We’re rather lucky in this last crisis that while there were rampant shutdowns, the supermarkets and food distribution companies were still allowed to operate. So, there wasn’t any real shortages, except for maybe a few sanitation and disinfectants in the first few weeks. But while this has indeed been disastrous for the country, the economy, and of course all of the people who have lost their lives, or loved ones. I see it as a learning event.
Because it shows you just how far the government will go to protect “the greater good” and if that doesn’t align with what your family needs, it’s obvious they won’t care. To me, that’s rather frightening, as we are all far too reliant on being able to conveniently buy all the groceries and food we need. If the grocers shut tomorrow, how long would you last?
With that in mind, I’d highly recommend getting these livestock for your homestead now. Having your own animals makes your family that much more self-sustaining, because no matter how much you have stockpiled, without a way to replenish what you’re eating it will run out eventually. And planning to hunt or fish isn’t a reliable option, neither is trying to navigate a supermarket with just a facemask as protection. You need livestock.
Depending on the rules in your state, it’s highly likely you’re able to keep chickens. In addition to being a source of meat, your egg laying hens will provide a regular source of protein that will be vital to surviving whatever disaster comes. And they’ll be highly tradable too. Just remember you’ll need a quieter breed if you have neighbors in close proximity, Bantam chickens are a good choice and will give you a reliable source of eggs.
An alternative to chickens is to breed rabbits for their meat. You do need to be careful as they have very little fat so you shouldn’t be eating rabbit meat alone, but they reproduce fast, are relatively quiet, and are relatively simple to butcher even if you’re new to cleaning your own kills. While many people may shy away from eating what’s generally considered a pet, they’re an easy source of protein in a disaster scenario to bolster your food supply.
Get guinea pigs
Similar to rabbits but much smaller in size, guinea pigs can be another good source of meat, and one a survivalist in a more urban setting can raise without setting off too many alarms. Requiring just a small hatch, they’re inexpensive to feed, grow and breed quickly, and after being introduced to their meat on a past trip to South America (they call it cuy), I’ve got to say, it’s remarkably similar to duck, a dark oily meat that does well deep fried.
Another good choice if you’re not in a rural location, a small pond can be stocked with tilapia that can provide a good source of meat. You will need a large tank (or series of tanks), for us, we have a greenhouse and an aquaponics setup they are a part of. Ready to eat when we want fresh fish, and in the meantime, they are helping our herb garden to flourish with all the extra nutrients. It’s a win-win, even in a small yard.
If you’ve a property with more space, a few goats can be a wonderful addition. Relatively simple to care for, they’ll also trim your grass and their milk is a wonderful substitute for cow’s milk so you can still bake or enjoy it with your cereal or coffee in the morning. We’ve three goats on our homestead, and while it would devastate my kids to see them butchered and, on the table, the option is there, and until then we have plenty of milk.
We used to have horses and while they were fun to ride and did pull their weight, they took far too much effort to care for. Switching them out for a pair of donkeys was one of my smartest moves, the kids can still ride them and they can carry a remarkable amount of weight for their size. Plus, they eat less, and at least in my experience seem to have a much better temperament than my horses ever did. Again, you could also eat them in a pinch.
Sheep are a relatively docile animal that are easy to care for. With a pair of clippers, you can even get their wool for making yarn, ours seem to rather enjoy being shorn during the summer. They spend their time in the same enclosure as the goats, and we get a few new lambs every year. They’re a delicious bit of protein to your meals, or you could always let your herd grow naturally each year if you’re not butchering them as well.
One of the hardiest fishes you can stock is catfish, they thrive in small muddy places which is perfect if you’ve got a pond on your property. We don’t unfortunately, there’s only a stream running though ours, but what we’ve been doing is training the fish to come to a certain spot each evening for a feed of pellets. It’s drawing many more to our part of the stream, and I’m sure will give us a good supply if the supermarkets were ever to close.
It’s important you’re thinking ahead when it comes to surviving a crisis, as this one we’re just getting through has shown precisely what a government will do in order to retain control. In my opinion, we’re lucky this didn’t get as bad as I initially thought it would, and despite a few early disruptions to supply chains, most people were able to keep themselves fed. I have no idea if this is how a future crisis will play out, and with that in mind I highly recommend you to start stocking your own livestock. That’s the only way you can guarantee to keep a slab of protein on your plate, no matter what.