Let's talk about meat, dairy, eggs, hunting, and cooking on the homestead

BarredBuff

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I have never been able to raise all of my own meat or dairy. I simply don't have the acreage to do so. However, through the years we have bought beef, and pork from local folks. I have raised numerous broilers and rabbits. We have hunted some years. I have always kept chickens for eggs. I attempted to raise dairy goats and cattle early on, but I didn't have the space to do it right.

With that being said, due to all of the unrest and disease we have experienced lately, I have been curious what you all would consider essential to being completely self-reliant with meat, eggs, and dairy. What animals would you raise? How many? How would you feed them? If you're a hunter, what would you hunt in your area? How would you preserve your meat, eggs and dairy? What if you were off the grid? What meals would you create if you were able to do this?

Let's take some time and discuss this out!
 

Britesea

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We have only a half acre, so there is NO way we could raise all our own meat, especially if we were also trying to grow their feed as well. We have enough chickens to give us a couple of eggs every day, and the occasional rooster for a treat. The chickens forage over the entire half acre (except for the fenced garden) and we give them some fermented feed, but they don't eat even half of what I had calculated for them. Maybe more during the winter? In a pinch, we would be shooting or trapping the small game that is all over the place- squirrel, marmot, rabbit, dove and quail. I know better than to count on large game as there are a lot of hunters in the area. There are fish in the river which is walking distance from us- mostly catfish. But I know that people eat a lot more protein than they really need. I'm more concerned with getting enough fat.
 

Mini Horses

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I have 15 acres, so pasture is available. BUT for those with 1-2 acres, goats are doable. They CAN be kept with good hay & some grains. A good milk doe can give you plenty of milk. Cheese, butter, yogurts, etc. can be made. Chickens, we all know -- small area & you have eggs/meat (turkey, duck). Rabbits, again small area with cage & production of meat is very good. 1-2 acres gives room for a house, small yard, goat yard, garden, animal shelter, etc. Of course, number of people to support is a factor as to what you need. I'm a loner.

I've always felt a garden, chickens & a goat would keep me self supplied with most basics in a small area. A pig can be raised in fairly close quarters -- there's meat & lard -- & can be done in 5-6 months for some breeds. Fruits can be raised...vine, cane, trees, bushes.

There is plenty of wildlife here but, I don't hunt. If SHTF happened, I sure could! Then there's the reproducing of animals you raise, for replacements &/or food source. Planning is important as to time of year/seasonal, when needed, etc.

The preservation of your foods is as much a concern as the "capture" of it. Depending on where you live, many factors will have to be considered. Growing seasons, heat/cold, snow, water, feed sources, personal financial situation. Canning might be one of the most used as it can extend from veggies to meats. There is also dehydration, which has been historically used for centuries. Some countries salt & dehydrate fish extensively. Canning & dehydrating can be done "off-grid"..... fire and solar. Small animals can be butchered "as needed" storing live until.

I'm sure there are more options. These are just my thoughts.
 

baymule

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We have 8 acres. We have a lot of trees, my husband fights over cutting every single one. I have managed to talk him into clearing a lot of our 8 acres, including hiring a forestry mulcher that saved us probably several years of machete hacking.

Horses. We have 4 horses. Yeah, non productive and 2 of them are ancient, 31 and 32 years old, unridable due to illness. If the bottom fell out of this country, 2 hard decisions would have to be made on my beloved old friends.

Sheep. We have hair sheep. A small livestock animal that produces usually twins, can be raised on grass and forage and is fairly easy to care for. The only snag in that goes back to my lack of grass. I'm working hard to not just improve pasture, but to plant pasture, coax it to come up and survive. It's an uphill battle. I would have to reduce my small flock if I couldn't buy feed and hay. Sheep could be sustainable, but it would be work to keep them fed through the winter and the heat of the summer.

