The folks over at Rooster Crows Productions were kind enough to send me a copy of their DVD course ‘Food Production Systems For a Backyard or Small Farm‘ to review. Now that things have calmed down after Thanksgiving, my wife and I sat down to watch the video course. Here’s my thoughts on the course.
The course comes with a video DVD with the actual course videos. It’s broke into ten modules and the menu lets you pick and choose which module to watch or just kick back and watch them all in order.
They have also included a very comprehensive resource CD that has electronic copies of all sorts of interesting information that I see as being quite valuable.
Module One – Overview
In this module Marjory provides background about them, their homestead, and some other interesting details. I was fascinated to hear that while they have 30 acres of land, they provide almost all of the food for a family of four on two acres of it.
She brought up a couple of interesting lessons learned that I thought were worth repeating. First, she was quite candid that they made quite a few mistakes. These mistakes were largely caused by a sense of panic that resulted in trying to do too much too fast. A great point that I agree with wholeheartedly.
Second, she says it will take a decade to become truly proficient in raising all of your food on your own. While I can’t speak from personal experience, it’s certainly a reasonable sounding amount of time. The moral of that story is that you can’t expect to know how to do this stuff when the SHTF. You have to be doing it already, getting hands on experience.
Module Two – Water
In this module we learn about the water storage systems and sources that they use on their homestead. They have 34,000 gallons worth of water storage!
It’s really interesting to see how they have integrated water storage everywhere on the homestead. They even use small scale storage systems on things like chicken tractors, animal pens, etc to water the animals that are housed there.
We learn about how much water you need (their family of four uses 30-50 gallons of water a day for household use) and we also learn how much water you can expect to get from rain. All of the right formulas for calculating water system capacity are presented in an easy manner.
I also liked seeing how they have integrated fresh water sources with gray-water irrigation systems. Truly fascinating!
Module Three – Gardening
The focus here was primarily on growing enough food to feed yourself AND your plants. They advocate a concept called Bio Intensive Gardening which isn’t something I’d heard of. It sounds somewhat similar to square foot gardening with some key differences.
They are using 750 sq ft of garden space to feed one person per year. Their garden takes up about 10-15 hours a week, max.
We learn some good tips on gardening, which I don’t really want to give away here! This was definitely one of my favorite modules.
Module Four – Rabbits
This was a great module. I’ve wanted to learn more about raising rabbits and honestly, after watching this module, I’m pretty sure that I could get started based on what I’ve learned.
Like before, plenty of great information about diet, the best breeds for meat production, the breeding cycle, and much more. They use eight cages with one buck and three breeding does. The other four cages have the litters after they’re ready to leave momma bunny. They get 90 rabbits a year out of this system which is just short of two rabbits a week. 30 offspring from each doe is not bad! If that isn’t enough for you, I think you could easily add a few more does and increase production.
Module Five – Butchering
In this module we got a full on video tutorial on how to process a bunny from start to finish. It was a bit jarring at first because I wasn’t expecting it, but watching the whole process was a great learning process.
Not only do we learn about processing rabbits, but poultry, raccoons, deer, and other animals as well. This was a great training module.
Module Six – Poultry
The most interesting part of this was learning that they don’t like raising meat chickens. They feel that it’s too much work for the meat you get out of it. I’m not sure I agree with that, but that might be partially because I’m a big fan of eating chicken! Their focus is getting protein from rabbits instead.
They also free range their chickens, which is not something I have any experience with. It’s an interesting concept that fits into their ‘low maintenance’ lifestyle.
Module Seven – Dogs
This was an interesting module. They got dogs primarily to protect the chickens and to perform other work around the place. They’re emphatically not pets, and must be trained.
They don’t buy food for their dogs, instead they feed them table scraps, butchering scraps, and the like. I learned a few interesting things about their dogs and how they handle them, but I’m not sure how much of that is broadly applicable based on my experience. Despite that though, the lions share of what they said was great information!
Module Eight – Perennials
This was all about permaculture and edible landscaping. It’s an important part of their overall system and longer term provides quite a bit of the food for them and their livestock.
I liked learning about how they integrated their irrigation systems together with the rain water collection, and how they leveraged mulch to reduce the amount of watering that needed to be done.
There was a big emphasis on finding the right location and microclimates for different plants and trees. Melding that with the actual contours of the land can often make the placement decisions for you.
They advocate integrating geese with your permaculture for free fertilizer and the eggs. That was interesting … definitely nothing I’ve thought about doing.
Module Nine – Essentials
This was more of a ‘catch all’ module that covered a bunch of different topics. Everything from the different crop classifications, food dehydration, and dealing with fire ants.
Two key parts of this module for me were learning how to use a water level to map the contours of your land in a very visible way and a reinforcement of just how miserable it will be to try to raise grains without mechanical assistance.
Module Ten – Summary
This was a nice thank you and credits module, but didn’t have any real learning to it. You could find some good topic specific resources though!
For just under $30, this is a no brainer for everyone who is interested in homesteading or producing your own food. It covers a bunch of topics, some in depth, some not.
I would have liked to see more in depth information about other livestock options, such as the dwarf cows they have. That said, this is an introductory course that isn’t intended to cover everything, so I don’t feel it detracts from the course.
My wife who tells me she doesn’t have as much knowledge in this area as I do said that it was a bit overwhelming for her, so if you’re getting started you’ll probably want to watch this more than once.
All in all, I highly recommend this course. Click here to check out the details on their website.
I am going to give away the course I received to one lucky reader. If you’d like to enter the raffle, each one of the following will get you one ‘ticket’:
- Leave a comment here telling me why you want the course
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- Post about this giveaway on your blog and/or start a thread on a relevant forum and email me the URL at email@example.com
I’ll be drawing names based on the entrants next Friday, 12/10. Good luck!