How do you get started?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by holsteintater, Jul 15, 2004.

  1. holsteintater

    holsteintater Well-Known Member

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    We are looking at homes in central Ohio right now but I have no clue as to what I'm doing! LOL This is what I want to do, please tell me if it's realistic and how to get started! I want to start off with a few chickens for their eggs but let some fertilized eggs hatch into chickens for meat. We want to have two goats for milking and then I guess sell their babies? I'm not sure! And maybe raise a couple of turkeys, but I don't know if they can live with the chickens! And do you kill the animals yourself and then just take them to a butcher shop? How much land would i need to do all those things? What kind of time commitment do you expect these tasks to take?

    Someone put up a link a while ago to find homesteads, does anyone remember what it was? I can't find it!

    Where do I learn how to do all these things? I wish I could go work on someone's farm and learn hands on! :)
     
  2. trixiwick

    trixiwick bunny slave

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    Welcome! I am by no means an authority on any of the critters you mention, but our interests are so similar that I thought I would share what experience I have had.

    Goats - we have two does and are breeding them and selling the kids (tough to do - they're awfully cute). The goats are in a fenced pasture slightly smaller than an acre and have a small barn (converted shed) to live in. We plan to create a few more pastures so that we can rotate the goats and other animals through them. In terms of time commitment, we give them about 10 minutes in the morning (a fresh bucket of water, a little grain, and a refill of the hay rack) and 15 minutes in the evening (same thing, a little more leisurely). Plus play time, of course - goats are fun, especially kids! Barn gets mucked out whenever needed (maybe every 8 weeks in winter and every 3 in summer) - takes about an hour, but we've got it down to a science. The used straw is great mulch if you have a veggie garden...

    Turkeys - we bought some poults a few weeks ago, and they're almost ready to go outside. We kept them in a brooder in the garage for several weeks, and this weekend we are putting them into a chicken-wire enclosure on the grass for a few more weeks. We plan to keep them in one of the fenced pastures as soon as we're sure they're dealing well with the weather. Time commitment: about 5 minutes each morning and evening to check in on them, give them more feed, and clean and refill their waterer.

    We plan to butcher them ourselves, which ought to be an adventure. I'm sure there are folks who will do it for you, but I'm at least going to try to learn to do it myself.

    We don't have chickens, but my suggestion would be to go for a meat breed or dual-purpose breed unless you really need huge numbers of eggs (like to sell). I'm sure the chicken folks on this board can provide lots of helpful advice. I don't think you can/should mix chickens with turkeys because I believe the chickens can give the turkeys blackhead disease. Again, I am no authority on this cause I don't have chickens. I have also heard that turkey toms can get inappropriately amorous with chicken hens...

    I would think you could easily have several goats, several turkeys and a dozen chickens on two acres. If you're lucky enough that your new property has a pond, you could also get ducks and/or geese. We have a pair of geese that are extremely independent and need very little care, and plan to get some ducks next year. Yum yum.

    Anyway, welcome and good luck! There are so many knowledgeable people on this board that I'm sure you'll get the info and support you need.
     

  3. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    Get a part time apprenticeship for the summer. Your state organic farming association can link you up.
     
  4. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

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    holsteintater,

    I have pens to muck, goats to move around, turkeys to butcher, chickens and chicks everywhere, puppies needing to be moved into goat pens, a fire 7 miles to my west and coming closer and cutting fire breaks wider, voluntary evacuation ...come on over!

    Never a dull moment!

    It is better if you see someone butcher and then you buther their stock. It is hard to butcher an animal when you only have 3 or 4 of them. It is easier when you have so many you don't have time to 'get to know them'.

    If you are close to me you are welcome to come over and get involved in butchering if you would like.
     
  5. holsteintater

    holsteintater Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies!

    Westbrook - where are you located? That makes sense about butchering animals you aren't attached to!

    trixiwick - I forgot to ask.. how much do you think you spend on feed and the like for your goats and turkeys? I'm wondering how economical this would be for our family of four if I don't really intend to be selling left and right.
     
  6. diane greene

    diane greene Well-Known Member

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    I think you are getting ahead of yourself:
    1. First find the land
    2. Fix up the house so it's comfortable
    3. Prepare and plant a garden
    4. Build animal shelters/barns and put up fencing
    5. Start with chickens and/or rabbits. See how much time you have leftover after taking care of the above and then start to consider things like goats.

