In these challenging economic times more than ever, a self-sufficient life holds great appeal. With the cost of food, and in particular meat, rising more quickly than wages, investing in a smallholding could be a way for many concerned consumers to maintain a comfortable lifestyle whilst reducing their ecological and monetary outgoings. In this article, you can read about the first two steps to take towards a self-sufficient lifestyle.
Poultry keeping is the ideal first step towards self-sufficiency. There are now around 500,000 chicken owners in the UK, a number which reflects the ease and convenience with which it is possible to generate a steady supply of fresh eggs. And trust me, once you’ve tasted the yolks produced in your own back garden, you’ll never want to go back to mass-produced supermarket fare.
Of course, it is also possible to slaughter the animals for meat when the time is right, but this requires a little more in the way of expertise than poultry keeping for the purpose of egg collection. It does take some investment to get started – you can’t just buy a couple of hens and let them roam free in the grass. You will require, for example, a coop, bedding, and some kind of run with appropriate fencing to protect your flock from predators.
When you take into account the cost of feed and possible veterinary bills in addition to this start-up cost, it becomes obvious that you will not be able to produce eggs so cheaply that you’re saving money on your usual food shop. Regardless, poultry keeping holds great appeal both due to the greater quality of the eggs and the pleasure taken; it’s simply fantastic to see your chickens scratching around your little smallholding.
Though it requires a smaller initial financial investment than poultry keeping, growing your own veg does require a good deal more in the way of elbow grease. In a way, that’s the true charm of a small allotment; it’s refreshing sometimes to perform good, honest labour. And if that labour provides you with fresh veg year round, all the better! For starters, try growing tomatoes, lettuce and carrots.
This will require only a small area of sun-drenched ground, and these foods are very forgiving on new farmers. It’s probably worth buying some fertiliser for the soil as the stuff in your back garden has probably been leached of nutrients by weed killing chemicals at some point in the recent past. However, manure is cheap and plentiful, if not pleasant to work with!
The Start of Something Beautiful
The self-sufficient lifestyle holds great appeal, now more than ever. Both poultry keeping and vegetable growing provide a gateway into a life with a little more rustic pleasure and tasty food. Hopefully this article will provide you with food for thought!
Paul Walters is a blogger and free-range fanatic. He and his family, which includes a brood of hens, live in sunny Sussex.