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Starting Over

 
Posts: 10
Location: Ozarks of Missouri
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New to permies here. My husband and I moved from Maine to Missouri a few months back and we are in the process of beginning our permaculture homestead. We definitely are trying to start small and build our way up. We have some cochin chickens, muscovy ducks, and friends offered to give us a Saanen who is in milk. We are finishing getting our home up and in place (we live in a yurt) and putting up some fencing. We got two small garden beds in place for a small fall garden. There are just so many projects still to be done!

Who else out there is trying to homestead and stay off-grid and not reliant on grocery or feed stores? Who feeds their animals without any commercial feeds? What do you suggest for someone starting out who wants to be off the grid and completely self sustainable? What type of foods do you feed? How much? What do you grow for your family in your garden?

Thanks!
 
master pollinator
Posts: 1512
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I don't know if this is something that could help you, but I maintain a blog about my own journey to self reliant homesteading. It surely didn't happen overnight, but we got there eventually.

www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
pollinator
Posts: 978
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Welcome to MO! What part of the state are you in? I’m 90 miles south of KC.

How much land to you have to work with? Sunflowers and grain sorghum/milo are pretty easy to grow and harvest by hand for animal feed. Human food too I guess. I haven’t eaten anything made from milo.
 
gardener
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We're also in our first year, in MO, and working on building up our homestead. We aren't offgrid, but hope to be able to, eventually - but, that's years down the road, for us. But, we're already in our 50s, and there are some things that are just going to take a while, between our health, and the way our place was set up, by the previous owners, who built the place.

I'll preface my next, by adding that I'm NOT saying it can't be done, lol. But, don't be too hard on yourselves, IF you don't manage to get 100% self reliant, right away. Some things do take time, and not just crops. In my conversations with other new homesteaders, the ones who jumped in tended to struggle more with self doubt and burn out, than those who waded in, giving themselves a chance to acclimate to all the lifestyle changes, the workload, and the responsibilities that come with homesteading.

That double disclaimer out of the way, getting your critters is a huge step in the right direction, of self sufficiency. Free- ranging them will go a long way toward helping keep off of commercial feed, but you will have to be vigilant about watching for predators. I was just checking, yesterday, into what predators in MO are legal to kill, if necessary, and discovered that all predatory birds are protected, and you can face jail time - even for protecting your livestock. Another thing we do, to lessen our commercial feed reliance, is table scraps & kitchen waste. The chickens ADORE table scraps, lol. Take care not to give them too much fast, and there are some things that I'm told aren't good for them - like almost anything in the allium family (onions, garlic, leeks, chives...). But, our chickens will clean the 'treat' plate in a heartbeat! And bugs? They eat them - lots of them. Some folks breed black fly larvae, just for their chickens, too.

I can't speak to the ducks, yet. But the goats are great foragers, too. They aren't find of grass, and leave it till last, like a little kid, with spinach on their plate - But they'll eat a huge percentage of their diet, from simply grazing. The trick is winter grazing. If you can't grow and harvest your own hay, you could run into trouble, over the winter, if it snows much. To stay Ingrid and collect hay from your place, I'd recommend a scythe & a rake - but, it will take time and energy. Hay doesn't have to be bailed, either. It can be left in piles, and the goats moved to the piles, instead of moving the hay to them.

My other suggestion is to build local connections. There is no shame in buying/ bartering for the things you need, and it will probably prove very beneficial, in the long run. When I was a kid, our family bartered, a LOT to feed or critters, who (mostly) in turn, fed us. With 3of us teenagers in the house, manual labor was the 'easiest' thing for our folks to use for barter. There was a gentleman in the next county, who always had corn left standing in his fields, that the harvesters missed. He wanted them cleared - we wanted the feed. So, we'd spend a day in his fields, cleaning them up, and took the standing corn with us (&often even stalks, for harvest time decorating). My stepmom also watched the paper for personals, obits, and barn & yard sales. One of the things she found was a family looking to sell their late parents' farm. There was (I believe, quite literally) a ton of hay, in the hayloft, that needed to be removed - so, away we all went. There were some parts of the hay that were no good - but more than half was still useable. We took all of it out for them, kept the better part of it (which fed our milk cow, 3 beef steers, and 6 horses, for nearly the whole winter), and got paid, to boot! It was hot, dirty, hard work - but it got us what we needed, and kept our feed costs waaayyyy down.

Ok, that's all my brain can pull together, at the moment. Good luck!
 
Sarah Kellogg
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Location: Ozarks of Missouri
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Hi Su... I will definitely check you out! Our family blog about homesteading and living off-grid in a yurt is www.ouryurtifullife.com.

Ken- we are in the Ava area, about an hour south-east of Springfield.

Carla... Thank you for the helpful advice! We have done a lot of homesteading in the past... as we were part of a permaculture off-grid farm for several months in Maine and also had our own small homestead for a while. Since moving to MO, we know we won't be self sustainable right off, but we want to work towards that, and part of that is having a plan of action in place We are definitely looking into raising mealworms and having a maggot bucket to help feed the chickens through the winter. As for the goats, I thing bartering may definitely be the way we need to go at first.
Reading about your childhood sounds a lot of what we have been doing so far. We don't have teenagers (a newborn and two toddlers though!) but we always work together as a family and we are enjoying our Yurtiful Adventure.
Thank you all for your helpful replies!
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 978
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I believe you can get permission to kill predators to protect your animals in Missouri. I think if you catch something in the act of hurting your animals you can protect your animals. Not positive about that, it may have changed.

