Our homesteading journey is still in it’s infancy, going into our fourth year. We have put most of our efforts into our garden, wild crafting, food preservation techniques, and raising rabbits for meat. As complete and total novices to every aspect of this lifestyle, it has been well worth it to ease into the livestock side of things. We want to keep this lifestyle enjoyable, and when things get overwhelming they are no longer a labor of love. We have reached a point where we are ready for the next step: adding chickens!
Although our expenses are quite small in comparison to many others living this life, I am always looking for ways to reduce or minimize those costs. It’s a big part of our concept of self sufficientcy. Our first step was choosing a breed of chicken that has proven to be excellent at foraging, as well as being hardy to both our cold Wisconsin winter’s and humid summer days; the Dominique. So spring, summer, and fall we won’t need to purchase feed. (With the exception of the chick starter we picked up when the chicks arrived) so at the moment, our only feed cost is from the rabbits: approximately $30 a month. Check out my article The Cost of Raising Rabbits for the cost breakdown. So how do we reduce our feed costs through long and harsh winters? My answer: the garden.
But it’s not what you think. There is no space in this garden dedicated to livestock. Even if we wanted to, we just don’t have the space, we are on two acres, half of Wich are wooded and full of food I’m not willing to sacrifice. And with soon to be four children, play space for the kids is important to us. So I’ll be using the “weeds”. I mean why not? I’ve got to pull them out anyway, and although they’d make a great addition to the compost, this will serve a purpose just as important, even help keep me motivated to keep on top of the weeds this year lol. Most of the “weeds” in our garden are lambs quarter, wood sorrel, (both of wich are delicious and highly nutritional but more on that in another article) and a mix of grasses.
So this is the beginning of my experiment. Each time the garden needs weeding I will collect and dry them to use as feed for the rabbits. My goal being to trade the purchasing of rabbit feed for the purchasing of chicken feed. So perhaps not a reduction in feed costs, but to maintain our current costs even with an extra bunch of critters😁. Once dried, I’ll store them in the feed bags we’ve saved, the feed bags also make good garbage bags for my kitchen trash😉 recycle and reuse, always. Today was a humid one lol but I was able to get 3 of 14 rows weeded,
I use the paper bag method for a lot of my leafy herbs, it keeps it neat, draws out moisture, and all it needs is a shake a day to keep things even. We usually have the garden put to rest sometime in October: so stay tuned to see how much we are able to put up!