Tag Archives: Homesteading

IN SEARCH OF “A LITTLE PLACE IN THE COUNTRY”.

The Complete Homesteading Book: Proven Methods For Self-Sufficient Living by David Robinson

The Complete Homesteading Book: Proven Methods For Self-Sufficient Living by David Robinson. With information on buying land, planning and building the homestead, raising food and animals, water, waste, heat, lights, economics, community, and more.

“Such is the superiority of rural occupations and pleasures, that commerce, large societies, or crowded cities, may be justly reckoned unnatural. Indeed, the very purpose for which we engage in commerce is, that we may be one day enabled to retire to the country, where alone we picture to ourselves days of solid satisfaction and undisturbed happiness. It is evident that such sentiments are natural to the human mind.” – John Loudon, A Treatise on Forming, Improving, and Managing Country Residences, 1806.

The Gelded Rooster, Or The Saga of The Backyard Chicken, Continued…

The City Council of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, in their beneficent and all-knowing considerations, have formally and unanimously agreed to approve an ordinance that will allow town residents to keep backyard chickens. Well almost, because after a year and more of deliberations on this most troublesome bird, the final verdict will come down after a second reading at yet another council meeting later this month.

Who knew that chicken keeping was so complicated? Obviously not the keepers of the birds, who in some cases have done so for many years, without issue or complaint. One would not normally consider it an issue of front page news, nor see it so hotly debated. The times they are a changing, I suppose.

The law would allow for the possession of up to 6 hens for the production of eggs and meat, and would be allowed only on single family lots of a certain minimum size, in the older part of town. Chickens would not be allowed in most subdivisions, because they generally already have rules in place prohibiting the admission of livestock. Roosters would not be allowed in any part of the city.

Still, a year plus more seems like a long time to fully “vet” the full concerns and side issues of such a proposition. After all, how long does it take for the planning and zoning commission to make its recommendation, or to document the concerns of Colorado Parks And Wildlife regarding the impacts of urban chickens?

In this case the possibility of a citywide election was discussed, and they listened to the voices of concerned citizens, for and against. They heard the opinion and discussion from the Glenwood Springs Poultry Club, who started the ruckus in the first place. They discussed the proper penalties for non-compliance, which remain unclear. They put in place a provision for warnings to be issued in that event, which will no doubt occur.  It was also mentioned that chicken keeping is considered a privilege, and not a right, and made it known that privileges can be revoked. Apparently, no one gathered testimony of the chickens, or asked for their counsel.

In the end, the ordinance allows in-city residents to obtain a permit, the cost of which will be based on an accounting of staff time involved. Chicken coops must be built to comply with certain codes and standards, and are subject to inspection. All coops must be equipped with electric fencing in an effort to deter bears, mountain lions, foxes, and otherwise hungry people. And you would not want to let the general public and its unsuspecting citizens get too close, lest they be attacked by an enraged and murderous chicken, desperate for escape.

So there you have it. Another shining example of government at it’s best, taking a perfectly innocent and hopeful endeavor and caging it in multiple layers of bureaucratic jargon and micro managed stupidity. Odds are, they really don’t know much about a chicken either.

It is, of course, all so perfectly planned. Control of the food supply is a classic strategy used to tame all common people for millenia. It is used to divide, threaten, and conquer. The game is all about inventory, and control. It is misdirection by application, and permit. Approval, and command. Compliance, or penalty. The issue just happens to be about poultry, this time.

As for those aforementioned penalties, I have a suggestion. Why go half way? Why bother to warn or coddle the violator to obtain compliance? Off to the stockade, I say, in irons, for good measure. Or better yet, let us yoke the neck and wrists to the pillory in the public square. We deserve its full effects of pain and humiliation for allowing such a travesty to proceed.

These types of decisions continue to occur in all parts of the country, and the world. It would be sadly funny, if it were not all so true. It will continue, until we stop it. The future of private property rights, and our personal liberty, depends on it.

While we hesitate, the smiling benefactors allow some small permissions, but in the end only they have won. The cuckholds and chicken people gain little, and grow weaker and more contained with each turn of the perpetual hamster wheel. Our resignation and powerlessness grow more obvious with each silent and roosterless morning.

It’s better for the rooster anyway. He is by nature a proud and brave-hearted creature, and prefers to retain his private parts, and his voice. Meanwhile, the founding fathers of America, many of whom were farmers themselves, weep big crocodile tears for the daftness of our deeds. They marvel at our apathy, and cry for our sins, for they know not what else to do.

