Month: January 2009

A Grower’s Challenge

It’s the time of year to start planning out the garden for the coming season and it’s been on my mind a lot lately. We’ve gone three years in a row with some fairly crummy gardening results and last season I was almost ready to give up entirely. But, a winter’s worth of tasteless grocery store fruits and vegetables has brought me back for another attempt. This year I actually plan to grow more than ever before so it should prove interesting to see how well I follow through with it.

Last year we had attempted the gardening method called Lasagna Gardening. It was a spectacular failure but I think part of that was our fault. Over the winter I researched some other gardening methods and came to the conclusion that I don’t need any fancy gardening method. People have been growing stuff right in the ground for thousands of years and all it took was some hard work to keep the weeds out. And keeping the weeds out is always where we have faltered. So I’m looking for some tips and suggestions that any of my readers might have from their gardening experiences that might help me grow a successful garden this year.

I’ve also been contemplating the question of what would I do if there really was a shortage in the food supply? Could we survive on what we grow? Right now the answer would be no, but I want to take a step in that direction. I am going to take one week this summer and not eat anything beyond what we have produced ourselves. There will be two exceptions to this idea. The first one will be fluids, though I will try and limit fluids to water, milk, and some juices. Nothing artificial at all. The other exception will be meat, though here again I will limit my intake during this week. We don’t produce our own meat so I can’t be too strict about that but again certainly no processed meats and I’ll probably come up with some preset amount of portions of meat that I will eat for the week. If our chickens are producing eggs by this point then the eggs will obviously be fair game.

I really think it will fun and quite healthy to exclusively live off of what we grow. I haven’t picked an exact date yet, when I do I’ll post an update. So is anyone else willing to take the Grower’s Challenge with me?

Contemplating Chickens

So for the past couple years I’ve been considering the idea of raising chickens. I thought it would be a great way to enjoy fresh eggs and meat. I would know where it came from and it would save me money and the food would likely be far better quality than what I can buy at the grocery store. During the past couple of weeks I started considering this more seriously and sought some advice on the matter. Some of the friendly people in the forums at have been very helpful and have cleared up a couple of misconceptions that I had.

It turns out that it’s fairly unlikely that raising my own chickens will save me money and could actually cost me more than store bought. My eggs will be cage-free organic eggs but I don’t spend the money on cage-free organic eggs from the store now so I can’t consider the cost of those kind of eggs. Even if I build a coop as cheaply as possible, the cost of grain will make up a good amount of the cost of the eggs I get. The eggs themselves won’t start coming until five or six months from the time I actually get the little chicks.

There’s also the matter of butchering. I really don’t have the stomach for it and if I pay someone else to do it then I’m right back to where I started to it not being worth it financially. I also learned that most people butcher between eight and nine weeks which seemed awfully young to me but I’m certainly no expert.

After learning all of this I was still on the fence about whether or not this was going to be a good thing to pursue. Then another tainted food recall appeared on the local evening news. It seems that this is happening several times a year now where we can’t trust the food that is being certified as safe to eat by the FDA. When I started to think about that and combined it with the massive inflation that many economists are expecting due to the government meddling in the economic system, I knew that I really didn’t have a choice anymore. I knew that even if financially it doesn’t work out better right away, that in a very short amount of time it could be a great investment and if safer, more nutritious food is the result then that is even better. So this Spring, I will most likely have some chickens and you will have a front row seat to all of my chicken escapades.