Life on Almosta Ranch

Stories of ranch life and other silly musings of an old codger

David McClain

David McClain
Location
Doniphan, Missouri, USA
Birthday
February 08
Bio
I am a simple man who has lived a simple life for sixty years. I have not dined with movie stars nor Kings and Queens. I have not walked the halls of power, nor have I been a mover and a shaker. I have, however, been a soldier, a tinker, a jack of all trades. I have raised five children....I have been loved and I have loved. I do not see grand designs nor do I chase afer them. Instead, I listen to the heartbeat of the land and I rejoice in a bird's song in the morning. Do not come here seeking answers for I have none. I do have questions which I will ask you constantly though. I do not believe in aruging so Politics will not be discussed in my blog. I do not care what your personal beliefs are for you are free to believe as you will...please allow me to do likewise. I have never been rich, but I have always been poor. Being poor however has never stopped me from feeling rich. I feel rich because I have the love of a good woman. Melinda completes me. She gives me the peace of mind and soul required to write about life without regrets and without envy of those who might have more. She is my world. Almosta Ranch is our heaven and we are happiy. This is what I want to share with you in this blog.

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Salon.com
JANUARY 30, 2013 12:22PM

Rise of the Chicken King of Southeast Missouri

Rate: 20 Flag

Those of you who have read my blog for any length of time know that when we started Almosta Ranch we were strictly doing horse breeding. But, for the last two years the horse market has tanked like a Bernie Maddoff investment plan and we have been forced to downsize.

Now we are down to five horses: four mares and a stallion and Mel has begun to raise miniature pigs and rabbits. What galls me…the horse guy…is that we have already almost made as much selling rabbits as we have after four years of dealing with horses. That’s just wrong.

Well no matter what Mel has been doing, I have resisted jumping on the bunny wagon myself and I have stayed true to my horse roots, ever hoping that the market will pick up any day now.

A couple of days ago though all that changed. I had an epiphany! Yes folks, the clouds parted and this deep voice echoed in my head…God had spoken! You know, I really need to stop smoking that shit.

To put it another way, I had this idea: Why not chickens? It hit me like a ton of bricks, chickens are the way to go. We got a few chickens months ago just as an experiment. We got six hens and two roosters and let them free range. We figured if they kept from being hawk snacks or coyote dinner, we might get some more.

Well to date not only have they survived, but they have prospered and every couple of days we get a dozen eggs.

Now I was out in the barn, playing with Gator, our head He-pig when this idea hit me and I rushed into the house to tell Mel.

“Honey,” I declared as soon as I came through the door. “I have been to the mountain and I have seen the light! I HAVE A DREAM….”

“Easy there bucko,” she rolled her eyes at me, “Calm down before you bust a vein.”

I chose to ignore her lack of enthusiasm and continued at a more moderate tone. “It just came to me….I want to raise chickens and sell the eggs.”

“You want to do this, or you want ME to do it?” I could tell by her tone she still wasn’t taking me seriously.

“Me. I’m gonna do it myself.”

I pretended not to hear her snicker and laid out my business plan. After a little discussion she had to admit that I might just have the right idea. HA!

THE PLAN….

Look “Simplicity” up in the dictionary and you’ll see my Chicken Plan. Since I already have six Buff Orpington hens and one Orpington rooster I will simply add another fifty hens and a couple more roosters to help in the Amore department.

A note here to the guys: One rooster is expected to service twenty hens. How would you like the job of keeping twenty women satisfied. Kinda gives one a whole new respect for the rooster doesn’t it.

Here is a picture of Bocephus, or Bo as we call him, standing with one of his hens.

Bo and Hen

Spring is the start up date for this project which will give me time to convert one side of the barn to accommodate the chicken roost and nest boxes and to add chicken wire to the acre of land adjoining the barn so that the chickens can free range. Once in place, the chickens will produce eggs which I can sell at the farmer’s market and I will also sell live chickens to people seeking Orpingtons and fertilized eggs to people wanting to raise their own brood.

Now hens, after about two years, fall off in the egg producing department and have to be replaced. When this happens the old hens usually end up in someone’s cooking pot. I may take one or two ever so often for that but for the most part I will let the older hens free range over the rest of Almosta Ranch and live out their lives in peace once their egg laying days are done.

THE HOOK….

Conventional wisdom holds that every small business that is just beginning needs a Hook, a gimmick, something to draw in the customers and well, me being me, I got that covered.

You can order plain, blank egg cartons over the Internet on which you can place your company name so I plan on ordering a bunch and putting my own unique title on them: “We got laid at Almosta Ranch”. Now tell me….wouldn’t you just have to buy a dozen eggs with that on the carton.