See Also Permissions To Come, Or The Saga of The Backyard Chicken

Michael Patrick McCarty

If You Like The Taste of Chicken, You Just Might Jump For A Rabbit Dinner

 

Why eat a rabbit, you might ask? Why, indeed?

Au Contraire, says I. Why not eat a rabbit, would be my quick and ready response? I am a great fan of this most versatile and willing animal, for several reasons. You may have a few of your own.

I’m talking here of the large domestic rabbits most commonly found in backyard hutches across the continents. Perhaps the question is moot, and you have already raised them and prepared them at home for yourself. Or maybe you have had them served up at your neighborhood bistro, or even found them on the menu of the world’s finest restaurants. The less adventurous, however, may need some gentle convincing.

I like the idea that when properly prepared each new dish can become one of the best meals that you may ever eat, while remaining quite good for you too. Rabbit meat is high in easily digestible protein, as well as B12, iron, and a wide range of minerals. It is remarkably low in calories and harmful saturated fats, but high in the desireable Omega 3 fatty acids. Most wild game is lean and clean, but this is particularly true of rabbit.

In fact it is so lean, that it has been said that it’s meat has as much food value as so much cotton, and that you could eat rabbit three times a day for many weeks and never gain a pound. That may be true, but if you did you might find yourself with the same dilemma once faced by many northern peoples, who developed “extreme fat hunger”, when forced to live on rabbits alone. There is even a name for this type of acute malnutrition, called “Rabbit Starvation”. Who knew?

Of course, our modern diets tend to favor the addition of many high calorie ingredients, so not to worry. More on that in a minute.

Our domestic rabbit of today has its origins in the European Rabbit that was native to the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, the ancient Roman name for Iberia, and modern-day Spain, was Hispania, or “Land of the Rabbits”. It is believed that the Romans were the first to keep rabbits in captivity for the sole purpose of meat production, starting in the first century BC. It would appear that they truly loved their rabbit dinners, and had better things to do than run them down randomly about the wilds. After all, they had legions of mouths to fill, and vast and waiting empires to conquer.

France was naturally colonized by rabbits from Northern Spain sometime after the last glacial period, which no doubt explains that country’s well-known reputation as rabbit epicures. Historical records indicate that French Catholic Monks were the first to bring rabbits under true domestication, about 600 AD. The need to keep a steady supply of procurable meat behind the safety of solid and cloistered monastery walls created the conditions that eventually lead to the establishment of the more than 200 breeds recognized today.

Rabbits were actually one of the last animals to be domesticated, but they made up for their late arrival on the scene in a big hurry. They were transported around the Mediterranean by the Phoenicians, were introduced in the British Isles and other parts of the northeast Atlantic in the middle ages, and made it to New Zealand, South America, South Africa and worldwide sometime after the 18th century.

Since then they have woven their way across a multitude of diverse regions and cultures, to become firmly enmeshed in the daily fabric of countless lives. Raising rabbits is now a big thing, with a current world-wide production of over 1 million tons. The domestic rabbit has become an important and reliable protein source, and is now considered traditional cuisine for billions of people across the globe.

Fair Trade

Just ask the people of Malta, who manage to wolf down about 20 pounds of rabbit meat per person each year. Or perhaps talk to the Spaniards, who love their well crafted “Paella”, or the Italians, who make a mean “Coniglio alla Cacciatora”. You simply haven’t lived if you have not indulged in a perfectly prepared “Hasenpfeffer” from our German friends, or broken some crusty bread to sop up the juices of an exquisite “Rabbit Normandy”, made with Calvados and cornmeal. Ah…the French, who love their “Lapin a la Provencale” and so many other rabbit dishes, prepared with style and panache as only they can do. And you thought that fried rabbit bathed in the buttermilk of the American South was to die for, which of course, it is.

Rabbit is a valuable food source for many, but it wouldn’t be so popular if it didn’t taste so good. The meat is fine-grained and similar to poultry. The old adage that it “tastes” like chicken” is mostly true, but not quite. It is generally mild and faintly sweet, without a taste of gaminess. Though elusive to describe, it’s flavor profile is somehow more subtle, and complex. It speaks of the exotic, with a hint of mediterranean breezes and coastal plains, juniper berries and scrub, and soft, summer rain. Domesticated it may be, but not for too long compared to other homestead livestock. No doubt some free ranging memories and wild hopes remain.

