As part of my year end review I also looked at the livestock I keep at home. I’ve already got chickens and bees but want to expand on that. I’ve thought of expanding into fish, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs and bugs and even considered a goat.
The current state of affairs is that I have three chickens which I bought early last year but no cockerel. This concerns me a bit as it means I have no fertile eggs so when the chickens stop laying or die I am without any way of replacing them. As I live in a built up area I am unable to have a cockerel so I have to live with that. The chickens have integrated so well it seems like they have been there forever and the only issue with them is that they have totally destroyed the back garden in search for bugs.
I also have bees. These were bought late last year and so this year will be the first full year with them. I’ve attended a training course and have a friend who is a beekeeper. From what I can see they require very little support being wild animals and all we have to do is look after them if there is an issue such as illness or attack. For that they reward us, or more correctly we steal, honey and wax. I think everyone prepping should consider bees in their garden. There are not very difficult to keep and virtually look after themselves 99% of the time. Your work is mainly stealing their work and checking they are still alive (because you are stealing their food stores).
As I let the chickens run free in the back garden while I worked away it is pretty much destroyed. I have purchased some fencing which I will use to partition off about a third of the rapidly shrinking garden so I can restock the pots and containers that have died or been eaten.
So what else can I fit in my garden? I can only consider garden variety livestock where the largest is about the size of a sheep or goat. I don’t particularly want sheep but would love a goat. Not at the moment though as I no longer have near enough space for sheep, goat or pigs even the pygmy variety, if I ever did, so I have to consider the smaller mammals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, etc. Goats will have to wait until I get a bit of land of a few acres. I need it to be close enough so I can walk to it after an event but far enough away so that it is secure now. I could then move a cockerel on to the land as well as having the capability for other livestock like the goats, ducks and more bees.
So realistically it looks like I can only add rabbits at this time. So I’m going to add a hutch and put two does and a buck in and let them get on with what rabbits are supposedly good at. I’ll then harvest them and keep myself in fresh meat and rabbit skins. I’ve have to ensure the chicken fencing gets buried properly to stop the rabbits burrowing out though. Having a breeding pair now and getting used to them is going to make things easier after an event and at least with a pair of rabbits I can keep them going. I’m not sure what I can do for growing food for rabbits as I may not have enough growing space for them at them moment so I will have to look at buying in some rabbit food.
Question is; what type of rabbits do I get? I want them for meat and not for anything else and although I’ve seen a few types around I haven’t looked at them enough to find out what is going to fit my requirements best. I’ll have to spend some time investigating the type I want before I start this project. The usual requirements of eat nothing, minimal maintenance and maximum yield apply.
So that is it for the garden. What else can I look at in this area? I have a 100 Gallon and two 30 Gallon fish tanks that I want to put to use so up next I look at what I can do with what equipment I have.