    I also second the idea of an apprenticeship.
     
  7. holsteintater

    holsteintater Well-Known Member

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    Diane - I'm trying to get a good picture of how much work, effort, and money this is going to cost to see if we do in deed want to buy the house with land or just buy in a subdivision near DH's office. But I agree, starting off with just chickens sounds good.
     
  8. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    Get aholt of Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living for a person jusst starting out it contains a wealth of information uon more topics than you can think of related to just what you are asking, if possible attend one of the many worksops put on by her around the states, she is a neat lady......

    I grew up on a small farm [240 acres] and we rented or share cropped at the hieght of our farming practices 1400 acres of hay ground. We farmed noraml hours, can to cant somecdays and banker hours when we had to visit the parts house.... Winter hours were longer cause daylight is scarce in Northern idaho only giving 7 hours per day... then there was the winters we didnt have anything to feed, just hay to sell, those days consisted of about 2 hours whenever we had to load a truck out..... only a few minutes to feed the few animals we did have twice a day.

    Today my wife and i have 5 acres, jobs in town, 1 dog, to many barn cats [manx cross] 48 pullets and 2 horses..... about 20 minutes in the morning to make sure horses have water, dog is tied up, cats are fed [mouse population is dwindling] and chickens are watered and fed and eggs are collected, in the fall/ winter/early spring add 5 minutes to forking hay over to the horses. My pullets are 4 1/2 months old and i got 14 eggs today, 11 yesterday... and i know a few are layingo ut on the hillside, but i wil get them all to lay in the coop in another couple weeks right now i just let them free range not even locking them in at night for now......maybe next couple of weeks as the grass drys up they will all be needing the feed in the coop.

    Butchering is something everyone should learn to do themselves, but if you raise a beef or swine or such you can have a custom slaughter done either on your place or haul the animal to the facility.... stll custom mobile here in Idaho, not available in all states..... again before jumping of the deep end read Carlas book it gives fairly detailed instructions for getting the job done.

    It is a full time job to raise animals, they require 7 days a week attention, as they depend upon you for food and water and shelter.... more so than your own children, they cant tell you when they are sick, you have to rely on your insitinct and a thermometer..... and visual skills. You will get to know your local vet or maybe the vet will get to know you..... however myself i woiuld not trade the worst day on the farm for the best day in the big city. been there done that kinda enjoy the lifestyle i have now.

    William
     
  9. holsteintater

    holsteintater Well-Known Member

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    William - Wow! Thanks for the reply!! Now one question, what do you do with all those eggs!!!!?!! :)
     
  10. trixiwick

    trixiwick bunny slave

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    Goats are reasonably inexpensive to keep. In addition to pasture, our two does go through maybe six bales of hay per month (at about $4 per) and one bag of $7 grain. Add to that two bales of fresh straw for a monthly barn cleanup (at about $3/bale) and the goats cost us about $37/month. You'll need to also get some occasional purchases such as mineral mix, water buckets, etc. Our vet is cheeeeap and our goats have been very healthy, which has kept medical costs down to a bare minimum.

    As I say, we've only had the turkeys for about 4 weeks, so they haven't cost us much. We bought a brooder lamp and bulb, little feeder and waterer for about $25 total and constructed a brooder ourselves. The big bag of starter crumbles I bought for $7 isn't halfway gone yet, and I guess I will make the switch soon to the grower pellets I bought (same approx. cost). I understand they will be taking in LOTS more food once they get bigger!
     
  11. Surveyorwill

    Surveyorwill Active Member

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    The only real mystery here is the unknown. Everything about raising your own animals is natural, and if you really love doing it, it just seems to come second nature. We started with chickens several years ago, while renting an old farmhouse. The biggest question when we started “what if I do something wrong?” Commonsense keeps you inline there, do what feels right. Yes, we have had some chicks die, but that is a part of life, and we do what we can to help (maybe more than we should at times ;) ). Raised our own turkey too, 40 lbs dressed (note to our selves: don’t need to add that much corn that soon in feed :D ) we learn as we go, yes we have books on the animals we raise, but that’s for reference, no book can take the place of hands on. :no:

    This year we added pigs to the list. The first week I got worried because of that unknown thing, :eek: they just seemed to lie there all the time. Commonsense told me they were just babies, and babies need sleep, but I posted a message over on the pig page anyway. Everyone said everything would be fine just keep an eye on them. Sure enough, in the last month, they have doubled in size and are very active and hungry, and they love to see me coming down to see them after work. :)

    As far as time, I spend about an hour every night after work cleaning, feeding, and watering, but I could spend less if I didn’t enjoy my time watching and just relaxing. :) My boys, or DW checks their water during the day, so maybe another 15 minutes spent there, not a lot of time for 31 chickens, 3 pigs, 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 rabbits (soon to be more ;) ) and one lone turkey. That time is only for animal care and does not include construction projects for: Coop, Hutches, and Fencing.