So, give a rabbit a go. It is yet a blank canvas, daring us to be creative, humble, or bold. Wrap it in bacon, today, and drop it on an outdoor grill with a coating of bourbon and your favorite barbecue concoction. Sauce it up with butter and cream, and wine. Stew it down with beans and beer and throw it atop a plate of steaming rice. Invite some friends, and chase it with some well matched and lively spirits of your choice.

The ancestors of Hispania and the Catholic monks applaud you, and I can wholeheartedly guarantee that “rabbit starvation” will not be problem.

 

Fathers and Sons

 

Michael Patrick McCarty

Food Freedom!

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Permissions To Come, Or the Saga of The Backyard Chicken

Market Scene

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It is a heady and perplexing question, to be sure. Like the classical philosophers of old, I do not have an acceptable answer, either. I’m not even going to try.

However, for more and more people across this land, a more appropriate and timely question has evolved. They now ask themselves if perhaps they should acquire some chickens, which could provide some tasty eggs for their morning breakfast. People are now looking at their backyards with fresh eyes, searching for a handy and level spot to erect that new chicken coop. Unfortunately, the next question becomes all to prominent and leaps to center stage. “Is it legal, they ask”? Now there’s a question! Again, it is also not so easy to answer in simple terms. This can of worms is large, and it holds more slithering things than your well-tended compost pile.

For lack of a better term, the backyard chicken movement is exploding across the country, much to the chagrin of local jurisdictions and the faceless bureaucratic machine. It is a suburban, and increasingly urban phenomena. Well informed citizens are demanding high quality, locally grown food. Imagine that! The local food movement continues to gain momentum, with more followers and practitioners every day. It’s a national issue now, and it is not going away anytime soon. But it starts on the local level, and chickens are a big part of it.

For example, the city council of a small town near me, recently voted to consider new draft code provisions relating to chickens within the city limits and residential neighborhoods. Apparently, it is currently illegal to keep a chicken. Who knew? Well, several of the residents who testified did not. They had been keeping chickens for years, without issue. No one had bothered to discuss it with them. For some unexplained reason, it was time to come out of the chicken closet. They now wished to tend to their birds legally, with favor, and approval.

The city council was quick to state that it was a  land use matter, and as such, falls within their purview. It’s all about zoning, you see, and it’s not about how you live, but where you live. It’s all about proper consideration, and planning. It’s about rules and regulation, and lawful ordinance. It’s about monitoring and control, enforcement, and penalty. I don’t think the entire, sordid show is about chickens at all.

Typically, an ordinance relating to poultry keeping will determine how many hens you can have, and where and how you must keep them. The birds must be contained and quiet, the coops must be secure. The installation of electric fencing can be required. One must mitigate for noxious odor, and control predators. The birds cannot be allowed to roam free and spread disease, or attract a wandering skunk. Above all, the noisy and offensive rooster is not allowed. They might disturb the neighbors, and it is simply too much for the controlling mind of the clerk. On and on it goes.

I don’t fault our nearby chicken keepers for trying, in fact I applaud them. It’s a noble and just cause, and they have done their best to work along the only route available to them. It is the manner in which we fight that disturbs me. The documenting newspaper article talks of how the group promises to play by the rules. One person is quoted in saying, “I’m confident we will be 100 percent in compliance”. “Compliant”, says she? The article goes on discuss the good points of chicken raising, of how it can educate children as to where their food comes from, while having fun. It touts the economic benefit that could be brought to the revenue of the hardware supply and the gardening store. It balances these ideas against the potential downsides and complaints, and makes the case that perhaps it is not a foolish idea, after all. “Foolish”, indeed. Imagine the foolishness of someone with the audacity to supply their own food.

The residents of Denver, Colorado begged for their right to keep animals some time ago, and now they live under some of the most draconian laws imaginable. Their ordinances require a permit to keep poultry on property. A fee is demanded, and stipulations must be met and maintained. Once permitted, the property is subject to inspection and multiple visits by more than one controlling agency. They arrive when they wish, without appointment. The property must be properly posted, and the neighbors so notified. Permits are subject to renewal, at the government’s discretion, with annual fees. Violators will be prosecuted. Does this sound like some type of preposterous science fiction movie, or a town, or city, near you? We are talking chickens here, and not about some dangerous and toothsome creature from outer space.

