Thursday, March 15, 2012

A New Kind of Victory Garden: Think Global Act Local

I'm sure you have heard that slogan. Have you given it much thought? I mean, really? I had not. Until yesterday.

I was watching a youtube video yesterday of an interview with a lady who set about trying to answer the question, "how much can I grow on my property and how many people can benefit from it?" That question intrigued me. In the video, she quotes that slogan -- Think Global Act Local. She stated that growing your own food is the ultimate in local action that has a global affect. 

Think about that. Growing your own food doesn't just affect you, it affects many others. The more you are able to feed yourself, the less farmers on the other side of the country--or other side of the world--have to grow and ship to you. Growing more plants, scrubs, and trees on your property means less lawn which means less water run-off, less use of chemicals to maintain that green carpet, and cleaner air. 

Then, if you grow more than you and your household can eat, you have food to share. Setting aside a portion of one's produce for the hungry was a concept first promoted by none other than God, Himself. In the Pentateuch God instructs the Israelites to not harvest to the very edges of their fields nor gather the gleanings (the stuff that fell to the ground) so that the hungry and the foreigner can have something to eat. Planning for excess produce allows one to share with others.

So, back to the question: How much food can I grow and raise on my property? How many people can I feed from my little piece of the world?

I figure it will take another five years before I can answer that question. I have yet to plant all the fruit trees I want to have and I have to build the overall fertility of my land before we can see just what is really possible to achieve. With the addition of the rabbits, poultry, worm beds, and perhaps even a couple of dairy goats, we will be producing quite a nice load of fertilizer. Combine that with the mulch material we produce and we are on our way to building up the soil -- or as the author of "Chicken Tractor" says -- uppin the soil. Of course, the aforementioned menagerie of animals will also provide eggs, meat, and milk.

The chickens in their tractor will be helping prepare the initial garden beds and then helping to uppin them over the next few years. I am curious to find out just how many 4x8 garden beds we end up with. I hope to end up with mostly beds and grass paths between them. As the number of beds increase, their fertility increases, and my gardening skills increase, it will be quite interesting to find out what we can harvest from our .66 acres in year five. 

I hope you stick around to follow the continuing saga of the Not Quite There Yet Homestead over the next five years. Lord willing, I'll be here in 2018 to answer the questions: How much food can I grow and raise on my property? How many people can I feed from my little piece of the world?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cute Baby Chick Alert!

Buff Orpington and Brown Leghorn Chicks
Son and I had quite an adventure today which turned out great but quite different than we had imagined! The intended goal of our early morning adventure was to drive to Tabor City, find a so-called "tailgate chicken swap", and hopefully purchased some young hens. Well, two out of three ain't bad! The chickens at the swap turned out to be either roosters, old hens, or young fighting breed chickens. I saw some that looked like their beaks had been trimmed like they do in commercial chicken productions. That was enough to send us running!

From there, we journeyed to the Tractor Supply Company in Whiteville to pick up supplies. On the way, we discussed the merits and problems of getting chicks. Son talked me into the idea and even agreed to share his room with the little peepers.

Brown Leghorn Chicks
But, TSC only had generic production layers at their 'Chick Days'. We discussed the idea of ordering through them for specific breeds. The deciding factor not too was the minimum order of 25 required and the fact that we'd fall in love with them ALL before we figured out which ones were supposed to be sent to freezer camp. Luckily, a couple shopping at TSC told us about a feed store that also had chicks. They thought they would have "Americaunas" -- more correctly called "Easter Eggers". So, off we went. A few wrong turns later -- and some derogatory statements about Blondes driving -- and we found the feed store.

No Easter Eggers.

But, they did have a bunch of cute chicks! and geese (breed not indicated) and ducks (mallards most likely). We finally decided to buy two each of four breeds: Brown Leghorns, Black Sex Linked, Buff Orpington, and Barred Plymouth Rock. You may notice that the pictures included in this blog do not include the sex linked nor the barried rocks. That is because they are camera shy.

Chick Huddle!
Upon arriving home, we had some fast work to do. We had not intended to come home with such young chickens so we did not have a brooder set up. While I prepared the feeder and water, Son went to fetch the galvanized tub I had purchased at a yard sale last year and never put to use. Then, he quickly fashioned a "lamp stand" to hold the heat lamp over the tub. Soon enough we had the chicks deposited in their new home. We made sure to show each one where the food and water was -- they were hungry and thirsty already! Then, it was nap time -- for them, not for us!

Son is enjoying a much deserved "play day" with a friend while I review my stack of literature for info on raising chicks. I'd skipped over that thinking I was going to miss that stage of their development. Silly me. Silly silly me.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not feature a picture of the completed chicken tractor! Son did good! Worked hard, hammered a few fingers, but managed not to cut off any of them. He earned his fun day!

Finished Chicken Tractor!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Plant Extra to Feed Others

The chicken tractor is almost finished and Son and I go to the chicken swap Saturday to get our chickens. In a few weeks, we'll have our rabbits. Planting season is upon us and it seems that this year the homesteading plans are kicking into high gear. This is good since the cost of gas is skyrocketing and that will affect the cost of food in the grocery stores. People are also murmuring about the warm winter and how this could be setting us up for a very active hurricane season. All of which serves to remind me that being prepared for whatever poop might hit the fan is important.

If there is an economic, political, or environmental crisis, how will you feed your family? How will you handle a medical crisis if medical facilities are inaccessible? What if the power grid goes does down and will be down for an extended period of time?

I haven't worked out a solution for lose of power -- or water for that matter. It is an aspect of preparedness I still need to work on. I'm doing a little better on the food storage and medical care aspects. We are learning to use coupons to save on the grocery bill for day-to-day supplies and for the stock-up pantry. We started canning last year and will do even more this year. We'll soon be raising our own eggs and meat as well as vegetables, fruits, and herbal medicines.

The growing herbs and making of medicinal powders, tinctures, salves, etc., is an important part of my short- and long-term preparedness plans. I hope to build up a first-aid kit and medicine cabinet that has conventional and herbal medicines for "in case of" situations. First-aid for typical injuries around the homestead and for emergencies caused by...bad weather...and other SHTF scenarios. Other medicinals I want to have on hand are geared toward general good health and healing. 

The plan includes more fruit trees, vines, perennial vegetables, and room for annual vegetables. The intent is to grow enough for eating fresh, canning or otherwise preserving, and having some to share with others. I read often on preparedness sites about how to hide one's food supply or how to protect one's food from others. But, scripture says we trust in the Lord. It also teaches that we don't fail to provide for the poor in the harvest of our crops. I believe as Christians who place our faith and ultimate provision in Christ that we plan and prepare but always with the realization that He looks out for us. As Christians we include in our food and herb growing to have some to donate to a local food pantry or needy families in the church.