Wood Heat and Chickens: Two Steps Toward Self-Sufficiency

Reader Contribution by Jeremy Obermeyer and Obermeyer Heritage Farms
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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about starting a journey to become self-sufficient, having the perfect plan, and getting to write about it. I also wrote about how things didn’t go according to my perfect plan and how I was ready to start again even though winter was starting and I didn’t have much to write about.

So, here we are in the midst of a new year trying to make some positive steps towards self-sufficiency. One of the small, but still forward, steps we’ve taken this winter also happens to be one of my favorites: burning wood in the fireplace! There are so many reasons why I absolutely love to burn wood. First, in my opinion, there is no better heat than that produced by wood. Second, it cuts down on our dependency on propane, natural gas, kerosene, or whatever heating fuel you use.

The Virtues of Wood Heat

You see, even though other heating fuels are cheaper now than they usually are this time of year, it’s still more expensive than wood in many places, plus I must rely on somebody else to get those other fuels from their origins to me. For wood, I can just go out and cut it and get it home by myself. It has been said and is very true that wood heats you up three different times — once when you cut it and bring it home, once when you split and stack it, and then again when you burn it. Now I call that efficiency!

Third, I love the aroma from the smoke drifting out of the chimney. Finally, it helps create one of the best atmospheres known to man. Whether it’s a campfire or in your fireplace with the lights off and you’re just relaxing with your family, there is nothing that beats watching a crackling fire.

One of our self-sufficiency goals is to grow and raise as much of our own food and make as many of our own products as possible. We absolutely hate going to the grocery store and don’t want to do it any more than we absolutely must. There are many reasons that we dislike grocery shopping, but here are some of the main ones: One, you have no idea where that food actually came from and/or what was done to it while it was being grown and in transport. Two, I hate paying the high prices; and three, the stores are way too crowded for me! My garden did OK last summer but not well enough to preserve any food, so we’re still going to have to visit the grocery store on a much-too-often basis.

Advantages of Raising Chickens: More Than the Best Eggs

One thing we don’t have to worry about, however, is eggs. We’ve been raising chickens for several years now, and once I tasted an egg from a chicken that I raised, I knew that it would be a terrible day if I ever had to eat a factory-farmed, store-bought egg again!

I mean, what would you rather eat — an egg with a dark, golden-yellow yolk from a chicken that you know for sure got to run around the yard getting exercise and eating fresh green grass and bugs like a chicken is supposed to, or an egg with a pale, basically colorless yolk from a chicken that is kept in a cage with other chickens with no room to move around in at all?

To me there is no comparison which one will taste better and is healthier for my family and I to eat. I know that if something happens and I can’t raise chickens anymore, I will go to someone that does and get eggs from them before I eat a store-bought egg again.

There are also other advantages to raising chickens than eggs alone. Although I haven’t butchered any of mine yet, I am sure that just like the eggs, the meat from one of your own chickens is a lot better-tasting and healthier than a store-bought chicken. Raising chickens also gives you your own pest control, as they are constantly on the lookout for bugs, their manure is loaded with nitrogen to use in your compost, they provide weed control, and along with eating their eggs, you can sell them and make a few bucks!

So, as you can see, these are two small steps but in the right direction. As long as you’re going in the right direction, learning from and correcting your mistakes, and making progress, you will never be a failure.

What steps will we take and talk about in our next blog post? I’m not sure yet, but I have a few ideas. Be sure to keep an eye out and watch for our next blog to find out. Until then, Happy Homesteading!

Jeremy Obermeyer owns and operates Obermeyer Heritage Farms with his family in Gypsum, Kansas. Obermeyer Heritage Farms is an all-natural farming and gardening operation using organic techniques to grow only heirloom vegetables and raise only heritage breeds of livestock. Connect with Jeremy on Facebook, and read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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