It's wild and crazy fun! Last year we got there at 5:30 am in the middle of a thunderstorm, lightning flashing and in the dark we were holding flashlights and umbrellas peering into the cages and pens to see what people were selling. The place was PACKED! The first swap of the year is particularly exciting because everyone has had more time to prepare and there will be lots to see.
It's a way for folks to sell their surplus and gather what they need. It's a great place to make contacts and to assess the competition. It's less intimidating than an auction, more personal and laid back. The busiest time is before 8:00 am, sleep in and you'll miss it. Farmer Tom did that once, that was the day I brought home Bella, our livestock guard dog. He forgave me. :)
Here's an example. Two years ago we started with our first chicks. About 60 bucks or so. We built a brooder from scrap wood, so no cost there. Not bad, right? Then we started to retrofit a shed into a chicken coop. Spent a few hundred dollars on that. We ended up building a chicken tractor instead. Spent about five hundred there. We fed the chickens for about 7
months before we got our first egg. Total cost for that egg? About $1,000. This is called chicken math. It makes no sense, unless you are the participant, in which case you wear a protective shield so that you won't be harmed by the powerful and destructive TRUTH of your situation.
2. This year we have surplus eggs that we will sell. 8-10 dozen a month, so $30 dollars or so.
3. We raise our roosters for meat. Each bird yields about 3 lbs of meat. We butcher a couple dozen for ourselves per year. About $300 worth.
4. We sell hatching eggs. The best of the best eggs are sold and shipped to buyers around the country who are interested in this very limited breed. Going rate is $25 a dozen. I've sold 4 dozen this year, so far.
5. We sell the chicks. For $4 per chick, this weekend's hatch is worth $200.
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