People often ask me if I was raised on a farm, or if I came from a farming background. The most exposure I ever had was a backyard garden that my father tended every summer and a visit to my uncle’s farm in Oklahoma, where I learned that chickens and cows don’t grow in the store! Jason had similar experiences with his Nanny and Papaw. He learned how to hunt and trap his food as well as how to preserve it. With those backgrounds, we both knew that homesteading was possible no matter what size property you have.
Homesteading can be as big or as small as you want it to be. When we first started this journey, we lived on a .54 acre plot in the middle of a ghetto neighborhood. But on that small amount of land, we raised a flock of 12 egg laying hens, a covey of over 200 quail and a breeding trio of New Zealand rabbits. We also had a very productive summer and fall garden and even managed to grow a pineapple!
When we moved to Grovetown, Georgia, we started with 2.5 acres. Immediately we started thinking on a much bigger scale. We still raised chickens, but tripled our flock to 36 hens and 4 roosters. We still had quail, but we started to scale back because we wanted to raise other fowl like ducks, pheasant and turkeys. So we purchased a few pheasant and breeding trio of turkeys and later a group of Muscovy ducks. We raised New Zealands, but instead of 3 we now had 9. As if that wasn’t enough, we purchased a trio of piglets and a beef cow. A beef cow led to a dairy cow and those piglets led to a whole different breed that would later put pork in our freezer.
When the opportunity to double our property presented itself, we jumped on it. Now we had 5 acres. But just as our property grew, so did our population of animals. We added a few beef steers and a trio of sheep. We started a permaculture garden (all that manure had to go somewhere!) and built an aquaponic system to raise tilapia. But after two years, we reevaluated our goals and realized that our property was not big enough.
So we moved our entire lot of animals to Elberton, Georgia, where we run chickens, ducks and rabbits in a pasture. We raise a meat and dairy cow as well as two sheep and two very healthy pigs. We are hoping that the wide open spaces will encourage our animals to produce more happy animals and healthy meals for the family.
I tell you all of this so that you can see just how little or how big this lifestyle can be. Anyone can homestead. You can have a backyard garden and a few chickens. You can raise a few rabbits for meat. Think outside the box. You don’t need 21 acres to produce your own food and wares. All it takes is a little innovation, a dream and a LOT of sweat equity.