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(35,800 posts)
Tue Aug 8, 2023, 08:30 PM Aug 2023

Long term plan to develop sources of food for my extended family

My extended family consists of 30 individuals ranging in age from less than a year old to me, age 64. In the family group is my wife and I, our adult children, grandchildren, siblings of mine and nieces along with their spouses and children. The group is split into two subgroups. One centered round the old family farm where I grew up and the other is centered around my wife and I, our kids and grandkids in the small town where we live. Both locations have plenty of acreage. Wooded and cleared fields. I'll refer to the group living at or near the old family farm as Group 1 and my family will be Group 2.

The first source of food are chickens. There are two separate flocks already established and producing at the old farm location. In the very near future, I plan to have two flocks for Group 2. The main one will be at my son-in-law's place and half a dozen birds at me and wife's place. In order to provide everyone with about 6 ounces of meat per day, we'd need to raise and slaughter about 240 6 lb. birds per year along with about 39 sheep which I'll discuss next. A breed of chicken I'm quite interested in is the Buckeye. They are hardy, very cold tolerant, easy going and they are good foragers. To provide everyone with 2 eggs per day would require 110 laying hens in total.

The second food source will be sheep. Particularly the American Black Belly breed, which is a hair breed, not wool, and raised mainly for meat. To help provide everyone with about 6 ounces of meat per day as recommended, I'd need a herd of 26 ewes and 2 rams, and the herd will be evenly split between the two locations. For pasture, each herd will need 4 acres divided into 8 separate one-half acre paddocks. The herds will spend 4 days in a paddock before being moved to the next one in rotation. This will give the pasture paddocks at least 30 to recover and regrow before being grazed again. To feed the sheep during the winter, I calculate I'd need 16 large round bales of hay, each weighing 900 lbs., divided between the two locations.

As ewes produce on average 1.5 lambs each year, some have a single lamb while others have twins, 26 ewes should produce about 39 lambs. It takes about 9 months for an American Black Belly lamp to reach slaughter weight of 90 lbs. It takes about 16 weeks for a Buckeye cockerel to reach the slaughter weight of 6 lbs.

Another food source I'd like to develop would be hazelnut trees. To provide each person about a 1/4 cup of nuts each day. I'd need about 60 trees in total. I could break this up into several smaller groves. Hazelnut trees require a pollinator that is a different variety of the same species. As it takes some years for hazelnuts to mature and they are not cheap, I should get started soon planting a few trees each year to spread out the cost. They are $30 a piece at outlets like Jungs if one buys two or more.

The final food source is potatoes. To provide each person about half of their calorie needs per day would require about 3 lbs per person per day or 90 lbs per day for everyone. That comes out to 32,850 pounds in a year plus we'll need approx. 2400 pounds of seed potatoes to plant for the following season. This can be grown on 1 1/2 acres. There's a root cellar at the old family farm where my father and my grandfather before him stored tons of potatoes and it's still useable.

Other than the hazelnut trees, we don't need to go full scale right off the bat as chickens, sheep and potatoes can be ramped up to full production rather quickly when and if needed.

The above is the core plan which will be supplemented with vegetable gardens and orchards containing apple, pear, peach, and plum trees along with raspberries, blueberries and honeyberries.

Long term plan to develop sources of food for my extended family (Original Post) Kaleva Aug 2023 OP
Get to know your County Agent and multigraincracker Aug 2023 #1
Goats are a possibility Kaleva Aug 2023 #4
They'll eat about anything and multigraincracker Aug 2023 #5
With extreme weather food will become scarce and expensive. MLAA Aug 2023 #2
Both locations have access to well water. Kaleva Aug 2023 #3


(31,662 posts)
1. Get to know your County Agent and
Tue Aug 8, 2023, 09:31 PM
Aug 2023

MSU Ag Extension service.
Best free service and advice for small to large farmers.

Look into to goats too. Goats are the most eaten animal in the world, just not here.

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