Have you heard of sustainable living? I am absolutely intrigued by it. When we moved to our town a year ago I became friends with a girl who’s family was beginning to live more like this and hoping to make the switch completely. Sustainable living is when you basically do whatever you can to sustain yourself independently from other people or places like grocery stores etc. Instead of buying eggs at the store, they raise chickens and use their eggs. Instead of buying cheese from the store, they milk their goat and make cheese from that. My friend and her husband raise and butcher their own pigs for meat. They grow gardens in the summer and can what they’re able to for the winter.
My friends aren’t completely sustainable yet, but are well on their way.
So what does this have to do with being a Thrifty Diva? It’s a lot actually. Not only does sustainable living help you depend less on other people for your food, you save money by making your own.
I decided to “interview” my friend after watching a special on TV a few days ago. It was a documentary about the economy and what people were doing to help their families make it during these tough financial times. One family decided on sustainable living and now only spend about $100 every two months at the grocery store. They make everything themselves down to homemade mayonaise. Doesn’t this sound like hard work? It is, but it also sounds very rewarding and a getting back to a more simple time.
Check out these questions my friend answered about her family’s journey to sustainable living.
Thrifty Divas: What is sustainable living?
SL Expert: Sustainable is being reliant on what you produce and not relying on the grocerry store or restaurants or even other stores at that rate. We have everything we need to live on right here on our little farm. We also have the ability to build our own fences and more.
Thrifty Divas: What did your family change to switchover to this way of life?
SL Expert: The changes were gradual, we bought our place that was actually already fenced off for horses and we decided to get chickens. That was our first experience and oh what an experience it was. In the first year we lost about 30 chickens to dogs and also to bugs. We learned that chickens are very suseptable to lice and they are a slow killer but have since learned how to take care of them in an all natural way, with garlic and essential oils. This last year has been a very abundant year for eggs.
Our next adventure was pigs. Hot wired off an area of the horse pasture off for them so they have a large roaming space. We ended up with a breeding pair (which wasn’t planned but a wonderful discovery) and Charlotte is now about to have her second batch of piglets!
Then came the goats and we fed an unpregnant goat for an entire year before she got pregnant and helpled out with milk! That was a little dissappointing. We thought she was pregnant and unfortunately without a very expensive cost to the vet you just have to wait and see and they don’t show too much until the 4th month and their gestation period is only 5 months.
We had a rough year this year when it came to our very first breeding year. We ended up with only one piglet out of Charlotte’s first litter and only one baby goat from two goats. We lost 2 babies. For our first time though we are doing pretty good.
I also maintain a large garden where I grow peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, squash of all varieties, cantaloupe, carrots, beets, cabbage, green beans, onions, garlic, rhubarb, lettuce and more. I have learned how to preserve food by way of canning, freezing, drying, and fermenting. I make goat cheese as well as ice cream, kefir, and I am learning how to make cottage cheese and yogurt all with our goat milk.
We have also used other farmers for the things that we do not do. Such as our pig, and goat feed all come from a local farmer. We have also gotten fruit from fruit trees from other farmers and have just learned very recently about picking our own cherries from the cherry farms right down the road! Chickens if you can handle them roaming the yard don’t even need feed they eat bugs like crazy which is wonderful for your garden but they can also be a terror on your garden. It has been a learning experience and still every day we are learning new and better ways to take care of them all and make it easier on us.
Thrifty Divas: How does it help you save money?
SL Expert: At first it was a little money out of our pockets just getting set up but really the cost was very minimal. We save money now by not having to go buy milk from the store (we do buy cow milk from a local farmer on occasion). It costs us $10 a month or about 6 weeks to take care of both of our goats and we get a little less than a gallon of milk a day from them. Our pigs it costs about $200 every 3 months to take care of them with their grain and the chickens it is about $17 every other week to take care of them (when they are not allowed to wonder the yard due to my garden). We can offset all of these costs by selling off meat or eggs. It is very unfortunate that the only way that we can sell goat milk is for pet consumption only due to the selling of raw milk being illegal. Our ultimate goal is to have free meat and eggs and all in our freezer. That will happen when we get our farm fully working. It already saves us a ton of money as it is but it will be even better when we get to the place we want to be.
Thrifty Divas: What can someone who doesn’t live on a farm do to live this way more?
SL Expert: It is easy for people who do not live on a farm to save money on their food and to live sustainable by finding their local farmer and getting in with them. If you can find one where you can give them a hand here and there for meat or milk or eggs that is always a bonus. Just purchasing from a local farmer though would actually be less expensive than going to the store. A little bit of planning ahead though is needed. When you purchase a whole pig or even a half of a pig from a local farmer the cost is by far less and you have meat that you know where it comes from and what they eat and if there is the use of steroids, antibiotics and more.
Thrifty Divas: What is your favorite thing about sustainable living?
SL Expert: My favorite things about living this way are that my children will have a respect for where their food comes from and the work that we put into it for it to be put on their plates, also for other farmers and what they go through to put food on the table. Also I like knowing where my meat comes from and that there is no possibility of fillers in it when I get it and that it is natural as well as my vegetables. We don’t have to worry about toxins being in our food!
Does this way of life interest you? Do you have any questions for our sustainable living expert? Ask us in the comment section and I bet we can get her to answer your questions!
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