John O’Meara writing on an alternative lawn mower…
The freezers in our farmhouse are always full of the best beef, pork, geese, duck, and vegetables money can buy.
Except we didn’t buy any of it. We grew or raised it all.
It’s true that it’s not free to raise livestock or crops, but it can be cheap…especially if you consider the value of the food versus the value of the food offered at the supermarket.
Geese and cattle are particularly cost effective, and can be raised almost entirely on grass. Pigs, chickens, and ducks will get about 30% of their nutrition from grazing.
Looking at the space around my house where grass grows – what other people call a lawn – I see a place to produce food.
For many years, I’ve given up lawn mowers and instead “mow” my lawn with geese and calves (we call them the lawn mooers).
It’s not the same look as a manicured lawn that is mowed weekly or bi-weekly, but it has raised a herd of cattle…and fed my family.
Geese are probably the best and simplest way to ditch your lawn mower. You can invest in goslings for under $10 from hatcheries in the spring, unleash them on your lawn, sit back, and prepare for goose eggs and roasted meat. Rare breeds can be more expensive…but they can wait until you have your system down.
Sheep are a bigger financial investment to begin with, but they tend to mow your lawn close and neat…and do a great job taking care of weeds. Like geese, they are resistant to inclement weather and require limited shelter.
Muscovy ducks – another nice addition to any self-sufficient household – tend to graze more than other ducks.
Raising calves where other people have lawn has the biggest potential for saving money. Calves take longer to mature and are sometimes a bigger investment than other animals. But in the livestock world, cows are the Rolls Royce.
Once the concept of a lawn is out of the way, that space around your house will begin to look more and more like a place to produce food…the best food. Where a lawn only speaks the word “chore,” your new pasture for livestock will fill many purposes.
The key to filling your freezers affordably and with the best food is to always focus on endeavors that are dual purpose, or multi-purpose.
The geese provide meat and feathers, and mow the lawn. The cattle mow for us, and provide meat, milk, and power (we log in the woods with oxen). Ducks do a great job keeping the black fly population down while adding variety to our diet – and they always provide beauty and charm as well.
Animals that can thrive on grass make your homestead affordable, saving you trips to the grain store.
And having even a simple livestock project instead of a lawn is a different way of looking at things.
You may find that neighbors or passers-by are surprised at first, but grazing animals provide much more enjoyment and interest than any lawn.
The other big advantage to grazing rather than mowing your lawn centers around the health of the grass itself. When you have a variety of species moving across your pasture with a rotational grazing plan, your grass gets healthier and more productive as the years go by. The manure composts trouble-free into the grass, and the interaction of animal and plant species creates a healthy, money-saving ecological system.
If you could count all the hours you spend mowing the lawn, it would be more than most part-time jobs…more than the time many people spend talking to their family or gardening.
It’s time consuming, expensive, and unnecessary.
Lawn mowers are designed to be disposable. They are prone to mechanical failure, and it’s often more expensive to get someone to work on a machine than it is to discard it and buy another. They make no sense for the environment, the wallet, or the happiness of your family.
If you enjoy the noise pollution of a cheap engine, or tinkering with poorly made, money consuming machines, stick with the conventional lawn.
Otherwise start thinking “grazing.”
It’s easy to start — just pick up a few goslings, ducks, or chickens…
And put your lawnmower up for sale.
P.S. Discover how you can enjoy a more laidback, authentic, independent way of life in Truth & Plenty. Sign up below to have it delivered – free of charge – to your email inbox.
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