Thursday, March 26, 2015

New chicks on the block

Yay! I now have some new baby chicks. I got them from a local person who hatches them themselves.

I got 6 little roosters, which will eventually be canned chicken in a few months. They are about a month old now and have lots of feathers. I'm just hoping Spring will actually warm up enough to put them in a little "tractor" we have outside. We had built it for rabbits, but we have no luck at all raising rabbits and seem to to better with chickens. The tractor will allow us to move them around the yard where they can scratch the dirt, eat grass, bugs, and seeds, and live a chicken-y life while they're still with us. Of course, we'll supplement with chick feed as needed to help them get everything in their diet they need. It's non-medicated chick feed.

I also got 14 of what's called "straight run" chicks that are a little younger. Straight run just means a mix of male and female chicks. We won't know until later which is which. I hope to get a few hens just to add to the 9 we already have laying, and possibly one replacement rooster, if one of the roosters I have doesn't stop jumping on me with his spurs! Sadly, one of the baby chicks died. It looked like the others crushed it.

I add apple cider vinegar to their water to keep their gut in good balance. Here's pictures of the chicks!

Young roosters.

Straight run chicks

As you can see, or maybe not, they are also mixed breed chickens. It should be interesting to see how they turn out. Most are black but a few are yellow right now. 

It's been awhile since I raised baby chickens. I am hoping one of my current laying hens will go broody and raise more for us, making us more self-sufficient in that regard.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mini homestead pigs

I just wanted to pop in and share a couple of pictures of our little pigs.

They are mini potbelly pigs, which work out well for a tiny homestead like we have here. They require less space and less feed to keep them healthy. As a butcher animal, they don't produce a lot of meat and lard, but they do produce some. Being so small, they are easier for the homesteader to handle on their own, without needing to go to a butchering plant for processing.

Soon, we'll be putting up an electric fence to allow them more access to another part of our little homestead. I can use them there to turn the soil and remove unwanted understory plants so I can start my permaculture gardening in that area. The electric fence we'll be putting in will be powered by a small solar panel.

The pig in the top picture is Leroy. He's about 3 years old. We just got him a few weeks ago. His weight is around 60 pounds right now. He'll be the daddy of future little pigs.

The pig in the bottom picture is Ellie May. She's also about 3 years old. We got her last year. She's had several litters in the past, when she belonged to someone else. But, since we didn't have a male pig, she's just spent her time with us so far getting chubby. She probably weighs around 80 pounds now.

Both of these little pigs are very sweet and easy to handle. They've been handled all their lives and don't mind a little scratch behind the ears or down their backs. They will walk right up to us for petting or for treats.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Beginning the mini homestead

Where do I begin, since it's now March? I've been working on homesteading my very small place for several years now. It takes time, patience, and work. I don't have the luxury of acres and acres of land to make my dreams a reality.

I live on less than an acre, but I'm here to tell you, homesteading can be done on a place even this small. I am out in the country, which is a plus, and I'm in Arkansas. There are very few limitations on what I can do where I live as long as sanitation is taken care of. I have a half dozen raised beds for gardening, a solar aquaponics setup which only has minnows in the fish tank right now, plus a variety of small livestock -- dwarf goats, chickens, turkeys, and mini pigs. Everything that I raise has to be on a smaller scale.

I am hoping this spring to begin my permaculture, or food forest, beside and behind my house. As I go along, I'll share my projects with descriptions and pictures. Join me as we grow our Mini Homestead!