28
Dec

Urban Homesteading – Raising Rabbits

by Tiffany in The Homestead

Urban Homesteading Raising RabbitsMore and more urban homesteaders are getting curious about raising rabbits. It is often times the ultimate goal to become more self sufficient and rabbits can help with that. In fact they may be one of the easiest and best ways to help you further your self sufficient homestead goals. How so? Why rabbits?

Well there are a few reasons why someone might choose to introduce rabbits to the homestead…besides the cute factor. I have a few rabbits myself… giant chinchilla rabbits and red new zealand rabbits. We love having them and the new zealand’s we have had since they were itty bitty so they are very much socialized and willing to cuddle up during some Netflix binge sessions. But I digress…why rabbits?

Rabbit Manure

Rabbits produce some of the very best manure a gardener could ever ask for. It is GOLD I tell you and all gardeners need manure for their compost. Your family can have some adorable pets and they poop out the best garden fertilizer. It might sound crazy to raise animals for their poop but if you are a serious gardener and homesteader then you know the value of good manure. Compost or use it directly, it doesn’t even need to be aged. Fresh rabbit manure is higher in nitrogen than chicken, cow, horse, pig, sheep or goat manure. If you want compost tea you can make that easily by soaking the pellets in a couple gallons of water, its perfect for houseplants and for flowers, like roses.

It is also cost effective. You can buy a 50lb bag of food pellets at a tractor supply store for $7-8 and you can grow your own fodder as well. We grow grass from wheat seeds and we regrow scraps such as carrot tops and lettuce for the greens. They also like fruit scraps.

Meat Production

Many folks can’t have cows, pigs, or goats on their property. In urban areas it is not uncommon for these types of animals to be forbidden. That leaves some other options such as ducks, chickens, quail, or rabbits. The fastest meat production comes with rabbits and most will raise chickens for the eggs, not their meat. Rabbit is a tasty, nutritious, lean protein source. All parts can be used as well if you have dogs and like to feed them raw foods. If you have a couple does and a buck you can provide your homestead with a good supply of meat all year. Taking control of your meat production is a wonderful thing and cattle farming might not be an option. Look into rabbits if you want your own meat source.

Wool Production

If meat rabbits are not your thing maybe you want some lovely angora rabbits for their luscious wool. Spinners and crafty types would surely not pass up a home grown wool source! Angoras are gentle and seem to love all the attention they get from grooming and the harvesting process is completely painless. You also get all that poop for the garden!

Creative kids might also like to have them as pets and make some money off of them…ie the manure, wool, etc. There are so many reasons to embrace rabbits and bring bunnies to the homestead this year!

3 reasons to raise rabbits homestead

16
Nov

Introducing Raw Food Into Your Dog’s Diet

by Tiffany in The Homestead

stellas raw dog food

I have been interested in the raw food movement to some extent for years. I am not a raw foodie but I do realize the importance of having a healthy supply of raw foods in the diet for maximum nutrition. I align more with the paleo food movement and this too promotes maximum nutrient density (raw or no) and also eating what we as humans are meant to eat. Paleo in my opinion is like the the factory settings diet for the body…our optimal diet, the diet we are meant to eat.

It only goes to follow that I would also become interested in feeding my animals the food they were meant to eat as well. This omnivorous human is meant to eat fruit, nuts, seeds, veggies, greens, and meat/seafood for the live enzymes, vitamins, minerals and nutritive value. I am not meant to eat the products of huge agribusiness…wheat, corn, and soy everything basically. Dogs are also not meant to eat that kind of diet. Dogs crave raw meat, much like they once ate in wild. Conventional dog food is far removed from the diet they once ate.

Last year I ended up taking on a rescue dog who needed to be rehomed. Our plan was/is to start giving her the raw remains of our homestead animals but we have just started to dabble in that arena and have not had any to butcher yet. I am thrilled though to find an alternative that will slowly introduce raw foods into her diet and provide us with a supplemental feeding option for when we don’t have raw animal parts to feed her.

feeding coco raw dog food

Enter Stella and Chewy’s. Their meal mixers product is meant to complement a dog’s existing diet.