Chickens. I currently have 7 Easter Egger hens. I sold half my flock due to us not needing as many eggs because our daughter and family moved away. After all the discussion here, I have plans on ordering White Rock chicks in the spring, which will make a better farm chicken than what I have now. I slaughter old layer hens and can the meat. We prefer young layer roosters to the CCX.

We raise feeder pigs. That would be unsustainable due to the amounts of purchased feed. The ultimate small homestead pig would more than likely be American Guinea Hog or Kune Kune hogs. While they would probably still need feed, their size would work in my favor for not needing as much.

We raise CCX every year, again, this would be unsustainable due to the enormous amounts of feed they consume. We don't eat much of it anyway, we mainly raise them to sell and to give to our DD and family. Selling the CCX meat is also for the IRS in that we are a farm and have a product to sell, likewise with the feeder pigs. We show a profit on both the CCX and the pigs.

Milk-I am just not that dedicated. However a neighbor has cattle and to populate his herd, he bought a few dairy bottle calves, raising them to add to his herd. In a pinch, we could probably work something out on milking one of them, but that sure would be a wild cow rodeo! A milk cow would be a benefit for the community as one person would have a hard time consuming all that milk.

Hunting. There are thousands of acres around us, all private property. Feral hogs run rampant everywhere. I doubt that we would join in any survival hunting-people are crazy.

Cooking. On grid, our house is all electric and cooking is easy. Off grid would be over a BBQ pit, not near as much fun! I have long been interested in an outdoor earth oven. Again, not near as easy, but would be a benefit not only to us, but to the community in that food could be cooked in ways that a BBQ pit of open fire would fall short.

Preserving meat. With no electricity, meat would have to be canned, dehydrated, smoked or everybody eat it up before it spoils. Hog slaughter would move to the fall, a smokehouse would have to be built, but the heat here would make keeping any meat a special challenge, winter or no winter.

Heating and cooling our home. We live in a double wide, all electric. We are screwed. LOL LOL

In any situation, much thought would have to be given to community. Helping our neighbors and working together using our diverse talents would be paramount to survival. United we stand, divided we fall.
 

BarredBuff

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I am going to do two takes at that at my own question. First, I am going to share what I would ideally do and then I am going to share what I would do if I had to do it tomorrow.

If, land, time, and resources were not an issue, I think this would be how I would go about it. I would want to be in a more secluded location with naturally occurring water sources, and plenty of pasture and terrain suitable for hunting and growing livestock.

Poultry & Eggs: I think I could easily raise a mixed flock of chickens and turkeys and be fairly self reliant. I think a mix of White Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, and Buff Orpington would easily provide all of your eggs and some meat to add to the pantry. Ideally, I would want a White Rock and Buff Orpington rooster to be the breeders. White Rocks and Buff Orpington add quite a bit of size to a flock. Buff Orpingtons are also reliable brooders and mothers. 25 hens and 2 roosters with 6 turkey hens and 2 toms would be sufficient in the poultry category. I have always wanted to raise Narragansett turkeys. I think between roosters, turkeys, and old laying hens you could can quite a bit of poultry from this flock. I would house them together in a fenced acre lot for the best protection from varmints and to keep them out of the yard. If you had a small pond, you could also easily raise geese for meat as well. If you had a small grassy area with your orchard and a small pond, two trios of geese would easily raise extra meat for the table. I would not house them with my chickens and turkeys though.

Dairy: I would prefer to raise a cow. The butter is the biggest draw for me compared to a goat. That's a great fat to use in cooking and I love butter. Cows also give a higher quantity of milk and you could make plenty of butter, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. Extra and old milk could be clabbered and fed to the chickens and hogs. You also would have an abundance to sell or trade too which could be an advantage. They also are not the escape artists that goats tend to be either. The calf could be sold or fed out to be a beef as well. I would be comfortable raising any of the main dairy breeds except Holsteins. They can temperamental and they do not have as high butterfat or protein content.

