I was talking with my mother the other day and we were talking about my sheep. I talked to her about the prospect of selling them and trying to find the right market, etc. In the end, I was excited about the prospect of making a few bucks selling these sheep. Then she asked me, “How much does that pay hourly?”
Right… About the whole ‘hourly’ thing, it is a bit too much like reality. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. We have 6-7 lambs that we will be selling in the fall. That is not a lot, we are a very small operation and do a lot of other things. I spend at least 3-4 hours a week messing with the sheep plus the extra time for dealing with babies, shearing, etc. And that doesn’t count the time I spend watching the sheep because I enjoy them.
If I spend 300 hours a year, I think that would be a fairly low estimate. To make $10/hr ($3000) I would have to sell the lambs for at least $500 each… I don’t think that is going to happen. Not even close. I was a bit flustered by that at first.
That made me think a bit more. We didn’t buy the sheep to make money, we bought the sheep to mow our lawn. We spent a bunch of money on fencing (a one-time investment), but we didn’t have to buy a riding lawn mower. Nor do I have to spend time mowing the lawn or pay for gas. Without the sheep, I would have to spend a lot of time in lawn care.
The sheep also provide some extras. I get some of the best fertilizer for my garden and some mediocre brush control. I also have a ready supply of organic grass fed lamb that generally costs a lot at a meat market. I also get wool and hides.
We purchased the sheep with no intention of selling lambs, we were going to maintain the sheep for the benefits they provide our farm. Now we might even make a little money off of them. Suddenly ‘hourly wage’ means nothing. We are going to make money off of our maintenance equipment. I have no complaints about the time I am putting in versus the amount of money we will make.