I got some Earth’s Best Organic baby food squeezable pouches for 89 cents today at the discount grocery store, woohoo! Those will be great for Shoshanna when we are traveling this summer. I love a good deal as much as anyone I know, but I’ve been learning that there are times when quality food is just…well…costly.
I’ve known for a long time that quality food is expensive to buy, and that is part of the reason I’m so eager to grow my own produce and meat and make my own snacks and bread from quality ingredients. Even the ingredients I buy to make things (cocoa butter, coconut oil, chia seeds, etc.) can really add up in price, but it’s still a huge savings when I look at the price of buying a similar ready made item! What I didn’t realize is just how costly it can be to grow your own food! Don’t get me wrong, I love gardening and keeping animals, and part of the reason I do it is because it gives me joy to be close to God’s creation and to teach my kids where their food comes from and how to be responsible for their own food. Another reason I do it is because I just can’t find soy free chicken or pesticide free peaches locally. And not everything is hard to grow, so don’t let this post scare you away from growing your own food! It’s easy to keep a small flock of Muscovy ducks that pretty much feed themselves and provide ample entertainment for a family. It’s easy to keep a small flock of laying chickens and get beautiful, healthy eggs every day. It’s easy to grow some fruit trees and berry bushes, herbs, and green beans. It’s just not so easy to scale up sometimes.
This year I’m finding that the cost of raising pastured, soy free, GMO free chicken is more expensive, time consuming, and energy intensive than I had thought! I’m sure part of it is simply the learning curve that comes with every first endeavor, but I can see now why this kind of chicken is hard to find and costs so much when you do find it! Anyone selling this kind of chicken for less than $5/lb is not paying themselves enough (in my opinion)! Or perhaps they have a really efficient system in place…
Am I saying it’s not worth it? No! But I see now why the supply is so limited and expensive, and it’s so important for each of us to grow some of our food. I had thought that going from 10 ducks and 5 chickens to 100 chickens, 30 ducks, 6 geese, and 5 turkeys would be a simple matter of building some chicken tractors and adding some bulk feeders and waterers… heh, silly me. I’ve found that everything takes longer than I think it will, including moving the chicken tractors, feeding and watering the birds, and figuring out what kind of feeding and watering system will work best for each stage of their growth. I had thought that we could grow enough meat chickens and eggs for ourselves and some friends and neighbors, but now I’m not so sure that I can handle doing that kind of mass production. I may have quite a few laying hens for sale this summer, so get your chicken coop or tractor ready for your own little egg laying girls. 😉 My advice: start small and scale up slowly!* If we each grow a little of our own food, we can take some of the burden off our overburdened food production system while increasing our self sufficiency and appreciation for quality food.
*The one good thing about scaling up so drastically is that I am being forced to find truly efficient feed, water, and housing solutions because I can’t afford to waste feed, water, and time like I could with just a few birds.