There are little feelings better than the feeling you get from harvesting your own food. With extremely uncertain times, more and more small farms or “backyard farms” are popping up every day. There is a certain freedom you are given when you know that no matter what happens around you, you are living a more self-sustainable lifestyle. With all these new farms comes the learning curve of trial and error. Part of farming is understanding what works best for you and what makes things harder for you. Make no mistake, farming is work, but it doesn’t have to always be hard work. There are always little things one can do to ensure that you are getting the most out of your farm, while finding ways to make these jobs easier. One of the main keys to farming is using what you have. Reuse and repurpose as much as you can and you will not only save money, but also at times, create some of the most unique and rewarding projects to call your own.
Where to start?
Many want to start living a more self-sustainable lifestyle, but they are not sure where to start. I suggest looking at your situation meaning, are you living on a piece of ground where you can have a farm? Are you in town and does that town have laws against certain animals? What do you want to accomplish from farming? These are all important questions when you are starting the process of farming so that you can decide what type of farm you are going to be able to start.
Land is always important to know to determine the size and quantity of the farm. If you live in town and have a small back yard and hardly any front yard, it’s okay, you can still farm. The first thing you need to understand is that the idea of a “yard” is outdate and a waste of what sometimes can be very fertile soil. There is nothing more beautiful than an entire lawn full of crops in my opinion. Start small and figure out what it is you and your family will consume and go from there.
Arched gardens are always a friend to those with a small space to ensure they get the most from their harvest. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to put a T-post in the ground on either side of the arch and simply use a cattle or hog panel to create the arch. The T-post will hold the arch and place and you are able to know grow any type of vine vegetable or fruit and it will climb the panel instead of spreading out over the ground.
Raised garden beds are also easy and affordable to create. Going back to my thoughts of repurposing and reusing as much as possible, if you have any logs laying around and some old horseshoe stakes, you have the material you need to create a raised garden bed. Just stack the logs on top of each other and use the stakes to hold them in place. Obviously, this is just an idea of things that some people have laying around, and the materials can be switched out for whatever you have laying around.
When it comes down to livestock, you will once again want to see what is legal in your area to keep. Some town ordnances will say you are able to keep a certain number of chickens but no roosters, or you can keep rabbits, but they must be pets.
If someone is looking to start harvesting their own livestock, rabbits are the way to start. The reason I suggest starting with rabbits is simple, they do not take up much space, are cheap to get into, easy to care for and most importantly, they have a lot to offer once harvested. If you start out with two does and one buck, once you start breeding them you will be able to harvest at least 180 lbs. of meat each year. Rabbit meat is amongst some of the leanest and healthiest meat you can consume and when it comes to harvesting, skinning a rabbit is extremely simple. Of course, if you start raising rabbits, you will need a place to keep them. A Rabbit hutch does not have to be super complicated or fancy. You just need a box with wire mesh (make sure to get the correct kind of mesh, 14-gauge double-galvanized mesh with 1/2’” x 1” holes for the floor are very important). Make sure to have the hutch off the ground enough where predators cannot reach the rabbits easily and if you are going to garden, place a box or tote under the cage to catch all the rabbit manure. Rabbit manure is known as “cold-manure” meaning that it can go directly onto a garden without having to mature. Rabbit urine is also a natural bug repellent for your garden. The fur of rabbits can be tanned and used in many different ways, so rabbits are always a great place to start.
Another great animal to start raising early on is chickens. There are two different types of birds you will want to look at. You have your egg laying birds and your meat birds. Meat birds tend to grow about twice as fast as egg layers and have a significantly shorter life span so just do your research on the breed you go with so you know what the harvest age will be. Egg laying chickens are very easy and rewarding to raise. I suggest starting with a hardy breed like a Rhode Island Red or Sussex. Currently, I have 24 laying hens and I am able to get at least a dozen eggs a day. Eggs are essential to any farm when it comes to cooking or in some cases, making a little extra cash. A chicken coop is something that does not have to have a lot go into it and in some cases, you can get away with only spending money on the hardware and chicken wire. I built my entire chicken coop out of an old privacy fence and some plywood. It has served me well for years now and it hardly cost me any money. The main concern you have with a chicken coop is ensuring that your birds are safe from getting out or anything getting in including the weather. I have seen people use old swing sets, playhouses and even old cars to build coops out of, be creative and ensure the safety and health of your birds and you will be fine.
If you are able to accomplish these three things, you will have great success at farming. This is just a starting point really because once you get started, it is very easy to grow more as each season passes. However, if you get a good garden, some rabbits and chickens, you will be able to harvest the majority of your own food off of as little as an acre of land. Be smart, be creative, be safe and be a farmer.
Written exclusively for our company by Jacob Ruble
Source – CoolMambo.com