So what are the benefits of adding raw foods into a dog’s diet? These are just some of them:

  • Better Dental Health – commercial diets rot their teeth and cause gum disease.
  • Better Digestion – Eating foods they are meant to eat means better digestion and better access to the nutrients in the food.
  • Vitality – You know we get groggy and tired when we eats lots of carbs and sugar… yeah dogs get the same way. Raw food will increase their vitality and quality of life.
  • Improved Skin and Coat – When you eat better, you look better. It is the same for dogs, and it really shows with a glossy fur coat and no more skin issues. No need for medicated shampoos!
  • Stronger Immune System – When their body is running on optimal fuel they are far less likely to get become sick or diseased.
  • A Lean Physique – Carbs make us fat and they can make dogs fat too.

Stella & Chewy’s offers freeze-dried options (including Meal Mixers) to get you started on raw dog foods. Their products helps owners give their pet’s nutrition that mirrors their ancestral diet. You take one scoop of the meal mixers and mix it with your dog’s current food. This allows them to slowly get used to a raw diet and not upset their GI tract with a sudden diet change.

Meal Mixers includes premium ingredients:

    • Packed with 95% nutrient-rich meat, organs and bone
    • Complemented by organic fruits and vegetables and added probiotics & antioxidants
    • No grains, glutens, fillers, artificial preservatives or colorings, or added hormones or antibiotics
    • Available in 4 protein options (Stella’s Super Beef, Chewy’s Chicken, Tantalizing Turkey, and Savory Salmon & Cod)

stella and chewys dog food

An independent taste test study conducted at leading university (University Wisconsin-Madison) showed that 9 out of 10 dogs prefer their kibble with MM. Third party independent lab analysis is conducted on each batch of food before it leaves their Wisconsin-based manufacturing facility. The results for every batch is posted on the S&C website for consumers to see. This is refreshing given how many recalls we have seen of pet food in years past!

The best part is that my Coco loves Stella and Chewy’s meal mixers!

coco raw dog food

001

This post has been sponsored by Stella & Chewy’s. All opinions are my own.

24
Aug

We Got It! Our Suburban Homestead…

by Tiffany in The Homestead

new houseYay!!! I am so excited to share with you all that I am a new homeowner. My husband and I closed on our homestead in June. We bought in a suburb of Columbus (20 minutes away from downtown). It has over half an acre, a nice patch of woods, and a creek running through it.

The urban/suburban part has always been important to me. I am not a fan of rural living (been there, done that) and I personally feel that the vehicle for change…for our environment, our food system, and for our society in general needs to happen in cities. We need to green the cities, not move out of them.

I would like to tell you how we planned and planned for this moment but we actually didn’t. It just kind of happened. My family had been renting a duplex and we deliberately picked a more run down neighborhood because we wanted to pay less for rent and have more money for play. I was able to garden in raised beds, collect rainwater, compost, and even grow food and fish with aquaponics.

The duplex was a cozy 1100 square feet that I actually loved. It required us all to be together…a lot. Our family/living area was also a home office for two, a gaming area, and a TV watching area. In general I loved the money we saved living there (rent, utilities) and I loved small house living.

On the drawbacks list was the lack of a fourth bedroom, since my two autistic boys have issues that make sharing a room a bad idea all around. The kitchen was dated and in need of a remodel, we couldn’t have pets or farm animals, the garage was tiny and could barely fit a car in it, and we were limited on what we could do inside and outside the home.

So what made us move?

Well, it is a long story and it involves the death of my mom recently. But the short of it is that I finally committed to staying in this area and laying down roots in a place of my very own. A lovely creek, called Blacklick, winds all through our city and I thought it would be out of our budget to own a home that backed up to the creek but I found a creekside home that had just been listed for under market value because it needed some serious updates. Well, that house had five offers in a matter of two days so our realtor directed us to another creekside property just down the street that was a bit pricier but included over a half acre. It was being offered via short sale and had been on the market for a year due to some sticky issues with flood insurance requirements.

Short story…we now own the house. We can raise rabbits, chickens, and ducks, and we can keep bees. I can have a huge garden, I have room for lots of fruit trees, and we have the most insanely beautiful creek (with plenty of fish) right in our back yard. We have already started our orchard with two apple trees and two pear trees with more to come.

A view of our backyard from the house…I think that playset will be upcycled into a chicken coop next year. You can see the beginning of our orchard front and center.

suburban homestead with fruit trees

Go past that expanse of lawn (which will soon be garden) and you come to a lovely patch of woods. Here we have the compost bin, a firepit, and plenty of trees for firewood.

