Raising Chickens, Goats and Vegetables for a Sustainable Homestead | Manna Pro

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Mandi pic 1Homestead Now More Than Ever

A few weeks ago I was in a meeting with a variety of folks, and we were all asked “What does nature mean to you?” There were several different answers, but they all lead back to the same commonality. Being more sustainable. Now, what does that really mean? Merriam Webster defines sustainable as, “relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged; or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods.” So, lets tie that into homesteading.

I am often asked, why raise dairy goats; why do you have so many chickens; or why do you grow so many vegetables? The answer is often the same... it makes me happy to know I can do all of this for myself, my family and to experience the joy that accompanies self-sufficiency. Now, more than ever, it is critically important to identify a local source of food and supplies. Or better yet, do it yourself. I feel very prepared to be on my homestead for weeks if I had to, which makes me feel safe and comfortable. The following are highlights in self-sustainability and what you should consider to get started.

mandi pic 2Chickens

Do you eat eggs daily? Wouldn’t it be nice to know you can just go to your backyard, instead of the store? It doesn’t take much to start your own backyard flock. You need a safe coop and run with 3 square feet per chicken, food, a water source, and a minimum of 3 chicks to begin with. For a family of 4 you should start with a flock of 6 laying hens. With this flock size, you will have plenty of eggs for your family and some to share with family, friends and neighbors. Eggs are an excellent source of protein. Additionally you can give back to your garden by saving your eggshells and scattering them around. If you dont have a garden, you can crush the eggshells and feed them back to your hens for a great source of calcium, which is crucial for strong eggshells. Oh and by the way backyard-fresh eggs taste soooo much better than the store bought eggs that have been sitting in the warehouse for days, if not weeks.

Hard-Boiled Egg Tip: adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water it increases the alkalinity, making the shells easier to peel.

mandi pic 3Goats

Now, you may be thinking how does adding mouths to feed, such as a couple of dairy goats, to your homestead equal being more sustainable? Do you drink milk, cook with butter, eat cheese, or wash your hands with soap? My guess is a majority of you answered yes to all four. Two dairy goats can provide you with all of those and more! You need to have at least two goats because they do not do well alone. A family of four likely only needs to milk one goat but two will allow you to sell or share your products. Time wise it is very safe and easy to implement once a day milking instead of morning and evening. The resources you have at your fingertips from raising a dairy goat are endless, and in times where self-sustainability come into play more than usual, it’s one more important comfort you can have for yourself and your family.

Goat’s Milk Butter: Combine one cup of heavy cream (from the goats milk) and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Take the cream and salt mixture and add it to a butter maker.  Don’t have a butter maker? A mason jar will do the trick. Pour the mixture into your mason jar and shake! Shake until the cream begins to thicken and get chunky and the butter separates from the buttermilk. Keep shaking until firm and then strain off the buttermilk. You can then form into a cube or shape of your choice and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Mandi pic 4Gardening

Last but certainly not least, and in my opinion the best way to be sustainable, is gardening. Anyone can grow almost anything, in any zone and in any amount of space. If you dont have a dedicated garden space, you can grow in containers on your deck or outdoor space. Container gardening makes growing herbs to cook with easy such as herbs and tomatoes. The pride you will feel when you harvest your fresh veggies will never be lost because you planted the seed, you know what was added to the plant, and you were there when it was harvested – a full seed to table story! You not only have a sense of pride, but an awareness of where your food came from. As an added benefit, any food (besides garlic and onions) that doesn’t get harvested on time can go to the chickens for a snack and they will love you for it.

Aloe Vera Sunburn Relief: After a long day in the sun you may need a little help with your skin. If you have planted an aloe Vera plant, which grows like a weed just follow the recipe.Pick a leaf/stem of Aloe Vera that is about 8 inches, strip the outer shell of the leaf, add two tablespoons of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, or other essential oil of your choice. Mix and store in airtight container.

The greatest feeling in the world is knowing that you have the resources and ability to do things yourself!  So why not start now? Self-sustainability is not just about what you can do for yourself, by yourself, it is also about giving back to our planet, making things last and using your resources for things that are unconventional. I hope that I have at least briefly shown you one or two ways you can begin to implement more sustainability to your lifestyle. Now is the time to begin. Happy Homesteading!

XO Farmer Mandi

Mandi Chamberlain

Mandi Chamberlain

Hi everyone! My name is Mandi. I am a registered veterinary nurse, who fell in love with the art of living slow so I moved to the country. Most who know me would say I do anything but live slow these days though! I live on just over 4 acres in the Midwest. I raise a herd of registered Nubian dairy goats, a tribe of chickens, and a large garden. I have a huge passion for learning, and then teaching others what I have learned. I find country life to be rewarding and challenging every single day, but I wouldn't trade a thing. Thanks for joining me! I am here to help with anything!

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