How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Food Production Systems For a Backyard or Small Farm

(NOTE:  Be sure to read through this whole review … I’ve got a special giveaway at the end!)

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.

Course Overview

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!

My Thoughts

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.

My Giveaway

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
  • Like this post on Facebook (Just click the button right before the comment form)
  • ‘Like’ our Facebook Fan Page (You can just click on the widget in the sidebar on the right hand side)
  • Subscribe to my preparedness tips update mailing list
  • Post about this giveaway on your blog and/or start a thread on a relevant forum and email me the URL at rudy@preparingyourfamily.com

I’ll be drawing names based on the entrants next Friday, 12/10.  Good luck!

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48 Responses to Food Production Systems For a Backyard or Small Farm

  1. I would love to win this! I’ve got a small garden but would love to really expand it and learn more about raising chickens and becoming as self-sufficient as possible…so….pick me PLEASE!

  2. I would love to win this DVD because we do raise some of our own food but I would like to expand our knowledge and work towards being more able to produce food. I have learned many great things from your post. Thanks

  3. Count me in… I live on a 1/3 acre and this last summer harvested my first garden, looking to double it next year. Hope to add chickens next year. This would be great info for me.

  4. The DVD sounds extremely informative. I would like to learn more about adding rabbits and chickens. Please add me to the raffle!

  5. We do a small garden now but would love to learn all we can about everything to become more self reliant. Count us in on your raffle!

    Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow!
    thanks
    Teresa

  6. WOW this dvd is just what I’m looking for to assist us in our plan for self-sufficiency. We’re on the road, but still need to work out some details.

  7. I’d love to get a copy of this dvd series. We have a large garden and 4 little kids. Every year I keep trying to figure out how to grow our own food, but can’t seemm to keep up. Now that our kids are 7,5,3,and 2 I should have an easier time next spring.

    • By the way – the reason I would like to get the course is simple: I want to keep learning. I have been gardening for the past 7 years and learning all along the way. My mistakes are my successes the following season. Something I really enjoy – “homesteading”-type knowledge is what I not only want tolearn more of – but feel it is necessary. With the current economic situations and the uncertainty that the future holds – this DVD course could be an intergral part of my preparations for bad times ahead.

      Thanks – Rourke

  8. I would love to have this DVD series. We currently have a fairly large garden, but we’re always looking for ways to become more self-sufficient in these uncertain times.

  9. I’ve just recently been getting into “preparedness” mode and homesteading. I don’t know much except for making a garden. Would love to win the raffle!
    Thanks,
    Dee

  10. I would be interested in being entered as my husband and I are moving in a couple of weeks from our apartment in the city, to a caretaker’s apartment on a horse farm, which will be just down the road from my parents’ acreage, and I am hoping to be able to produce some of our own food now that we will have space for a garden and I’ll be close enough to help with my mother’s goats. :)

  11. Sounds like a great DVD. We are preparing to enlarge our garden and can use all the info
    available. Please enter me in the giveaway – thank you so much..:-) ~Carla

  12. We chose a smaller house yard with a large back yard 10 years ago over a larger house with a small yard. Until recently I was starting to think we made the wrong choice.. but if we can ever figure out how to plant a productive garden, I think we were inspired! :-) Thanks for your research…

  13. I would like this to refresh myself/educate the rest of the family. In my youth, my mom kept quite a garden in the back 40 (‘course, she had the advantage of having grown up an actual Farm Girl), and it supplied us with quite a good bit of edibles. I currently have no acreage planted, but am seriously considering it, given the Three Day Limit the food industry has imposed upon itself in the name of Efficiency.
    Thanks!

    • I am gathering information prior to my move to a more sustainable lifestyle. I am in college and within 2 years I will be living in a more rural area. So I would rewally like this course. it seems to have most of the information I am seeking in one spot.

  14. Count me in the raffle please. I’ve always wanted to start a small garden, and the way these times are, I think it’s that much more important.

