If you get livestock, the housing, feed, and general care also costs money. As far as I know, none of it is free. I'll start with every homestead gateway into livestock... chickens. Whether you dream of producing fresh eggs for your own use or take the challenge of producing eggs for sale, it has a continual cost. Sure you can frequent Craig's List and find someone giving away chickens ...mostly roosters which may be fine for meat but you don't get eggs from roosters. Or, maybe even a chicken coop. You still have to provide them with a safe environment to do their chicken stuff. This mean predator proofing your property or a small portion of it for the chickens. Fencing against predators don't come cheap. We mostly free ranged our half a dozen New Hampshire Reds for two years. They roosted on our front porch at night. Our property is not fenced. We were doing it cheap. Last winter and early spring, predators reduced our flock down to two hens. But it was spring, everybody sold chicks. We repopulated our flock with a dozen Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpingtons. They were all one big happy family decimating my garden and going where they pleased. Organic feed ain't cheap and we were supplementing their diet with commercial organic feed. We started losing hens after the rooster culling to predators. We are down to seven hens out of twelve, two New Hampshire Reds (Gimpy and the other injured one), three Rhode Island Reds and two Buffs. There went my dream of selling eggs this year. The certification you paid to be able to sell your eggs is wasted for another year. So we built them an enclosure and coop for them. It only cost money, right?
We fell in love with angora rabbits early on. It was hoped that it would bring income into the homestead by way of fur/yarn/babies sales. Adding five new English Angora rabbits to the rabbitry was the first step. The fact that all five were related (mother, father, and three babies) didn't matter because we had others who were related to breed to. That was until our original angoras died before the newly purchased does reached breedable age (for us 1 year old). Now our angoras are related so no babies which are the biggest money maker (on average $400 per litter x 5 does). It would have easily paid our property taxes, electricity and feed bills for a year.
Losing my buck American Chinchilla this past spring, stopped my meat rabbit production. Mel's adversity to butchering rabbits has kept me from purchasing a new breeding trio. She didn't have to butcher them, I did that. But she preferred cuddling all rabbits. She'd even cuddle the wild cottontails if she could catch them. So we are out of the meat raising side of the rabbitry. A shame too! I do love me some rabbit almost as much as I like venison. We've seen deer on our property all year long, but now that it's deer season...not a cute face to be seen. Sigh! At least, there is an abundance of squirrels to feed the dogs with.
Striving to be sustainable and self reliant is a costly proposition on this homestead. The best laid plans versus the reality is a huge difference. We've had our shares of ups and downs over the past two years. While Mel has been out of work for a year, stuff is getting done on the homestead. She does the manual labor and I foot the bill. It seems like an even trade. Meanwhile, we are planning the third year's growth of our Cockeyed Homestead. Plans are being made for a bigger garden, one that will fulfill our needs for a year without having to purchase extra from surrounding farms. The groundwork for the orchard's five-year plan is underway. While it is slow going now, soon we'll see the fruits of our labor.
So that's it for my reality check.
Y'all have a blessed day.