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Old 02-06-2013, 06:58 AM   #1
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New to Homesteading idea...

We are trying to aquire a mini farm (few acres, possibly chickens, definitely garden)

How does it work for those of you?
what i mean is, how do you fit in all these new activities into your life? I am hoping that it will be OK for us. we aren't involved in a ton of outside activities, but our daily life seems crazy and I can't imagine trying to take care of animals or get food ready to can.

Our plan is to get the kids involved as much as possible. We do a special diet already, though so I am already very busy with school, special diet, baby needs, and DH sometimes volunteers as a minister at our church.

I think it would be great experience for my older boys right now, especially. DS (6) says he wants a donkey!!
When I see mini farms for sale I wonder if families tried to homestead and it was too much work. How much work is it extra for the mom & dad?

I don't mean to be negative but just trying to determine if this is right for our family.

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Last edited by vintagegyrl; 02-06-2013 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:11 AM   #2
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Re: New to Homesteading idea...

When it comes to taking care of animals I would suggest taking it slow. Chickens are very low maintenance and they actually produce something (eggs or meat). Chickens basically need feed, water, and a safe place to sleep. When I was a kid it was my job to let them out of the coop and feed and water them before school. The chickens just ran around loose during the day. They were smart enough not to get hit on the road. After getting home from school the eggs were collected. At dusk I checked to make sure they were alone in the coop (no raccoons or opossums) and closed the door. Chickens instinctively know to go back to the coop to roost before it gets dark. There is tons of backyard chicken info on the web.

Donkeys (or horses) are another matter. They require a lot more care. Daily stall cleaning, vet care, farriers, brushing, personal attention, etc. Plus they don't really give anything back besides the enjoyment of interacting with them. And they are Expensive. That being said I had a few miniature horses and I really enjoyed them.

I don't have any gardening advise as I am a plant murderer.

Growing up in the country with animals was absolutely wonderful. With animals you get a perspective of life and death and also a notion of where food actually comes from. If I can manage to buy a mini farm some day I would do it in a second. My siblings and I played together since going to town all the time just wasn't possible. I believe we are much closer because of it.

Don't count on the farm to sustain yourselves, but to supplement what you buy at the grocery store.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:50 AM   #3
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Re: New to Homesteading idea...

I agree with the PP. Do you and your DH work full time? I agree to start small, if you first start with chickens, and maybe a garden, concentrate on the plants that produce things your family will eat a lot of. Like for us that means a lot of tomatoes, we go through tons of spaghetti sauce and salsa. There's a ton of maintenance that goes into a farmplace alone, before adding animals and garden, ect in. For me it easily takes 6 hours to mow, using a riding lawnmower, just around our farmplace(our driveway is .5 mile long so that's part of it), around our barns and yard. During the summer depending on rain I might have to mow 1-2 times a week. My DH works in the barn/field work so I try to keep the kids busy outside so I can get things done. They're both 6 so luckily they play well together and can be pretty helpful but I still can never mow more then 1-2 hours straight before I need to stop for something.
You could also see if you could lease an animal from someone. Like for 4H our kids are going to lease sheep, they'll stay on our friends farm who has sheep, but we'll go once or twice a week and help care for them. That way you get an idea about the level of care they need without the full time commitment. Another thing about animals is you need to have someone you trust to care for them, or you cant go on vacation. Ever.

My kids LOVE our farm, and although I'm a city girl I LOVE living on a farm. It's an amazing life. And if you are prepared for the work and committed to it I'd say go for it, just be prepared
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:44 PM   #4
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Re: New to Homesteading idea...

Things definitely shift when you move to a homestead. Chores need to be done, at minimum, twice daily - either dh or I do them depending on what we have going that day. For us, the kids don't always help with chores as it takes double the time. My 5yo is starting to take more of an active role though, as the cats, 1 dog, and 1 pony are hers. It depends on the kind of animals and what your goals are - but for us, when we moved out here, we knew that we wouldn't want to be in town as much, would want to spend more time at home, slow down, grow more of our own food (meat animals, laying chickens, and veggie garden).
I do agree with starting slow...sometimes the added weight of increased acreage and figuring out where and how to house the animals is enough for a little bit. But knowing what your priorities are can help you figure out what you want out of a homestead. I knew I didn't want to spend my time on the riding lawn mower, so we have a small lawn. Our horses aren't stalled. We deep bed our animals - it's easier/faster in the winter to clean, the composting action creates warmth for them, and I'll have awesome compost for my garden come spring. Making smarter choices can make the load easier on you, but it will be different for sure. You have to want to do it.
Best of luck! It is awesome, living out here!
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:48 AM   #5
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Re: New to Homesteading idea...

Quote:
Originally Posted by missc View Post
Things definitely shift when you move to a homestead. Chores need to be done, at minimum, twice daily - either dh or I do them depending on what we have going that day. For us, the kids don't always help with chores as it takes double the time. My 5yo is starting to take more of an active role though, as the cats, 1 dog, and 1 pony are hers. It depends on the kind of animals and what your goals are - but for us, when we moved out here, we knew that we wouldn't want to be in town as much, would want to spend more time at home, slow down, grow more of our own food (meat animals, laying chickens, and veggie garden).
I do agree with starting slow...sometimes the added weight of increased acreage and figuring out where and how to house the animals is enough for a little bit. But knowing what your priorities are can help you figure out what you want out of a homestead. I knew I didn't want to spend my time on the riding lawn mower, so we have a small lawn. Our horses aren't stalled. We deep bed our animals - it's easier/faster in the winter to clean, the composting action creates warmth for them, and I'll have awesome compost for my garden come spring. Making smarter choices can make the load easier on you, but it will be different for sure. You have to want to do it.
Best of luck! It is awesome, living out here!
I like that suggestion of knowing what your goals are and then going slowly. Like if you know you want chickens and you want to rotate their pasteuring ground (if free range is too dangerous for yours) and then you eventually want hooved animals, and then your garden; it will help if you take all that into consideration when arranging your land, but then only add 1-2 new ventures at once. Ex: I have a friend who rotates her chicken's grazing and also has their fencing for those different areas right beside her garden so in the winter, she plants an area with rye for her chickens to have and peck at when she lets them in there. Then in the summer, it's off limits for them because she has it fenced in correctly. If that makes sense! The set up is perfect and though she just gardened first, it was already thought up of how to do it when she added in chickens.
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