    Just do it, but start small & don’t get overwhelmed by the unknown. And by the way we do all this right here in go old CA, didn’t have to move to Ohio to get out of the city, no offence just, always wonder why people need to move so far to “escape the city”. :confused:
     
  12. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the forum. My 2 cents worth is goats are expensive to keep. The grain is going up all the time and our 2 does eat a lot. Alfalfa is equally expensive and time consuming to find, haul and store. You need sturdy pens, a barn to milk in and keep the does in at night if you have dogs roaming the area or coyotes. Chickens are easy to keep. Again we had to build a shade shelter and fence it in on all 4 sides plus add a top because of the hawks. We have a one acre garden which takes up most of our time. Again customers for the excess are few and far between. We haven't added sheep or pigs yet but I'm sure feed will be high. The pen for the hogs must have lots of shade and be secure enough for them to stay at home. I don't want to discourage you; just make sure you are prepared for spending lots of time and money on our animals. Start slow as others have said. Go to the library and read every book in there that deals with homesteading. This should keep you busy until it's time to start your own place. Good luck and come here if you have questions about anything; most folks want to help. Check Carla Emery's website and see if she is giving a talk in your area. She is my neighbor so had to give her a plug for her book too.
     
  13. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    What to do with eggs..... well when we did not have the pullets laying [neighbors dog killed off 20 pullets last winter] we purchased 2-3 dozen eggs each week for our family.... i grew up eating eggs for breakfast, I love egg sald sandwiches for lunch once in awhile, hard bioled eggs go well in lunch, homemade pancakes require many eggs for the 4 of us [newborn is just reaching 2 months so doesnt require an egg just yet... maybe next month] pickled eggs taste great as a snack when working outside and no one wants to make anything right off.

    Home grown eggs sell for $1.50 dozen average around here, although most folks take less sometimesto get a buyer started, once people taste homegrown eggs they cant really go back to storebought cardboard eggs as i callem. If i sell 2-dozen eggs @ $1 per i get $14-21 per week with feed costs about $10.00 plus i get REAL eggs to eat, eggs with color to them, and taste.... our 3 year old will actually eat 3-4 eggs one at a time some days.... nope i am not gonna tell him noway you cant eat that many, cause he is afterall a growing boy and he needs real food once in awhile. and it isnt every day either that he does that.... maybe once a week or longer.

    Anyhow Im not into raising eggs for dollars as much as into recovering some feed costs and getting all the eggs our family wants for eating.... and im not opposed to giving away any either as long as i can keep the feed coming in.

    We dont wash the eggs as long as they are clean, and in dry weather that is most every da, so the eggs keep longer, and they look clean anyway so it isnt to much of a labor intensive job..... I am however gonna have to purchase egg cartons this year i suspect, just because people dont always save them for me, or they get old and broken and i dont want them falling apart... but there are places like www.eggbid.com that you can get them reasonable once inawhile, like right now they have an auction for .16 each on a lot of 250 foam cartons..... ergo $40.00 which would last me 11 weeks if no one gave me a carton back to reuse.
     
  14. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    holsteintater ,

    What do you define as central ohio? There's a big difference between East Central and west central (or do you mean central central?).

    Our farm is east central (carroll county). Are you looking online or have you catually been looking at places in person?

    Some places you can look online are www.farmanddairy.com or www.kikoauction.com.


    Based on what you say I'd guess a couple of acres in the right spot would do you. I highly recommend trying to get a little more elbow room.

    As usual, just my 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  15. We have the following on 2.4 acres:

    2 donkeys
    43 chickens
    1 rabbit
    2 dogs
    4 cats

    The donkeys have high grass to eat and we will buy a ton or so of hay from about 80 bucks, to get through winter.

    The chickens are free-range supplemented with wheat and provide eggs and will provide meat in the next couple months.

