce it. Never mind actually turning a profit. The angora blend sets my wool apart from other Icelandic products. Some people set their product apart by creatively dying, developing unique colors or colorways.. or using plant based dyes instead of commercial dyes. I found I like the rabbits.

      If you’re not raising sheep, but are interested in angora rabbits, mills like Oasis Fiber Mill in Maine will buy merino wool and blend your angora with merino for a really incredible product. She spins out in a sport weight which is flexible enough to be knit on bigger needles for a “DK-like” feel or down on smaller ones for an “almost fingering” feel. She does a 5 pound minimum run… but you can’t run angora by itself. The plushest of luxury that is practical is a 20-25% blend. So you need to accumulate about a pound of angora. A German Angora will yield much more fiber than I currently aim for, but I don’t have heat in my bunny space, so I don’t clip right down to the skin. I estimate 10 oz/clip, 4x/year.. x 4 rabbits.. That’s a hypothetical 10 pounds of fiber.. in a 20% blend I need 40 pounds of useable wool to yield 50 pounds of skeined fiber, or 400 2oz skeins.

      I think my math is correct. Anyhow, in a small flock like mine, where I have both colored and white sheep, I’m actually having trouble raising enough white wool to keep up with the rabbits. Hence the need to buy wool. Which, imagine my shock, lowered the per skein price to well below what my costs are when I I supply my own wool. That was a discovery!

  2. I’m excited! I want chickens and hens for eggs. what hens produce the most eggs? You make it all sound so simple! I am going to work on everything and then purchase my chickens, hens and roosters in the spring. I live in Indiana and winter is at our doorstep.
    Thank You, Jen

    • A reasonable production for a home flock is an egg a day in peak production. But we usually average a bit less because we keep birds for several years. For home production, unless you can get a hen to go broody for you, raising chicks and replacing hens is actually surprisingly expensive. Since a 2 year old hen is “paid for” her lower production doesn’t worry me.

      What worries me is winter production. Some breeds just won’t lay over the winter unless you use lights to fool them into thinking they’re in summer (with longer daylight). Breeds we’ve found that lay without lights include the Buff Orphington, Rhode Island Red, and Dominique.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: