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Posts Tagged ‘homesteading’

postheadericon Small Livestock for Small Spaces

Urban and small space homesteaders are learning they don’t have to limit themselves to plants in their endeavors to be self-sufficient. With the rising popularity of small livestock who are thriftier and multi-purposed, it is becoming more common to find chickens or even goats in backyards as well as barnyards.

 

Finding the right small livestock for small spaces doesn’t have to be hard. Match your needs and goals with the right animals and everyone wins.

Red Barn Blue Skies Small Animals for Small Spaces redbarnblueskies.com

Small Livestock

If you’re considering adding animals to your homesteading project or you just want some smaller livestock to work with, here are some suggestions that may suit your needs.

Chickens

Chickens are the obvious first choice when it comes to livestock that can be kept in a smaller area. They’re the most popular and the easiest animal to get started with. And as we’ve discussed before, they are the gateway livestock for new farmers.

 

Before you even go look at the chicks at the feed store, determine what you want them for. Are you after daily eggs and a chicken in the pot for every Sunday dinner? Then you’ll want a breed like the Plymouth Barred Rock. They’re multi-purpose birds bred for heavy egg production combined with a tasty, meaty carcass.

Plymouth Barred Rock Red Barn Blue Skies Small Animals for Small Spaces

If you’re wanting to fill your freezer fast with great tasting chicken, raise a bunch of Cornish cross meat chickens. They’re bred to bulk up fast and provide a meaty 4-pound broiler carcass in only 7-8 weeks.

 

If you’re wanting a fluffy piece of yard art that wanders around your garden for comic relief, you might look at some of the exotic breeds such as a Cochin or Polish hen. Figuring out why you want chickens can help you choose the right breed or breeds for you.

 

Although the breeds are all different, the basic care is the same. They need food, water, shelter, and a place to lay their eggs. While the food and water stay the same, you can be as simple or elaborate as you like with the shelter and nest box areas. As long as the chickens have a safe, dry, draft-free area to roost at night, they’ll be content.

Goat Trio at Red Barn Blue Skies Small Animals for Small Spaces redbarnblueskies.com

 

Goats

Goats are available in many breeds and come in full sizes and miniatures. Which breed or size you choose should depend on many factors. These include but aren’t limited to:

 

     ~ Available space – As with everything else, smaller animals require less space (and feed). If you are very limited in the area you can allot to goats, you may consider some of the minis. Several of the breeds are heavy milk producers in spite of their petite size.

     ~ Purpose – Goats have been used for multiple purposes over the centuries. Milk, meat, fiber, and hide are the physical resources they provide. The different breeds have been designed to excel in one or more of these aspects. Goats are also tasked with pulling carts, carrying packs, and being used for weed abatement and control. They are a multi-purpose creature that can definitely pay their own way.

     ~ Containment – Goats are notorious escape artists. Until you are prepared with a securely fenced area to house them, you might want to reconsider goats – large or small. They will get out and wander the neighborhood, leaving destruction in their path. Your neighbors won’t appreciate your goats eating their rosebushes and patio chairs.

     ~ Time – With their extremely high intelligence level, goats need attention and stimulation. They love company and get bored easily. Plan on spending quality time with your goats. It is well worth it as they are very affectionate and entertaining animals.

Quail at Red Barn Blue Skies Small Animals for Small Spaces redbarnblueskies.com

Quail

Aside from their beauty and compact size, quail are another type of poultry that can be a delight to have. They are industrious little birds that lay eggs on a regular, daily basis – more routinely than chickens. Of course, their eggs are on the small size, but they make up for that in quantity. Pickled quail eggs are a true delight that everyone should try at least once.

 

Quail are easy to care for and have very basic needs. Compared to chickens which need 3-4 square feet each, quail only require one. They can be kept in hutches up off the ground, similar to those of rabbits. They can also be kept in pens or coops, but not in with the chickens. Chickens carry diseases that can be deadly to quail. As long as they are in pens that are separated by at least several feet, they will be fine.

 

 

One thing that most beginning quail keepers aren’t ready for is how violent quail can be toward each other. The males can over breed and scalp the females if there isn’t a large enough girl to boy ratio or a large enough space to provide escape routes. The males become quite aggressive and can kill or seriously wound the other birds if not monitored and allowed room to roam. Provide lots of hiding places, overturned flower pots are ideal.