Beef & Pork: I do not think I would raise a beef every year or at all. I think I could make up with deer. I would want to kill 2 or 3 hogs a year. You could cure the hams, and bacon. I would can the sausage, and if possible freeze the chops. You'd have a great source of cooking fat with the lard you could render. If you could raise them in a wooded area with plenty of suitable foraging sites, you could minimize the grain needs. You could feed garden waste, and old milk as well. Hogs would definitely be the biggest consumer of feed. If you raised a few sows, you could sell the feeder pigs early and keep a few to kill later. That could help with feed costs. I think hogs would be essential for meat self reliance because you can preserve the meat a variety of ways and you can get plenty of lard.

Hunting & Fishing: If I could kill three or four deer in the fall, I would never want or need to raise a beef. That would be ideal. If you had reliably cold temperatures, you could keep the carcass store in a cold barn and cut what you needed from it. I would be more inclined to can the majority of it as ground meat and chunks. I think another overlooked piece to the puzzle is to take advantage of small game seasons. Kill your limit on squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, grouse, etc. to supplement the table. You probably won't preserve any, but it would be fresh meat in it's season which would be an advantage too. The same can be said with fishing as well. Catch and supplement as you go. If you can do it, freeze and can some fish as you go for later.

Feeding: I think you would have to develop productive pasture spaces for all of your livestock. Lush grass and legumes for the cattle during the spring, summer and fall. Grass and clover for the geese. Create an ideal environment for weeds, bugs, and worms to feed your chickens and turkeys. Be sure to provide any garden waste, milk, slaughter scraps, table scraps to the hogs and chickens. I think for your dairy cattle, you'd have to grow and cut alfalfa hay to keep the protein available in the winter. Raise or buy some grain to keep your cattle, sow, and chickens through the winter months. I am not an expert at all, but I think you always need to look for ways to interconnect your projects. Waste nothing.

Cooking: Ideally, I would have a gas cook stove in the main kitchen and a wooden range for the winter months. A good fire pit and a grill would also be handy in the summer to utilize for preparing meals and to assist in keeping the house cooler and conserving fuel.

Preservation: I would depend primarily on canning and curing. I would can all of the poultry, fish and venison. I would smoke, and cure the majority of the pork. We could go back to the old days and build a smokehouse. If freezing was an option, I would freeze the best steaks, chops, roasts, and a few whole birds and fish to eat. If refrigeration was not available, you would have to build a spring house or similar structure to keep milk, and butter chilled. Luckily, eggs will keep for a little while unwashed in a cool, dark area.

I agree with @baymule it would be imperative to build a strong community of friends and family if this was a serious situation. A network of trading and bartering would go a long way.

Ultimately, no one can build a closed system of true self sufficiency. It is actually impossible. In this scenario, I have assumed that I already possess all of the infrastructure, tools, etc to begin with. I am also operating with the assumption that I could attain salt, canning lids//jars, and grain with little trouble.

When I get back from church, I will share what I would have to do right now if I was pressed to do so...
 

Chic Rustler

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I have 3 acres. I only use about 1 acre for homesteading. we raise rabbits and chickens. you would be surprised how much you can get from a trio of rabbits. especially if you don't live in hell...or Texas heat. they love extra greens from the garden

we hunt for our red meat. 4 deer will usually feed the 6 of us for the year. we only buy pork at the store
 

Mini Horses

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We would ALL become more dependent on veggies. :D Puts a whole new meaning on your garden -- need, not want.

Community interaction/sharing/bartering would be more than beneficial. Yes, raising own animal feeds & NO waste, paramount. If no gas, propane, etc. -- manual & animal labor. Where one has grass and no animals -- feed livestock & share their production. By the way, goat is red meat & delish -- and I have goat butter in the frig. LOL My chickens & cats love the milk, chickens esp like clabber.

Back to the old ways -- I watched & participated for years as my grandparents worked a garden, canned, hunted, raised animals, plowed by horse, did laundry on a washboard, a rope & bucket well, wood heat & cooking, no electric and, of course an outhouse! LOL. I'm 74 and actually have lived off grid...….my uncle, a young teen then, thought his push mower was Great! Much faster than his cythe. Grandma made her own lye for soaps. There were haystacks & corn cribs. And always something to do.




