Friday, November 09, 2007

Steer clear of Fed inflation forecast

According to the Fed, inflation was minimal in the first quarter of the year. One financial analyst was a bit worried about the price of commodities. He stated how food prices could rise in relation to the demand pull for ethanol, relating to the cost of finishing an animal.

Many rural families have the luxury of growing their own beef for their own consumption. The price to raise your own animal, plus the quality of food which is achievable, are two of the advantages these families can enjoy. Nothing spells happiness to a man like having a freezer full of beef.

Out of curiosity, I decided to figure out the price of beef per pound in raising our own. We do not have our own mother cows, so the purchase price of a steer is our first cost, at roughly $500. We will typically have to feed at least half a ton of hay during the winter, so let’s add $75 to that.

Fly spray, salt, minerals, and various small vet items will maybe add another $25, bringing your total to $600 for a finished beef. There are some hidden expenses, I’ve noticed, that can add up really fast.

First, to purchase a steer, one has to visit an auction. This can get expensive. To get the accurate cost of beef per pound, I believe I would have to add the cost of the goat, the pig, and the donkey I felt sorry for and also purchased. Had I not been shopping for a steer, these three critters would still be at the auction and not in my yard.

Secondly, I do not own a trailer, so I had to hire someone to bring these to my house. For some reason, the steers I pick out always seem to be really good deals until I get them home. I believe elk would struggle keeping up with these bovines, so we can add the cost of fixing the corral to that list too.

Having your ranch next to a bird farm is not necessarily a good thing. The lure of irrigated corn patches in a desert is more than an average steer can bear, so we’ll add the price of a corn patch or two.

Lastly, corn can make a steer feel really energetic, so let’s add the cost of a satellite dish, a water faucet, my yard fence, and a septic tank, all found in my yard. Whatever the price, it will be nice having this steer in the freezer.

After cutting and wrapping, the total price per pound on a home-raised beef steer is only $10.50 per pound. Who in their right mind would ever buy beef at a supermarket?

I did a similar exercise on the cost of elk meat per pound. Hunting and fishing is a sure bet at keeping your food costs down. Why, a hunting license only runs $43.50. Add some ammo, a tag, and maybe a few camping supplies and the cost couldn’t be too bad could it?

We do tend to eat a little more than normal while elk camping. The price of fuel is higher now and you can’t just use cheap bullets. New water proof boots and clothing must be purchased at least every other year, toilet paper is a large necessity, and the new tax deductible chainsaw is a must for any elk hunter.

Let us not forget the trailer we have to buy to camp in, plus the full size gas grill every elk camp should have. Sometimes it rains or snows while elk hunting, so a wall tent must be purchased to allow more room for drying clothes. Lastly, a winch to haul the elk out of the canyon is needed.

The running total on a pound of elk meat is now at $150.75 per pound in the event that we actually get one. The Fed seems to be off a bit. I think inflation is becoming a bit of a problem. Who can afford to eat with these kinds of prices?

I think I will take up fishing. All I need is a pole and some bait, right?

Kevin Duling is a wheat farmer from Maupin, Ore. His stories will be posted every Friday on the Capital Press blog. Comments are welcomed at

Copyright, November 2007, Kevin Duling

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