Living in the country as cityfolk...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Cheryl in SD, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. Cheryl in SD

    Cheryl in SD Living in the Hills Supporter

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    Hi,

    I am new. I think I need HELP!

    About 3 weeks ago my dh and I realised that we live on 1.67 acres in the middle of the woods (National Forest) but that we were living just as if we lived in town. The only difference was we had longer commutes.

    So we jumped in with both feet to change things. We now have 100 chicks in the garage, no chicken house yet, have tilled a 50X50 foot garden and ordered heirloom seeds.

    It seems we are heading the right direction. Anyone with advice for us? What kind of coop and pen? What other things can we do to 'homestead' (is that the right term?) on only 1.67 acres? We would love a cow, but don't they need more land than that?

    ANY advice is VERY welcome!

    Thanks,
    Cheryl in SD
     
  2. Kris in MI

    Kris in MI Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Cheryl,

    About those chickens :) . . . From someone who ordered 25 chicks with no coop to keep them in. . .

    Get a plan, and get building, quick! Unless they are all broilers and you are going to butcher them out at 8 weeks, you will need some way of containing them faster than you think. Mine lived in our large (12' x 20') shed with the kids' pony when we lived on about the same acreage as you. I wanted them to free range, but the darn things just wouldn't stay within the property lines (was only about 100' wide) and one of the neighbors was getting really po'ed (she was a grouch anyway, but. . .). We were building a house on 40 acres at the time and that's why I ordered them with no real place to put them; we thought we'd be moving in July to the new place and would just pop up a chicken coop there.

    Well, things didn't quite go as planned. We moved in mid-Sept but had to move the chickens a whole lot sooner than that cuz of neighbor problems. Mine were to be a laying flock so I didn't want to just butcher them out when she started to fuss about them getting into her yard. The only thing I had to transport them in was the horse trailer, so one night while they were sleeping I carried them one by one into the trailer and then drove them to the new place (about 25 miles from where we were living). (Just so no one thinks I dumped my poor helpless chickens, we were building the house ourselves and spent 12 or more hours a day there during the summer. Lots of times we slept over in our camper on weekends. The chickens got daily care, not abandonment). Because of lack of funds, the chicken house didn't get built until the following June, so those chickens lived in my horse trailer for about 10 months.

    So, in hindsight, I should have had the coop before the chicks.

    As for size of coop and pen it really depends on what you are doing with them: broilers, breeders, layers? If you want them to have alot of room to run around (not recommended if you want tender chicken without a pressure cooker :p , ask me how I know), and how much space per chicken you think you'd like to have under roof. For me I let my hens and roos (two, for hen guarding and flock propagation) free range my place during the day, and at night they are locked in the 8' x 12' portable coop dh built (it's on treated 4" x 6" skids so we can move it around with the tractor to new 'grazing'). This gives them approx. 4' per bird of floor space for when they spent alot of time inside the coop in the colder months, but most resources will quote a 'comfortable' space of 2' per bird.
     

  3. Cheryl in SD

    Cheryl in SD Living in the Hills Supporter

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    "But that many hens (they are hens, ain't they?) will need alot more room to run and set and scratch.

    If these are straight runs an' yew mean to grow 'em fer meat, yew got another whole situation on yer hands."


    Well, I have the WHOLE other situation on my hands. All but about 25 of them are going in the freezer in about 8 weeks. The rest will become my permanent flock (21 to be exact, 20 hens, one rooster).

    I can't free range completely as we have active coyotes, dogs and mountain lions through the yard daily.

    I liked that little house, but I don't think it would be big enough!

    Thanks!
    Cheryl
     
  4. Cheryl in SD

    Cheryl in SD Living in the Hills Supporter

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    So I am not the only one that does this, orders and gets chicks and THEN makes a plan? I will be starting a coop next week, I will have it done by the end of next week! The only neighbors I have to worry about are the four legged kind. :D

    Is this the place to ask about sticky b*tt? and have you ever tried a hair dryer?

    Cheryl
     
  5. Shepherd

    Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    Welcome Cheryl.

    Well... my first advice is to start planning very carefully before you jump into too much, to make sure you can handle it, and pay as you go rather than getting into too much debt. Working full time and long commutes leaves little down time when you come home to the normal cooking, upkeep and chores to boot.

