A dream of sustainability.

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by BarredCometLaced, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. BarredCometLaced

    BarredCometLaced Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2011
    Northern NH
    I really did not know where to put this, but its long and rambly so i decided to put it here...

    For 5 years now i have been intrigued by the idea of sustainability. It all started with a book called GRASS-FED CATTLE by Ruechel... back then all i wanted was to be a cattle farmer, spending the day herding cattle and all else cattle related. But then, i got to thinking... sheep would be cool too, and what if i grew all my own food? That would be cool TOO! My excitment grew and my parents kept telling me 'You'll never have time to do everything that you want!' to my reply of 'yes i will'.

    As the years past, i came up with breeds of livestock that i found would be productive and cold hardy (I want to live in Vermont [​IMG]).

    First up for me was Beef Cattle; at first i wanted a herd of 30 Angus cattle to raise for meat. Haha, WELL right now i have decided no specific meat cattle will reside on my homestead.

    Next, i started thinking of Dairy cows; i thought 'MILK!'... Then i read that for a dairy cow to produce milk it needs to have a baby every year (but that's okay because i like baby animals!). I decided that i would have 2 Aryshire bulls (used for draft) and 2 Aryshire cows (dairy). If their baby was a steer i would use it for meat. If their baby was a cow, i would use it for dairy. After a couple years, the Bulls would be replaced.

    After, i thought of sheep. It was a no brainer for me.., either Icelandic or California Red Sheep ( the only thing i don't like about Icelandic sheep is they don't have a good herding instinct, and i want that in a breed of sheep [​IMG]). California Reds' produce good wool and meat and they are moderately cold hardy... so it just fit.

    Then came the chickens. I wasn't too excited about chickens until 7 weeks ago when we got our first 3 chicks. My parents finally let me get 3! They are awesome, and will now be the majority of my homestead. The breeds i decided on are:

    White Rock: Brown eggs and Meat
    Barred Rock: Brown eggs
    Gold Spangled Hamburg: White Eggs
    Black Copper Marans: Dark Brown Eggs
    I know its alot, but one of the sources of income i thought of was selling eggs. SO i need enough to feed myself and other people (plus i like chickens [​IMG] so i thought ' hey the more the merrier).

    Next came the ducks. I wont have alot, but i'd want a couple Rouen ducks for a pond (and duck meat is quite tasty).

    Then i also want a couple Tamworth pigs and Narragansett Turkeys.

    SO, thats my dream (well not including the garden and hay i will grow). Its alot [​IMG] i know. But i plan on going to veternary college after getting my pre-vet and bachelors in either zoology or biomedical sciences. Once this is done i don't have to worry about vet bills (only about paying off collage).

    So thats my plan [​IMG] Thanks for letting me ramble, if you have any suggestions on breed changes that better suite my plans (sustainability in a colder climate) then dont be afraid to voice them!

    Thanks YA!
  2. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Hello Barred Comet,

    I compliment you on your dream. Dreams are great and allow you to work towards your goal. Obviously you have done some research already which is great. As somebody who is striving towards the same goal, here are my suggestions:

    • Start with the land first. You may run into zoning problems, existing buildings, different land that requires different species, etc. When planning on having as many animals as you do, your day will revolve around having to work as efficiently as possible. Every time you save 5 minutes on a chores you can use those 5 minutes to work on a project that will make your life a lot easier (of course the number of projects is always over-proportionally higher than the number of animals). You will have to look at a piece of land you set your heart on and work with what you have and make the best of it. I would do all that before even worrying about animals
    • Get a good job. Animals and land don’t come cheap. It took me 120 chickens to start breaking even and earning a very modest profit- with a lot of work involved. We have 14 acres and some nice barns, but there are always repairs, vet costs, feed costs, equipment cost that want to be covered. My husband and I work 40+ hrs a week while having a farm. A lot of our farmer friends do so as well. The idea of reaching self sufficiency and not having to work in a corporate environment but out of your farm is a very noble one- but not everybody achieves it. It all depends on your market and individual situation.
    • Take it one animal at a time. One year ago I didn’t have the slightest idea of just how much was there to learn about chickens. My dad had chickens while I was young and I thought I’d known it all. Big failure there. A year later I have learned a lot and still do. Planning all these animals will take significant time and money and you want to make sure that you know everything about proper care and nutrition before getting into it. Many things can be learned and books but not all. Maybe starting with one kind of animal and seeing if it is right for you would be the best step. Then, if you still have time and energy for more, get another one, and so on. I have 6 horses and they are a ton of work. I cannot imagine how much work 30 cattle would be.

    I hope that helps a bit. I wish you the best of luck on your adventure!

  3. BarredCometLaced

    BarredCometLaced Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2011
    Northern NH
    Thanks for the advice [​IMG] After further research, i had decided that 30 cattle was just too much (they need too much space) and that i would just use the dairy steers as meat.

