Homesteading Where You Are: Raise

Thank you for joining me in the Homesteading Where You Are Series!  This series came about because of the numerous wonderful emails I get from readers telling me they can't wait to have land so they can begin living a homemade life.  Don't wait! You can start wherever you are.  If you haven't read the other posts in this series, you can find them here.

We are at the second to the last week in the series and this week's topic could be looked at a number of ways.  My take is raising your own food.  I talked about gardening in "grow" so this week I'll be talking about raising animals.

Raising animals, I don't believe, is critical to calling yourself a homesteader.  If you do have the land to do it then why not?  Whether you're vegetarian and choose to simply raise animals for the joy of raising animals or if you eat meat and choose to raise your own source of those meats, eggs, etc., raising animals is a huge responsibility that, like so many other things, can be very rewarding.

I know this is a very controversial topic and I'm trying to tiptoe on the line here because my purpose in writing this is not to offend, so I'll simply say this.  If you eat meat and have the land to raise your own animals for meat, I think it's a good idea for a few reasons:  1.  you know your animals are well cared for and you know what has gone into them {or not gone into them}, 2.  it could be a way to bring income to your farm, 3.  I think for those of us who choose to consume meat, it's very important we take the responsibility of at least knowing and understanding what we're eating and the process of getting it from farm {or feedlot} to table.

Of course that being said, there's a lot to consider when choosing to possibly bring animals to your farm - cost, housing, fencing, health issues, milking {for cow or goat}, cleaning, death and/or butchering.

Currently we are only raising chickens for eggs.  They are named, we've learned their personalities, and we look at them at pets not as a food source {other than their eggs}.  We do plan on adding meat birds this year.  They'll be kept separately {they eat a different feed} and won't be named.  Although we don't have knowledge on the butchering process, our friend Sam is going to process them with my husband helping and the goal is that eventually we will both process our own birds. 

I've written a number of articles on chickens, some of them you may be interested in are:
So You Want To Raise Chickens, Part 1:  Getting Started
So You Want To Raise Chickens, Part 2:  Bringing Home The Chicks
Chicken Coop 101:  13 Lessons Learned
Supplementing A Chickens Diet

I tried to get miniature goats a couple of years ago, we were going to raise them for the milk, but the town said "no".  Our neighbor has a steer, goats, chickens, geese, guineas, and ducks but he didn't go through the town so he will be able to keep them as long as no one turns him in.  He only has 2 neighbors and we are one so it makes it easier for him.  We, unlike him, live on the corner of a side street so the people living down that street can see what animals we have.  Unfortunately, I don't completely trust that a neighbor wouldn't turn us in so we've chosen not to go forward with bringing them to our property.  It's just not worth it.

In addition to adding meat birds this year, we also hope to add honeybees.  We'd like to eventually use the honey and beeswax in our handmade soap products.

I know we will always raise animals and likely consume something from them whether it be meat, eggs or milk.  They bring a great joy to our life and, we couldn't imagine not being surrounded by them.

I will leave you with this regarding raising animals.  Before you bring animals to your yard, farm, etc., really think it through.  Little things such as: do you have a Vet that will help you with that type of animal should you need one?  Does your family take vacations?  If so, who will care for the animals?  What will you do with the manure livestock provide so much of?  How much will monthly feed costs be?  Where will you store their feed to ensure rats or mice don't get in?  How often will their pen/feeders/waterers need to be cleaned?  How will your animals be protected from wildlife that you've likely never seen until you bring animals to your home?

What about you?  Do you raise or hope to raise animals on your homestead?

The Series
The rest of the topics in this series are:


Sue Frelick said...

I can think of a 4th reason for raising animals and that is that when animals are properly managed, land improves with having them around. Joel Salatin has 'grown' so much rich topsoil from his healthy farming practices that he has had to raise his fence posts!

I love this topic. Your photo of the goat is priceless. :-)

Unknown said...

You are living my dream. I am encouraged to continue working towards this. Thanks. Greg Hogan. Jericho VT

Our Neck of the Woods said...

You know I love my animals! I just keep them for the joy of keeping them and anything they produce for me is just an added benefit. Even though I don't eat meat, I agree with you that everyone who does should consider raising their own (if they can) just to know they lived good lives. Also to make sure they are fed properly because you are what you eat eats!

Suzie Simplelife said...

It's such a shame your not allowed to raise the goats...that photo of the goat is so gorgeous...we don't have the space for anything other than chickens and two dogs..along with veggies....would love to have room for goats and alpacas. ..Love your blog and all your tips ..thanks

Reifyn said...

Staci, I’ve been somewhat disturbed today by this post. You probably think I’m a vegetarian or vegan, but that isn’t it. There are two things that are upsetting to me. The first is easy to explain: you’ve used the word ‘process’ instead of ‘slaughter’ or ‘butcher’, which are what you actually mean; ‘process’ is like some way of sterilizing what is actually happening. The second thing that disturbs me a good deal more is this: that you plan to keep a group of chickens for food, and the current ones are essentially pets. The food ones won’t have names and will be kept apart from the others. This is one thing I don’t like about keeping farmyard animals as pets & naming them with people-names: it reveals the fact that most people have pets for the purpose of how the pets make them feel, instead of how they can be of service to the animals. Imagine if you kept a couple of meat-pugs. The ones inside have names and you show affection to them: the other two are outside and will be eaten sometime. The other thing is a bit of a horror to me. One time in the country in Quebec I heard some awful lowing of the cows in the neighbouring property. It was terrible. I knew there was something wrong by the sound of the one cow in particular. I ran down there and found that the homesteader had slaughtered a calf, in full view and within the hearing of the mother and its relatives. I went completely nuts and it took a long while for this guy to understand what I was trying to tell him, which was that the other animals were obviously aware of what was happening. I asked how he would like it if somebody who might be keeping him slaughtered his son in front of him and butchered him. He didn’t think it was a fair analogy, and told me they are ‘just cows’. Think of how your pet chickens will feel if they can hear you killing the others. You may distinguish between the two, but they won’t. It is very traumatizing. They have a language if you’ve ever listened well, and they know what’s happening. It’s just something for you to think about, and not designed to change your mind about what you do, only to try and not set aside what is actually happening and call these things by other names than the ones they’ve had for centuries. I think you’re a decent individual and I have appreciated your blog. I do want others though to have a more thorough understanding of the connectivity between everything, and how modern society has changed so much of that, with it’s apparent sterility & closed-door ‘processes’ that rob us of the connections we once had, when we hunted animals without firearms and thanked them for their life, reflecting how one day we, too will provide nourishment for animals and plants around us on that day we leave the world.

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

We have started raising chickens, for now just for the eggs. The first year we raised a few for the meat, and decided that until we find someone to do the processing for us, we won't do that again. There are lots of local Amish that I am told do this, so we just have to find the right person. Did you see my post a week or so ago about the pig we ordered from a neighbor? He is raising some right now, and it is so nice to know where our meat is coming from.

gypsyelves said...

Stacy, I am enjoying your blog, and I will miss these weekly posts by you and the other girls when they are done! Thank you!

born imaginative. said...

That stinks about pesky neighbors. But at least you can have chickens.

DId I ever tell you what we do when we go on vacations? We offer our property for free for a week in exchange for them taking care of the animals, garden and grounds. :)

I always love your pics.

Linda said...

Lovely series of photos. Greetings from Montreal, Canada.