Farming a City Lot

A city lot can give you varying degrees of options, depending on the local ordinances, and the size town you are in. In a small town, it can also depend on your neighbors.

We are currently on a city lot, and have chosen our livestock and garden options accordingly. We also have weather challenges to contend with, which limit our options further. Our town has exceptions granted on local livestock ordinances, for people in 4-H, or for certain other reasons. We qualify on several counts, but have still chosen stock that will be the least annoying, and that will fit our very limited space.

Whatever you choose to do, it is necessary that you consider the best ways to recycle and use all possible products and by-products from your efforts. Animal waste is not just a small concern, it is a big one. You have options for animals that you might not be able to raise in smaller situations, but you have a greater need to manage the waste than you would in larger situations. Composting, or vermiculture, can help considerably in these conditions.

Gardening can be done in a very compact manner, through square foot gardening, or by creative use of containers and small greenhouses. It is a natural complement to raising animals, as well as being a valuable source of seasonal food in some locations, year-round in others.

Animals like space. But they can often be successfully raised in much smaller spaces, if attention is given to feed and cleaning.

Best options for city lots, depending on what your area allows, are:

  1. Muscovy Ducks. Our number one outdoor recommendation. Superior meat duck, quiet, not quite as messy as other ducks, good foragers, eat a lot of bugs and weeds. Clip their flight feathers (this does not hurt them), and they'll stay happily in your yard.
  2. Rabbits. The top indoor meat animal, and a good one for outdoors in milder climates. Can be raised for meat, generally not possible to profit from the sale of rabbits as pets.
  3. Quail. Can be raised in garages or other non-living spaces.
  4. Miniature Goats - Pygmy, Dwarf or Miniature varieties can give good milk, take less space, and be less of a potential nuisance than larger breeds. May be raised for milk, or meat, or for sale as pets.
  5. Chickens. Most people think of these first. We don't, because we don't handle chicken eggs well, and I absolutely hate butchering the smelly things. But chickens are probably the most popular option for both meat and eggs. They can be cage raised (you can give them comfy quarters and plenty of attention), or free ranged.
  6. Other Ducks. Noisier than Muscovies, and require more water (messier), but they make better layers.
  7. Worms. Pretty much essential for assisting with waste processing.

Successful farming on a small lot depends on using all available space. Yard, shed, garage, home, porch, etc. Whatever space you have available can be utilized for production of something beneficial. Creativity is helpful - it can be difficult to figure out where to put the stuff that has to be moved if you want to raise rabbits in your garage!

In general, animals in the back yard will destroy a lawn. Either accept this, or devise a plan to avoid it. The smaller the yard, the more likely it is to be ruined. We do it anyway. Grass can be replanted. Our animals give us more enjoyment, and more benefit, than grass.

You'll need to find a suitable place for butchering if you raise meat animals (it will make a bit of a mess even if you are careful). You'll also have to dispose of the unusable remains.

There are only a few generations between any of us, and when this kind of living was the norm. If you want to be more self-sufficient, and closer to a more natural way of living, start where you are. Find what you can do, and dive in!


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