Small Farm Economics…continued.

Yukon Gold potatoes gathered by the kids one morning in June 2011.

Yesterday, I bought 70 square bales of ryegrass hay from my neighbor for $1.50 per bale, thats $105 total.  He cut and baled them, we picked them up from his field and hauled them back to the barn.  I asked him how many bales he gets per acre and he told me about 70.  That means, he cuts and bales hay, twice per year for $210 per acre. 

An acre is 40,000 sq.ft. (200 x 200), which means that he produces a crop that earns him about half a penny per square foot.  Now, his prices are low because he’s a friend and doesn’t want ryegrass anyway, but even if he charged $3 per bale, he’s only making one penny per square foot per year.  

I was interested in this because I have 24 acres that is currently empty and I was considering clearing it for pasture so that I could grow all of my own hay for our livestock.   However, I’m not clearing it for pasture.  I’m paying others to grow hay for me. 

Rather than growing pasture, I’m going to begin clear the land one acre at a time for grains, fruits and vegetables.  I’m going to grow wheat, potatoes, apples, beans, sweet corn, etc.  Think of this:  A single potato plant grows, on average, 6-7 good Yukon Gold potatoes–the best you can buy.  They sell in the store for up to $4 per pound.  Let’s say one plant grows 3 pound of potatoes (it’s actually more than that).  That would be $12 for about 4 square feet of garden space or $3 per square foot…300 TIMES the value of growing hay

Therefore, I’m buying hay and growing vegetables.  Animal food is much cheaper than people food anyway, so it’s always better to produce your own people food.


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One Response to Small Farm Economics…continued.

  1. Jen Leaf says:

    Fascinating! Please keep posting these kinds of things! I’m learning vicariously. We are “preparing” for a move to the country (purging belongings, saving money, planning for our future) and this is all very helpful. It may be a few more years before we are able to make the leap, but I’m not letting a minute go to waste.

    Thank you!
    Jen Leaf

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