Except for birds, Missouri has hunting or trapping seasons for most predators. I think coyote season is most of the year.  Not sure about otters. No season on bears or mountain lions.

I don’t have a regulation book at the moment. It is pretty complex. Not everything is on their web site. You can get the book anywhere that sells hunting licenses, even WalMart.

Towns and cities sometimes have different rules. Some animal control officers will help.

 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 978
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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I think federal regulations apply to predator birds. I have heard that geese will chase off hawks and owls. Not sure if it’s true,  but geese are mean and can weigh forty pounds. Much bigger than hawks and owls.

I have never heard of eagles being a problem.
 
Sarah Kellogg
Posts: 10
Location: Ozarks of Missouri
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Thanks Ken! That is what our neighbor told us (about the predators). Regarding Geese... we had some back in Maine, and our neighbor has some here... it really depends on the goose Some are "mean" but those I have seen are usually just trying to protect their mate, babies, territory, etc. We had one goose who would go after anything he thought was going to take away his girl... but that was probably because his former owners knew little about geese (only kept them because they looked cool on their manicured estate) and separated him from his mate for months while she was setting and hatching babies, but kept him where he could still hear but not see her (torture in my mind). After we got them, we immediately put them back together and he was very protective of her, but it was mostly just hissing a back off warning.
All that said, I love geese and hope to get a pair in the future to guard our fowl... and to have offspring for a meat source!
 
gardener
Posts: 6152
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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The thing I've found about keeping hogs is that you will end up having to give them some feed at least in the winter months.
I know you can pasture hogs but it takes more than 5 acres to keep up with two sows a boar and the babies, you have to move them daily when using a paddock system (which works really well) but in the winter there will come the time when grass is dormant or eaten to the soil, that's when it is time to add feed to their diet.
Our chickens free range all year, no problems there and we don't feed them we do however give them meal worms as a daily treat (helps with egg production and their attitude).

Our free range donkey mostly fends for herself but I do keep two bales of hay and a bag of sweet feed (treat) for her in her stall.

Here's to you for starting over at homesteading in a new and probably warmer part of the country, some things will be different weather pattern wise, other than that, homesteading is pretty much the same game everywhere I think.
Our next step is getting the solar installed so we can loose the umbilical cord (electricity).

Redhawk
 
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What do you suggest for someone starting out who wants to be off the grid and completely self sustainable?



There’s two big pieces of advice I’d give to anyone setting out on this path:

1. Focus and finish projects. We all know project lists have a way of expanding to fit 10x the time you have. And of course there’s always a project that needs to get done right now and put your primary project on hold (especially if you have animals). So try and focus and take on one big project at a time. Many half-finished projects tend to sap the excitement out of life.

2. Find a way to document your wins! Most people have TODO lists, but very few people have DONE lists. When your TODO list just keeps growing every year it can feel defeating. Maybe keep a journal or a daily done list and review it every now and then. The idea here is to balance your TODO list with what you’ve actually accomplished.

The reason I’d give this advice is that it’s hard being self-sustainable. And when you look at what needs to be done to get there, it’s closer to a life’s work than a project you complete. So if you keep focusing on what you need to do to become “self-sustainable” you’re always going to feel behind. But if you look at it from the opposite end — what you have done so far to become more sustainable, that can be a source of encouragement and pride.
 
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MDC's wildlife code has a good section on owner protection of property "3 CSR 10-4.130" But basically varmints can all be shot or trapped to prevent livestock loss/property damage, no need to notify the MDC. Exceptions are listed, but they're pretty common sense, if it's a "game animal"(deer, elk, turkeys) you need permission to kill. If it's a bear or mountain lion you need permission to kill unless they're actively attacking or killing your pets/livestock/humans.

As to your basic question, we kinda divvied up our lifestyle and determined how hard(financially, time-wise, practically, and emotionally) it would be to get different facets of each section "self-reliant". Putting meat on the table, that's pretty easy/straightforward for us. I fish and hunt for almost all of our meat needs, we're also building a goat herd to make the supply/timing a little more reliable. Dairy is also on the goats. Both of those are easy wins for us.

On the other side of the equation, take electricity. Given our lifestyle and financial cost, going off grid is a ways down the road. Doable? Sure, but it's not worth the costs at the moment. That being said, I keep track of electricity use so I know about what we would need to keep our current lifestyle if/when we end up going off-grid.

Looking at our life in this way is a lot more encouraging than taking it as a lump sum. We've achieved 100% in some categories, sure there's some areas that are at 0%, but we are making progress towards the bigger goal. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is self sufficiency(unless you have gobs of money, you could probably do it if you won the lottery).
 
moose poop looks like football shaped elk poop. About the size of this tiny ad:
Dave Burton's Boot Adventures at Wheaton Labs and Basecamp
https://permies.com/t/119676/permaculture-projects/Dave-Burton-Boot-Adventures-Wheaton
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