6 Tips to Urban Homesteading in the Hill Country

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chickensWEBPhoto: Shannon Salas

4. Chickens…eggs? Yes!

Chickens are easy to raise and highly amusing to watch. Chicken coops and runs can be purchased together or separate, or you may choose to build your own. The coop should be built to include 2 sq. ft. of space per chicken, two or three nesting boxes, and a roosting bar. The run should be large enough for your chickens to spread out so they don’t peck at each other constantly. If you want eggs right away, start with already laying hens, but if you want to watch them grow, start with chicks. Grown chickens should be fed feed made specifically for layers, and chicks should be fed a starter feed.

5. Get real with goats.

If you are looking to add a couple of goats to your backyard, be sure to have their housing set up and their feed/hay well stocked before you bring them home. Pygmy or Nigerian Dwarf goats are both good options for the urban homesteader. Pygmy goats are usually kept as pets, while Nigerian Dwarf goats are well-known for their milk. Take note that goats will chew on things you may not want them to chew on. They are also masters of jumping up onto everything you own and over fences. Keep your goats fenced off from your vehicles or any trees and plants you wish to keep. Also, make sure your fencing is at least 4′ high. Woven wire fencing is the best option. Hay should be a goats primary source of food, but you may supplement with sweet feed or goat feed as a treat.

urban homesteading beesPhoto: Judy Sturm

6. Learn about beekeeping.

What can be better than fresh honey from your backyard? Setting up a hive is an option in some cities if you have a love for bees. There are several local apiaries you can purchase bees and hives from here in Texas, some of which offer classes and are very useful sources of information. You will need to purchase 3lbs of bees and a queen to get started. Keep in mind the possibility of getting stung is high, bees travel the same ‘bee-line’ path to their job every day, and they swarm. However, beekeeping can be very rewarding if you learn how to best overcome these obstacles. Note: If you or anyone in your house is allergic to bees, do not attempt to start up a bee hive!