    Also, i am so happy my parents allowed me to get chickens because (although its work) i love it! Every part. Feeding, cleaning, you name it. It allowed me to have a little piece of sustainability to see if thats what i really am interested in. So far so good [​IMG]

    I definitely am planning to have a good job too. Veterinary science is what i am interested in (livestock particularly). I plan to start with chickens and work up to the larger animals. Whether it takes me five or 50 years it will happen eventually.

    What i have been doing lately is reading about... well... everything. On my shelf i have over 40 magizines and 30 books on all breeds of livestock and homesteading. (you could say i'm addicted to buying books on this subject [​IMG]).
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I might reconsider keeping two bulls with two cows. Since the bulls are for draft animals, you probably want two steers so they will cooperate and consider artificial insemination for the milk cows.

    Two good milk cows will produce a tremendous amount of milk, probably a lot more than one family can consume. Practically all states have laws concerning selling raw milk. I think you will need to work out a plan for that. The laws, rules, and regulations will most likely be different when you reach that stage, but something to consider. You may become a cheese maker!

    It is great to have dreams and something to be passionate about. Reality has a way of getting in the way of dreams, but if you really think it through and work toward it, you can often get pretty close to acheiving them. I really wish you luck!
  5. punk-a-doodle

    punk-a-doodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2011
    I hear you. I dream the same dreams at night and all day. My husband and I have both changed our career paths where we can punch in the numbers and know that one day we'll be able to afford the 100 or so acres we want. He's about halfway through his schooling, I'm just starting mine (not including our past schooling, we're both double majors and that did not lead to high enough paying jobs for either of us to actually buy and maintain land). I'm working at also becomming a licensed vet tech to help with my knowledge and ability to care for my animals. I don't think I could cut vet school because of the organic chem and math requirements. Even if I could get through it, chemistry genuinely makes me a miserable human being. Definitely had the same idea though to help cut costs, and because vet work is something I enjoy greatly. Decided just getting a high paying job would work better for me personally, but if you know you can do it, I think that would be very, very beneficial. But yeah, some dream of Mercedes and vaulted ceillings. I dream of easter eggers and mules, of turkeys and exotics. My husband dreams of goats and restored wildlife habitat. X)
    Best of luck to you! [​IMG]
  6. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Reading is an excellent way of learning. The same goes for this forum. There is a tremendous amount of very experienced people who will be happy to offer advice to you and get you started. All I can say is keep reading, keep working on your plans and dreams every single day. Ten or so years ago I told my parents in Germany that I would go to the US and have a farm. Us being from a small farmer community in East Germany with not much money but lots of assets…that sounded a bit crazy. We even used to do hay by hand if that gives you an idea of our “technology”. They laughed at me and said I was crazy. 10 years later I do have my farm, I have the animals I always wanted and I grow the place every single day. It just takes a lot of persistency. The last 3 years I have been working on aggressively increasing the size of our farm. It sure hasn’t been a cakewalk and there was a lot of sweat and tears involved. My back hurts a bit more these days than it did 10 years ago. My parents are in love with our place and come to visit whenever they can. When I remind them of the fateful day I told them about my dreams back in Germany and they laughed at me- they now become quiet. They too learned that great things can be reached if one is willing to make the sacrifice of time, money, energy, etc. The only thing I would have changed is that I would have liked to have been more patient. We grew a little bit too fast and I am way behind on construction projects. I tend to want everything right away but I have now learned to appreciate the satisfaction of starting and finishing a project in due time rather than racing through them. You have all the time in the world to prepare and get started- learn from me and take your time to really plan it out well. It will save you many headaches down the road. Best of luck to you.
  7. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    First get yourself through college because as you may already know getting into veterinary school is a hard road to travel. Focus on that and just that for now because chances are you're not going to have the time and resources to do anything else.

    Then once you have graduated - depending on how pressing your debt load is - you can then begin to think about acquiring land, animals, and all of that. But I strongly suspect you are first going to have to find a place where you can either set up a practice or join someone else's practice to make a living, pay off your college related debts, and if there is anything left over buy land, animals, and all that.

    At that point think all of this stuff through carefully because it is mighty easy to bite off more than you can easily chew. Very easy. Start small. First searching for your land and determining if the house and/or outbuildings on it are worth while or if you're going to have to build your own.

    Then once you have the physical plant so to speak you'll need to look at your animal housing and fencing infrastructure. It is an all too common mistake to bring home the animals before you have any good place to keep them. It leads to a lot of headaches and frustrations.

    By the time you have done all of that you'll have a much, much better idea of how many and what type of animals you want to have. Those are actually the simplest parts of your project here.
  8. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Quote:If it is of any help, without being a Vet Tech and with some experience, I am able to treat 90% of all injuries and sicknesses within my animals without a vet. A friend of mine went to vet school for a while and they took her money and taught her things she could have easily learned by working at a horse form for a couple of months (clean out hooves, wrap legs, clip horses). I am not saying that it is the same for everybody, it is just one reason why I didn’t go down that road.

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