About 6 months ago, we got it into our heads to buy a farm. The idea made sense – we breed and train horses so a permanent home for them was needed – and we got a pretty good deal on this farm. With 10 acres and horses that don’t need all 10 acres, it got our minds thinking about what to do with the rest of the space. Truth be told, the horses don’t take up the whole day, and I like to be busy. The thought of producing everything we need, from our food to the food for the animals, appeals to me, so I started exploring this homesteading thing. We kept chickens in the past (the dog killed almost all of them in one horrific day) and now that we have enough space, I started with a few chickens (we lost half to the dog and the horses) but a few have survived and we have more on the way.
We aren’t organic, I try to do stuff as low-maintenance as possible, but good luck finding organic chicken feed, for example, around here. I know I can have organic feed shipped to me, but it’s very costly, and the farms around us are decidedly NOT organic (think pesticides sprayed in the air) so even if I tried to be organic, it’s not going to happen by default. Part of the reason we took on this project is because we want to reduce our everyday costs. Having organic feed shipped in is counter intuitive. The chickens are here for eggs, pest control (our fly and mosquito population plummeted after their acquisition), and entertainment, and secondarily for meat. We know we’re going to process them ourselves (we’re still pointing fingers at each other to decide who will do the killing), and that day will be interesting. A few weeks ago, I thought one of the horses was having a heart attack after touching a hot wire fence, and that was the day I decided we will process the livestock ourselves. But that’s a story for another time.
Enjoy the ride with us, it’s sure to be interesting.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.