Saturday, March 31, 2012

Economies of Scale and Competitive Advantage on the Homestead

Last weekend I got up bright eyed and bushy tailed to do some work on the homestead.  There is a chinese elm that is south of our garden and it was going to block the sun light so I cut down.  There were limbs in the road and I was working to get them cleaned up.  I have been on a low carb diet and my tank was on empty but I kept working.  I have a very small truck and the branch that I was putting in the back was longer than the bed but I figured I would just let the majority hang out and then pull it to a pile where I was going to burn it.  The branch was thick and heavy and I was thinking to myself that it was going to be a tight fit against the cab and while thinking this I tossed the tree in the back and it went through the back window.  It was one of those incidents that goes in slow motion.  All day that image went through my mind over and over and it made me discouraged.  The family motto is "what we don't break...we shit on"  so the situation was fitting.

It got me thinking about the economy of scale and how it was very hard for a small garden to come out ahead against a large farm because little things add up and there is not a whole lot of room to come out in the black. The window was going to set me back a couple of hundred dollars and that is probably going to be more than what it would cost to go out to the store and buy the same amount of vegetables that I was going to try to grow.  Then I was thinking about the comparative advantage and how my location is not ideal for growing vegetables.  The season is too short compared to other parts of the U.S.  I can't really plant until after Memorial Day due to frost and other blogs on the internet are already harvesting stuff by that time.  The smartest thing to do would be to use the land to graze some cows.  Grass and alfalfa is easy to grow and takes little work.  The wife is excited about the garden though, so all the risk and benefit calculations needs to be put on the back burner because it would make her happy to see stuff grow.  I just got to realize that at this point the homestead vegetable garden is a money sink and hobby more than something that is going to be profitable.

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