Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Adding Protein Back to Our Homestead

Someone asked me a few weeks ago how much of our food comes from our homestead.

The answer was... not enough.

Sure, we don't really have to buy any vegetables (with the exception of specialty things we don't grow, like Vidalia onions or tomatoes).

We're pretty set on roots like sweet potatoes, turnips and yuca.

I always have bundles of greens.

We also get a decent amount of berries, figs and other fruit (though nothing like we'll be getting in another year or two).

Where our homestead falls short is in the realm of protein. We're buying eggs and meat and that's really a budget-killer, especially with the ongoing inflation in prices. Plus, I like to buy grass-fed and organic meat, which is really, really expensive.

I've looked into the possibility of adding rabbits to the homestead for quite a while. They turn weeds into meat... lots of meat... but I just never figured out the logistics.

Then they fell into our laps when I was offered four New Zealand rabbits in a trade for one of the pecan trees in my nursery.

It took me two days to figure out proper housing and build a decent cage out of reclaimed lumber, roofing panel and some hardware cloth, but I did it.

My grandpa would totally make fun of my carpentry if he were still here on earth, but it works and it's solid. It also cost me very little since it's mostly pallet wood and old fence boards. Heck, quite a few of the nails are even reclaimed.

Less than a week after I got the rabbits... I ended up getting chickens again.

I know, you read my story on how I got rid of my flock and why... but this time it's going to be different. I have less birds... and I created a nifty new easy-to-move tractor I can scoot around the crummy part of my front-yard food forest.

Though it's not in this photo, I tack a tarp to one half of the tractor to provide some shelter for my vigorously weeding and laying poultry.

In the mix are 2 Red Stars, 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Gold-Laced Wyandottes and a green egg-laying Americauna.

I'm hopeful that this tractor is good enough to keep out the raccoons. If not, I'll add wire to the bottom as well. I just hate to keep the birds from tilling.

Anyhow, since the plant nursery has tied me to the house already, I figured I might as well add some meat and eggs back to the mix. We're already appreciating higher-quality scrambled eggs... and soon I'll have rabbit stew, not to mention jerky.

Note to self: Build a smoke house.

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At August 13, 2014 at 7:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coons might be able to reach through that cage to bite the head off of your birds.....I lost one that way because I didn't use wire with small enough holes.....if you have any extra wire, you might want to double up on it!! Good Luck!

At August 13, 2014 at 9:54 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Thank you. I heard from another chicken owner that lost birds the same way. Danged racoons.

At August 13, 2014 at 4:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a pile of rabbits and chickens (and 5 ducks!) and what I like to do after the meat has rested is boil the meat, which I can either can or shred and freeze. I can or freeze the broth too. Nothing is more useful to a cook in winter than having bags or cans of cooked meat and broth for soups and stews! As we have discussed before, the animals are a lot of work, but they're worth it! --Ivy Mae

At August 13, 2014 at 9:32 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

When you come up on Monday make sure to tell a couple people about the rabbits. There are some seriously experienced rabbit-ranchers coming to the meetings.

At August 14, 2014 at 1:03 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Very good - thank you.

At August 14, 2014 at 1:04 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

Great idea. You're right - ready-to-cook meat is a big help for feeding the family.


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