Homesteading, Heritage Breeds and Mission Statements

| 4/5/2018 9:59:00 AM

Homesteading with heritage breeds may seem to have no more in common with mission statements than backyard chickens have with JP Morgan. In real life, however, having a mission statement helps us have a clear vision of what our long-term goals are and prevents us from veering off in costly directions. I’ve seen these wrong choices result in homesteads, and even relationships, failing.

Heritage breeds offer so many enticing advantages that having a mission statement may seem unnecessary for success. These old breeds excel in longevity, easy births, good mothering, and are excellent foragers. However, The Livestock Conservancy reports that the average time people keep heritage animals is only five years. Because some people have worked with heritage breeds for decades, it’s obvious that others quit after a year or two.

Dorking rooster, Buddy

That is what I’ve witnessed during the 17 years I’ve had and shared heritage chickens, cows, pigs and turkeys. Not only has this been sad and expensive for the people involved, but it’s disastrous for these animals whose genetics are close to extinction. It’s understandable that people are attracted to these wonderful breeds--perhaps they haven’t thought about their goals or how these animals fit into their plans. For example, heritage breeds are perfect for sustainably feeding our families, but don’t suit high-production and consumer sales as well. If you create a mission statement to clarify your goals, you can see if these animals fit your situation. In this way, you will continually make successful choices for your homestead.

Below is the mission statement my husband and I agreed upon when we began our homestead. By seeing how your own goals agree or differ, I hope it helps you form a mission statement of your own.

Grow healthful and flavor-filled food for ourselves: First of all, we want healthful food, and that means feeding our animals well. Not only are they free-range and their food organic, but we continue to improve their pastures. The second part of this statement reminds us that our goal is to grow food for ourselves. We are a homestead and not a farm, so we don’t depend on income from selling produce. This has saved us from saying yes to everyone who asks us to raise food for them. When we have extra produce, we sell it. When winter comes and there isn’t extra, we can say “no” without guilt; growing food for others is not part of our mission statement.

4/26/2018 11:02:54 AM

Very enlightening, my wife and I are about 6 months from starting our homestead journey and I have been kind of scattered with my focus due to so many "to dos" and after reading this I am going to start with a mission plan and then develop a "to do" list that will move the mission plan forward

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