5 Dual-Purpose Livestock If You Have Limited Space

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5 Dual-Purpose Livestock If You Have Limited Space

Nubian Goat. Image source: Flickr / Creative Commons

 

When you have a large amount of acreage at your disposal, it is easy to find space for lots of animals. Each animal might have a special purpose on your farm. For instance, you might raise two different breeds of sheep: Suffolk for meat and Merinos for wool. But what if you don’t have room for several breeds? Using dual- or even triple-purpose animals can meet the needs of homesteaders with limited space.

Check out some of the most popular choices:

1. American Guinea Hogs

American Guinea Hogs are a great addition to any farm, big or small, because of their versatility. They are a perfect introduction to raising pigs, as their smaller size (boars only get up to about 250 pounds) and docile temperaments make them a joy to work with. They fatten up nicely and convert their feed well. Their ability to till up a garden and keep a yard free from rodents and other pests adds to their charm and desirability.

5 Dual-Purpose Livestock If You Have Limited Space

American Guinea Hogs. Image source: Flickr / Creative Commons

Along with the obvious production of meat, American Guinea Hogs produce large amounts of lard. This, combined with their rooting and foraging abilities, led to their early popularity as a backyard or small farm pig. While their numbers have dwindled, they are experiencing a comeback due to more interest in heritage breeds as well as multi-purpose livestock.

2. American Miniature Brecknock Sheep

These personable little sheep are a favorite addition to backyards and small homesteads. Imported to America from the UK, the breed originated from the Cheviot lineage and is often mistaken for that breed. The American Miniature Brecknock is one of the smallest sheep breeds, producing excellent wool and a nice meaty carcass. Their wool colorations range from the most common white to browns and even black.

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Brecknock sheep have gained popularity for several reasons, but their liveliness and personality are at the top of the list. They are also known for high productivity, easy lambing, and living long lives. Because of the sturdy lines they descend from, their hardiness is another sought-after attribute. The rams can get up to about 100 pounds, with the ewes being a little smaller.

3. Dexter Cattle

Dexter cattle are one of the best examples of a multi-purpose livestock breed. While they are excellent dairy cattle, they also provide superb cuts of beef. Many farmers use Dexters as oxen, even though they are one of the smallest natural cattle breeds in the world. They train them to the yoke and use them to pull wagons and equipment.

These versatile cattle originated in Ireland as a perfect animal for homesteaders with little to no acreage. Their ability to thrive in harsh climates with poor feed makes for a sturdy and adaptable animal. Dexters are docile cattle that are stout, easy calvers, and have a high feed-to-meat conversion rate. They are desired by those wanting superior grass-fed beef.

It is encouraging that Dexters again have become popular for small holders. This may be due to that even temperament and how easy they are to work with. They were considered a threatened breed at one point, but are making an impressive resurgence as more people discover these wonderful little cattle.

4. Faverolle Chickens

5 Dual-Purpose Livestock If You Have Limited Space

Faverolle Chickens. Image source: Wikipdia

Aside from the fact these fluffy-feathered, five-toed chickens from France happen to be beautiful additions to your yard, they also are a dual-purpose bird for the farm. Known for their longer laying seasons, they are prized for their tasty meat. Faverolles are hardy in cold weather climates while still thriving in warmer temperatures. They tend to be a docile breed and are easy to handle, even for kids.

Faverolles come in standard size as well as bantam — and in several colors. The Salmon Faverolle is the most popular, with the rooster being exceptionally colorful. This attractive breed was created in the early 1800s by crossing several breeds to get the bird of today. The goal was a chicken who would provide hundreds of eggs each year as well as a nice-sized carcass for the dinner table.

5. Nubian Goats

Even though Nubian or Anglo-Nubian goats are famous for their high butterfat milk, they actually are a dual-purpose breed. Due to their large stature and the fact that they carry more weight than most breeds, they are also used for their meat.

