Be sure to read How We Got Here- Part 1
The summer of 2010 was a pivotal year for us. That year we embarked on raising our own chickens for meat. After watching the movie Food, Inc (that’s an affiliate link) over the winter we knew that we did not want to support the commercial chicken industry. We were not able to find pastured or free-range chickens locally so we started raising our own. That year we also raised chickens for others and ended up processing somewhere around 300 birds (all by hand).
Processing our own chickens is now the norm. Other than a few random packages of free-range drumsticks that I picked up at the Natural Grocers for a special dish, we don’t purchase chicken. If we run out before the next processing time we often don’t eat chicken. We do eat other meats. Each month we get 10 pounds of beef as part of a CSA program, occasionally we’ll get bulk beef from another farmer in the area, we fish in the spring, summer and fall and each hunting season my husband and daughter fill up our freezer with antelope and deer. We also occasionally add in organic lamb if we find a terrific deal on it. The eventual goal is to be able to either raise the bulk of our protein ourselves or to harvest it through hunting and fishing.
Last year (2013) we took a big step toward our desire to provide our own protein by adding goats to our small place. We’d been planning on goats for a couple of years but kept running into issues. Finally everything lined up and a small herd of Dwarf Nigerian’s pretty much fell in our lap. At the end of June we brought home 4 does, a doeling (young doe about 5 months old), a young wether (castrated male about 6 months old) and a buck (stud). You can meet the goats here.
We didn’t realize that three of the four does were pregnant when we got them. We did start wondering around the end of August why they were getting so fat… On September 28 we were happy to find twin boys born to Cocoa. The next day Caliente had triplets (two girls and a boy) and a few days later Kalena had a little boy.
We were milking the girls each morning (until I broke my hand then things changed). We would get around a quart and a half of milk to two quarts (on a good day) milking morning’s only and it is absolutely wonderful. The flavor is great and we love that it is something we produce here. I know that a quart of milk is really a paltry amount to be happy about but for the little amount of time that it takes to get that milk (around 45 minutes) and the fact that we are just beginning with dairy goats, we’re happy. We do plan to increase the size of our herd and hope to also develop better quality milkers.
Speaking of increasing our herd size….
That is not something we can really do too much of on our little two acre parcel. You may know that we are planning a big change in the future. In May we purchased 20 acres a few hours from here. Our plan for this 20 acres is to develop an off-grid homestead.
I find it incredibly amusing that with my city girl history I’m planning to live an off-grid lifestyle. Our goal is to produce as much as we can on that 20 acres (meat, eggs, milk, produce) and forage/harvest from the surrounding area. We’re under no illusions that we’ll be able to produce all we need but feel that we can produce quite a bit. And maybe we don’t exactly need what we think we need either.
Our plans our still in their infancy. But we do know that life on a 20 acre off-grid homestead promises to be busy. We are busy here on this 2 acres, does that mean we’ll be 10 times busier on 20 acres. I hope not!
I do have to admit sometimes I think back to my house in the city. When Joe and I were married he moved into our city house with us. He was surprised to discover that everyone had their own space in the house and rarely hung out together. The house was on three levels and just over 2400 square feet. My little Lulu was only 9 then and she spent most of her time with me but the older girls would go to their own rooms more than congregate in common areas. At the time, it didn’t strike me as unusual since my friends and their family’s had similar situations. I thought is was normal.
When we spent the winter in our little camp trailer I realized that never seeing each other wasn’t normal. We needed to be together, to be more involved in each others lives. That winter was amazing. Our house now is an double wide (that we bought cheap and own free and clear) with plenty of space (just under 1600 square feet) and we are once again spread out. We’re planning for a small 600ish square foot cabin on the new place. We won’t move up there for a couple of years and expect to only have our little boy ( 5) and maybe Lulu (17) move up with us but we do look forward to the coziness of a small cabin.
It’s funny. When I had my 2400 square foot house, I thought a bit bigger space would have been nice. Why is that? A bigger house sure wouldn’t make it a home. In that same thought, a smaller house doesn’t make a home either. It’s the people that make it a home. We want to have a lifestyle that makes us a close knit family. In some ways I feel that this ship has sailed for me. My oldest girl is almost 25 and living on her home. My second girl is 23 and also on her own. The other three are still at home but one talks of having her own place, and a family of her own, in the near future (I do hope she’ll wait awhile on that). She does like our little farm, to a point, and thinks that some of the things we’re doing are pretty neat. Lulu (my youngest girl) thinks that the little farm we’re building and the desire for an off-grid place is just plain ‘weird’. It’s hard sometimes to know that she thinks that because of the way I raised her. I taught her that living in the city, working hard each day and coming home to a big house was what was normal and right. While I’ve come to believe different things, she has not embraced these new ideas and has made it quite clear that she has zero intentions of it. After all, her friends would never approve. Oh they do thing the baby goats, chicks and ducklings are cute but that is as far as it goes.
While this post (and the previous one) are called how we got here, it should be ‘How Joe and I Got Here and How We’re Dragging the Girls Along Kicking and Screaming.”
Things certainly can change in a short amount of time. None of us know exactly what the future holds. For today, these are our goals for the future. This year we have several things planned for both properties. You can read about a few of those projects here. We also have several other goals including getting out of debt. Read those goals here. We’ll be working very hard over the next few months to make the get out of debt goal a reality. Corporate for my Crazy Wrap Business announced a series of bonuses that we’re taking advantage of. I say “we’re” because this will require a team effort from the entire family to make it happen. I’m after a $15,000 bonus which will take care of our consumer debt and allow us extra to put toward the new property. GO TEAM!
Are you doing things now that you never would have imagined yourself doing a short time ago? What brought about your change?
The GOOD BONUS (GOOD = Get Out Of Debt) is available to all distributors. Contact me for more information. If you have been wanting to try that Crazy Wrap Thing now is the perfect time. We’re giving away a wrap each day on our Facebook page until the end of February. “Like” the page (click here) to learn more.