So there you have it; the plan, the Hook, and the chickens that will launch the rise of the Chicken King of Southeast Missouri! Look out Wall Street, I’m coming your way! I can’t wait for Spring now.

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Ha, great slogan and great idea! I wish you much success. Our neighbor goes to the extreme country every few weeks. He visits the Amish farmers and buys eggs. He brings them down to his friends and we pay a few bucks for delicious, farm fresh eggs. Wonderful!
I love your plan! I love your carton slogan! And I love your "Right" farming practices! If I was your neighbour, I'd be your first customer. And real cute story, too. You might add this to the marketing mix one day.
As a fellow Missouri farmer slightly north of you, up and around lower Crawford County, chickens have always been a sure thing here. Remember one time my wife (city girl) decided she was going to order chicks through the mail. So she did it all by herself. On arrival day she picked them up at the PO and brought 30 new chicks home. She was proud of those chicks and only a few died. Then those chicks grew up and she learned not to order a mix run of chickens. She now had 5 hens and 20 Bantam Roosters and the roosters were terrifying the kids when they played outside.
DO SOMETHING she yelled. So after I stopped laughing I went to the store and bought 2 cases of beer and invited some neighbor folk over and we set up an assembly line, with us drunk guys catching and killing them and handing them over to the wives and the kids for plucking and dressing. When done we had 20 Cornish hen size roosters ready to cook. Now she has about 30-40 hens and I think 2 roosters. Free range there is little cost involved and you never go hungry. My oldest Daughter is Vet and raises horses. Enjoy your chickens. o/e
Leave it to you!!! I place my order now!
Sheila....Thanks. You know, say what you will about the Amish, but I have come to learn that when it comes to living off the land and flourishing, they dang sure know their stuff.

maria...if and when we ever get out Almosta Ranch web page up and running that story will feature prominately in the "Poltury division" page.

o/e....Thanks for the laugh. Yeah I have heard of that happening to folks who buy those mixed runs. For my first fifty I plan on buying either grown hens or adolecents who have not quite reached laying age yet. The problem with buying grown hens though is that folks will tell you what a great layer the hen is but in reality she is two or three years old and her laying days are all behind her. It is a tricky business for sure. Oh and good to know we are almost neighbors.

BuffyW.....LOL! Shipping might be tricky but I wouldn't mind making a home delivery so I could once again bask in that bright Calif. sun and swipe some oranges off your trees.
Will you PLEASE come over here and kidnap the horny rooster who lives on our street? Bo could use a buddy. Very funny piece. Loved the plan. RRRRR
I trust you have run ALL of this exciting plan past Mel's sensibility? I hooted at the egg carton slogan -- and not because I was imaging what would happen to you when Mel found out THIS part of your exciting plan.
David, I love that you have such a wonderful idea. Let me show you by example how such wonderful plans can go wrong.

I had a plan. It was a good plan. I would raise pet rats. They are pocket pets you know. Easy to take care of and can be as friendly as a dog. You can even train them like a dog.

I would sell the little guys to pet shops around the area.

Ha!

The darn pet stores bread their own in house. No one wanted my babies. Soon I had way too many rats and no kind way of getting rid of them.

With great effort, I was able give a couple of my rats to friends. I kept the rest until I had to move. Eventually I was able to find a pet store that took my remaining rats. Thankfully he didn't make me pay him anything. Argh!!!!

That was the last time I tried to raise and sell animals.


Now, that is not to say that I think your idea won't work. I just encourage you to do your homework. Are there any rules about selling eggs from the farm? Is there a place to sell the eggs? What rules are there about what you are calling your eggs i.e. there are rules on calling eggs or anything organic -- and they are weird rules -- along with calling them free range.

Okay, now that I have said everything you have already probably thought of, let me tell you I will buy a dozen of your eggs, but you will have to hard boil them before you send them. LOL

I had three wonderful chickens back in Jackson. I loved the eggs as did my friend Alex and her family. The egg shells were thicker and though I couldn't describe it, they tasted better. I miss my hens.

I hope you do get to raise chickens and it is a complete success.

Hugs to you and Mel
Please, please, please stick with that slogan, David. I love it! I hope you aren't kidding around here, because I do think you are on to something.

Lezlie
I would SO buy eggs with that label on them! We currently get eggs from a friend-ofa-friend, who packs them in re-used cartons that folks turn back in. He only re-uses the paper-board cartons & slaps a BIG sticker with his family farm's label over the original name. I have no idea what kind of chickens he has, but we have gotten a few 'easter eggs' in blue/green.
I'm sure yours will taste MUCH better.
Bernadine.....I consulted Mel about your rooster and she said she had enough horny roosters on her place now...geeze.

Matt....I have been married long enough and am well enough trained that I run ALL my ideas by Mel. As for the slogan, she loved that most of all.

