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A mixture of hens, guinea fowl and rooster.


are in. Once you find that out, a quick investigation online will reveal more information about the type of seeds you are buying.


Preservation Being able to preserve your own


food is a huge step in becoming self- sufficient for the long-term. Canning, drying, smoking and salting are just some of the methods that the people who built this country used. Can- ning is the most widespread today, with millions of Americans still can- ning every year. You can preserve vegetables, fruits, soups and meats using glass jars. Probably the single most valuable book you can have on home canning is the Ball Blue Book. Canning is a great way to extend your larder using healthy vegetables grown on your own land. For those that are interested in local agriculture it doesn’t get any more local than that. Home canning requires a very small investment up front. Livestock is more interesting and


Keeping your fowl safe from predators is key. We have taken extra precaution by wrapping our mobile coup with a smaller plastic fence around the exterior.


varied than growing the garden. Each breed of livestock animals in the US has a breed association working for them, telling you how the animal is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Do your research. Just like plants in the garden some animals do not fare as well as others in different areas of the country. I feel a mini farm of 10 to 20 acres is best suited for rais- ing smaller livestock. Goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits are a smaller investment, easier to handle, require less feed and can live in much smaller spaces. These animals do not require large expensive cattle trailers or spe- cial head gates and equipment to work them. I am not going to recommend that


a mini farm have cattle. They are large animals and need more space than the 10 to 15 acres that is avail- able. Cattle are labor intensive and are a huge investment. For long-term self-sufficiency in a world with an un- certain future, artificial insemination would not be possible. That would


mean ownership of a bull. That adds more costs, which can be from several thousand dollars and up. As with many breeds of animals


in the United States, the breeding of animals for the show ring have in- creased the amount of inbreeding. We have seen a decline in the hardiness of many livestock breeds. While this is not a major problem during normal times, it can be when you are have lit- tle or no outside inputs as far as medi- cine and veterinary care. You want to pick animals that have easy births, multiple offspring, good mothering ability and can live on forage. My favorite breed of sheep for


long-term self-sufficiency is the Bar- bados black belly. Our farm switched from raising registered Suffolk sheep to Barbados, and have never regretted it. When lambing season came, the Suffolk sheep required constant su- pervision and many times help during labor. Barbados sheep are very inde- pendent. They usually twin with both lambs being born live. The young lambs are on their feet in an amaz- ingly short amount of time. Barba- dos are hair sheep, they are raised for their meat not their wool. Hair sheep do not have to be sheared like other breeds. They shed like other animals such as a dog. There are two prevalent goat


breeds in the United States. The Span- ish goat has been here since the Span- ish missionaries crossed our country. A newer breed is the boar goat. The boar goat has been bred heavily in the past 20 years and has displaced the Spanish goat as the most popular. Many Spanish and boar goats have been crossbred in order to find better genetics. The boar goat does not fare well in many areas of the country. It seems some areas climates are too hot for the animal to do well. The Spanish


30 REALITY CHECK • 2012 SPECIAL EDITION


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