While many country living folk raise animals for companionship, for sport or for a hobby, many more raise them for food. Just putting that food on the table can be costly – if you’re not careful. One of the hardest budget decisions I’ve had to make throughout the years is to cut my liabilities. Since that will be highly personal, let’s talk instead about ways to cut costs when all is going well on the farm.
In the last year, in my small community, prices for farm supplies and feed have increased between 20-50%. This is due, in a large part, to the higher costs of transportation costs to remote areas – all thanks to rising gas prices. And, while it may be true that country stores and feed and seed suppliers buy a lot of their products locally, quite a few of the items we need on the farm are manufactured outside of our regions.
There is no end in sight to these rising costs of farming, so you’ve got to be smart about all of your purchases or you’ll quickly go bankrupt just trying to feed your family, never mind turn a profit!
When you first start out farming you’ll take anyone’s advice on what you need or want for your animals. In truth, half the stuff that’s sold online or in your country supply store is unnecessary spending. It really only takes the basics to keep animals healthy, happy and productive.
Much like the old days, you’ll find that many products or farming supplies can be purchased through catalogs and regular mail – often with free shipping right to your door. This does not suggest that you should discredit the multitude of online resources for farm supplies as many of them have been running reputable catalog businesses for decades. So always shop around if you’ve got time to ensure you get the best prices. This is an easy way to keep your farm bills down to the minimum and ensure you do not end up in the poor house.
More often than not I’ve seen that today’s shipping costs are minimal compared to the increases in purchase prices found at the local stores in smaller communities. Many suppliers will even ship to your door free of charge. Just be sure to consider shipping costs of any product you purchase through a catalog (they can be high for larger items) or online purchases. Choosing a product in close proximity to you saves on those shipping costs.
Finally, and I’ve been caught here before with this one, if you’re ordering internationally (across the USA/Canada border to be specific) be wary and aware of Customs, Excise, and Duty fees. Canadians can thank their highly intelligent politicians for that fiasco that has cost their constituents millions of dollars in the last 10 years – (Free Trade, really?).
Personally, I like to shop on Amazon. They supply worldwide, almost every item is included in their free shipping deals, and delivery is super fast. There have been times where I’ve found high-quality, lightly-used, products from other farmers on eBay too, but sorting through their maze of junk can be grievously time consuming and there is no guarantee that your item will arrive in good time, in good shape, or exactly as shown in the listing. Amazon guarantees satisfaction.