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Backyard chickens are a fun way to have a never ending supply of hyper-local eggs. Here’s how you can start raising backyard chickens on a shoestring budget.

Remember to check local laws first! Many cities stipulate the number of chickens you’re allowed to have.

Set up a brooder

A brooder is like a nursery for chicks. It can be as simple as a sturdy box filled with pine shavings, corn, or another soft bedding. Make sure you give the chicks access to plenty of fresh food and water, too. The brood is complete when you set up either a heat lamp or specialized brooder lamp to keep the chicks warm.

The lamp may not be be necessary depending on your weather and where you’re keeping the chicks. You don’t want them getting too hot!

Buy your chicks

Here’s the fun part! Once you have your brooder in place, it’s time to buy the chicks. Some people buy from mail order hatcheries. In my experience, mail order is cruel for the chicks, and many of them don’t survive the journey. I opt for local farmers and hatcheries for my chicks.

Try to buy sexed chicks if you can. If not, there’s a really good chance you’ll get lots of roosters and few egg-layers!

Build your coop

You can buy pre-built coops at places like Tractor Supply, but if you really want to save money, DIY is the way to go. You can buy cheap building plans online and customize for your needs.

Remember to fill the coop with soft bedding as well as hay for the chickens to build nests.

Raise the chickens!

Once it’s time to move the chickens into the coop, you’re in the business of raising chickens. Get them on a schedule and determine where and when they leave the coop. Their diet can affect their eggs, so keep that in mind. Just because the chickens roam doesn’t mean they’re fully fed. Supply the chickens with a high quality feed to encourage egg-laying.

Chickens are great egg layers for the first two years of life. After that, production either slows or stops entirely. At this point, some people butcher the hens, while others keep them around for bug control.

The bottom line

One of the best ways to homestead is to have chickens. They’re full of personality and will supply you with more eggs than you can dream of. Follow these steps to set up your flock for minimal cost.

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Fail-Proof Sunday Loaves

I remember every Sunday my great-grandma would bake bread. She would use these loaves for meals throughout the week and give any leftover crumbs to the chickens. Nothing went to waste!

The mark of any successful homesteader is the ability to make a delicious, hot loaf of bread. Here’s how you can make your own with homestead-friendly ingredients, like whey.

Granny Mary’s Sunday Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups whey (you can use water or milk, but your bread won’t be as fluffy)
8 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 servings packages of active dry yeast
5 to 7 cups of unbleached white flour
Cornmeal

Directions:

In a mixer with the dough hook attachment, add all of your yeast.

Heat the whey to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the whey with the yeast. Cover the mixture with a towel for ten minutes, or until the yeast froths.

Melt the butter, sugar, and salt. Mix.

Add 4 cups of flour. Mix.

Add more flour in 1/4 cup increments. Do this until the dough is slightly sticky but doesn’t stick to your hands.

Increase the speed on your mixer to knead the dough. Knead for five minutes, until the dough is shiny.

Grease a separate bowl with oil. Put the kneaded dough into the bowl, cover with a wet dish towel, and let rise for one hour.

After the dough has risen, punch it two or three times.

Lay out the dough on a floured area and shape it. I like to do a round loaf and a plaited loaf.

Place the dough on a pan lined with cornmeal. Cover with a towel and let rise another hour.

After the bread has risen, add any embellishments or an egg wash, if you’d like.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes. You’ll know the loaves are done when you knock on them and they sound hollow.


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