Mini Farm Dos and Donts

Instead of traveling, I’ve been busy building up the mini homestead. It’s not what I thought I’d be doing when I decided to move to Idaho, but it’s what happened. Since relocating, prices of everything have increased so significantly that the husband and I decided to reevaluate our lifestyle. We came to Idaho to simplify things and ended up making things a bit more complicated, but in a good way.

Mini farming.

We started with a neighbor, trading an hour of work for a dozen fertilized eggs. Best hour of work we could’ve done. We hatched out 10 eggs. 5 hens and 5 roosters. And let me tell you, those girls started laying JUST in time. Have you seen the cost of eggs!!? We have fertilized eggs of our own in the incubator right now to increase our flock size and start raising meat chickens. Add in 2 rabbits, 2 cats and a new Aussie pup and we’re on our way to building a simpler, healthier, sustainable lifestyle. But it is not easy.

Here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to mini farming. We learned a few the hard way, so let me share my blunders with you guys.

Bunnies are just cute. They make plenty of fertilizer too!

Do: Get you some chickens. They are so beneficial to the farm. They till up the dirt, stomp in their own fertilizer (yes lots of poo), give you fresh eggs to eat every day, eat most of your table scraps happily and act as a warning system against predators.

Don’t: Keep roosters unless you want to deal with fighting, blood, possible aggression towards you and the hens. And once they get old enough, you’ll have to build a separate coop and run.

Let me explain one very important thing about roosters that nobody will really talk about. Most roosters only live for 1-3 days when hatched out at commercial poultry or egg farms. Then they’re culled. Some farms keep them alive long enough to use as meat chickens, but often it’s too much of a hassle. We decided to raise our fellas for meat chickens so they can have a longer lifespan and we’ll know exactly what our meat ate before it ended up on the table. It’s the best we can do for their wellbeing and our own, but if you’re not ready for that, get some female chicks to avoid this situation. Trust me. Roosters are real cocks sometimes.

Lemon says hello
he’s my best rooster.

Do: Pay attention to the climate and farmers almanac and plan accordingly for all your animals food, shelter and water needs throughout ALL seasons. The same goes for your plants.

Don’t: Assume the chickens won’t find a way to tear apart part of the coop and eat the insulation in the walls while spending more time inside—they can get very sick or die from this. Don’t assume their water won’t turn to a block of ice even when it’s inside the coop with a heat lamp. And don’t forget those plants in pots are probably going to die a terrible death at the first sign of single digit temperatures. Yes, I’m obviously a little bitter that my 12 year old rosemary plant died because I failed to properly protect it from winter’s wrath.

Winter in Idaho is very beautiful though.

Do: Get a dog. They protect the house and animals from predators. They love you and want to do chores with you. They are the best.

Don’t: Be surprised if the dog becomes besties with the cat and then forgets he’s a dog. Okay, I don’t really have a ‘don’t’ with a dog. Just simply don’t get a dog if you’re not ready for the late night rush outside so they can pee, cost of food, and a puppy chewing up your stuff. Do your research and then decide if it’s right for you.

Bear (dog) and Sweetpea (cat)
these boys are best buddies

Do: Start a garden! Grow as much of your own food for your family and animals as you can. It costs labor and patience but in the end, you’ll save thousands of dollars by canning, freezing, drying or freeze-drying your home grown fruit and vegetables. Plus, growing corn and vegetables for the chickens will save you on feed costs.

Don’t: Ignore planting charts for your growing zone. Seriously, find out what zone you live in and schedule your planting accordingly. Make sure you know when to start seeds inside and follow the instructions! We didn’t last year and lost hundreds of seeds to rot and then seed maggots! It was a huge loss to our yield later.

Bread is sexy. Especially in a Dutch oven.

Do: Start making your own… well, everything you can. On top of cost of food, I’ve been really paying attention to what’s IN the food and products I buy. The results are disappointing, disgusting and disturbing. I now bake my own bread, sweets and bagels. I’m working on making my own cleaning products, soap, candles, antiseptic, laundry soap, shampoo and lip balm. If you really want to know, just google the words you can’t pronounce on a label and find out what side effects are to the human body. Shock will fill you.

Don’t: Worry. It’s not easy switching from one lifestyle to another where you have to literally learn to make money, handle farm chores and make homemade products you normally could just buy at the store. One step at a time and you’ll eventually find your rhythm and what works best for you. As much as I’d like to make everything from scratch, sometimes I just want a handful of candies and boo to the consequences. Just do the best you can and that’s wonderful.

Thanks for reading! I’ll have more to come soon! Until next time, keep them boots wandering, even if it’s just around the farm!

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