My wife and I are working towards being self-sufficient. The problem is, the word “self-sufficient” has been used over and over so many times that it starts to lose its effect. I think another good term would be “indefinite sustainability”. Meaning a lifestyle that can be maintained for a long time.
Within the next year my wife and I are looking at moving to a rural area. We already live about 4 miles outside of Jasper Texas. But we want to move a little further from town.
When I was a child, my great-grand parents on my mom and dads side of the family lived in rural areas.
On my moms side of the family, my great-grand parents lived in a small house on the banks of the Neches river just south of Dam B. My great-grand father ran trotlines all the time and caught some huge catfish. They made their weekly or monthly trips to town for beans, bacon, medicine, and other basic supplies. The house they lived in was a very basic 4 room house – bed room, kitchen with a tv, fridge, stove and oven, bathroom, and enclosed wrap around porch.
On my dads side of the family, my great-grand parents lived on a homestead with around 30 acres in a rural area. They had cows, a horse, garden, barn, chickens. And one thing they seemed to have a lot of was peace and quiet.
Both places had several things in common. They caught or raised some of their own food, and they lived off the beaten path. I want to achieve both in the near future.
Over the past year or so I have been putting a lot of thought in my homesteading project. The goal is to have a garden and livestock that complement each other.
Garden and chicken yard one in the same
On the backside of the fenced in area are a couple of acres for growing corn, watermelons, pumpkins,,,.
Fenced in area dimensions
Length – 100 feet
Width – 50, maybe 60 feet. The width will be divided in half with a dividing fence running long ways. This leaves a section 25 or 30 feet wide by 100 feet long.
Sixteen 4 foot x 8 foot raised bed per side, 8 per quarter.
During the off season, the side of the garden not being used will act as compost bins and a chicken yard. Table scraps and grass clippings will be dumped into the raised beds. The chickens will dig though the compost bin, keep it rotated, and add their own fertilizer.
Rainwater off the chicken coop can be caught, stored in drums and used in the garden.
Something else I could do, is build some rabbit coops, then add the rabbit droppings to the garden. Since the garden is fenced in, maybe let the rabbits run free inside the garden from time to time.
Water is the biggest of my concerns. The plan is to put a well in. Besides having an electric pump, also have a manual pump, something like a Bison.
Rainwater can be collected off the shed and the house, then use the rain water to water the garden.
With a nearby creek, I thought about using a solar trickle charger to pump water from the creek into the garden.
Under my plan, my main sources of meat would be chicken, goat and supplemented with wild game from time to time.
I do not have the goat yard figured out yet.
I thought about having cattle, but cattle take up to much room. Then there is the butchering issue. When a cow is butchered, there could be several hundred pounds of meat to process. Having several hundred pounds of beef “might” sound like a good idea, but how do you store it? Do you have enough jars for canning, a smoke house, a way to make and store hundreds of pounds of jerky,,,?
In the middle ages cattle were used for their milk and as work animals. Milk was used to make butter and cheese, much like today. But cattle were rarely butchered as so much meat went to waste. This is why chickens, goats, ducks,,, were popular foods in the middle ages. As little meat went to waste.
My indefinite sustainability calls for very little to go to waste.
The thing that has made on modern life possible.
The plan is to have solar panels attached to a deck in the backyard. Solar is still a ways for me, but the plans are in the back of my head. I want to get the garden complete, or at least 1/2 way running, then look into solar.
Where the power go into the house, build a shed with solar controllers and batteries. Power goes out, go to the shed, flip a switch, and then we would be on battery backup.
What do we use electricity for? To make our lives comfortable. electricity is used to power our modern machines, computers, motors, tools, lights, air conditioning,,, and so on.
My goal for electricity during a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation is lights and fans. With lights and being able to recharge batteries we have security. Batteries allow us to check on the livestock in the middle of the night via flashlights. Something spookibng the chickens or goats in the middle of the night, we have to be able to see what is going to get shot.
Link to the forum thread – Indefinite sustainability in a long term survival situation