Nothing is for show or purely for entertainment in our homestead. Except the pool. And tv. Ok, lemme rephrase. No animal or plant choices are purely for show or fun. That’s better.
Everything is multipurpose. The chickens provide eggs and meat, but they also have two less obvious jobs. One is entertainment. They’re pretty funny to watch. But more importantly, they’re on the landscaping crew.
This property was pretty badly neglected for years before I got my grubby little hands on it. The yard is dry, dusty, and hard. It’s good soil down below, but nothing except a few weeds and some REALLY sad looking grass will grow. So we scatter straw all over it and turn the chickens loose.
A few things happen then. First, the straw works as mulch, retaining moisture. Second, the chickens scratch up the top inch or so of dirt and aerate the soil, helping with the compaction. Third, they poop all over the place and as that breaks down, it fertilizes the soil. This process takes a while, but I figure by springtime we can get some good grass growing there.
Then there’s the pasture. Right now it’s basically a forest. We’ve got a guy coming to take out the trees, and that’s about the only heavy equipment that will be used to turn woods into pasture.
Once the fences are up, we bring in goats. I’ve selected Spanish goats because they get big and meaty, are generally friendly, and have a few extra things that can be sold such as gorgeous hides and horns. We don’t need the quantities of milk a dedicated dairy goat will produce. Also, as far as I know, I would be the only one in the state raising them which would make me the local supplier for anyone else who wanted them.
Anyway, we use the goats to clear away all the brush, then bring in pigs. The pigs get penned up in small areas with tree stumps. They will remove those stumps and till the soil. When an area is done, we fence it off and plant pasture grasses. With such a large area at our disposal, we can rotate animals around for years that way.
This method is not fast. It may not even be cheaper. But it does mean that my animals will do the job heavy equipment would otherwise do, and that while I’m clearing the land, I’m also fertilizing it.