Is this a "farm game" ????????? LOL
 

Rammy

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I raise rabbits, chickens and have 2 cows Im raising for beef.
I have a large garden with green beans, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, squash, cucumbers, kale, and beets. In containers Im growing carrots, banana peppers, red peppers, and radishes.
Before all this crap happened, I decided to start being as self sufficient as possible, starting with growing a garden and canning as much as possible, getting away from buying stuff from the store. Saw too many reports about contaminated food.
Ive been stocking up on non-perishables too.
I think we will have to grow our own food if we are going to survive. Riots may get worse, especially if the food in stores becomes scarcer.
I also have the means to protect it if necessary.
 

BarredBuff

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I guess you could call this a game in a way, but I really wanted think it through what it would look like to be as self-reliant as possible with what you do for the minimum. I have copied my earlier post, and then added what this would realistically look like right now.

Poultry & Eggs: I think I could easily raise a mixed flock of chickens and turkeys and be fairly self reliant. I think a mix of White Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, and Buff Orpington would easily provide all of your eggs and some meat to add to the pantry. Ideally, I would want a White Rock and Buff Orpington rooster to be the breeders. White Rocks and Buff Orpington add quite a bit of size to a flock. Buff Orpingtons are also reliable brooders and mothers. 25 hens and 2 roosters with 6 turkey hens and 2 toms would be sufficient in the poultry category. I have always wanted to raise Narragansett turkeys. I think between roosters, turkeys, and old laying hens you could can quite a bit of poultry from this flock. I would house them together in a fenced acre lot for the best protection from varmints and to keep them out of the yard. If you had a small pond, you could also easily raise geese for meat as well. If you had a small grassy area with your orchard and a small pond, two trios of geese would easily raise extra meat for the table. I would not house them with my chickens and turkeys though.

Right now, I am not too far from this scenario. I have a mixed flock that already does most of the needs mentioned here. I would probably cull more aggressively and can any extras that I had. I do not have turkeys right now, but could probably add them quickly if I needed to do it. I would not add the geese right now. I don't have a good place to separate them out. They are too aggressive to be kept with chickens and turkeys, and I don't have a sustainable water source for them to bathe in.

Dairy: I would prefer to raise a cow. The butter is the biggest draw for me compared to a goat. That's a great fat to use in cooking and I love butter. Cows also give a higher quantity of milk and you could make plenty of butter, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. Extra and old milk could be clabbered and fed to the chickens and hogs. You also would have an abundance to sell or trade too which could be an advantage. They also are not the escape artists that goats tend to be either. The calf could be sold or fed out to be a beef as well. I would be comfortable raising any of the main dairy breeds except Holsteins. They can temperamental and they do not have as high butterfat or protein content.

There's no way I could raise a milk cow right now. I lack the pasture, and infrastructure to successfully raise my own dairy. I'd also have to significantly change my work schedule for it to be feasible as well. We'd have to go without dairy.

Beef & Pork: I do not think I would raise a beef every year or at all. I think I could make up with deer. I would want to kill 2 or 3 hogs a year. You could cure the hams, and bacon. I would can the sausage, and if possible freeze the chops. You'd have a great source of cooking fat with the lard you could render. If you could raise them in a wooded area with plenty of suitable foraging sites, you could minimize the grain needs. You could feed garden waste, and old milk as well. Hogs would definitely be the biggest consumer of feed. If you raised a few sows, you could sell the feeder pigs early and keep a few to kill later. That could help with feed costs. I think hogs would be essential for meat self reliance because you can preserve the meat a variety of ways and you can get plenty of lard.

