Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our Ethical Objectives

I probably should have put this in the very first post of the blog, but I felt that getting a feel for the process of blogging first was more important. 

Our Mission Statement
To raise and grow our own meat in an ethical manner consistent with maintaining animal welfare and a sustainable lifestyle.

That's the short and sweet of it, I'm going to discuss more about the specifics of it below the cut.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Second Inspiration

Homesteading really wasn't what we first set out or thought to do. At first we were just thinking, chickens are good for eggs and controlling tick populations. We came to homestead not through deciding to do it but through first the chickens, then a second inspiration.

Ethical Meat
Ethical eating in general more to the point, but meat is a significant issue for us. As people concerned with animal welfare ethical treatment of animals is a concern. Both of us have experience with the meat industry through either classes or brief acquaintance in person. Given our knowledge of the meat industry in terms of animal ethics, meat nutrition, and sustainability over all, how to eat well has been a topic of conversation nearly as long as we have been going out. It obviously came up again as we discussed getting chickens. The obvious choice when having chickens for eggs is to have a rooster and also eat chicken. The lady of the house again had an idea (Seeing a pattern here?), what about rabbits?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Asking Questions

Libraries are developing significant sections of books on the subject to allow you to read for free. There are many books on homesteading out there that cover various things that can help you out as you shift your lifestyle. There are blogs on the subject, forums on every kind of livestock, web pages. It almost seems that there is enough information out there to figure out how to do all of this for yourself, and if you have plenty of money and lots of time, you probably can through trial and error. I however would recommend that you talk to locals, and people who have tried what you are doing and ask questions.

Asking questions is often more easily said than done, and I have a bit of advice on it below the cut.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Breeds We Selected

Our Primary Considerations
The factors we are looking for in a chicken are:
Hearty, especially to cold.
Relatively docile to human handlers, specifically those that they are familiar with.
Able to defend themselves at least somewhat from predation.
Lay well.
Decent meat.
Good at foraging.
Medium to large eggs.

 This reused image is a picture from some local friends of ours with chickens showing their laying flock.

Note: We had hoped to have pictures to go with words from the Big E, but sadly they didn't have chickens there when we were there, so sadly this will be a post sans pictures of what I'm talking about.

Below the cut will be specific breeds and the benefits we want from them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Research Part 2: Chicken Breeds

Chicken Breeds
So, I've been a city kid for my entire conscious life until very recently, but I had some acquaintance with where my food comes from. At one of the summer camps I went to we raised and slaughtered our own chickens. Mind you, I was quite young at the time and don't remember a lot of the process. What I do remember doesn't match up to what I want to do with chickens, and only included one breed of chicken. I did know that there were egg laying chickens, meat chickens, and heritage breeds. I knew not a single thing about them and their merits  or even what they were called or how to research them. Fortunately, there are a LOT of books about this as well as significant online resources. I'm collecting information I gathered from and from "Barnyard in Your Backyard" edited by Gail Damerow, and "Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds" by Carol Ekarius.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Learning Experiences 2: Drainage

Mental images of Daniel Day Lewis in "There Will be Blood" aside, drainage is definitely firmly in our minds now. Unsurprisingly Irene, or any major tropical storm will be an issue for anyone with property and even more so for people attempting to homestead. In our benefit, we don't yet have animals to care for in a deluge, and thus that ended up not being a major concern yet. That said, what did happen highlighted things we are going to have to focus on in construction and placement of our animal pens.

This is (was?) our driveway. As you can clearly see, we can't drive on that section.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Learning Experiences Part 1

Learning Experiences
Everyone has learning experiences. It's what happens when you make a mistake, and gain something from it. By sharing our doubtless substantial number of learning experiences, hopefully others can avoid making the same mistakes. I'd like to note that many of these will be learning experiences in progress, so we'd love input.
                                         Stock Photo

Of Tractors and Other Tools
Everyone knows that each job has its tools that you need to have to function properly. For writing it is a computer and a dictionary, for IT it is Google and your box of gadgets, etc. Before you move into a house you are warned that there are things you need for a house. It's almost like a whole other job based on the tool set you need. If you are going to be homesteading and trying to take care of things on your own, it's an even bigger tool set.

There are any number of lists of tools that are vital for homesteading, and I'll probably go into these various tools at some point in the future when I've experienced more. For now though I'm going to stick to my personal experiences and talk about the first major tool that has been an issue.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The First Round of Research

It's not something that you do once and then move away from, it's a process that as long as you have access to more information will continue to happen. In the case of us that means if we have access to a library, the internet, or other knowledgeable people. Given that there happen to be an abundance of knowledgeable people, functioning internet for now, and plenty of libraries, I suspect there will be a large number of posts on research.

The First Idea
Let's keep chickens. That would help with ticks and provide eggs.

That was the idea that came to the mind of the lady of the house. We looked at it, and decided this seemed like a good idea. After all, chickens have multiple uses and are supposedly fairly easy to care for. Eggs are good for you, and ticks are a pain in the ass. Beyond that we know people who keep chickens, both in suburbia and in the more rural areas that we've moved out to. Ok, it's definitely functional and probably a good idea, let's look into it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Starting at the Beginning

The hardest part in any project is the beginning. It is an old aphorism, but from what I can tell entirely true. Finding where we began looking into homesteading is hard because it started relatively organically. Where this blog began though is a lot easier. This blog began because we thought, man, we're making a lot of mistakes and learning a lot of things. We should share what we are learning so that people can be wiser than we were.

If you read homesteading books they begin by suggesting ideal locations in which to set up your homestead to make things easier. If decide to homestead before you buy a house, and you can afford to do so, I strongly recommend it. Not every place is ideal for homesteading, and despite certain advantages our new house is not exactly ideal. So, evaluating the house now for homesteading, this is the list of pros and cons that come to mind.