For my husband and I, it was always at the forefront of our minds to one day own our own home and start a farm. In 2015 I inherited a half acre plot of land behind my parent’s home which included a barn that was constructed to house the various livestock of my childhood 4-H and FFA years. As monumentous as this acquisition felt, it paled in comparison to last August when Julian and I purchased our first home with another acre and a half of land. What made this home even more special was the fact that it was built and owned by my paternal grandparents. My father was raised here. I spent my entire childhood here. It was perfect.
Homeownership has afforded us the opportunity to begin our journey toward self sufficient living. For us, self sufficiency means autonomy and freedom. We want to produce as much as we can to satisfy our basic needs and reduce the amount of dependency we have on supermarkets and retail stores. We also want to holdfast to the essential living skills that generations before us were accustomed to. Most importantly, we want to be able to reflect on our work and take pride in what we accomplish.
Part of self sufficiency is being resourceful and utilizing what is already available to you. Over the years my grandfather has gone through several fishing boats, all of which are still in my backyard. We made our own raised beds from these very same boats by drilling holes in their hulls and filling them with soil. These decommissioned boats have proven to be surprisingly efficient. This summer we’ve grown garlic, lettuce, three tomato, one bell pepper, two zucchini, and numerous onion, jalapeno, and cayenne plants.
Now that we’ve established that we have somewhat of a green thumb, (and trust me, as someone who has killed nearly every houseplant she’s ever owned, this discovery is completely shocking) we’ve begun treading familiar ground: animals. I’ve raised animals my entire life and I currently work as a veterinary technician.
Every animal we raise must serve a purpose; otherwise we’re wasting valuable time and money. For the lowest startup cost, we decided to start off with meat rabbits. We currently have three rabbits: one female and two males. Again, being frugal and resourceful, we’re using old rabbit cages I had in my old barn from my livestock showing days. Right now, we only have one long cage with four compartments. I want to add one more female into the fold, but not until I can block off the males from the females (Fun fact: Rabbits can breed through the cage!). Our female and one of our males is New Zealand Red X Californian and our second male is nearly pure New Zealand White with some Chinchilla coloring distantly in his ancestry.
Another cost-effective protein source we’ve most recently added to our farm is quail. We’re raising twenty-seven Coturnix X Texas A&M quail for meat and eggs. The greatest advantage of these young quail is that, within six to eight weeks, they’ll start laying eggs. They’re very fast growers and will produce more quickly than the rabbits considering we won’t be able to start breeding our doe until she reaches her reproductive age in October. This will be the first time that either of us raise quail. I’ve had chickens in the past, but this is a unique adventure for us!
What we have– it’s a start; a step in the right direction. The journey itself has been far from easy, but no less satisfying as we’ve been able to look back in pride at these few meager accomplishments. We have big hopes and dreams for our farm and personal lives, and we can’t wait to share and document the entire experience with you!