Friday, March 9, 2012

A New Adventure (in our back yard)

An experiment in Micro-Farming - More
A few months ago, Rebecca mentioned that she represented the first generation in her family that didn't learn the old-timey methods of self sufficiency. Ours is the age of convenience. Everything comes from the store processed, pre-packaged, and ready for consumption. Just pop it in the microwave, washer, or whatever electric device fits the need. We take for granted our day to day needs because they are typically right there at our fingertips or just a short drive away. In our travels, we have visited many parks and museums that display and demonstrate the tools of the past, and we're always amazed at how resourceful and creative people can be. These folks knew how to solve problems and prepare for the worse. They raised, preserved, and prepared their own food, made their own clothes, heated their own homes, and taught their children how to do the same. Life was tougher back then, but their skills could sustain them when times were bad. Those skills are important, even (especially) today.

So, we decided to begin the process of learning some of the old-timey skills while applying some of our modern knowledge by building a "Micro-Farm" at our Georgia home. Nothing massive, and nothing too high maintenance (we still want to travel). We are fortunate to live very near to my parents and other family members, so we have some help when we're away. However, I still want to automate things so that feeding and watering tasks will be minimal.

The process of building started well before Christmas. The plan was to make Christmas gifts of some of the animals and supplies. My first step was to convert an old screened-in sandbox into a chicken coop, a fiberglass greenhouse into a goat shelter, and to erect some goat-proof fencing. My experience of raising a goat as a child taught me that goats are brilliant escape artists. That skill, however, is about the only brilliant skill goats have.

Since the addition of four goats, four rabbits, and six chickens, I have made a few fencing adjustments here and there, built a rabbit hutch, built a portable chicken/rabbit run, and built a new goat condo. We are currently looking for more laying hens while building a raised-bed garden area.

This project has resulted in a lot of work, but the benefits are already beginning to become evident. For instance, Lee Thomas, our oldest (12) has created a chore list that assures the animals are fed and watered daily. He did this on his own with little resistance from his siblings. Additionally we are currently harvesting about 3 eggs a day from our four laying hens (the other two are too young), so we need more hens. The children (and Rebecca and I) are learning a lot about animals and responsibility as a result of this experience.

So, there you have it. We are officially a family of "micro-farmers". As I said before, we certainly do not intend to stop our on-road adventures. I am currently designing automatic feeding and watering systems so we can travel with some peace of mind (and remember Paw Paw). I plan to publish periodic updates as the farm evolves, so keep an eye on PB&J Adventures.

Please visit the PB&J Adventures website for more. 

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