    You need a chicken coop and you'd better plan on getting that set up asap. We bought one of those 'package deals' at the lumber yard - for an 8 X 10 utility building and DH's father came down one weekend to help us build it. You can build something more inexpensive if you're good at basic carpentry... they just need a place for shelter, roosts and nests to lay their eggs in. I wanted ours to have the ability to get out for exercise and fresh air, but wanted them protected, so we put up a nice big fenced area and then cut a little doorway for them to get in and out of the coop on their own. We used T-posts and sturdy fencing for this, and added chicken fencing on the lower sections so nothing could grab them thru the fencing.

    Being 'green' at all this - I'd done a lot of research so we would know what we needed and checked with neighbors as to their suggestions. I learned about predators and got advice to bury fencing about 6 inches, to deter anything digging under the fence, getting in and killing our chickens.

    Are you wanting a dairy cow for milk products? If so you might consider a dairy goat instead; you'll get less millk and for most people, that would be plenty. Are you prepared to milk twice a day without fail?

    Sounds like you have the right idea with the garden. Do you know how to can and do you have plenty of canning jars and equipment?

    What about a water source? Are you on a well? Are there plenty of wild fruits in the area? Have you started planting any fruit trees and bushes? Do you have a woodstove or fireplace? Are you going to start an herb garden?

    There are a lot of good books out there; one I'd recommend is Carla Emerys "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" I believe. There's a ton of information in there - covering just about everything. I'm sure others have a lot of other good books they could recommend... and many more ideas.

    Good luck!
     
  6. tnborn

    tnborn Well-Known Member

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    Hi Cheryl,
    I wish I could keep 100 chickens. :) we have problems with coyotes, raccons,etc. Like everyone else have posted, I would get a house built soon.
    I would find some chicken wire and maybe a storage building(that someone no longer wants) and build a temporary shelter for the chickens.
    I do not know if your place is fenced. I would fence it before getting a milk cow. If you decide that you want a dairy goat, I would not get one before I put up a good fence(I made that mistake) Not fun chasing goats all over the hillsides.
    Hope you enjoy living in the country and having the country experience. :D
    tnborn
     
  7. Cheryl in SD

    Cheryl in SD Living in the Hills Supporter

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    Maybe I should introduce myself. My dh and I have five children, ages 10 to 2. I homeschool them and am home most every day. My dh is an OTR trucker, home about 100 days a year. My neighbor is going in with us on the animals, so between us we have the care of them covered. They have 3 children at home, slightly older and willing to help.

    We are on a well, but do have to be cautious with water. I have a post on the gardening forum about using grey water, that will help with the water some.

    We do have wild berries here, and I already pick and can chokecherries every other year (they are biannual here). I like to can and have all the supplies for that, just have never had a LARGE garden before. I also never worried about going organic either.

    We use only wood for heat, but still have electricity for everything else. Right now we have 3 hens and those are going well, we have had them for less than a month though.

    Cheryl in SD

     
  8. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

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    cHERYL, Oh how I envy your little homeschooling family on a FARM no less! We homeschooled our last two kids but the last graduated in 1999! And we didn't start getting most of our animals until 2000 (although we did have rabbits, dogs and cats before then.)

    We now have about 70 laying hens; 21 mostly English Angora rabbits (I am learning to spin); and a buck and two doe goats which I HOPE HOPE HOPE are expecting (I am learning to make goat milk soap and will milk the girls)....plus we still have dogs and cats....

    You will never regret homeschooling those kids and you'll never regret raising them on a homestead! best wishes!

    I lived in Hot Springs South Dakota for six months a few years back and loved it there and LOVED the people!
     
  9. tnborn

    tnborn Well-Known Member

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    Cheryl,
    Would you be interested in selling me some chokeberries?
    tnborn
     
  10. Grandmotherbear

    Grandmotherbear Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Rabbits are tasty and have good feed/meat conversion ratio. Second the dairy goat- you can probably cope with 2 quarts milk daily better than 3 -6 gallons!
     
  11. hollym

    hollym Well-Known Member

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    Wow, you guys have a great setup with the work/kid/homestead partnership!

    How big is your garage? You could partition part of it off with straw bales if you had to, then use them for litter once you got the henhouse finished?

    Goats are great, and they give good milk if you chill it FAST!! If you really want a cow, they have a smaller breed called Dexter cattle, that give both milk and meat.

    Ha! I bought four GOATS one time with no pen, lolol, and brought them home - 60 miles - in a Chevy Suburban, lololol. So, no, you are far from the only one.

    hollym
     
  12. Cheryl in SD

    Cheryl in SD Living in the Hills Supporter

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    I am just about to pull out the ones in the freezer and make jelly. We just ran out! Did you want fresh this summer, or made up?

    Cheryl