Winter is an excellent time to sit down, click on the computer and surf the internet discovering items of interest and tidbits of knowledge. Of course, I have my stack of books and magazines nearby – most on gardening and country living and I find myself flipping through pages as I envision my future plans.
A grand decision was made recently that came about after reading other GRIT blogs and researching. I came upon the website The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and found a listing of animal breeds and their existence rating ... ranging from critical to recovering. I plan to raise chickens, possibly a few turkeys and ducks and the guinea hogs look quite interesting. I will learn all I can about housing, feeding and where to purchase these different breeds as the winter weather whirls around outside. The poultry can be mail ordered and arrive as early as March.
Last year as we visited the new farm store down south they had a few cages of baby chicks and geese for sale. I only briefly checked them out since I knew if I spent too much time watching them, I would end up purchasing some and I am not quite ready. I need to be somewhere permanent, not traveling back and forth. ... PLUS, I have to do my research!
So the decision to raise heritage breeds has given my life in the country a new meaning. I will carry on that which our ancestors were about and leave something for the future generations. Many of our heritage animal breeds and rare seeds (heirloom) are disappearing simply because no one is raising or planting them.
There are organizations such as Seed Savers that work on preserving heirloom varieties of seeds; like the heritage animal breeds, some are on the verge of extinction. I find seed saving very therapeutic and have been giving away Free Seeds the last few months from my website.
Recently I sent out an envelope to a high school that just constructed a new greenhouse and will be sending seeds off to a jail in Iowa for their Inmate Agricultural Program. Many individuals have been very appreciative sending sincere thank yous. I have high hopes that all receiving the seeds will enjoy the process, learn and pass the knowledge on.
I have created a Garden Forum that should help with questions and offer advice. I will be concentrating my efforts on heirloom varieties for the coming garden season so these are not lost and forgotten. Of course, I have my seed saving books and sites to help me along the way.
So Heritage Breeds and Heirloom Seeds is on my agenda for research this winter!
[Also check out GRIT's Guides to Animal Breeds, or, if you're like me and like to hold a book in your hands, for breed research, the Grit Staff highly recommends Storey's Illustrated Breed Guide to Sheep, Goats, Cattle and Pigs. – Editors]