So today we are going to address the not so pleasant part of homesteading. A lot of people homestead without doing this, but it really makes you more self sufficient and less dependent on grocery stores. What is this I speak of??
Yup eventually..you’re going to have to get bloody. You have to be able to look at blood, be ok with an animal dying, and know how to use every part of it so that you don’t waste any. Now because I know a lot of you are moms with small children, I will not post any graphic pictures here or in later posts, but I will link you to youtube videos that I have either made or have found helpful. If you absolutely cannot stand the site of blood you can either trade services with another homesteader or you can call a local butcher and have your meat processed. I must tell you though that it gets expensive to pay processing fees and much of it you can do yourself.
Raising your own meat is non profit for the most part. Most of us do it because you always have a supply of meat on hand, you know exactly what is in the meat, and where your meat came from. No matter how much land you have, you should be able to raise something for meat. If you live in town you should be able to raise rabbits. If you are Sub-Urban you should be able to have rabbits and maybe even chickens. If you are rural, well that is where you get whatever you want!
3 Easy Critters to Raise
Meat Rabbits: These guys are very easy to raise. Depending on how many you have, you can raise them solely on things you’ve grown in your garden and you can also pasture your rabbits as shown above. It also depends on if you have the means of storing things for winter feedings too. Rabbits are not expensive to raise but you really need hanging cages that no raccoon or dog can get into and just know they get hot in the summer so make sure you have a way to cool them down. You can use their droppings are fertilizer right away on gardens and boy does that make a huge difference in your veggies! I am hoping to raise some starting next year if I can talk the hubby into it.
Sheep: The pictures above are of my sheep. We went to the sale barn and purchased sheep. If you don’t know what to look for please do not use this route, use a breeder instead. Sheep are again super easy to keep. You only raise them about 4-6 month before you process. Three sheep can easily live on half an acre of grass/weed pasture and be fine. They will eat a lot of weeds (I was actually surprised as the amount), leaves of trees they can reach, and some grass. Mine preferred clover mixed with crab grass. You do not need to feed the sheep grain if they are 4 months old, although we did give them some scratch grain from the chickens in the mornings. They keep easily with minimal care. Strong fences and a cool place to lay in the summer is a must.
Chickens: Chickens can cost a lot depending on what you want to do with them. If you have a fenced yard, let them free range all day and feed for them is next to nothing. They can pretty much go without feed all summer but I would feed them chicken feed in the winter when the bugs are not as plentiful. Garden scraps make a wonderful supplement to any feeding. Here is a roo that hatched two years ago. You can raise your own chicks and cull the roosters for meat, leaving the hens to produce eggs or you can just raise hens. You need a fenced area, a place for the chickens to lay their eggs, and a place to lock them in at night. Insulated coops are recommended if winters in your area get below 32. Chickens are hardy and good to can up to a year old. After a year they are considered stewing hens because the meat wont peel off the bone for canning. You can have one sit in a crock pot all day and it can be eaten for dinner though. You should get twice as many hens as you want eggs a day. They don’t always lay.
Bottom line is do your research before you start raising anything. Know what your doing and educate yourself on the expense, time, care, and processing of the animal before you buy. There are many other things you can raise for meat such as pigs, cows, and goats. You also can hunt your food and obtain deer, rabbit, coon, squirrel, quail, turkey, duck, geese..the list goes on. Educate yourself and do what is easiest for you. I wish you all luck and I will post about my adventures on what animals we get this year and how to cull/process/care for them.
Happy Homesteading!! 😀