I want to know who gained the authority to decide that the chicken limit stops at four, five, or six. When did they decide that? Was I asked to voice my humble opinion? What made it so important to come up with such a law? Were the parameters based on some well thought out scientific study, funded with the public dollar, and performed by some chicken police think tank?  Has anyone considered that roosters are an important piece of the poultry puzzle? If I am not mistaken, they are a vital and necessary component of procreation, and life. Though infertile, a willing hen will bless you with the miracle of an egg without the help of a male. A rooster is required if you wish to replenish your flock. Is it new life, that they despise?

The message they wish to send is clear. How dare you think of enjoying a private egg or two, for yourselves, in peace? You are a criminal of the worst kind, guilty as charged until proven innocent. Your fine, and punishment, is what we say it is. And oh, by the way, the chickens now belong to us.

It is a proverbial, in your face case, of the foxes guarding not one, but all of the hen houses. I like foxes, and I would prefer to preserve their good name. The truth is, they are not foxes anyway, as that would be too tame a description. Bloody tongued wolves would be more like it, circling impatiently in the dark night, eager to blow your house down. The devil is always in the carefully crafted details of the hidden contract, and they administered and diverted our rights away many years ago.

Yet, the wheels are wobbling on the fatally damaged, corporate driven shopping cart. We are taking our chicken coops back, one backyard at a time. They know it, and they cannot allow it. They are desperate, and they grow more terrified every day. We know the truth, and can see the madness of their souls. They hold power over us because we empower them. We didn’t even show up for the fight.

My advice is uncomplicated. Don’t give it all up to them so easily. Refuse to grovel before the beast. It’s sad and pathetic, and it makes us look small. Compliance is not an option, and the monster’s cravings are insatiable. Do not give them the satisfaction of obtaining what they seek, nor allow them the sustaining succor of our fear.

It is time to bypass the lowly denizens of the city council, and their ilk. The time has come to dress down the petty and falsely officious policeman of your subdivisions, and expose the multitude of local tyrants and self-important snitches.

It is time to ignore the directives from the “authorities” on high, or the blather of the party line. They do not have our best interests in mind. If they did they would encourage and help, and not preclude or impede. It’s time to stop playing their dishonest game. Why should we? They don’t play fair, and they never have.

It is time to slip the chains of the oppressors, and throw them back at their flimsy facades. Take a stand, and stare the predator in the eye. Do something disobedient and bold, today. It’s been done before, many, many times. Our acts cannot be separated from the revolutionary history of the sleeping giant, the once free people of our United States.

Let us rise from our knees and stop asking for their permission. It is not their’s to give. It’s that simple. Go out and get a chicken or two, and perhaps a rooster to go with it. Let it’s morning crow announce to the world that you are awake, and ready. It all starts with a chicken and an egg, on the home grounds of an independent, proud, and defiant people.

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Rabbits Today Keep The Grocer Away

Rabbits Make Great Groceries

For most of us, frequent trips to the grocery store are a necessary and common activity. It’s what we do, and what we’ve always done. When we get there we expect to find rows and rows of neatly packaged food stacked high, far, and wide. Hell, we demand it! Most people believe that it will always be like that, and of course it will be, right?

Well, maybe, and then again, maybe not. For the most part the supermarkets are still there. Yet, for some time now something seems terribly amiss. It  has become harder and harder to fill that shopping cart with an adequate amount of high quality, nourishing food, especially if you take a moment to read the tiny print of indecipherable contents on the label. No doubt you’ve tried, and grown increasingly uneasy.

And it doesn’t take great powers of observation to conclude that the packages grow smaller while the price climbs higher with each successive trip. It’s the terrifying tale of the incredibly shrinking dollar, and it is probably not going to get better anytime soon. The effects are devastating and cruel, and it’s a painful thing to watch. It’s quite obvious that something’s gotta give.

From our point of view it is time to think out of the proverbial box, or in this case, the shopping bag. If you agree, think rabbits. They can help, and not just a little, but a lot. They are ready, willing, and able to work on your behalf. It’s what they do. Raising rabbits might be one of the best way’s to stretch your food budget, in the midst of what can only be described as a salvage economy left for the once great middle class.

