Born in the wrong era

I have always half-joked that I was born into the wrong era. I always wanted to ride my horse into town, raise my own critters, and work the farm. OK, so I admit I like some modern luxuries such as toilet paper and indoor plumbing. According to my mom, toilet paper should not be considered a luxury, but after a recent outdoor wilderness experience where I was forced to "use" a rock, believe me, TP is a wonderful luxury!! Anyway, our family life seems to be gradually taking a turn toward the desires my blood has always had. We have our little farm, it happens to be riding distance to the nearest town, and it is perfect in many ways for "homesteading". So I have been researching how far we want to go with this new endeavor, and we are loving the idea. We have already taken our diet to about 95% organic, I have already learned to plan my meals a month at a time, I shop only once a week, we try to conserve and recycle what we can, we are pretty thrifty financially, and I have the passion for animals, while S has the passion for manual outdoor labor. This could work.

Some of you may think me crazy, but we are considering trying it all--from growing our own organic fruits, herbs, and veggies in our little (already planned) garden and orchard, to canning seasonal items for later use, to building a "summer kitchen, " to raising our own horses, cows, goats, pigs, and chickens. The chickens are good for meat, eggs, and pet food--and did you know there is a such thing as a chicken plucker now? You don't have to spend hours plucking feathers by hand anymore. The plucker does it in under 30 seconds! Pretty neat actually. It tenderizes the meat a little in the process. The cows will likely be the Dexter breed, as we have a supplier nearby with a bull, they are small and easy to manage, and they are good for both meat and milk. The goats and hogs I wouldn't be as interested in except that they are so versatile. Goats are browsers, and therefore basically eat the stuff the horses and cows won't, which is more efficient on a farm. When their work is done, they provide meat, milk, and apparently pretty good revenue from the kids. The hogs and chickens are great for churning up compost and garden soils. Hogs are later good for meat or piglets for sale. So the more animal labor we can put on our farm, the more food we have and less gasoline and modern equipment we have to use. All the animals will be grass-fed and as natural as possible. Even our predator control will likely consist of an adopted burro, as apparently they have an instinctual hatred toward dogs and other predators. I may consider a few guineas as well, as they are safer than peacocks, but make great alarm systems when predators are around. Chicken losses are a big problem on free-range homesteads. I figure with raw milk, fresh cheese, yogurt, and whatever other dairy I can learn to make, produce, meat from cattle, goat, hog, wild turkey and venison (all over our farm), I think we can basically do everything except grow our own hay and grains.

We have already started gutting the front half of our barn and have been trying to decide how best to set it up. It looks like I will keep the horses in the back half, and set up a tack room, work area, and milking stanchion in the front. The chicken coop will also likely work very well attached to a hidden corner of the barn. I am so excited to start this project! I just wish it wasn't going to take 5 years or more to see it all come together!

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