Nubians have a very distinctive appearance, with long, floppy ears and their claim to fame – a large Roman nose. They are well-suited for warmer climates due to their Middle-Eastern ancestry but do well in most areas. This breed is now found in most parts of the world because of its adaptability and versatility.

What is your favorite dual-purpose livestock? Share your tips in the section below:

8 Ways To Fertilize Your Garden With Household Items

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8 Ways To Fertilize Your Garden With Household Items

Image source: Pixabay.com

Self-sufficient gardeners avoid the use of pre-packaged fertilizers and soil from the store. But chances are you have plenty of items in your house that can be used to fertilize your garden, saving you money and time – and giving your vegetables a healthy boost.

Let’s take a look:

1. Coffee grounds. Do you start the day with an overflowing cup of coffee? Those dried coffee grounds add nitrogen, potassium and magnesium to your garden — all vital nutrients for the growth of your plants. Just remember that coffee grounds can change the pH of your soil, possibly affecting plants that need a delicate balance.

2. Tea bags. If you aren’t a coffee drinker, tea bags have a very similar effect on the soil as coffee grounds. Remove the tea grounds from the bags and allow them to dry before application. Many gardeners notice tea grounds are particularly beneficial around tomatoes.

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3. Egg shells. Your chickens can contribute to more than just breakfast. Egg shells are a fantastic calcium source.

After breakfast, wash out the shells and let them dry. Break the shells into smaller pieces and put them in the ground when planting tomatoes. You also can add them around the base of already-planted tomatoes. Tomatoes require more calcium than other plants.

4. Fish scraps. Early Pilgrims had trouble growing crops when they arrived in North America, mostly because of nutrient-lacking soil. The Indians who came to their aid, including the famous Squanto, taught the Pilgrims a trick – burying fish with the seeds. You don’t need to plant multiple fish inside of your garden, but using the scraps can help.

If you have an aquarium, don’t dump the water down the drain. Use this water to hydrate your garden beds and potted plants. The fish waste provides vitamins to the plants without any extra steps for you! If you filet a fish, save the bones and scraps. Some gardeners like to puree them with water and milk, creating a strong fertilizing mixture. You could bury scraps, as well.

8 Ways To Fertilize Your Garden With Household Items

Image source: Pixabay.com

6. Wood ash: Those who have a wood stove or fireplace have a free source of fertilizer, adding potassium and calcium carbonate to the soil. Remember never to use the ash if you added anything else! Ash is an easy way to increase your soil pH, so don’t use it if your soil is alkaline. Ash also can keep slugs away from your plants.

7. Bananas. Do you have kids who eat bananas like candy? Don’t toss those peels! Putting them in your compost pile is a good first step. You also can put them right into your garden to give the soil a quick potassium boost. Peels degrade fairly quickly, and they don’t produce a nasty odor. A benefit of using banana peels is that they repel pests!

8. Grass clippings. Free makes everything better, and you likely have an unending source of grass clippings. Yard waste is the perfect organic matter to add to your garden. Add them to your garden to work as mulch. Every time you mow and rake, continue to add more. As it decomposes into the soil, grass clippings release nitrogen.

Powdered milk. Do you have powdered milk in your cabinet that is past expiration? Don’t throw it away! You can mix one part milk into four parts water. (You also can use expired milk in your fridge for this.) Milk is a fantastic source of calcium for more than just humans! It also contains proteins, vitamin B, and sugars that improve the overall health of the plant. Plants that are failing to grow to their full potential can benefit from a boost in calcium. Milk also helps with blossom end root, commonly ailing squash, tomatoes and pepper plants.

What would you add to our list? Share your gardening tips in the section below:  

Grandma’s Forgotten ‘Everyday Survival Skills’

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skills grandmother

Our grandparents didn’t spend their spare time watching TV or playing video games. The truth is they didn’t have spare time. Keeping the family fed, fields tended, livestock healthy and a roof over their heads kept them busy from dawn to dusk. They did whatever it took to survive and thrive.