Rabbits make a lot of sense for anyone that is interested in providing some, or most of their own food, for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few:

  • They are quiet, easy to raise and care for, with minimum space requirements.
  • One buck and three or four does can provide enough meat to satisfy much of a small family’s fresh meat needs for the year.
  • Rabbit meat can help keep the doctor away, too. It is high in protein, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, B12, iron, and a wide range of minerals.
  • It is remarkably low in calories and harmful saturated fats, and free of antibiotics and other chemicals. Rabbit liver is an “original” health food.
  • The meat is nutrient dense and about twice as filling as chicken. A little rabbit meat goes a long way.
  • Feed conversion rates are excellent for domestic rabbits. They convert calories to body weight much more efficiently, and cheaply, than other animals, particularly beef.
  • You can supplement their diet with your table scraps or garden wastes, or what you might have growing in your fields or about your neighborhood. In fact, many people never have to buy any type of commercial feed product.
  • They are easy to barter for other needed or desirable items, or sell as breeding stock to other people.
  • They are easy to butcher, process, and package.
  • Recipes for all parts of the rabbit abound. Stew it, grill it, bake or fry. The possibilities are endless, and it tastes great too!
  • Their droppings are fabulous for your garden, and you can sell the coveted manure. They also provide great food for your worms.
  • The rabbit skins can be made into many kinds of useful clothing.

 Now you know why the rabbit has been called the ultimate homestead animal, or even “the new urban chicken”. I agree with each and every reason just mentioned, and can add a few more.

I despise shopping as a matter of principle anyway, and I consider any opportunity to avoid a trip to the market a celebrated victory. It saves money on gas and car expenses, which add up in a big hurry these days.

Why drive a car for several miles to pick up some groceries, when you can simply walk out your back door and grab some fine ingredients for your table? We like to pick some spinach and fork a couple of potatoes on our way back from the hutch. It’s called lunch, and we didn’t have to wait in a long line of frustrated people or suffer the indignities of a surly clerk. You might guess what we think of the self-serve scanning machine.

When you finish your meal, throw all of the leftover table scraps into your worm bin under your rabbit hutch. Bend down, and stir around until you have a pile of worms for your handy coffee can. Grab your trusty fishing rod, and head for the closest lake.

Feed A Friend Today – American Robin

Have some fun, and relax. Spend a few hours in the fresh air and sun with a friend or a loved one. Catch a batch of scrappy fish for tomorrow’s meal. Save the offal and other bits from cleaning your fish, and give them to your chickens. They need some protein too, and it makes for happy and vibrant hens. Gather their bountiful eggs in the morning, add some selected produce from your garden in the backyard, and enjoy a comforting, leisurely breakfast.

Later, take a brisk walk along a quiet road to invigorate and tone. You’ll have the time, because you won’t need to shop for food. Be sure to wave at everyone else as they pass you on the way to the supermarket, and try not to flash a big, self-satisfied smile. No point in rubbing it in.

Well…, perhaps just a quick one, but not too big.

ancient rock painting of hands and fingers
Have A Great Day

 

Michael Patrick McCarty

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Just What Is a Utility Pigeon?

 

french mondain(mealie) utility squabbing pigeon
Ready and Willing to Work

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

Most people are quite familiar with the image of a pigeon, a bird commonly seen in the courtyards and barnyards across the globe. But just what exactly is a “utility pigeon”?

A good place to begin an investigation is with the origin of the word pigeon. It is “pijon” in old french, meaning “young dove”, and “pipio” in Latin, or “young chirping bird”. Another clue can be found in the definition of utility, which means useful, beneficial, or profitable. Our good friend the pigeon is all of that, and more, and can certainly meet those basic requirements.

Utility Pigeon is a general term that is broadly applied to describe any breed of domestic pigeon that is kept primarily for the production of meat. Sometimes referred to as “working birds”, they are capable of producing an adequate number of young, or squabs, of suitable weight and quality to justify their production costs.

By their nature, some breeds of pigeons are more productive, and profitable, than others. Pigeons in general have been intensively and selectively bred for many centuries, with many breeds falling in and out of favor along with the whims of the times and other developments.

The standards today include the King Pigeon of various colors, the Red Carneau, and the French and Swiss Mondaines, to name just a few. All can make excellent squabbing pigeons, though the White King seems to be preferred by many commercial breeders.

In fact, careful and judicial breeding with productivity in mind is the story of the Utility Pigeon. Notice that the very origin of the word pigeon emphasizes the young bird, or squab, which gives us some true insight into what the originators were thinking all along. Utility pigeons produce squabs, lots and lots of squabs, to our everlasting epicurean delight. They are the steady workhorses of the pigeon world. They work to live, and live to work. It’s what they do, without apology, nor complaint.

They are indeed a most useful and utilitarian bird.

The Mit Ghamar Dovecoters of Egypt tower above the city where pigeon and squab raising is king
Now That’s A Place Of Pigeons – The Mit Ghamr Dovecotes

 

Food Freedom – Raise A Squab Today!

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

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