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Plans for Self-Food (Gardens & Animals)

MegMy plans for self-food reliance will involve animals and gardens. We are not vegetarians- though I do make many dishes that are but we love our healthy meat as well. Each year I want to incorporate new ideas, gardens, by products such as wool and meat. This year will be three large vegetable gardens, a berry/fruit patch, egg chickens, meat chickens in the fall, two to three pigs and honey bees. Every year I plan to add additional animals and/or re-arrangements of gardens.


This year the focus will be getting pastures and buildings ready for larger animals while also incorporating some animals that will do well with smaller pasture such as pigs and chickens. I am quite ecstatic for honey bees this spring. Just the research behind bees is amazing. They are truly magnificent little buggers with food, medicinal and cosmetic value! And to think, they basically take care of themselves is astonishing.

I do not plan to winter any animals besides my egg chickens and bees this year.
Next year I plan to have a Jersey cow, a crucial part of my mini farm for milk, butter, buttermilk, yogurt, and cheeses. It will take me this year to plan and research enough for my Jersey to be comfortable at her new property.

Animals I would like to incorporate into Modern Roots Homestead within the next five years are milking cow, sheep (for high-end wool), angora rabbits (for angora wool), meat cow, and lambs for meat. Though small in operation, my focus is on best quality and free range. Therefore, with my space (5 acres), small quantity for each type is best.


This past fall, we planted three apple trees, several stick pines, lots of flowering trees, a peach tree (please winter be nice), and a plum tree. Those will be ready for picking in, oh- three years. This is when I tell myself "patience is a virtue" over and over and over. This spring we plan to plant many more trees for windbreaks and a pear tree as well as a Bing cherry tree. I live in agricultural planting Zone 4b, so apparently I should be able to get away with some zone 5 plants. Here's hoping.

I have ordered my seeds for spring and am patiently waiting to plant them....still waiting... Spring time this year is going to be very exciting as I have many projects that need to be accomplished in just the gardens alone. I have a fenced garden 25 X 50 but need to make planter boxes for it. I want to have ten planter boxes 4 X 10 feet- 4 feet across so I can easily manuever weeding, planting, etc.
I also need to add a squash, pumpkin, and gourd garden. In addition, the last garden I need to develop is the sweet corn, grapes and berry patch. I will be adding to the raspberry patch, adding a strawberry tier, rowing out sweet corn, and creating a mini vineyard for table grapes.

I also need to have my husband (Kris) help me, ok um...have him build me my garden shed and chicken coop so they are ready for spring chicks and all of my valuable garden crap. I think he wants his garage back.

Speaking of Kristopher - he asked me last night about which projects I have chosen to pursue this year. I believe he now realizes how crazy busy it is going to be. By the time I got done telling him all the things that will need to be completed spring, summer and fall...he was snoring. But I didn't care, it just felt good to talk to someone older than four even if they were sleeping.

Besides vegetable gardens, I am re-designing a couple flower beds and will be filling those up with pretty plants to add some beauty around the property.

Well, today is such a tease- it is 40 degrees here in central Minnesota (which is warm for January) and reminds me of spring. Yet, I know there are colder days ahead so planning and 'arm chair' gardening is holding my appetite for now.

*Find more about the finance and costs at  

Meg working on Modern Roots Homestead
Meg working on Modern Roots Homestead. 

milk maid
2/12/2013 3:26:45 PM

The Dexters have nice cream and I have to say much easier to get than from the goats. Goat mlk comes out homogized so it's harder to get the cream to skim off. Make sure the fencing for the pigs is strong and maybe put hog panels a foot down in the ground, they love to root around and WILL get out when they find a spot. I can't stress the heat with the rabbits too much. They don't do well in the sun, they will heat stroke in minutes. I used the frozen water bottles and fans and they were on the covered porch all summer long. Cold doesn't both them. Don't have any litters from June - August for the heat.

meg with modern roots
2/12/2013 4:32:53 AM

Awesome, thanks. We have neighbors that have dexters. I would like to have an excess of milk to feed to my pigs too- I also want to make lots of bi-products (cheese, yogurt, etc) we go through a lot of that and the CREAM!! I have so many plans for the cream alone :) Miniature Jerseys... Im going to look into that. Great to know about the rabbits. It does get pretty hot in the summer so I'll factor in some cooling for them. Thanks again!

milk maid
2/11/2013 8:56:09 PM

Have you looked at the Miniature Jersery cow? They eat less but give a good amount of milk. As for cattle for meat, if you have a small family the Irish Dexter's are both meat and milk producers. We have 2 of them and the steers can be butchered at a year old. Smaller cows but up to 2 gal of milk per day. As for the rabbits, they don't like hot summers so freeze liter bottles full of water and let them lay on them during the summer days. Wish I had your energy. LOL

meg with modern roots
2/8/2013 11:32:12 PM

Thanks Jennifer! You can check out my site too for more on my process and current recipes too!!

jennifer sartell
2/8/2013 10:38:26 PM

So exciting! I wish you all the best in your farm endeavors! I can't wait to hear about the process of getting a Jersey cow. Right now we have dairy goats and it's always been in the back of my mind. We would also like to add some fruit trees to our farm. Can't wait to read your future posts!!!

megandkris dimercurio
2/8/2013 5:48:35 PM

Thanks Dave! Exciting to blog about my creations and development as well :) you can check out my site at for more chaos!

nebraska dave
2/8/2013 12:38:42 AM

Meg, welcome to the GRIT blogger community. Holy smokes, I'm strapping in for the Modern Roots year of plans. You are the most enthusiastic homesteader that I've read about lately. I wish you the best of luck with all your endeavors for this year. Have a great homestead planning day.