I’m not sure if I could have come up with more C words for homesteading, but I imagine these are the most basic ones. So how do each of these things fit into our homestead? Let’s get started!
I wouldn’t say cow’s are easy to care for, but I would say they are some of the easier animals to keep for your family. Everything from family milk cows to beef steers are raised on many family farms. Our farm began just a few short months after we moved to our property, when we added bottle calf steers to raise for beef. We just finished having them processed at the local butcher and will get them this weekend! We have our new big freezer in place and ready to keep our meat for hopefully the next year (maybe 2? doubtful … but we will see).
Our steers were giant babies that were super easy to raise considering it was our first time raising cows. We lost one of the original 3 to scours before we could get him meds, but the other 2 did great and grew to be big, beefy babies. I think we plan on getting a few smaller Dexter steers in the near future to raise for meat and rotational graze with our goats (Eeeee! Did I mention we are getting goats?!?!?!). We have some fencing to complete first but I am looking forward to having cows again.
Chickens are probably the #1 backyard farm pet in our country. More and More families are bringing in a small flock of chickens for their family (well, if you know chicken math you know 3 chickens become 13 … or 23, pretty quickly).
Chickens are easy to raise on your own, though they are very delicate as chicks. If you make it past the first 3 weeks, you are usually in the clear when it comes to raising chicks. After years of practice we have learned what the easiest set up for brooding chicks is, for our family. It will be different for everyone depending on where you live, what space you have, and what (free) resources are available to you.
We love our laying chickens, but we enjoy raising our own meat chickens as well. They are a LOT of work, I mean a lot … but once you get them feathered out and moved to pasture in the tractor coop, life is easier. It all becomes about putting weight on them at that point. We are planning to process our chickens for this year Memorial Day weekend. The process of processing (?) is best learned if you have someone to teach you the first time- our neighbors helped us the first time and it was really nice having someone show me exactly what to look for, where to cut, how to gut (ew, I went there, sorry), and keep them cold until time to bag and freeze. The peace of mind in growing your own food, knowing what it ate, how it was raised and cared for, and seeing the end result as a healthy product for your family is truly rewarding.
I say it every year, but there is so much for our children (and us) to learn from putting in the hard work, raising and enjoying the animals we eat, then realizing they sacrifice their life so we can eat. Raising animals should be done with dignity, care, and true respect for the animal, in the most natural atmosphere for them that we can provide. They have become a mass produced product, covered in ammonia and injected with dyes or other chemicals for preservation and color. That isn’t what nature intended; I believe as we have gotten farther and farther away from nature’s true intentions for the food we eat, we are seeing the consequences via disease and illness, poorly developed immune systems, autoimmune disease and cancers. Our bodies, our guts, and our immune systems have not evolved as quickly as the changes to our food sources in the last 150 years; our cells are storing chemicals which in turn block hormones, minerals, and other necessities in the body from functioning.
We are a nation of people in adrenal fatigue and failure, our children are sick and overweight, and we wonder why … well, what has changed in the last few generations? Sure, always feeding the most natural food isn’t possible for anyone-but when we can support local farmers, spend a few extra pennies for organic produce (carrots, for example), avoid sugar and food dyes, and do our best the rest of the time, it makes a difference!
Obviously, all of these things involve chores. Cleaning out coops, barns, runs, and pens is hard, nasty work. Feeding animals requires a pretty strict regimen to keep them healthy and happy. It also requires team work in the family; our children work hard doing morning outside chores- hanging out laundry, cleaning out and filling water tubs, collecting eggs, watering plants, bringing the empty trash can back from the curb on trash day, helping pick up their toys and mud buckets from the yard … the list goes on. My husband and I do the bigger chores- feeding baby animals, chores that are more dangerous or too heavy for the children. We all work together to get it done. I like how each of the kids know helping each other (pulling hoses, carrying buckets, opening doors, shooing chickens away) makes light of heavy work. It isn’t always the smoothest, but it is always rewarding and a great way to start our day.
Today at the hair salon, my “hair girl” (who is pretty dang awesome-are they hair dresser’s? colorists? I don’t know …) and I were chatting about homeschool, P.E., and a conversation I had with a lady at dinner one night. My hair girl’s response was- “your kids lift heavy buckets and wheelbarrows every day … basically they do CrossFit. Your kids CrossFit for P.E.!” haha And while that may be a stretch, it’s pretty close to the truth 😉
Every family’s home and days look different- what does the letter C mean for your family?
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