As I have said here on a number of occasions that I feel extremely lucky to be here and farming this land. As we get more familiar with this place and our progress each year through the seasons, I am increasingly able to quantify how important partnerships are to our success.
I recently brought the cows home from a beautiful farm up the road. It is known locally as the Skolfield Farm, or simply Skolfields. Most people would be familiar with it if they have driven into Harpswell. Its that amazing barn and fields and orchard on the right as you enter Harpswell. I had the sheep up there last fall, this summer I hayed the fields, and this fall I had the cows over there for the month of November.
While having the cows 4 miles away does cause a bit of stress and several days worth of work to bring them over and back, the benefit to me and the cows is tremendous. Consider: were I to have the cows here for the month of November we would have added four weeks to our consumption of hay. I have 8 cows that require about 20 lbs of hay each, per day. So that is roughly 160 lbs of hay a day. Our bales average about 30 lbs... so minimum of 5 / 6 bales a day. Moving the cows over there saved me about 165 bales of hay. As I mentioned in the last post I estimate that it cost me about $1.50 to produce a bale of hay. So that is about $250, but that does not accurately detail the value of having access to those fields. The reality is that if I were to use that hay all month, it would potentially cause me to run out of hay late in the season. So if I were to run out of hay I would be purchasing hay to feed my animals at the going rate of about $3.50 a bale. In reality I have to see my savings as really a savings of replacement hay, $577.50 to be exact. That is real value.
More on partnerships to follow.