While grandma and grandpa each had everyday skills that all homesteaders and survivalists should learn, today we’ll focus on Grandma’s day.

Grandma was a dynamo. She rose before dawn with a mile-long to-do list in her head. Feeding the family a hearty breakfast and sending them on their way was first priority. She then could get to her own busy day. Housework, fixing a fence with grandpa, helping the cow give birth, making pies to trade, fixing lunch, canning peaches and pulling weeds were checked off the list. Then it was time to make dinner and send everyone off to bed.

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Here are some of the skills that helped her succeed at all of these tasks.

Feeding the Family

Grandma didn’t just run to a drive-thru to grab dinner after work. She planned ahead and made meals from scratch. She knew the night before what she would make for dinner. To accomplish this, she knew how to do these things:

1. Cooking from scratch – When grandma made dinner, she created masterpieces with no help from any cardboard box mix. Her meals were nutritious, tasty and far less expensive than any of the quick foods today. Love and care for her family were the special ingredients in every meal.

2. Cast iron cooking – It is amazing how many different dishes grandma made in her cast iron cookware. An entire meal, from soup to dessert, can be made with just one cast iron pot or skillet.

3. Preserving foods – Many of us remember coming home with jars of jelly, apple butter and pickles from grandma’s. Her cellar or pantry was always lined with shelves full of preserved goodness. Learning to preserve food via canning, pressure cooking or other methods is a wise investment in your own future.

Growing or Raising Food

Running to the grocery store each day was not an option to grandma. She essentially could shop every day in her own pantry or backyard.

4. The kitchen garden – No matter what grandpa grew in the fields, grandma always had a kitchen garden. She could walk out back and pick fresh dinner fixings. She often had fruit and nut trees, as well as her herbs and vegetables.

5. Animal husbandry – Grandma tended to be the one who cared for the livestock — a cow or goat for milk, a steer or pig for meat and then, the chickens. It was hard to find a homestead that didn’t have at least a few chickens – if not more. Aside from eggs, many times an old hen or rooster ended up as Sunday dinner. Which leads us to the next set of skills …

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6. Butchering livestock – Although it was more often grandpa who killed the large animals, grandma was the one who usually cut up or butchered them. Her skills with the butcher knife were admirable. She also could efficiently wring the neck of that old hen for the stew pot.

‘Jill of All Trades’

Our ancestors did as much as they could for themselves. Things were made to last, and those that didn’t were repurposed. Here are just a few more things that grandma did in caring for her family and home:

7. Crafty creations – Grandma needed basic sewing skills to keep her family clothed. She might even be talented enough to make clothing in addition to repairs. Quilting and weaving were other abilities which could provide additional income, as well as add to her family’s warmth and comfort.

8. Stretching a dollar – Being thrifty came naturally to grandma, as nothing went to waste. She reused, repurposed and recycled everything. She often was a skilled negotiator and bartered goods or her skills for things she needed or wanted.

9. Medical care – Doctors and hospitals weren’t readily available. Grandma was required to have basic medical skills and more. She even might doctor animals as well as people. Her familiarity with medicinal herbs and plants came in very handy.

So, how did your day compare to grandma’s? Did it seem a bit lacking? It’s not too late to start learning some of these skills that she used on an almost daily basis. So put down the remote and game controller and invest your time in useful endeavors. These skills could even save your life and those of your loved ones.

What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Julie Dees is a freelance writer from Central California who also happens to be a real, lifelong cowgirl. She enjoys writing about her animals, her interest in homesteading and anything related to the outdoor life. Visit her website, TheCowgirlWrites.com.

9 Forgotten ‘Everyday Survival Skills’ From Grandma

Click here to view the original post.

Grandma's 'Everyday Survival Skills’

Our grandparents didn’t spend their spare time watching TV or playing video games. The truth is they didn’t have spare time. Keeping the family fed, fields tended, livestock healthy and a roof over their heads kept them busy from dawn to dusk. They did whatever it took to survive and thrive.

