I find articles like this one fascinating because I rather enjoy mulling over the possibility of owning my own self-sufficient farm – and all of the decisions that go along with that lifestyle.
The first, and most important, challenge in starting up a farm of any kind is deciding what will be raised or grown on the land. My family owned and operated an apple orchard. This is a far cry from cattle (of any kind) but an easy jump to Maple or fruit trees (of any kind), or even crop-based farming.
Yet, running a farm and running a self-sufficient farm are two very different things; which brings me back to this article: John Seymour was a well known and well-respected expert in self-sufficient agriculture. In these quotes, pulled from his 1976 book The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It, he presents a nice illustration of many key items to be considered when establishing a self-sufficient homestead.
“Cow or no cow? The pros and cons are many and various for a self-sufficient homestead.”
“If your garden gets plenty of cow manure, your soil fertility will continuously increase, along with your yields.”
“But a serious counter-consideration is that you will have to take on the responsibility of milking a cow…Milking a cow doesn’t take very long — perhaps eight minutes — and it’s very pleasant if you know how to do it and if she is a quiet, docile cow — but you will have to do it.”
“Bear in mind that practically any garden crop that you grew for yourself would be good for the animals too, so any surplus crops would go to them. You would not need a compost pile — your animals could be your compost pile.”