In just 18 months Morgan and I have gone from country folk with a casual backyard chicken flock to fully immersed in a more self sufficient (food) lifestyle.
We've raised and slaughtered chickens and goats. We've harvested eggs and milk. We've shoveled endless piles of crap, buried animals, and mourned the loss of livestock due to predator attack. We've moved portable pens across the pasture in the middle of Summer, carted buckets of hot water across the property in the middle of Winter, and spent countless hours sitting in lawn chairs soaking up this life.
About 5 years ago we became deeply convicted about our food production as a society and out of that came a desire to produce as much of our own food as possible. 3.5 years later and we're still far off from that goal, but the cadence of our efforts is rapidly increasing and we're starting to become comfortable with the successes and failures of our efforts.
In order to start processing large quantities of chickens, we need expensive tools like a chicken plucker and scalding equipment.
In order to grow goats and pigs on pasture, we need expensive fencing materials.
In order to improve our egg harvests, we need to re-engineer our coop(s) and buy some proper nesting boxes that prevent them from eating eggs.
We still have unexpected predator loss, which means we need to invest in additional fencing and traps.
This Fall, we're getting our first breeding pair of KuneKune pigs in order to jump start production of pork for the table.
And next Spring we want to dive into farming vegetables, which means we need tools for soil maintenance, irrigation, and so on - stuff that we just don't already have on hand.
And if there's funds left over, I need stuff like a chainsaw to process trees and firewood, large carts for moving manure and compost, improvements for feed storage, etc.
Up to this point we've made improvements and built infrastructure using existing materials and small chunks of funds as they become available, but both of those sources have run out during a pivotal moment of growth. So we're reaching out to friends and family for donations to help us obtain some critical infrastructure components and tools. For those donations, we'd like to share some fruits of our labor in gratitude.
For $25 donations to our infrastructure costs, we'd love to share a gift of 5 dozen eggs over the course of 5 weeks.
For $50 donations to our infrastructure costs, we'd love to share a gift of 4 broiler chickens.
For $150 donations to our infrastructure costs, we'd love to share a gift of 1/4 goat or pig.
For $300 donations to our infrastructure costs, we'd love to share a gift of 1/2 goat or pig.
For $Misc donations to our infrastructure costs that don't fit a bucket above, we'd love to share a gift of some or all of these things, maybe even vegetables.
None of these gifts will be available immediately. It's a long term investment into our success as a family and homestead, and the harvests will be part of our evolving schedule.
Egg production is about to taper off and will pick back up in the Spring.
We're raising our first flock of 50 meat chickens for harvest this December. It's an experiment to see how we can handle such a large amount at once, tweaking our feed schedules for a certain bird weight at harvest, and so on. So your chickens would be ready next Summer or Fall.
Goats take about 12-18 months before they're ready to butcher and we hope to have fresh kids born in late Winter or early Spring.
Once we get the pigs we'll evaluate the timing for mating. They have a bout 115 day gestation period and then 12-18 months to raise the piglets for slaughter. So most likely early 2020 for our first harvest.
Vegetables will begin next Spring/Summer, and even though I'll have guidance and help from a local farmer, the harvest yield is purely unknown at this time.
Part of this effort will include the launch of a blog so everyone can see progress, keep tabs on their "investment" and have better understanding of what it truly takes to grow your own food.
Business loans aren't logical, and honestly we're not looking to start a farm business. We simply want to increase our scale and variety in order to produce our own food for a year and taking out a financial loan to do so doesn't make much sense. So if you feel compelled to help, we'd love to work with you. If you're out of state (TX), we'll figure out how to get you your gifts. If you're not interested or able to chip in, maybe do us a favor and share.