- eventually harvest enough from our garden to can the extra for use at barters (which are pretty common around here)
- additional livestock
What about animals? I REALLY want goats. REALLY BAD. I've read numerous books on care. Recently I think I've decided goats are a bit "much" for me right now. But they're so freaking cute. They are more care than dogs. Milking 2x/day. Everyday. God knows Im not averse to hard work, but what about going away for a weekend? Or going on a daytrip? We just moved here and there is so much exploring we want to do. I'd need to arrange for goat care. Much harder than for dogs. So I will probably get goats eventually, but just not right now.
What I like about chickens is the ease of care. At most, 20 minutes a day. Many people I talk to leave their chickens for a weekend and they are fine (they fill up LARGE feeders/waters, which is fine for a few days). Additionally, all the petsitters I've contacted and are interviewing, are OK with chicken care.
Soooo........... I've decided that bees are the next livestock that suit my current needs. I read 2 books on beekeeping (about a year ago). After initial set up, they require 15 minutes per week - usually just checking the status of the hive. Uhm, OK - I can do that. That doesn't include harvesting the honey at the end of the season, which will require several hours. For a hive or two, it can be done easily in a weekend. But they are also a bit of a long term commitment - usually you cannot harvest the honey until their 2nd fall. Hives are started in the spring, and harvested in the fall. When you harvest, you must always leave enough honey to get the colony through that winter - after the first summer they haven't built enough of a honey stash to last them the winter plus have some leftover for you to harvest.
Our local ordinances allow up to 4 hives on a lot smaller than 10,000 sq feet, so I'd be fine starting with one. Additionally, we have a 6ft perimeter fence which drives the bees up when the leave/enter the hive. With the other ordinances, this makes placing the hive on the property easier (has to be xx number of feet from the property line, etc). Beekeeping classes start in March, and Im keeping my eye out for the classes at the local center. There are other programs in the area that will put a hive on your yard and care for it for you (hive hosting). So I have several options to consider.
PS: After writing this post, someone posted this article: http://www.food