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Recently I’ve taken subscriptions to Backwoods Home Magazine and its sister publication, Self-Reliance. Both magazines are treasure troves of information on how to be, well, self-reliant. Backwoods Home focuses more on handy projects around the homestead and garden, sprinkled with articles containing recipes for canning veggies and baking homemade bread. Self-Reliance seems to cover many of the same topics, just maybe with fewer recipes.
A major emphasis of both publications is establishing and maintaining a functioning homestead that is as self-supporting and sustainable as possible. The authors often acknowledge that such an ideal may be impossible to realize in its truest, Platonic form, but point out that it is still an ideal worth striving toward. Besides that grand ideal, though, the publications are very practical—how does one go about doing all of the tasks and completing all of the myriad projects that maintaining an independent homestead requires?
The goal of near-self-sufficiency is maximal liberty—if you can grow your own food and raise your own livestock, who cares if your employer mandates The Vaccine for work? You can just live off your land, at least until you can find a job that doesn’t force you to inject yourself with an experimental drug. That requires a great deal of hard work and focus, but the reward is freedom from the whims of the workplace and the world. We all know corporations and even smaller employers are growing more woke by the day; in the case of big corporations, following the popular “morality” of the day to keep up appearances is more important than the well-being of their employees.
As someone who would like to raise a few crops and maybe some chickens on my little half-acre, a local story here in Darlington County, South Carolina, caught my attention. A couple in Society Hill, the Dukes, has around thirty-one animals on their forty-four-acre property, which sits within the town limits of Society Hill. Their livestock includes “chickens, goats, cows, horses, hens, a duck and a rooster.”
The Town Council for Society Hill passed an ordinance limiting livestock to six chickens and two “equines”—horses, mules, donkeys, etc.—on property within town limits. The Dukes were apparently in violation of an older ordinance from the 1970s that limited livestock numbers on property within town limits. I’m not sure what those limits were, but it seems Society Hill’s Town Council believed it needed to update the ordinance.
There are multiple issues here, which are reflected in the Council’s 3-2 split on the ordinance. The Dukes claim that the current Mayor of Society Hill, Tommy Bradshaw, is targeting them because Dwayne Duke seeks to challenge Bradshaw for mayor. The Dukes also claim that their animals are used for emotional support therapy for trouble kids.
Neighbors, however, fear that the Dukes plan to turn their home into a petting zoo of some kind, and there have apparently been repeated complaints about the livestock (no one wants a rooster waking them up at the literal crack of dawn). Even before the new ordinance was passed, the Dukes were already in violation of the older ordinance, which was nearly fifty years old (a reminder to town governments to update their ordinances periodically, lest they be forgotten from lack of use).
So, who is right? Should the Dukes give up their livestock—and their chance at homesteading freedom?—so their neighbors can get some peace? Or should they be allowed to keep the animals they raise?