Homesteading with Heritage Breeds

Heritage breeds are a great option for those with a small acreage. These old-fashioned heritage breeds are hardy and versatile. In addition to preserving the genetic diversity of these wonderful heritage breeds, one Ohio couple is enjoying the rich bounty of nutritious and flavorful food they produce.

| February/March 2008

  • products from heritage breeds
    Milk from the cows provides a bounty of dairy products.
    Photo by Mary Lou Shaw
  • windmill
    The windmill pumps water for livestock, but may pump water for a gravity-fed system in the house some day.
    Photo by Mary Lou Shaw
  • farmers in garden
    The Shaws raise heirloom vegetables in their garden.
    Photo by Ronnie Hager
  • heritage chickens
    Heritage breeds of livestock, like this pair of Dorking chickens, make a great addition to a back yard or a place in the country.
    Photo by Mary Lou Shaw
  • heritage rooster
    Righteous, the rooster, rules only half the roost. Another rooster, Carlos, rules the other half.
    Photo by Justine Shaw
  • dorking chickens
    The Dorking cockerels on “pasture” in the chicken tractor.
    Photo by Mary Lou Shaw
  • guinea hogs
    Guinea hogs are an endangered breed.
    Photo by Mary Lou Shaw
  • dutch belted cows
    The Dutch belted cattle are a dual-purpose breed; they efficiently produce both milk and meat for the homestead.
    Photo by Mary Lou Shaw
  • heritage homesteading
    In addition to preserving the genetic diversity of these wonderful heritage breeds, the Shaws are enjoying the rich bounty of nutritious and flavorful food they produce.
    Photo by Mary Lou Shaw

  • products from heritage breeds
  • windmill
  • farmers in garden
  • heritage chickens
  • heritage rooster
  • dorking chickens
  • guinea hogs
  • dutch belted cows
  • heritage homesteading

Rare breeds of farm animals have come into our lives in the same serendipitous manner as our farm itself. We’ve discovered perfect heritage breeds for homesteaders — Dorking chickens, Dutch belted cows and Guinea hogs.

My husband, Tom, had been a building contractor who insisted on recycling materials and using superinsulation. I was a family practitioner who emphasized preventive medicine and universal health care. He was discouraged by people’s indifference to conserving energy and materials. I found it difficult to give good care in a system that was becoming more focused on profit than health. Then we bought a 13-acre farm near Washington Courthouse, Ohio. That was almost 11 years ago.

We continued to work at our “real” jobs for the next decade, but the farm offered us a place to be completely true to our values. We poured energy, money and time into restoring our farm’s seven buildings. We nurtured the large vegetable garden and orchard. It wasn’t long before we realized the joy of sharing our experiences with others — and our own enthusiasm grew.

City children came on farm tours and had their first experience of potatoes coming out of the ground and green beans on bushes. We began beekeeping; bees confirm our belief that nature and chemicals are not compatible. Last year we put up a windmill to grace the pasture and to reassure us that we can have water without electricity.



We bought the field adjacent to our meadow with money from selling an old house Tom rebuilt. We turned those 40 acres, which were mono-cropped with heavy machinery and chemicals, into grassland and wetland. In addition to giving refuge to many animals, these acres now help purify water that overflows into the meadow.

Perhaps it was after we purchased the additional land that we stood back and thought, “This place deserves something special!” At any rate, four years ago we read about the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), and our adventures with endangered breeds of poultry and livestock began. We didn’t realize then how much enjoyment awaited us.






Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters