You’ve made the decision. You’ve caught the self-reliance bug, and you want to have your own homestead. But, your HOA won’t allow chickens. What can you do? Here are three things you CAN do while homesteading without chickens.
Homesteading Without Chickens – It’s Possible!
Nothing screams homesteading like farm fresh eggs right out your back door. I feel like every time I tell someone we have a homestead, their first question is, “So you have chickens?” But the answer is always a disappointed “Nope.”
We’d love to have chickens, trust me! But our HOA (and our city ordinances) won’t allow it. And considering my husband’s on the board of the HOA, it’s not like we can really play dumb. So, here’s how we’re homesteading, even though we can’t have chickens!
Garden Like There’s No Tomorrow – Even if you Don’t Like Veggies
We’ve tripled the size of our garden over the last three years. It will be interesting to see how much “yard” is left by the time we move (whenever that is). Each year we grow more and more of our own food.
But here’s the thing – there are veggies we like, some veggies we don’t, and some veggies that we’d love to have but have a hard time growing. So we devote about 75% of our garden to growing the things we like and know we can grow, and 25% goes to new things, experiments, and things that we’re trying to get better at (carrots and onions to name a few).
Over the last three years, we’ve been able to go from eating a few fresh tomatoes during the summer, to canning a few quarts of salsa, to this year where I’ve harvest over fifty pounds of tomatoes and almost thirty pounds of green beans. We’ve eaten some fresh, given some away, and preserved the rest. You can check out my last post on the 2022 Garden Recap to see what else we harvested this year.
The one thing I know is that by learning how to garden, we are cultivating a skill that will help us down the road no matter what happens. If supply shortages get worse, we’ll know how to grow food to keep our stomachs full. If not, we’ll be able to provide organic, fresh food right out our back door. Both of those are plusses if you ask me.
Bee Creative – Get Yourself a Beehive!
Homesteading without chickens doesn’t mean you can’t have anything! Look closely in your HOA’s bylaws. Ours allows for one nuclear hive, and our city allows for up to two. Bees are not only a really neat hobby and investment, they are extremely helpful for your garden, as well as your whole neighborhood! And while I was worried abut our neighbors being bothered by them, I can tell you they don’t even know they’re there. You can stand three feet from the hive and you’d never even know it, because bees fly almost straight up as soon as they leave their hive.
Bees fly up to two miles from their hive throughout the day, so if someone is talking about how great their garden did this year, you can tell them to thank you and your bees! Also, honey is one food that will never, ever expire. They found honey in the Egyptian pyramids that was still edible and tasty! Additionally it is loaded with good calories and has tons of health benefits for your body, especially your immune system!
Last but not least, bees can be a great way to bring some income back to your homestead. While you don’t get any honey the first year, you can sell the honey you harvest in years to come to neighbors, friends, and even your local farmer’s market. And even if you just cover your expenses on the rest of the homestead, wouldn’t that be an amazing feeling? You’d basically be homesteading for free!
Think Outside the Box – What Livestock CAN You Get?
While chickens might not be allowed where you live, odds are there are several other options you haven’t thought of yet. There are several other types of small livestock that are much quieter and have a smaller footprint than chickens. You can keep these animals and either tell people they’re your pets if they start getting nosy, or win them over with a share of the harvest!
Obviously my first suggestion is rabbits, because we have them! They are incredibly quiet, can pass for family pets if need be, and are incredibly great animals to have on the homestead. I go into more detail on the benefits of raising rabbits in my post, Our Top Reasons for Raising Meat Rabbits, but in short they are super high in protein, have a quick turnaround time from breeding to harvesting, and are great for the family if you have little ones!
They are also doubly beneficial to your garden because their waste is one of the best fertilizers you can ask for! So while you might not have fresh eggs every morning, you could have amazing homegrown meat and a flourishing garden, all because of a few bunnies.
Income ideas here are: selling baby bunnies, rabbit meat, or rabbit poop fertilizer. I know of people who do all of these things and bring in some good income to support the upkeep of their colony.
Here’s one not a lot of people talk about. And to be honest I had them off my radar for a long time. Their tiny little eggs just didn’t seem worth it to me. BUT… as happens when you start down the homestead train, any opportunity to expand and grow your self-sufficiency starts to look great if you wait long enough.
Quail are a GREAT option if you want some eggs and can’t have chickens. Granted, they’re tinier than normal eggs, but they’re still a great supplement to your breakfasts; or your hamburger sliders. Quail are super quiet birds and would barely be noticed by neighbors. Unlike chickens, they don’t squawk when laying, so there’s no need to worry about noise.
Also, quail provide a great source of meat if you want another meat option on your plate! You can raise them for eggs, and then rest assured knowing that nothing will go to waste even after they stop laying, since you can harvest them for meat down the road. Income-wise you could sell quail eggs and/ or meat both at a good price, since they are a bit more niche, and considered “luxury” items.
What Route Will You Take?
While it can be a huge bummer to find out you can have backyard chickens, it’s not the end of the world. And it doesn’t mean you can’t homestead. I hope these three ideas gave you something to think about and some motivation to get creative where you are! Let me know in the comments what you plan to do first, or if you have other ideas for expanding your homestead without chickens.
As always, tag me in any photos or updates on Instagram @sweetgumspot so I can cheer you on! Happy homesteading!