Guest Post from Maria Graber of Don’t Clip My Wings:
I saved egg money, Christmas money, and whatever money I could to purchase an incubator. I sold a few chicks the first year (2017). I began to learn from every hatch. This journey continues with time I incubate eggs. I am super excited to share what I have learned with anyone wanting to learn how to hatch eggs for the first time. I am creating a course on how to do just that. (If you are interested in learning more be sure to join the FB group Hatching Eggs, Ideas, and Homesteading Practices or subscribe to the email list on Don’t Clip My Wings for when the course becomes available to purchase.)
Ever since I had been given a blog as a part of the 2015 TCA Thoroughbred Makeover, I wanted a blog of my own. The day I created the Farm’s FB page, I felt like I was settling. What I really wanted was a blog. But I didn’t have the knowledge or funds to take that step, yet. During a family vacation in August of 2017, sitting in the Irma (Cody, WY) I officially launched my website(www.dontclipmywings.com), publishing my first blog post. I had envisioned sharing this moment with my sisters, but as it turned out one was opening a store and the other immersed in caring for her beautiful family. I felt a bit of the same secret excitement that accompanied me and 13 chicks a year and a half before.
The winter of 2017-2018 was a struggle as the income from the chicken eggs did not cover the feed. This journey has not always been pretty. I did not want to continue pouring money into feeding a bunch of birds and never see a return. I had blogged consistently through the fall, but became discouraged. In the first quarter of 2018 I took a couple of courses, one on social media marketing and another on digital media marketing. It was all Greek to me and I was only getting my feet wet. The reason for the courses is that I knew to sell hatching eggs and chicks, I needed to reach farther than the local market. While the website serves as a place to tell my story, it also provides a base to send people to who are interested in the breeds I raise. In the spring of 2018, I still felt like I was hitting a wall. I had all these excess eggs and in 2017 I had even thrown some away. I took on the mindset that this would not be happening in the summer of 2018. If I could not find a way to earn money with these chickens, I would reduce the numbers to just what we would need to provide our own eggs.
Connecting with others has proven priceless as I travel this homesteading road, from the conversation that motivated me to look for chickens to the one that had me searching online for local farmers markets. I have found conversations to be one of the greatest assets in my forward movement. I learned of a local market in Bremen, Indiana the end of April 2018 and filled out the ap. I decided I would wait for the second market of the year to attend, the first one was in less than a week and I wanted to give myself time to prepare. But much to my surprise, I found myself attending my first farmers market on opening day in May 2018. I felt a bit like me that evening, more than I had in some time.
I have added attending farmer’s markets to my homesteading journey. There have been struggles along the way with the chickens, my health, how to earn an income, and the trial and error that comes with sticking your neck out. This leads me to present day where going into my third year I can look back and be happy with the progress I have made. I have 5 Concord grape plants planted outside and almost 20 starts potted in my house awaiting spring planting. I have black and red raspberries plants, garlic planted for a third year, my own sweet potatoes to eat and, of course, eggs.
My chicken sales have picked up with room to grow. Two of the breeds are proving a bit difficult to raise chicks with, but that can be a part of the challenge when working with rare breeds. I do not give up easy, with that and my desire to learn, I continue. Recently, I contacted a neighbor who will come plow up sod for me to increase my garden space in 2019. I am excited for the coming year, challenges and all!
About the author:
Maria Graber grew up in rural southern Michigan and now lives near Plymouth, Indiana with 5 horses, 2 dogs, 3 rare chicken breeds and farm cats. She enjoys music and has been known to pick up a fiddle every now and then. In 2013, the love of music found her singing lead on a Christmas CD titled Justified ~ Once In a Manger with her mother, Marian and friend, Sheila. She enjoys spending time with family when she can get away from the homestead, and meeting new people. She has been blogging over a year at www.dontclipmyswings.com. Maria would love to hear about how others are living a homestead lifestyle. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She has recently created a new Facebook group Hatching Eggs, Ideas and Homesteading Practices to teach others interested in the homesteading lifestyle ways to get started. This group is for people who desire to live a sustainable lifestyle and are looking for ways to begin. If this sounds like you, please click on Hatching Eggs, Ideas, and Homesteading Practices for tips, fun free challenges, a place to ask questions, and hopefully make the homesteading journey easier for someone else.