Self / Farm Sustainability

I am often asked if its really worth raising a beef steer for home meat consumption, so when we had a steer butchered a few weeks ago, I decided to weigh  all the cuts of meat and calculate the value of the product versus the approximate cost to raise the steer, so that I could work out if it was worth doing.
Costs

Keeping livestock for milk is one of the oldest and most traditional ways of self-sufficient farming and it is still a way of ensuring food security today. Many  types of livestock – including sheep, goats and cattle – can be kept to supply milk.
If you would like regular, plentiful supplies of fresh milk daily, with excesses available to produce products like cheese and butter, a dairy cow is your best choice. 

Permaculture is a design science for sustainable agricultural environments. Through the observation of natural function, it seeks to integrate and arrange  various elements within a farm enterprise (e.g. plants, animals, buildings and infrastructures) in such a way that they support and benefit each other while  performing multiple functions (e.g. harvesting water, providing shelter, feeding farm stock).

When I was a kid, all my relatives grew their own vegetables - my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles. But I was never interested in any kind of gardening (and I didn’t particularly like to eat vegetables anyway). Things have changed a lot since then! 

With a new hay season around the corner it’s time to clean out the hay shed and remove spoiled or stale hay in readiness for the new supply. Even with well-kept hay there will always be a certain amount of wastage; there may be anything from a pile of sweepings to several bales that might have been affected by damp and are suitable for cattle to eat, but not horses.

While burning gets rid of this quickly, a hay bonfire is money going up in smoke while adding carbon to the atmosphere, and a valuable resource is being wasted.

There are many ways to recycle and re-use old hay. First and foremost, it is a key compost ingredient and a marvelous mulching material.

Spreading biscuits of old hay around the base of trees, several centimentres away from the trunk, as summer mulch, will reduce the amount of water the tree needs. Water-in the hay once it has been placed. 

Making garden beds out of old hay

Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a sustainable food production system where farmers sell direct to the consumer. Farmers grow a product  consumers want, in exchange for them supporting the farmer.
It provides small landholders who farm close to large urban populations with potential economic opportunities. CSA encourages both farmers and consumers to form a relationship and share the risk of agricultural production providing economic, social and environmental benefits. 

Farmers producing for CSA groups can either supply limited produce from their own farm or team up with other farmers to provide a wider range of produce including vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers, meat and eggs.

CSA meets growing demand for local sustainable food production
Interest in CSA has grown as consumers have demanded fresh, sustainable food that is produced locally. CSA involves the establishment of a consumer group that signs up to a 6-12 month subscription with a farmer. Subscriptions are paid in advance or in instalments throughout the growing season. Consumers can receive weekly or fortnightly deliveries, collect produce from a central point or collect directly from the farm.   

Box of fruit and vegetables produced from community supported agriculture, a sustainable food production system.

Small farmers and hobby farm owners consistently rate sustainability of their property as one of the most important factors to consider. 'Sustainability' is a  term that tends to be used loosely. It can mean very different things to different people.

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