Auntynae....This was not as sudden a idea as I wrote but we have been thinking and researching it for some months actually. I was non-commitial though until just a few days ago. For entertainment's sake and for a laugh, I wrote it like it was going to be a big business but in reality all I hope for is a helpful suppliment to our social security.

Lezlie....though my tongue was well in place in cheek, I am serious about the idea and especally the slogan. In fact, when Mel and I first discussed selling our eggs I came up with that slogan as a smart arsed remark, but the more I thought about it the more I liked it and I decided that this was something I just had to do if for no other reason than to see the looks on people's faces when they saw that carton.

Kayrose....Hi and thanks for reading. We were going to reuse egg cartons but the blank ones are not that expensive and it looks better. As for those colored eggs, well there are three different breeds that I know of that produce them. There is the "Easter-egger", "Araucana" chicken and the "Ameraucana". The second one just lays blue eggs and the third on lays both blue and green eggs.
Now David - just because G. Anderson wrote about eating his illustrious egg every day & thinks he's "Cool Hand Luke" et al...you come with this idea! I think it's great! R
Yes! Love the slogan. Now all you need to do is figure out how to make them lay hard boiled eggs and I'll order a few dozen. Cautionary note: backyard chicken breeding has become a cottage industry, so there is lots of competition. Our town just passed an ordinance permitting it in town. R
How is it going with the little piggies you got? So many projects and so much hope. I saw a news story about a young girl who saved her family from bankruptcy by raising chickens and selling eggs. She was very young but has a good business head. Love you slogan.
When you get your egg business up and going and have the egg carton with the logo, I do want a doze - hard boiled in the Almosta Ranch logo carton. I will pay shipping and handling on top of what ever the eggs cost along with what you want to charge for boiling the eggs. :D
It sounds fun, but do you know how long a chicken can live?
Watch out for emus!
Checking in from Central Missouri here. Good luck to you! We have an ordinance that allows us to have chickens in town and now my fondes dream is to get an Egglo which is a self-contained coop and run. Perfect for in town. Please keep us updated!
YAY!! Great idea!! What? Mel is already carting you off to your executive offices!!? Awesome! Shady Pines Hospital?? That's even better. Good drugs!! :D
A cautionary note: There is a reason that egg farmers don't keep old chickens around the place. In fact, there are a couple of reasons. Do some research into what fowl diseases are prevalent in your area; some such diseases affect the eggs and some are easily picked up by older chickens then transmitted to the younger ones.

Unless you are going to sell your eggs and / or chickens on the QT, just to friends and family, you'll need to arrange with your state inspection services for your birds and the eggs to be tested regularly, in all likelihood.

And you'll need insurance to cover you in case one of your eggs is claimed to be the cause of someone getting ill. People sue at the drop of a hat these days.

If you do actually get through all these hurdles, you'll likely do very well. One more source of income - the droppings are very highly valued by organic farmers.

Best to you! I love how you're taking a shot at trying something on your own instead of joining the whiners who do nothing but complain, "Nobody will give me a job."

Thumbs up to you!

;-)

"R"
.
I'd buy a carton from you even if they held chocolate eggs. Especially if they held chocolate eggs.
Marilyn....Oh Gerald has me beat though, who knew there was so much to know about boiling eggs.

Gerald....Well in spite of calling myself the "chicken King" I really only want to make enough out of it to help augment our Social Security each month. So, I don't really mind the compitition at all.

zanelle....The piggies are right on schedule. When we got them they were young and couldn't be bred, but now both are quite preggers and we expect to have a couple of litters in the Spring to sell.

Auntynae...You are definitly at the top of the list.

just phyllis....The average life span of a chicken is about five years I believe.

Don Rich....Now those old girls lay some serious eggs.

Midwest Muse......I will definitly keep everyone updated, that's for sure.

Tink...Ah yes, Shady Pines, the home for the terminally nervous.

skypixieo.....The way I want to set it up the older hens will be allowed to range on one section of the ranch, away from the flock who will be on their own acre and a half and seperated by a good fence. As for taking a shot at something better, well I learned a long time ago if I need help making ends meet, then I am the one responsible for helping myself and not the government.

Margaret Feike....Now I need to get the Research and Development department to work on designing a chicken that will lay chocolate eggs.
David,
The chocolate eggs are easy......
First you get a chocolate hen and a chocolate rooster. Then you show them some chicken porn and give them a little privacy.
Ta-da! Chocolate eggies!!
(PS - This only works at Easter time.)
.
I have thought about getting a couple of Banty hens and a rooster for a while now but could not let them free range or well they would become cat or dog hordorves :) hey I spelled it like it sounds....
I love your idea and you gave me a great laugh this early Thursday morning!
Excellent! I especially like your retirement plans for the old hens...