Urban Farming on a Shoestring Thinking about urban
don't know where to start? You don't need to
spend lots of money to be a good urban farmer. Learn how to be
successful by doing things simply,
yet right. Read some sound homesteading advice by our resident blogger
I was sent this week a stack of magazines from a single magazine
company that interviewed me about colony raising
rabbits . The end result was this stack of magazines all
different titles, but all basically saying the same thing.
Urban farmers want to spend less, however spend more than any group I
short of the government when wanting to be self sustaining. Let me
real farmer is not going to spend $1500.00 US on a pretty little
that is made for 3-6 chickens, depending on breed of course.
A real farmer isn't
going to buy all
that fancy stuff or all those books
to grow a 20x20 spot of extra food for his home. A real farmer makes
cost effective .
This means that once you buy all those books, all those
products to process, and sustain your garden or those 3 chickens you
will never in
this lifetime get your money back. The big companies know this and
why one publishing company has 6, count them SIX
magazines for urban farmers. The sad thing is most of
people going into urban farming will
only be in it for around 5yrs.
Yup! Studies show the
keeps a hobby for 5 years. They actually loose interest in 3 years but
live the final 2yrs in guilt
because they don't want to waste all the money they spent trying to
they want out isn't the work, or the expense, its that they aren't
out of it what they thought they would. They didn't know how to take
care of what
they bought, before they bought it. If that same person spent one year
homework on the subject and was talking to actual people doing
they would have a longer lifespan in that hobby when they do finely
Let's look at some things
can do to make things work. We know
that roosters will upset your neighbors. We know that compost
piles smell very badly and will also upset your neighbors, especially
if you live in a nice
neighborhood. (Plop your chickens into your compose heap every day in
the summer and they will mull it for you and eat those bugs .
It won't smell as bad and the chickens are doing the work for you.)
Go out and toss out every
you can't eat. Before you do, do
some homework on every plant before you toss it. You may learn that
make great tea, or other edible
flowers and plants you have you could have been using,
but just didn't know you could.
After you have learned
what you do and
have, toss out what you can't use. Then, decorate your already made
gardens with usable plants. You haven't spent a dime on anything when
this and often times can sell those old plants for new ones, thus
cost at zero.
Even house plants can be
make room for practical edible plants and
that can be grown indoors.
I don't buy herbs. I have a shelf above my kitchen sink with a long
above it. It’s about 6' long. Nothing special. That one shelf and light
me little to have but saves me literally hundreds of dollars a year in
and herbs I don't have to buy. They also taste like they should.
be said for the dried herbs that come in sealed plastic
We haven't built one raised
garden, or purchased one bag of soil. Yet we
this little step opened up the idea of a lot of home grown produce. The
can be done with trees. This is a bit more costly to remove pretty
re-plant with fruit and nut trees. It will however be much more
Farming and Trees
here is a good tip for trees. Buy from someone who has those trees in
area. Don't buy peaches because they are supposed to grow where you
peaches from someone already growing them in your area. These trees
adapted to your growing seasons and will do much better. Just because a
says its good for your zone, you will always do better buying from
your actual zone.
Urban Farming with Chickens
When it comes to raising
chickens it always makes me smile when people ask,
are best for...... " When the answer is a question. "What do you want
to do with it?" If your zoning laws say you can only have 3 chickens
better make sure those 3 birds do what you want them to do. If it’s
then get 3 cute birds. If it’s lay eggs, call the hatchery and ask what
Do your own homework, don't rely on someone else that doesn't
anything either to do it for you. Ask breeders, ask hatcheries, then
breeders again. Hatchery birds almost all lay well. The reason is they
pure. If you buy a Rhode Island Red from a hatchery its not really a
Island Red. It is a production red. If you buy a Barred Rock it’s a
rock and so on.
None of those birds are the pure version of what their
implies. Therefore, they will all lay well. Think
of it like this. If the parents of those hatchery birds didn't lay
hatchery would be out of business, so all the birds they have and sell
from production stock. Heritage birds don't on average lay as well.
This is why
production stock was added to them, so they can sell the mass
to stay in business.
have always wanted a nice quiet bird that is friendly and easy to care
want meat and eggs and I want them through the winter. I want a bird
forage well, and I don't have to spend my last dime to feed. Yes, I’m
Orpington fan. I started many years ago with the buffs and graduated to
blues (which also produce splash and black) about 6yrs ago or so. I
somewhere between 42 and 84 eggs a month and sell very few as I use
those for the house.
Urban Farming with Ducks Ducks
are also a better pet then chickens, lay a richer egg and meat that far
surpasses that of a chicken in flavor. They are easy to raise but cost
feed and have water as an optional care issue. That is if you have
If you choose the Muscovy you don't have noise issues. They
water like normal ducks and they have a personality like dogs. I have
and Muscovy, however if I lived in town, I would only have Muscovy. You
the flight issue so clipping the wings is a must twice a year. Other
such as Guinea hens, Peacocks and so on are not recommended for in
reasons are endless.
Urban Farming and Animal Care
you make the jump from a garden to adding a few small animals you won't
special high priced pen or house to put them in. If you could see where
flock lives you would die. They need shelter from the wind and rain,
that's it - unless you found some really delicate breed that needs to
have silkies that just get out of the wind and are fine. We have
winters here and spring is very wet, yet they don't mind.
Ducks need a
and fence off your patio. Chickens
need a place to lay eggs and get out
rain. A dog house works great. Mine have a dog house and prefer it to
place I made for them. Like kids they would rather play with the boxes
Urban Farming with Goats
you really jump in and buy goats
for milk and cheese get a horse
can be used as a cheap goat harness. Put the nose part over the goat’s
fasten the other part around the waist. Add something soft to the chest
and poof… one goat harness. Now you have something to till your garden.
small farm places sell hand tillers that work for goats, sheep, small
and miniature cattle.
Urban Farming with Rabbits
one critter we have left out of the backyard garden is the rabbit.
the biggest pet craze to hit since the pot bellied pig. Three breeding
produce as much, if not more, meat then one cow per year, and costs way
feed and house.
rabbits is fun for the whole family and very inexpensive to do. The
entry fee is 3-5.00. Rabbits can live on what the family tosses out
meals and a few handfuls of hay or grass. Some breeds are very smart
and can do
agility, rabbit hopping ( how high or how long a rabbit can jump). They
house trained, and walk on a leash.
all breeds are the same. Just like dogs a Doberman is not like a Pug.
rabbits a Flemish Giant is known for being the best of pets, while the
Dutch and other smaller breeds are the most popular pets. Meat
nervous and can take more care. They aren't all the same, so once
Remember if you have a bird dog, it will eat your
you have a hound, your rabbit won't last long. Always think about what
doing before you do it and you will have great success and have a lot
farming doesn't have to be as hard as all those magazines try
Nothing is so delicate it needs the caretaker to hold a doctorate to
have it in
their garden. It should be easy, and it should be fun. Good luck and
If you do we would love to read them!
Send us your own urban homesteading advice on how to save money when
urban farming. You don't kneed any special
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