Back to school: Where to donate school supplies, how to receive donated As you head up and down the school supply aisles in the coming weeks, consider teaching your children a valuable lesson:
Achieving Self Sustainability One Small Step At A Time
The Secret of getting ahead is getting started ~ Mark Twain
This series of blog posts has been a very personal one for me and focused on a subject that I am very passionate about. I recently realized it has been a year since we bought any herbs and over 2 years since we bought any red or white meats from the grocery store. It feels great to have hit this milestone. As my family continues to expand that to include more veggies and fish I will continue to share our trials and tribulations with you.
Through this series of blog posts I have tried to share what I have learned and provide a logical series of steps that can be used to successfully live a more sustainable lifestyle. In one of my first posts in the series I listed them as these rules:
Make a list of priorities for your project
Do your homework and seek expert guidance
Try before you buy
And now, we are ready to go over the last rule, and this one really should be a rule, start SMALL. All too often people will get overly ambitious and commit to way too much too soon. It is easy to do. Just run to Tractor Supply and in 15 minutes time you can be leaving the store with a dozen chicks, 8 ducklings, and 2 bunnies. It is an easy thing to happen because, you know, they are so small and SOOOOO CUTE! In that moment it is easy to be blinded to the long term reality of what is going to be needed to properly care for and raise those animals. It’s ok, we have all been suckered by cute baby animals from time to time, but now is not the time to be making impulse purchases. It is the time to stick to your guns, stay true to your goals and follow through with your original plan.
So what does starting small mean? Well, if you have limited space, it means starting with a just a couple of rabbits or quail instead of a few dozen. For our setup an example would be buying just 3 sheep instead of 60, but what it really means for me is staying within the constraints of both my infrastructure and my budget. By focusing on going small up front I am able to focus my budget on the quality of animals that I buy rather than the quantity. I also have the sense of security when going small that the rest of the support required will be within my means and it greatly reduces the risk of causing any major issues to my sanity...
In the last 18 months we have started raising Boer Goats. When I first started I figured out what my budget would be for the first animals we would be purchasing and what I wanted to accomplish with them. I really wanted to get to a nationally competitive level with our animals, but I also wanted fancy colored goats. So I set out to find the best breeders in the country. I purchased a few older does that had exceptional breeding and show records from those breeders. Even though the does only had a couple of breeding seasons left in them, I felt it was smarter to get just a few fantastic kids from them than a lifetime of mediocre kids from less established does.
To cross with those does I wanted a really nice buck with the added appeal of unusual color. To maximize our budget I partnered with a friend who had similar goals for a buck. Together we purchased Sparrow, an awesome fullblood dappled Boer buck who earned 15 championship points before his first birthday. Sometimes it works out to partner with friends on certain projects, just be sure to be clear about expectations up front (who is paying for feed, housing, what happens if an animal unexpectedly dies or gets ill, etc). That way if something doesn't work out with the animal at least the relationship isn’t also lost.
Starting small so as to not overwhelm your budget, yourself and your family will be far more rewarding. It gives you more control and fewer stressful moments (where are we going to put them? They are learning to fly??? OMG the dog ate squeaker!). Add a little bit at a time and grow with experience. From the idea stage of your project all the way through to the end have patience. All good things take time. Our beginning duck days are a distant memory now. Since then we have grown into raising our own herbs and veggies, egg laying chickens, rabbits, goats and a few beef cows. We are constantly learning and growing. As we gain more knowledge our vision is ever evolving. And we are loving almost every minute of it.
You can follow our small farm on Facebook. You will find my website here to search for exciting potential homesteading properties in the Austin Texas area. When looking remember that there are loan and grant programs provided through the USDA, FHA and others which provide financing options with little to no money down. There are affordable properties available, you just need an experienced realtor to help you find the right one.
I am located in the Austin area and work predominantly in residential real estate. I have been a realtor for over 10 years. I was inspired to get into real estate after buying my first home. It was a ....