Can a two hour DVD turn you into a self sufficient farmer, providing all the food for your family on your postage stamp sized yard? Of course not. (If you think this is possible, let me know. I have a unique business opportunity to discuss with you :D ) However, the Food Production Systems For a Backyard or Small Farm DVD Is a wealth of information on how one family managed to do just that (on a bit of acreage) through trial and error over a decade. A full review of the DVD after the jump.
Before I begin describing the structure and content of the DVD, I have one comment. The main thing that continues to impress me is that the makers of this DVD use 10+ years of trial and error to determine what actually worked and what didn’t, what is practical and what isn’t in *their* area. They are quick to point out the mistakes that they have made along the way and point them out and usually provide a bit of background to help the viewer understand why what they implemented did or did not work.
The host, Marjory Wildcraft is also not shy about referring the viewer to the books that they consulted when learning and direct you to them for more in depth information. This is in contrast to many other “experts” I have seen over the years who keep their information close to the vest. Marjory appears to genuinely want to provide information to help others get on the path to self sufficiency by sharing everything they can fit in to the 2 hours of video on the DVD.
DVD Section Summary
The DVD is broken down into a number of chapters that cover the 2 hours of content. I’ll include some brief information on each section.
Section 1: Overview about 4 minutes in length
Just like it says, this a basic introduction, describing the makers, their property and philosophies.
Section 2: Water about 10 minutes in length
An old saying is that without water you are nothing. Water is king, especially here in the high desert of Utah. This section explains the main sources for getting water and which ones are best for food production. Marjory and her family have tried several different ways to collect and store water, some of which worked better for them than others.
Section 3: Garden about 20 minutes in length
This is one of the longer sections of the DVD. While there is plenty of good general gardening information here but I would recommend that for anyone outside of their area of Texas you look into getting information focused on your specific are. Many of the techniques demonstrated can be used in most climates, but the plants and specific processes needed, fertilizers, local pests, etc. will need a local perspective. Your local Universities Extension program likely has an Agricultural department with this information publicly available. Here in Utah, the Utah State University Extension office is a great source.
Section 4: Rabbits about 9 minutes in length
One of the primary meat sources for the family are rabbits. This is a relatively short section explaining why the family chose rabbits, how to house them, what breeds they chose and why and mistakes that you can avoid.
Section 5: Home Butchering about 18 minutes in length
This section is not for the squeamish. It centers around in depth video instructions on killing and butchering a rabbit. Hide tanning is also mentioned, but is not well covered. After this there are still pictures of the process to butcher chickens with a brief mention of other animals like raccoons, deer, elk, etc. that could all be sources of meat.
Section 6: Poultry about 8 minutes in length
This section provides a decent introduction to chickens, their predators, and some problems to look out for. Marjory outlines what breeds they use and why. Some Polyface Farms influence can be seen here as well as they rotate the chickens through different areas to help improve and maintain soil quality and to cut down on weeds and insects.
Section 7: Dogs about 5 minutes in length
The creators of this DVD are clearly sold on the benefits of having dogs in your life, mainly to fend off unwanted animals. They make some pretty convincing arguments. A short section is included on training, but as with most topics covered here, if you want to really get started in using working dogs, further research will be required, but this touches on some of the basics so you know what you are working towards.
Section 8: Perennials: Orchards, Food Forests, and Edible Landscaping about 18 minutes in length
This section has some really useful information, but again your best bet is to consult with your local University’s extension program to apply what you see in the DVD to your area. The types of edible foods that you can grow in your climate can vary greatly from those presented in this DVD or in books on the subject so do your homework on what works where you live.
Section 9: Other Essentials about 11 minutes in length
The second to last section contains information that the DVD creators think is important but doesn’t fit well in a previous section. There is plenty of good information here and is too varied to give a brief accounting of.
Section 10: Thanks about 4 minutes in length
As you might expect, this is the section where the creators thank those who helped in producing the DVD.
Throughout the DVD Marjory references different books and documents for those seeking more detailed information on a particular subject. Included with the DVD is a CD-ROM loaded with many of the referenced documents in PDF format. My copy had 65 PDF documents included ranging in subject from Solar Food Dehydration to Insecticides to Hide Tanning. While I haven’t spent a tremendous amount of time reviewing the documents, they seem to have been compiled with care to supplement the information provided in the videos for those wanting more information. Often during the course of explaining what the document covers, Marjory will give a location to download the document. This is a good resource in case the information on the CD bonus disc were to become out of date.
This DVD provides a quick introduction into many aspects of self sufficiency. As with any brief introduction, further research will be required. Having this documented example of an integrated home/small farm food production system has the potential to save you time and money by following proven, working examples.
The information in the DVD is optimized for southern climates, particularly the makers specific region of Texas. Viewers from other regions should also find it educational and useful, that being said, this is of course an introduction into many varied concepts that relate to self sufficiency. I don’t think it can be said enough, integrating all these ideas and concepts into your life will take some hard work, research and trial and error. The results should be well worth it however.
The producers of this DVD have kindly provided us a copy of this DVD to giveaway to one of our lucky readers. To enter, post a comment about this article letting us know what you would like to learn from watching the DVD. We will select one winner at random from all the comments on Friday June 17th and send them their own copy of this preparedness DVD.