Woods, compost bin, firepit

Go through the wooded area and you come to a real gem. The creek looks tame in the picture below…it hasn’t rained in a couple days. During heavy rains though that creek rages and raises about 6-8 feet. We often see kayakers go by.

creek backyard

Also love the existing garden at the house. It is all ornamental…lots of hosta and flowers but I often overlook the “pretty” plants in favor of edibles, so to have that part taken care of is awesome.

flower collage

The drawback, at least for me, is that the house is huge. It is 2500 square feet. I don’t want or need all that space but did get our four bedrooms, a nice finished basement, and a two car garage. I have a suburban homestead that I pretty much adore and I am dropping hints to my Dad that he should move in with us and utilize some of this extra space. Though one extra bit space I love is my new home office with a large window that overlooks the yard. The wood burning fireplace and a bathroom just for the husband and myself are kind of nice too.

What excites me most is that this property will allow us more room to homestead. We plan to start slowly, not wanting to alarm any neighbors or bite off more than we can chew at this time. In the garage we are starting to construct raised beds, set up a 250 gallon aquaponics tank, and build rabbit hutches. We have many projects to keep us busy through winter.

 

This is what I call prime city living!

11
Feb

6 Reasons to Freeze Your Food

by Tiffany in The Homestead

6 Reasons to Freeze Your Food

A freezer is a homesteader’s very good friend. It allows us to preserve our bounty, buy in bulk, make meals ahead of time, and keep a food stash for when times are tough. Many of us have love our freezer so much we have two or more of them. All that freezer space provides us with lots of possibilities!

Here are six reasons why freezing your food is so awesome…

1. It saves us money. Freezing allows us to buy local foods, in season, at the peak of their ripeness/freshness when they are the most affordable. It also allows us to capitalize on good sales (store sales, clearance, etc) and deals (herdshare). We can buy our food when it is cheapest and freshest and simply eat it later.

2. It makes meal planning easier. Take a quickie inventory of what you have in the freezer and then search your bookmarked recipes that incorporate the ingredients you want to use ie “pork” or “ground beef and carrots”. Using what you have makes things easier and it saves money.

3. It reduces food waste. If you know you won’t get around to eating those veggies then spend a a couple minutes chopping them up and freeze them. Add them to casserole, soup, or stir fry at some later date. If you are not in the mood for leftovers don’t chuck them, freeze and eat them in a couple of weeks. If some fruit has started to look sad, freeze it and add it to smoothies.

4. It allows you cook ahead of time. Typically we run short on time on the weekdays. They are jam packed with school, work, kids events, etc. If that is the case you can use the slower pace of the weekend to cook some meals that freeze well and can be reheated for weekday meals. This also works well for work lunches…make them on the weekend, portion them out by day, and freeze. Freezing can give us freedom to cook when we want to and not so much when we don’t want too.

5. It saves time. Shopping from your freezer means less time wandering store isles trying to figure out what to make. It also means you can prep and freeze various ingredients (chopped veggies, shredded chicken, marinated meat) or entire meals when you have more time and utilize them when you have less time.

6. It allows us to eat out of season. Fresh blackberries, sun ripened strawberries, sugar snap peas, spinach, apples, fresh baked bread from the farmer’s market…you name it, we want it. Freeze some of it and extend the season and the flavors.

What do you love to freeze?

freeze your food

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

7 Comments on 6 Reasons to Freeze Your Food

16
Oct

Gardening and Homesteading Goals for 2015

by Tiffany in Gardening, The Homestead

Goals for 2015The gardening season has ended for 2014…for the most part. I still have a variety of peppers and some flowers doing well. I also have a cold frame with greens going strong but I have done a massive fall cleanup and most of my garden beds will rest until spring. With everything I learned this year I am already making plans for next!

My organic garden goals for 2015 are to grow everything I grew in 2014 and:

  • Make potato cages and grow alot more
  • Start my seedlings earlier!
  • Add leeks and brussels sprouts for fall/winter
  • Grow more carrots
  • Grow different pumpkin varieties (jarrahdale and lady godiva) and grow more
  • Add another raised bed and a hoop with a fabric covering
  • Add more herbs and veggies
  • Plant spring bulbs
  • Add another rain barrel

My homesteading goals for 2015:

What are your goals???