Sunday, May 4, 2014

Doing More (Self Sufficiency)

I have been reading all sorts of blog post on gardening, and raising your own food for motivation!
It is time to shake the winter dust off and get busy!

I have a confession, I do not love gardening. We grow a garden and have for many years, but I have always had a hard time of it out here, especially  with weeds taking over my garden plot. I also do not appreciate Garter Snakes, bugs, and dirt under my fingernails. (I have tried wearing gloves, I would rather deal with dirt under my nails)

So why do I continue to plant one every year? 

I love homegrown veggies
I love canning and dehydrating the harvest
I love saving money

So even though gardening is not one of my favorite homesteading activities, we are expanding the garden.  I have a lot of experience in planting tomatoes, beans, peppers, and cucumbers but decided to try some new things this year. Potatoes, carrots, and some spring crops like snap peas and lettuce.
With food prices going up,up, up we have decided to put forth our best efforts to grow more veggies, and add some more fruit bushes and trees.

Mike did build a couple of raised beds last year and I will say that we had an easier time with the weeds. I think this year we will be adding a couple more. We also have a fenced in garden plot that we are going to use for the plants that take up more space.

Raising Meat for the freezer is another thing we are working on.
Our freezer was empty this past winter, except for some venison which I tolerate, but am not a big fan of.
We have raised steers for many years. Last year we decided to take the year off, I figured I would be able to find some local beef to buy for the freezer. That was not as easy as I thought. So last week , we picked up two feeder steers. We have always raised Belted Galloway, but this year we had a hard time finding feeders, and had to pick up two Jersey steers. I know that they are a Dairy Breed, but beggars can't be choosers. I have done some reading about raising Jersey Cows on grass and read some favorable comments, so we shall see.

Next week we are going back to the same farm we purchased the steers from, and are buying some feeder pigs.
That will be a new experience for us. We have purchased homegrown pork from a local farm, but he went out of business, so we figured we would try raising our own this year.
I have been reading all I can about raising pigs!

I am also contemplating meat chickens, jury is still out on that one. We have raised them before, so have some experience, we just need to look over housing issues.

One thing I need to remember- it always looks easier on paper.

My list is getting longer and longer!
I need to keep in mind, that we will have to maintain this garden, feed and house these animals, along with all of the other things that already keep us busy!

Raising a steer on grass-18 month commitment
Raising a Feeder Pig-3 month commitment
Raising Meat Chickens-6-12 week commitment

There are a lot of  things to take in consideration before adding additional responsibilities to the farm.

We can't do it all. I have learned that the hard way, on more than one occasion.
But, we can do more.
Now to decide what that "more"  is...

What "more" do you have planned for 2014

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  1. We've raised meat chickens for a few years here now. We are considering pork next. To us, the quality of the food is so worth the work.

    1. It is worth it, I just try to keep it doable. I get a little over zealous at times and take on more than we can do "well".

  2. Sandra,

    I have good garden intentions, I enjoy garden fresh produce and find gardening pushed to the back burner. I think the thought of starting overwhelms me. Once I get started I do pretty good.

    I would think that Jersey steers for freezer meat would be fine. Millions of Holstein steers are on feed and consumed every year. Holstein beef is usually a choice product. The biggest differences are 1) they have small rib-eye areas 2) they have physically larger carcasses 3) less total pounds of meat and more bone.

    Make sure you have a good pig fence! Pigs can be very destructive to gardens and yards.

    You're right ideas always sound good and workable on paper. Good Luck and keep us posted.

    1. Thanks for the steer help! It was not easy finding steers or pigs this year.

  3. Well, if it ever stops raining I am planning on planting a very small garden this year but our big new thing is the sheep we just got. We are keeping them for lawn mowers. I have been finding that the more animals I have to care for the less meat I am eating and since I really like a good steak we will not be getting any cows. Ever. lol

  4. "It always looks easier on paper" - isn't that the truth! LOL! Gardening isn't my favorite thing either, but for the same reasons you listed and more, I am working much harder at this year too.
    Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead

  5. Oh - I love to garden! But I don't care to raise pigs or cows! Hahaha - to each his own. Too bad we weren't neighbors and could trade vegetables and fruits for beef and pork!
    It is so true that the grocery prices seem to be skyrocketing! And I hear it is going to get worse because of the failing wheat crop in the midwest and the drought in California!
    Good luck with your steers and pigs - I will stick to my garden! :)

    1. I love that idea :) Bartering would be a wonderful thing!

  6. My lists are always longer than my reality, but I can hope :-)


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