I could not do this at the house immediately. We have two spots that could be cleared for food production. I could definitely fix a hog pen up to use if I needed to do it. However, I am working to be able to raise a calf and hogs at my Dad's farm. It's 25 minutes away, but is feasible for meat production right now. I am actually just trying to find some pigs, and I'll be setup. However, it would be off site which is not the best setup.

Hunting & Fishing: If I could kill three or four deer in the fall, I would never want or need to raise a beef. That would be ideal. If you had reliably cold temperatures, you could keep the carcass store in a cold barn and cut what you needed from it. I would be more inclined to can the majority of it as ground meat and chunks. I think another overlooked piece to the puzzle is to take advantage of small game seasons. Kill your limit on squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, grouse, etc. to supplement the table. You probably won't preserve any, but it would be fresh meat in it's season which would be an advantage too. The same can be said with fishing as well. Catch and supplement as you go. If you can do it, freeze and can some fish as you go for later.

I have not done this consistently, but could right now. I have the guns, ammunition, and "learning" to be able to hunt and fish until my heart is content.

Feeding: I think you would have to develop productive pasture spaces for all of your livestock. Lush grass and legumes for the cattle during the spring, summer and fall. Grass and clover for the geese. Create an ideal environment for weeds, bugs, and worms to feed your chickens and turkeys. Be sure to provide any garden waste, milk, slaughter scraps, table scraps to the hogs and chickens. I think for your dairy cattle, you'd have to grow and cut alfalfa hay to keep the protein available in the winter. Raise or buy some grain to keep your cattle, sow, and chickens through the winter months. I am not an expert at all, but I think you always need to look for ways to interconnect your projects. Waste nothing.

My chickens forage all day long, and I feed them garden waste and table scraps. I could not provide all of their feed, but could definitely provide a majority of it. I don't have the space to raise enough grain for them to eat. My garden is barely big enough for me. I have the resources and tools to cut hay for the rabbits by hand if I needed to do so. I also regularly feed them greens and garden waste throughout the season.

Cooking: Ideally, I would have a gas cook stove in the main kitchen and a wooden range for the winter months. A good fire pit and a grill would also be handy in the summer to utilize for preparing meals and to assist in keeping the house cooler and conserving fuel.

I currently have a propane stove on the screened in porch to can on. However, everything in the main house is electric. We have gas hookups, but propane was not available when the house was built. I do have a good fire pit on the porch and a few other ways to cook outside.

Preservation: I would depend primarily on canning and curing. I would can all of the poultry, fish and venison. I would smoke, and cure the majority of the pork. We could go back to the old days and build a smokehouse. If freezing was an option, I would freeze the best steaks, chops, roasts, and a few whole birds and fish to eat. If refrigeration was not available, you would have to build a spring house or similar structure to keep milk, and butter chilled. Luckily, eggs will keep for a little while unwashed in a cool, dark area.

This is not too far from what I would ideally do. I freeze some meat, and can some meat. I do not have a method or way to smoke or cure meat at home, but could learn to do it if I needed to nor do I have an alternative method for refrigeration.

I agree with @baymule it would be imperative to build a strong community of friends and family if this was a serious situation. A network of trading and bartering would go a long way.

Ultimately, no one can build a closed system of true self sufficiency. It is actually impossible. In this scenario, I have assumed that I already possess all of the infrastructure, tools, etc to begin with. I am also operating with the assumption that I could attain salt, canning lids//jars, and grain with little trouble.

I think now is a good time to assess how we are doing and where we are at. The time is coming, I think, when we won't just want to do these things, but will need to do them. Get ready while we can.
 

Britesea

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Nixtamalization should be an important step for preparing grains and beans. It's not just for corn. It makes the nutrients in these foods more bioavailable, which means less food needed to provide the body with the nutrients it needs (something that could become extremely important in a SHTF situation). The lime that is used for nixtamalization can also preserve eggs for as long as two years, without refrigeration. That could also become very important since we would probably depend more on chickens foraging for themselves rather than providing all their feed, which would very likely cut down on the amount of eggs being laid in the winter months.
 

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