Apr 29

Become More Self Sufficient-Raising Shetland Sheep, Dexter Cattle, Nigerian Dwarf Goats & Bunnies

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Don’t under estimate what you can accomplish on a small plot of land or even in a small confined area. Be creative and use the internet for something other than talking to your friends on social media sites. Ask questions, research possibilities, and more important…get started!

My small homestead farm is located on 7 acres but that wasn’t quite large enough for what I really wanted to do so I checked with a neighbor who had unused pasture and made a mutually beneficial deal for both of us. Part of the deal was that I maintain the fence unless it gets to the point of major repairs and then we share the cost. My neighbors had 11 acres in pasture which is ideal for a small herd of Dexter Cattle. The calves born each year are used to put beef in the freezer and money from calf sales pay all the winter feed cost and vet/medicine expenses. Any surpluss goes back into the budget to help with other projects. Dexter Cattle are multi-purpose cattle used not only as beef cattle but also make excellent homestead milk cows. The cattle here are grass fed (mostly… I also provide protein/lick tubs to provide nutrients low in the soil/pasture) which also provides extremely lean rich beef at a much lower cost than if purchased in the grocery store. More important… no growth hormones, antibiotics, or feeds that can cause sickness in livestock and those consuming the meat.

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On my farm, I also raise Shetland Sheep. It is a small flock but as the property is cleared more for more pasture, I can increase the size of the flock. Shetland sheep are a smaller breed and easy keepers, excellent moms usually have twins. They are wool sheep and need to be sheared each year. The wool can be sold, processed into rovings for spinning, or can be spun into yarn for knitting, crocheting, rug hooking, or weaving. Lambs are sold to pay for the winter hay, yearly feed, and vet and/or medications. These sheep are also raised as organically as I can possibly raise them at this point so that any meat is more nutritious and healthy.


Goats play an important natural role on any size farm that is still in the process of developing. Goats are used by many of the park systems to clear underbrush and leaf litter naturally and less expensive. On the farm, the goats I have help to remove the underbrush in my new pasture since I did not pay to have my pasture cleared by a dozer. They are also a multi-purpose animal clearing brush, providing kids for sale to pay their winter lodging and also meat for the freezer. Goat meat is another way of providing a homestead farm with lower cost lean meat healthier and more naturally.

Doctors have prescribed rabbit meat for heart patients for years because it is naturally lean and a good source of protein. Rabbits are raised on a good forage product along with some left overs from the kitchen or garden. As most people know, rabbits can be fairly prolific and can provide meat size rabbits between 8 and 16 weeks depending upon the breed you select.

Poultry is handled differently here. I have chickens that free-range for eggs but I don’t butcher chickens or turkeys. Due to the lack of helping hands around here, there are only so many hours in the day and I can only do just so much. Therefore, poultry is either purchased from someone I trust to raise them as organically as possible or I raise them but have the Amish butcher for me.

Not everyone has the option to raise most of their meat. I also raise feeder pigs every two years for my own pork, but I don’t want to raise pigs year round. I’m just not real thrilled with pigs although I love pork! If you can’t raise your own, if you checkĀ  around the area, there are many people who would be willing to sell part of a butchered steer or pig. You can also purchase fresh butchered chickens and turkeys so you can store them in your freezer. If the meat doesn’t come vacuum sealed, use your Seal-A-Meal (I know you have one! It’s the only way to store things in the freezer without freezer burn.)

There are many reasons to establish a homestead farm or at least some of the habits used on a homestead farm. Most of the food purchased from a grocery store has either been treated with chemicals, grown with chemicals, or has chemicals added to it. Many reports show some of the food allergies people have were created due to chemicals or to GMO’s. Hardly a week goes by without another warning concerning an ingredient in food or a recall because of contamination. I like knowing what is in my food and how my food has been raised or grown.

This covers part of the protein raised on the farm. Let’s see… that still leaves the gardens, the orchard, the small permaforest at the back of the property… oooooo….. and then there’s canning, freezing, dehydrating, drying food. Then don’t forget…. well, I’ll save that for later.

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