Friday, July 6, 2012

Working on a Balance

The heat wave gifted me with a rare afternoon of computer time, during which I tried to do some data entry and analysis.  I always find this useful if I can manage to do a little of it during the season.  First of all, these things are fresher in my mind, so I can combine my impressions of what happened with what the numbers tell me.  Second, I might be able to make some changes to improve on our work for the rest of the season.  And, third, I felt that listing a third thing would be impressive.  So, I provide you with this lame attempt at humor!

Assigning a Crop Value
   The value of our high tunnel harvested crops through the beginning of May this year was about $1200.  Now, before you draw conclusions about this number, let me inform you that a "crop value" is not the same thing as actual income.  We use a price per unit as our value marker which allows us think about what we can get on average if we are able to sell all of the crop harvested.   We do it this way so we are certain to assign value for any crops we eat ourselves, gift or donate.  We do not assign value to the things we harvest that are culls, which are usually given to our birds or composted.

   I also realize that we may calculate our values very differently than other operations.  This works for us right now and we adjust our calculations as our situation changes or we learn new things.  The basic idea is this - for any given crop you can look at your historical sales breakdown.  How much went to our Farm Share CSA?  How much was sold direct to consumer at a market, etc, or sold to a retail outlet such as Hansen's Dairy?  We have prices that we've set for these (another story) and they are used to figure out the average value of a crop by unit.

So What About the High Tunnel's Spring Crop Value?
   Frankly, the value of crops coming out of the tunnel this Spring was low.  Remember, that building represents a fairly significant capital outlay and a good bit of labor.  So, we want to pay some attention to our return.  In 2011, we were closer to $1800 in crop value for the Spring.  Why was that?


2011, we harvested 90+ lbs of Spinach out of the high tunnel.  This year, it was 12 lbs.  $540 in crop value vs $72.  And why did we have this drop in production?


They're soooo cute.  Not when they get into the high tunnel and destroy all the spinach in February. 

Aside from Excluding Rabbits, what else did we learn?
  The amount of spinach we planted in the Fall for Spring production in the tunnel is probably on target for what we can reasonably pick and sell, so we'll stick with that until we get another data point.  However, we also learned that late Fall seeding into the fields could be a good way to implement a backup plan for spinach.  We pulled in 30 lbs of spinach from that sort of planting this Spring - and that was almost by accident.

We also learned we should drop the row feet of lettuce down a little and increase the row feet for kale in the high tunnel.  Some fall planted onions or even garlic for early harvest isn't a bad idea since we can interplant these with some of the other crops.  We won't try to overwinter arugula or mustard again.  We'll till them in rather than let them even try to return.  It also gives us ideas on our row ordering that will make moving to the next succession easier.

And there you have at - another glimpse into the planning and thinking that goes into running the Genuine Faux Farm.  Here's hoping those silly farmers can actually implement half the crazy ideas they come up with!

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