SubscribeStar Saturday: Homesteading in the City

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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?

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8 thoughts on “SubscribeStar Saturday: Homesteading in the City

  1. Interesting article, Port. I’m more interested in the Port side of the story rather than the ‘to Duke or not to Duke’ aspect.

    I have a friend, just in his 30s – born and raised city kid from New Jersey – who bought his house in Largo, Fl, and started bee keeping. His hive, now about three years old, is humming (pardon the pun) right along. A couple of years ago, he added chickens (he refers to them as ‘the girls’, lol) and rooster. Largo is pretty urban but no one complains and he’s really enjoyed his foray into animal husbandry.

    I would suggest, along with your new subscriptions, you add one from a prepper group. You don’t have to have a lot of room in your house to start a pantry of food goods that have shelf life. Not so much that the ‘civil war’ is coming, but nature has a way of surprising us sometimes – what if you can’t, for some unforeseen reason, get to the store? You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to do this – if when you grocery shop you normally buy 4 cans of veg, buy six and put the 2 extra in the prep pantry. If you would normally buy one box of quick rice, for a couple of weeks buy 2, putting the extra in the prep pantry. You get the idea. Keep in mind that your prep pantry doesn’t have to be in the kitchen where you may have limited room – the closet of a spare bedroom would do just fine. A couple cases of water put away is a good idea, too.

    The other thing I would suggest is … learn to bake bread. Start with plain ol’ white bread. The first time you smell the aroma of baking bread in your house, you’ll be hooked. Keep flour, dry yeast, etc, in your prep pantry but once you make your first loaf, you’ll be baking bread regularly so you’ll want a portion of bread baking goods in your hands on kitchen.

    Stepping off my soapbox now. But it’s a great idea, isn’t it? And easy and inexpensive to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Audre! I will likely respond at greater length later, but am about to head out for my niece’s sixth birthday party!

      The “buy a couple extra” idea is a great idea. Right before The Age of The Virus began, I bought up a TON of rice, canned beans, spaghetti noodles, tomato sauce, etc.—all with good shelf lives. I’m also interesting in investing in a canner of my own so I can store some of my grapes, figs, and other fruits/veggies for a bit longer. I’d love to learn how to put up preserves, too.

      I would LOVE to start baking my own bread. The latest issue of BHM had an article on just that, I believe.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The town ordinance seems overly restrictive considering the large size of their property. He should probably challenge the ordinance if he was raising food animals, but its hard to argue with the town Council about people’s fears he will turn his property into a petting zoo when he has already designated his animals as “emotional support animals” for kids. That sounds exactly like a petting zoo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the size of the property seems adequate to maintain the number of livestock on the premises. That said, I could definitely see having a lot of loud barnyard animals in close proximity to residents as creating a nuisance. I think the town has the obligation to act within the interests of its residents, which in this case could mean preventing the formation of a de facto petting zoo in a residential area.

      That said, I think the Dukes are wise to maintain such a menagerie, especially the way things are going. Having some chickens and goats ready to provide eggs, milk, and meat when The Bugaloo goes down is probably a good idea. In that context, the ordinance could put them and other would-be homesteaders in a precarious situation.

      But the reality right now seems to trump, in this instance, the reality of what could be. I think the Town of Society Hill could come up with a more elegant compromise than bluntly limiting livestock to such restrictive numbers (what’s the difference, functionally, between six chickens or eight—or ten—in terms of limitations?). Sure, I could see not allowing one hundred chickens, at which point it becomes akin to running a poultry farm on residential property. But where is that fine line? Is it worth hassling the Dukes if, say, they had a seventh chicken? I think not.

      Regardless, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. The Dukes have vowed to challenge the ordinance, so we’ll see how it goes. If they win, it could have potentially sweeping consequences for small towns in South Carolina.


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