ou don’t have to have 40 acres and a mule anymore to be a homesteader. Now it’s as simple as growing your own herbs in a windowsill or small garden.
As more and more people desire a connection to what they are putting in and on their bodies, a new trend has emerged—modern homesteading. This way of life can range from living completely off the grid to putting more sustainable practices into place in an effort to be more self-reliant. Whether you live in a rural or urban setting, there are steps you can take toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle.
My fascination with chickens began as a kid. My grandparents on both sides of the family always had them, and I thought they were so cool. So I started raising some of my own. At night, I would go outside and, with the help of my brother, build little cages for them. When it was time for a poultry show, my mom would load the station wagon down with my birds and off we’d go!
Today at the farm, Poultryville houses over 60 breeds of heritage poultry. Even if you live in a neighborhood with a modest backyard, having a small flock is a worthwhile investment. Before you jump in, make sure to check municipal codes for rules on having chickens in your neighborhood.
By raising chickens, you’ll not only have a constant supply of eggs and meat, should you choose, but you’re also supporting the genetic diversity of these animals. This is critical to food security, since these heritage breeds are being replaced by modern varieties for the industrial agricultural system. A great way to get to know different breeds is to visit a poultry show or contact someone from the district where you live who is in the American Poultry Association (www.amerpoultryassn.com).
Some of my favorite heritage breeds for beginners are:
Buff Orpingtons. A beautiful golden colored chicken, they have an easy-going disposition and are good producers of medium to large brown eggs. They are adaptable to free range and also do well with confinement.
Plymouth Rocks. Good producers of large brown eggs, they adapt well to confinement or free range. They are docile, friendly and easy to handle.
Brown Legorns. They are heat tolerant and enjoy free range but will adapt to confinement. They are heavy producers of medium to large white eggs.
Free-range hens tend to lay eggs that have a richer flavor and many more nutrients than most store-bought eggs, with twice the omega 3s, vitamin E and four to six times as much vitamin D. I love having a constant supply of fresh eggs, and I’m sure you’ll get hooked too.
Classic Egg Salad
1 dozen eggs
¼ cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
½ cup mayo
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon dill pickle relish
1 Tablespoon chopped olives
Salt and pepper to tasteSalt and pepper to taste
– Place eggs in a large pot and cover with water.
– Place pot on stove. Turn heat on high, bringing eggs to a hard boil.
– Boil for 1 minute. Cover pot, turn off heat, and allow eggs to sit (in
hot water) for 20 minutes.
– Remove eggs from water and place in an ice bath for 5 minutes.
– Crack and peel eggs.
– Refrigerate peeled eggs for at least 3 hours (until completely cold).
– Finely chop eggs and place in a large mixing bowl.
– Add onion and celery, toss to combine.
– Add remaining ingredients, stir until all are incorporated.
– Spread mixture onto toast points, bread for sandwiches or serve on
a bed of fresh greens
Deviled Egg Salad
8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
3 Tablespoons mayo
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon capers, chopped
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of celery salt
Dash of smoked paprika
Pinch of salt
Chopped chives and fresh cracked black pepper for garnish
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until thoroughly
combined. Serve on toast points with chives and black pepper on
Avocado Egg Salad
1 medium avocado, pitted and diced
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon chives, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped (about 3 Tablespoons)
Salt, garlic powder and black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl until completely incorporated.
Serve on toast points, bread for sandwiches or on a bed of fresh
Cobb Egg Salad
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
3 slices cooked bacon
¼ cup diced grape tomatoes
¼ cup baby arugula
¼ cup feather shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup Buttermilk Blue® cheese crumbles
¼ cup roughly chopped olives
4 Tablespoons mayo
½ teaspoon Cavender’s (or other all-purpose Greek seasoning)
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, mix until completely
incorporated. Serve on toast points, bread for sandwiches or on a bed
of fresh greens.
P. Allen Smith is an author, television host, and conservationist. His show “Garden Home” airs on public television. Check your local listings for “Garden Style.” Smith uses his Arkansas home, Moss Mountain Farm, to promote the local food movement, organic gardening and the preservation of heritage poultry breeds. Tours of the farm may be booked at pallensmith.com/tours.
Chicken in photo : Silver Bantam Cockerel.