While grandma and grandpa each had everyday skills that all homesteaders and survivalists should learn, today we’ll focus on Grandma’s day.

Grandma was a dynamo. She rose before dawn with a mile-long to-do list in her head. Feeding the family a hearty breakfast and sending them on their way was first priority. She then could get to her own busy day. Housework, fixing a fence with grandpa, helping the cow give birth, making pies to trade, fixing lunch, canning peaches and pulling weeds were checked off the list. Then it was time to make dinner and send everyone off to bed.

“The Big Book Of Off The Grid Secrets” — Every Homesteader Needs A Copy!

Parking or storage for trailers, ATVs, snowmobile

Here are some of the skills that helped her succeed at all of these tasks.

Feeding the Family

Grandma didn’t just run to a drive-thru to grab dinner after work. She planned ahead and made meals from scratch. She knew the night before what she would make for dinner. To accomplish this, she knew how to do these things:

1. Cooking from scratch – When grandma made dinner, she created masterpieces with no help from any cardboard box mix. Her meals were nutritious, tasty and far less expensive than any of the quick foods today. Love and care for her family were the special ingredients in every meal.

2. Cast iron cooking – It is amazing how many different dishes grandma made in her cast iron cookware. An entire meal, from soup to dessert, can be made with just one cast iron pot or skillet.

3. Preserving foods – Many of us remember coming home with jars of jelly, apple butter and pickles from grandma’s. Her cellar or pantry was always lined with shelves full of preserved goodness. Learning to preserve food via canning, pressure cooking or other methods is a wise investment in your own future.

Growing or Raising Food

Running to the grocery store each day was not an option to grandma. She essentially could shop every day in her own pantry or backyard.

skills grandmother4. The kitchen garden – No matter what grandpa grew in the fields, grandma always had a kitchen garden. She could walk out back and pick fresh dinner fixings. She often had fruit and nut trees, as well as her herbs and vegetables.

5. Animal husbandry – Grandma tended to be the one who cared for the livestock — a cow or goat for milk, a steer or pig for meat and then, the chickens. It was hard to find a homestead that didn’t have at least a few chickens – if not more. Aside from eggs, many times an old hen or rooster ended up as Sunday dinner. Which leads us to the next set of skills …

Want Out Of The Rat-Race But Need A Steady Stream Of Income?

6. Butchering livestock – Although it was more often grandpa who killed the large animals, grandma was the one who usually cut up or butchered them. Her skills with the butcher knife were admirable. She also could efficiently wring the neck of that old hen for the stew pot.

‘Jill of All Trades’

Our ancestors did as much as they could for themselves. Things were made to last, and those that didn’t were repurposed. Here are just a few more things that grandma did in caring for her family and home:

7. Crafty creations – Grandma needed basic sewing skills to keep her family clothed. She might even be talented enough to make clothing in addition to repairs. Quilting and weaving were other abilities which could provide additional income, as well as add to her family’s warmth and comfort.

8. Stretching a dollar – Being thrifty came naturally to grandma, as nothing went to waste. She reused, repurposed and recycled everything. She often was a skilled negotiator and bartered goods or her skills for things she needed or wanted.

9. Medical care – Doctors and hospitals weren’t readily available. Grandma was required to have basic medical skills and more. She even might doctor animals as well as people. Her familiarity with medicinal herbs and plants came in very handy.

So, how did your day compare to grandma’s? Did it seem a bit lacking? It’s not too late to start learning some of these skills that she used on an almost daily basis. So put down the remote and game controller and invest your time in useful endeavors. These skills could even save your life and those of your loved ones.

What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Julie Dees is a freelance writer from Central California who also happens to be a real, lifelong cowgirl. She enjoys writing about her animals, her interest in homesteading and anything related to the outdoor life. Visit her website, TheCowgirlWrites.com.