    We have never butchered either and are considering using a plastic cone where the chickens head sticks out the bottom. The chicken supposedly passes out from the blood rushing to its head and supposedly does not feel you lopping its head off. If it flops, the cone keeps the meat from bruising. Sounds logical but th devil's in the details!
     
  16. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    holsteintater,
    I'm confused as to why you want to do this. One of your replies
    indicates your other option is to buy in a subdivision. If you are
    thinking of raising animals to save money, that is probably not a
    good idea, as the food products will cost as much as in most grocery
    stores. If however, you are looking for quality food, that is another
    matter.
    I think you need to look at why you are considering this, and then
    you may get a better idea of whether the time and money is worth
    it. Don't forget that it may sound great in summer, but winter is
    another story...lugging buckets of water every few hours because they
    freeze quickly. It may not be such a good idea if you like to go on
    vacations, or even away for the weekend. Once you become
    responsible for the animals, it is 24/7/365. Getting someone locally
    who is competent to care for them is tricky, plus it may cost you
    for that person to come 2-3 times a day.
    Go for it, IF you have determined what you want to get from it,
    and it fits in with your lifestyle. Otherwise, it might be best to check
    out other options.
    Ann
     
  17. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I generally have a half-dozen chickens or so.

    Sometimes my eggs are cheaper than store-bought, sometimes they cost more. It depends on how hard I cull, and how much scraps I have to give them. Also, free-ranging them cuts down on costs but increases the risk to the birds. I am not free-ranging this year: I have already lost 2 birds and I don't want to lose any more!

    Now, the cost of eggs would not be a large part of our budget, anyways, but having chickens is a lot of fun and it doesn't end up costing us much, if anything. They pretty much pay for themselves.

    It takes perhaps 5 minutes a day to care for them. The shelter DID cost us to start up with the birds, but it seems to be lasting well enough. It cost about $150 for building materials. The shelter is SMALL! but it does the job.
     
  18. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    when you go to purchase your farm, agree on a price per acre and specify that there is a new survey and the "price is per acre as per survey". or you might find out the 70 year old farmer "forgot" he sold the back 90 acres three years ago.
     
  19. I have done chickens and the plastic cone does not make them pass out you are going to have to pull the head through and lopping off the head is'nt your best option you get better quality meat(IMO) if you bleed them out and then pirce the brain through the roof if the mouth to facilitate easier plucking(hot dip also loosens the feathers) and let me tell you no substitute for the water injection de-lunging tool. again just my opinion
     
  20. peanutgreen

    peanutgreen Well-Known Member

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    I agree: start small. DH and I have been raising a garden every year. We also can or freeze produce. A few years ago, we started with chickens and turkeys. We currently live in town, so bigger animals were out of the question. We just bought our "dream home" 6 1/2 miles out in the country. It's a real wreck right now, but it's coming along. When we get to move out there, we will be adding one or two types of animals a year until we've worked up to what we want. (Cows, pigs, goats, etc.)

    When we started with the chickens and turkeys, we bought 20 chicks (some hens and a few straight run) and 4 turkeys. We had already built a chickenhouse and read about how to raise them. We built the chickenhouse out of salvaged lumber/doors/windows. I think we might have spent $20-30 on miscellaneous items and paint. If you buy chicks in the spring, they really don't cost much either. We put the turkeys and chicks in the same pen, and they did just fine. Since we fed the chickens a layer blend of feed, that's what the turkeys got, too. We butchered our own turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The bird we butchered for Christmas was over 50 pounds! He was too big for the oven! We ended up having to split him down the middle, bake half of him and deep-fry the other. We butcher our own chickens, too. It's really not that hard to do. We just take a piece of rope and make slip-knots at each end. Slip one around one foot, toss the rope over the clothesline pole, and slip the other end on the other foot. Then we slit the jugular and let the bird bleed out. The worst part of butchering, in my opinion, is plucking. Since we like our chicken skinless, I quit plucking. I just pull off skin and feathers at once. Saves a lot of time and energy.

    If you're in a good area, your neighbors might be more valuable to you than any book could ever be. The area we live in is rural; almost everyone here lives on a farm or has at one time. If we have questions, there's always someone we can ask. It's a lot easier to talk to someone face-to-face about a problem, or you can even have them come out and take a look to really see it.

    Good luck on the homestead!