Urban homesteading is very popular right now. It is best defined as “living off the land you have”. There are a lot of people turning to the self-sufficient lifestyle. They are taking a small space of property and turning it into something special. If you look in some backyards, you will see gardens, fruit trees, greenhouses, and even solar panels.
When you see urban homesteading going full on self sufficient, you may even see small animals. You may be wondering, is homesteading with small farm animals really possible in a backyard space? Yes, it is!
Some of the best farm animals for self sufficiency on a small space are chickens, goats, rabbits and even turkeys.
They are usually very easy to care for, and these small farm animals can be raised successfully in some backyards.
There are some things you will need to know before you begin, however, to avoid heartbreak later on.
First, you need to know your zoning laws, as well as your HOA laws, if any.
Many cities are now allowing small farm animals like chickens and miniature goats grown inside the limits, but not all. Some require permits, certain housing structures or even permission from your neighbors. It’s best to check with your town hall or city manager before you bring home those cute little chicks or baby goats. If they are not homesteader friendly, there are ways to work toward changing them.
We joined our local 4H clubs to get the assistance we needed in changing our local laws. It took some hard leg work, time and some tears along the way, but we were able to do it. HOA laws are harder to work with. If you signed a covenant saying you won’t raise chickens in your yard, you may not be able to change that. You can co-raise a flock with a friend who lives in a friendly area, sharing the cost of the feed/cleaning/maintenance though.
[tweet “nothing says “good morning” like a goat who is happy to see you, nearly knocking you over until you scratch behind their ears”]
Secondly, do you have time for chickens, goats, or rabbits? They may be the easiest small farm animals to raise, but they still need time and energy daily.
If you are the sort who has to travel often for a job, or just likes to get away on the spur of the moment, small farm animals may NOT be for you. Homesteading can be a full time gig. Unless you live with someone who can stay at home, those small farm animals may not get the care they need.
Chickens require little day to day care, save fresh food and water, along with collecting eggs, but you need to check them daily. Goats need twice daily care, feeding and/or milking. Trusting all that work to someone else can be costly and not always effective if they don’t live right next door.
Third, do you have money to toss in the garbage? Homesteading isn’t necessarily the most profitable farm business.
This especially describe the expenses of keeping chickens and goats. Between feed, housing, hay, straw, and time expended, it would be cheaper to buy our milk and eggs at the store. But, we do it because we like to know the entire food cycle, beginning to end. It’s not a cheap “hobby” by any means, but one that is most rewarding. Getting to know your animals and their personality is calming and relaxing to me. Poultry vision, or watching chickens for hours is one of the most destressing activities there is to me. And, nothing says “good morning” like a goat who is happy to see you, nearly knocking you over until you scratch behind their ears.
Fourth, are you a morning person?
There will be times you wish you could sleep in, but getting up to milk your goat HAS to happen. That rooster (if you can keep one) WILL crow incessantly. Don’t forget the times your neighbors will knock on your door, telling you that your chickens have escaped and are in the middle of the road. And, if you are late on feeding your goat, she can and will knock on your back door until you get up. Well, just until she learns that the dog door is convenient for her to come into the house as well. You’ll wake up to the find the dog upset that she got kicked out of her bed by the goat, and the goat sound asleep in the dog bed.
Fifth, do you have space for a coop, or shelter for your goat?
Chickens don’t need tons of space, and can be happy with just a bit of fresh grass to munch and find bugs, some dirt for dust baths and sunshine. Nigerian dwarf goats also do not need a lot of space. BUT, you will need to dedicate some of your yard to your animals. Goats do need some room to run, play and explore. Trust me, a bored goat is a destructive goat. Chickens do need some space to roam and get away from each other. Too close to each other, and they can also start pecking each other. We use a metal 8×10 shed for our animals and that seems to keep them happy. Our chickens have room to roam in a fenced in area, leaving the goats enough space to play in another fenced area.
When you are ready to undertake the small animal keeping of homesteading
you will wonder why you waited so long. The fresh eggs and milk, along with the deep connection you will form with your animals will make it all worthwhile. Or at least provide you with some entertainment and happy memories.
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Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.