  15. Hi, looks good to me. I twitted the site, and signed up for the newsletter. Hmmm anything else? Guess that’s it. Thanks for the chance to win. Sal

  16. Please pick me for the giveaway. I’m dreaming of going off-grid, and this training material would really help me.

  17. Hello,

    Please include me in the raffle. My wife and I purchased a home last year which has 2 acres which is mostly lawn and woods. My wife and I have been very concerned with the state of the economy and the world. We started this fall with 6 chickens and now it’s time to plan a garden. Having your DVD course would be just what we need to get started. There are so mnay different books on different topics related to gardening that we don’t know where to start. Your DVD looks like it covers everything we need to get started.

    Many thanks,
    Joe

    • by winning this it would help with my back yard garden that i am trying to plan. I even got my husband to read about this video and he was really interested in the butchering of the animals that you show.

  18. We have started gardening more these last couple of years. This course would greatly help me and wife to take our gardening knowledge up to the next notch. I also enjoy your website, really good information. Keep up the good work!

  19. This looks like a great intro course. I am trying to transition from suburbanite to self-sufficient farmer. I have my land and I just need some skills!

  20. I’d want the course because I know next to nothing about most of the subjects in the course. Count me in!

  21. I would really love this course, my DH and I have been striving for self-sufficiency over the last year and since he is a “city-boy” any educational information helps him understand how to do things…

    thanks!

  22. What a wonderful way to help folks out on their quest to homestead! I appreciate the opportunity to win this.

  23. I am OK on gardening, but don’t know much at all about the other subjects you cover. Would love to learn more!

  24. Please count me in for your giveaway drawing. I don’t do Facebook, so I can’t help you there, but I do reviews and articles for Amazon and Ezine Articles, and I’d like to be able to spread the word about this program, if it’s as good as you say. My wife and I just moved to a rented 35-acre ranch near Springer, NM. There’s a lot of work to do, and we’re just getting started, so this course could be a valuable asset. Last, I’ll give this site a mention in my new blog, http://www.TaylorSprings.blogspot.com, which will be talking about 21st century homesteading and post-Peak Oil living. Thanks and best wishes, Rick

  25. Sign me up please. I would like to learn more on the subjects listed on this DVD, I’m new to this so any help would be great! Thank you.

  26. We have our five acres that we are trying to turn into a self sufficient, fully prepared for anything type of home. This DVD Course sounds like it will have lots of great tips. I hope I win the contest. If I do, I’ll report on what I’ve learned and applied to our lives. I’ll be mentioning your website and this contest on my blog http://whatifitistoday.blogspot.com/ as well. Thanks and continue to spend some time each day preparing for your future.

  27. We aren’t in the position to move out to the country, but i’d love to learn how to turn our backyard into a homestead.

  28. I’d love to win your drawing!! We are a family of 5 who will be purchasing our first homestead this spring. Being newer to this idea, we would love to learn from your course. We homeschool our 3 children and want to instill in them a self sufficient mind. Please help us learn this empowering skill.

  29. i am very concerned about putting food by for my family of 8 and i need all the help i can get this dvd would be immensely helpful

  30. What I’ve seen of these DVD’s, [trailer}, I’m thrilled!

    Neither of us are highly experienced Gardeners, but this sweet lady makes it SOOO clear, simple and straightforward, that even I can probably set up and keep a garden!

    We live in a MAJOR city, (4th largest in Country), and expect SERIOUS problems to erupt fairly soon, so I NEED to get us as self sufficient as possible, so that we can live “outta sight — outta mind”, as much as possible.

    These DVD’s are EXACTLY what we NEED, (since we’re inexperienced, and need simple, clear, detailed council by people who’re not trying to impress us, but are GENUINELY trying to help us stay alive during tough & grubby times, as well as just enjoying healthier food during the good times).

    BTW, THANK YOU BOTH, very much, for this offer! Even if we’re not the recipients, we find it EXTREMELY thoughtful and kind of you both to make this offer. These DVD’s will CLEARLY be a GENUINE blessing, for whoever gets them, and, MIGHT EVEN save lives, friends. So, I consider that you’re both worthy of a really heart felt “Thank you!”