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When we first started this homestead, we really didn’t know what all we wanted to do after we got here. We knew we wanted animals and a garden to sustain us for the most part. Knowing that we’d probably not be 100% sustainable, but that we could provide a lot of our food so that our children could be raised on healthier and more nutrient-dense whole foods. We wanted our children to grow up in nature and to know where their food comes from and develop a sense of gratefulness to the animals that provide sustenance for them.
From the start, we knew we wanted chickens. They are the gateway animal, after all! Within 5 months we had our first flock and it increased exponentially. We knew we wanted to try our hand at a lot of things but didn’t have a clear path set, just knowing we wanted to eat from the land. So over the course of a year, we got chickens, guinea, turkeys, rabbits (for manure and pets), quail, goats, a couple peacocks; for aesthetic charm, barn cats, and our LGD (livestock guardian dog). We had also been considering lamb for meat as well as our own beef, so cows and sheep were in the future. While we like being as prepared as much as possible beforehand, we learn a lot through hands-on experience and that is extremely helpful and eye-opening.
During this last year, we’ve done a lot of thinking and searching for what we want to accomplish on our property which has led us to re-evaluate some of our ventures. We were wanting to streamline our daily chores and to be able to accomplish all the things we wanted in addition to working and homeschooling, so some things we had to let go or change up. Way back in the olden days, when people were truly able to 100% sustain themselves, usually didn’t have a full-time job and they also didn’t produce everything. They traded or bartered for a lot but they also labored for the majority of their foods. Homesteading is a full-time job and having an outside full-time job, even if working-from-home, makes it difficult to take care of everything.
So we consolidated many of our tasks. We let go of some things. We changed things. This next year we’ll be trying out a new way of running our farm.
What did we get rid of?
- GUINEAS – We started with getting rid of our guineas. While they are great bug eaters and guards against snakes and people, they were just not a good fit for us due to their 24/7 noise. We love the sounds of our animals (one reason we want a cow!) but these guys were literally non-stop. After we sold them, it was so much more peaceful, and that’s ok because the lady that has them now absolutely adores them and they’ve hatched babies for her. Not everything is a good fit.
- CHICKENS – We paired down our chicken numbers. We love chickens and chicken math happened that year and we enjoyed getting tons of eggs every day as well as blessing others with free, fresh, pastured eggs. But 50 birds just felt like too much. We’re over chicken math, though I still have Wyandottes just because they’re pretty (ours are good layers anyway), we just wanted to have a flock that would keep us in eggs and is easier to keep. So now we have 25 chickens. We’re happy with that amount for our family as we’ll have enough eggs to eat and a few to still give away.
- TURKEYS – We decided not to raise turkeys…kind of. We are going to keep our tom and a hen for him, mostly because we love their displaying and their gobbles. Those two will still live with our chickens and we’ll enjoy them just like our pair of geese.
- RABBITS – We got rid of our rabbits. They were originally for manure and for pets. After a while, the kids really didn’t do anything with them and we didn’t want to see them in cages all day. We tried putting them on grass but they dug. So they went to a friend who has lots of rabbits and can provide us with lots of manure for our garden and we have one less chore!
What will we be raising from here on out?
- EGGS – we will continue with our flock of 25 chickens, not letting those numbers get high again.
- POULTRY – once a year we will raise a batch of about 75 cornish cross chickens, a batch of about 6-8 Broad Breasted turkeys, and a couple batches of about 200 quail. These will fill our freezer with meat for the year, maybe more but at least for the year. We won’t have to constantly deal with turkeys or quail, trying to keep up with hatching and babies.
- MILK/DAIRY – we’ll have our goats milk to drink all we want and we will be getting a cow (mini-jersey or dexter) in the summer/fall of 2019 who will provide us with milk for butter, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and kefir. We’ll also have extra to bless others with as well hopefully.
- MEAT – other than poultry, we’ll use the calves that our cow will give to raise up for our meat for the year. We will not own a bull, instead opting to take her to be bred. We will also have lamb. Our plans are to own a ram and 2 ewes, using their offspring as meat for the freezer. We’ll also occasionally have venison after hunting season. We don’t want a whole herd of cattle or sheep, just enough to put meat in our freezer and that’s it. With having such a diverse selection of meat, we don’t have to go overboard.
- PROTECTORS – we’ll still have our LGD and we will have a donkey. We have a free donkey being rehabbed and trained that is already great with goats. He will also satiate our children’s need to ride a horse haha. While we love horses and wouldn’t mind having one, one day, we don’t right now. The donkey is much more useful to us.
- PRODUCE – we have a huge garden and an orchard started. We will plant all we plant every spring and fall and can/freeze our surplus or give it away to bless others. We have faith that the Father will provide what we need through our garden and give us excess to help others.
- INCOME – we prefer to bless others with our eggs, milk, produce that the Father gives us in abundance. However, to help offset feed costs, we are breeding and raising our Mini-Nubian goats. We are breeding to meet standards of great homestead milkers that will hold up and last through time providing great milk for families. We won’t get rich but we want to offset homestead costs. While we could raise chicks and poults and sell those, we just aren’t interested in that extra work. We have a pretty streamlined chore routine with our goats and it runs smoothly for us and that is where our enjoyment lies as well.
So, that’s all we plan to raise. We feel this benefits our family the most and will lessen our workload a bit and allow us to enjoy the fruits of our hands that the Lord provides. If something just isn’t a fit anymore, we will drop it. This next year we’ll be sticking to this plan and see how it turns out, we may have to adjust the following year. But it feels great to have a goal and plan to accomplish what we want. We’ve loved learning all that we have this last year and hope to learn more as we go.