Working On A Homestead Plan
If our homestead was a neighborhood it would have four distinct points of interest: Our home, the workshop, the gardens and the animal spaces. Raising and growing your own food is probably the most important part of becoming a bit more self-sufficient and if you have the room, we say just go for it!
The animals along with the gardens and what they produce all work together. We are constantly working on the ‘neighborhoods’:
- Chickie Central (coops and runs for meat birds and egg layers) – extra eggs are hard-boiled for the pigs, and the chickens clean and fertilize the gardens in late fall and winter
- Pig Palace (shelters and paddocks for hogs/piglets) – pigs for sale bring in extra income, and harvested for meat and fat (for soap products) for our family
- Turkey Terrace (a turkey coop and run for turkeys and their chicks) – turkeys are moved into a tractor in the Pig Palace when needed to break up poop and eat insects, and harvested for meat
- Duck Dynasty (coming soon: pond w/nests for several duck varieties) – will be used for watering the gardens with rich pond water, collecting eggs and harvesting ducks for meat
- Bovine Boulevard (coming soon: barn and paddocks for a milking cow and calf) – will be used for milk and milk products, and for growing meat cows from calves
The Grocery Gardens
- Market Garden (1/2 acre, mostly for the farm market)
- Kitchen Garden (1/16 acre, for our family and for testing new varieties)
- Chicken Garden (extra space dedicated to growing fruit and veggies for (all) the animals)
- Fruit Tree Garden (1/16 acre, and coming soon: Bees’ Bend – honey bees)
- Herbs and Flower Garden (by the house and shop
- Staples Garden (about 3/4 acre, from wheat to oats to sorghum and more for (all) the animals)
An idea we keep revisiting (but don’t know if it’s even doable right now) is building an aquaponics greenhouse and raising tilapia. We’d call it: Aquatic Acres. Has a nice ring to it, don’t ya think?
How It Works For The Farm Animals
Our property is small, but we’ve set aside a large part of it so the pigs/hogs have paddocks that allow them to run around, cool off in a large wallow, and sleep undercover when the weather turns. Feeding them is a constant challenge because the end goal is to get them off the commercial stuff. Feeding them grass, fodder, fruit and vegetables was part of the original plan, but that hasn’t been easy. Rest assured we’re trying very hard to make the switch because what they eat is essentially what we eat too! The commercial feed we use, however, is the best on the market nutritionally, and helps us to sleep (easier) at night. GMO-free grains and vitamins/minerals top the ingredients list making it an acceptable alternative to our dreams of raising whole foods/grass-fed animals.
We also use the same feed as a diet supplement for the chickens and turkeys too! They love the stuff and it couldn’t please us more since we have yet to find a healthier commercial feed out there (for fowl that is). But it is only a supplement as the turkeys prefer to eat insects and seeds, and the chickens prefer fresh fruit, veggies, walnuts, insects, grass… in other words, just about everything else. Free ranging happens mostly in the fall/winter since our area has many predators that are out and about all summer long. At that time we keep the birds in large runs that allows lots of room to stretch out, plenty sunlight and fresh air, and all the birds have easy access to our small kitchen garden in the evenings.
Information on raising dairy cows and ducks coming soon.
A Clear Conscience
Another super-important part of homesteading is the DIY side of it all. We’ve been using our own concoctions for everything from homemade deodorant to mite control dust for the chickens. And there are many sites online where you can download plans for building your own barn, coop and more.
DIY doesn’t stop there. Think, putting up. Canning, dehydrating, freezing and cold storage makes the effort we put into growing food even more valuable when you can continue to eat the harvest through winter. And it’s fun too! Add fermenting and curing to the list and you’ve just stepped into the serious homesteader’s zone.
Part of the point of building a homestead is to get back to our roots and learn a better, more natural way to live. Note the word “better”, not easier or what brings in the most money, and that means cutting out shortcuts. Commercial producers will add to, select from and manipulate a product to get the most money out of it. Even if the end result hurts the quality/nutritional value of the product. That way of thinking equals a compromise in our health (and the health of the planet) that we’re not willing to make. We just don’t think that way. We strive to live in a way that gives us a clear conscience.
Read more: Homestead Farm Market