 

Because the quail are so fertile and prolific, they are an economical and even profitable source of meat and eggs. Selling quail eggs and meat to fancy restaurants is something to consider if you are looking into raising them on a larger scale.

Rabbit at Red Barn Blue Skies Small Animals for Small Spaces redbarnblueskies.com

Rabbits

Rabbits have always been a popular choice for those with limited space, in the city or the country. They can be kept in hutches, pens, and even in your backyard running around on the lawn. It is easy to keep their pens clean. Their droppings (pellets) are great for fertilizing your garden as they’re not “hot” like chicken manure. Their diet is simple with a heavy emphasis on greens. Which rabbits you decide to raise will depend on what your goal is – breeding, fur, or meat.

 

Most rabbit breeds are known for having large litters so they tend to be a good investment that multiplies quickly. You must keep a close eye on the mothers/does, especially if it is their first litter, as rabbits can be cannibalistic and eat their young. Keeping them as stress-free as possible will help deter this, but it can be an issue with some breeds or individual rabbits.

 

Because rabbits are a great project for beginners, they are a top choice for 4-H and FFA members just getting started. They are an easy to handle type of small livestock and non-threatening for young children. They’re an easy animal to get into financially as there are not a lot of large expenses initially and the returns can be considerable in a short amount of time.

 

So do you have small livestock? What kind of animals do you prefer?

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postheadericon Soap Making Class on a Soapy Saturday

This past Saturday was full of good, clean fun and learning at my very first soap making class! My sister-in-law Cindy and I went to a Botanical Soap Making Class taught by Justine Crane. For those of you who have been with me for a while, you’ll remember the Natural Perfumery class of hers that I enjoyed so much last August (read about it  here: What a Workshop!)

**Check out our soap making supplies checklist**

Soap making class for Red Barn Blue Skies

The Soap Making Class

The soap making class was held again at the Intermountain Nursery. We were out on the patio/potting shed area. While it’s a beautiful spot out there and ideal for the classes, we were unseasonably COLD! Leading up to the weekend we were worried we’d be overly warm as the previous weekend was in the 90s (as is usual). Instead, we were treated to a record-breaking 57 degrees for May 22nd. It had been 112 years since that record was challenged! Thankfully, the nursery had a fire pit made from an old washing machine tub (I should have taken a photo – it was really neat) and a propane heater shown below.

 

Cindy Stirring Soap for Soap Making Class

 

There were 11 students eager to learn the correct methods from Justine on making cold process soap.  Since it involves lye, Justine emphasized following proper safety procedures at all times.  We were all wearing long-sleeves, gloves, eye protection, and breathing masks.  Safety first!  (Cindy is planning on procuring us the long white lab coats to complete our look for our next soap making class adventure)

Cindy the Mad Scientist for Soap Making Class

 

We learned the best natural ingredients to use and the reasons or benefits of each. Justine also discussed and showed us the proper tools and equipment to have on hand. She took us step by step through the process and allowed us to each be as hands-on as we wanted. Everyone got to take a turn in some part of the creation of our soap.

Pouring in the Lye for the Soap Making Class

One of my favorite parts was the blending of the scent. We broke up into teams to create top, heart, and base notes from the essential oils. Cindy and I were responsible for the top note. We used bergamot (yum, Earl Grey tea….), lime, and a bit of lemon. Very clean and fresh smelling! The other teams mixed up the heart and base notes and then we combined them all together. It turned out to be an amazing scent.

 

After all of the measuring, blending, and experimenting with some color,  this:

 
Became this:
 

Happy Happy Happy

The soap making class was everything I had hoped it would be. Being shown how to do something and getting to be hands-on really makes a difference in learning some things for me. I’d been reading about making this type of soap for years but was leery of trying it – mostly due to the lye and a few questions I had that went unanswered until now. Justine armed us with the proper methods and the safety precautions and I’m now anxious to get started.

 

I’ve gathered my soap making ingredients and tools and will be ready to go on my solo soap flight in a short time. I actually stopped to buy lye at the hardware store in Prather after we left the nursery. Cindy and I excitedly bounced ideas off of each other all the way home. I was thrilled that Cindy was able to go the class with me. We always have a lot of fun together and seem to really work well as a team. I think this terrifies our husbands at times…..

Thanks Justine for a great class once again. Check out Justine’s sites Oh True Apothecary and The Scented Djinn for more info on natural perfumery and working with botanicals. She also has an online perfumery course!