In this episode of the Pantry Chat, we’re chatting with Justin Rhodes. We discuss tips for building resiliency no matter where you are in your homesteading journey, and Justin shares all the various projects he has going on in his life.
More About Justin
Justin Rhodes is a permaculturalist, film producer, author, teacher, and creator of Abundance Plus, a homesteading streaming platform where he creates content with other creators in the homesteading niche.
Justin and his family live on 75 acres in North Carolina and love to teach and share their love of the homesteading lifestyle through their YouTube videos.
In This Episode:
We discuss many topics in this episode of the Pantry Chat. Here is a summary of the topics covered:
- Raising pigs for profit.
- How to fill a need and build resiliency in your community.
- How to change the “can’t” mentality.
- Considering different methods when finances are limiting.
- Taking vacations and getting intentional rest.
- Planting tomatoes and vertical trellising. These are the tomato rollerhooks Justin mentions using.
- Focusing on the thing you love and will do well.
- Why investing in soil can make you money.
- Give yourself permission to take shortcuts.
- How Justin has found better health by eating a mostly carnivore diet.
- Consider co-oping with your animals.
- Deep bedding method.
- The Rooted Life by Justin Rhodes
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- 3 Things You Must Do To Increase Self-Sufficiency
- Yearly Planning on the Homestead
- How to Buy a Homestead – What To Know Before You Buy
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- Pantry Chat Q & A – Episode #74
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Josh: Hey, you guys, this is Josh with Homesteading Family and welcome to this week's episode of the PantryChat Food for Thought. We have an exciting guest today. I'm just honored to have Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture here with us today. What's up Justin?
Justin: What's up, man. Thanks for having me.
Josh: Oh man. Absolutely. It's great to have you here, and we're just going to talk a little bit on the main part of the show today. Just a little bit about Justin's story. He's got a new book out that's really good. We want to share with you, and just talk homesteading stuff, but to stay in the flow for those of you that hang out with us regularly, we usually do a little chit chat, Carol and I call it, and talk about what's going on. on the homestead. We're going to answer one of your questions and then we'll get into main topics.
So for you folks that want to just right get to the meat of things, we'll have that timestamped for you below and you can skip ahead if you want, but I think you don't really want to miss this discussion today. So Justin what's going on with you right now? Just can you give us a little glimpse into your daily routine or any of the highlights that are happening on your homestead during this spring season?
Justin: Yeah, for sure, man. You said it, spring. We're in the middle of the ... Or not in the middle, the beginning of the spring explosion, the week of the spring explosion. So we winter our heart, excuse me, I'm going to sneeze here. We winter our lambs and our cows in deep bedding and when they go out, that's chore time because we move the animals every day and it's just like this explosion of different activity.
I won't say it's necessarily harder because if they're in deep bedding, you're covering the manure. There's work there that you don't do in the summer, but it's just getting the hang of things. We had piglets for the very first time. We just planted 100 tomatoes in the greenhouse. So we're moving the animals so we keep chickens and pigs in the greenhouse, they move out and we're finding place for them. But then we want to plant that as soon as possible. So we're planting that, 100 tomatoes took a bit longer than we imagined and-
Josh: I know you're right.
Justin: We sort of got ... A farm went out of business around here and they raised animals like we do. And we kind of had to just take advantage of that. We just charged in with two heifers, 10 pigs that we're going to grow for market and a guard dog. So all this is just exploding once, and I'm training a heifer cow to milk. We decided that we're not going to eat her, we're going to sell her as a family cow. So let's train this heifer to milk and making a video about that. So you have this one thing ... I list all these things, but then you add creating content around that and it's this whole other element. So it's just exploded.
Josh: Oh man and you guys, I think you and Rebecca are kind of like Carolyn and I, you just have a hard time passing up an opportunity even if maybe you shouldn't take it. I saw that video, you guys out there on that farm picking different stuff up and I was like what is he going to do with 10, 15 pigs?
Justin: I'm still trying to figure that one out.
Josh: I know you commented on your list there. We're working out what we're going to do here, but you know what, sometimes you got to do that. Sometimes there's opportunity in front of you and you jump on it and you take it.
Justin: Well, my mentor Cliff Davis said, there's no market like pigs. There's no investment like pigs. I guess they're the original stock market. You know what I'm saying? So you can really double your money in a season with pigs and there's opportunity there. We're feeding them organic. You can't find organic pork around here. You can find forested ... They call it heritage little green washing language there but it's not as super clean as maybe you would imagine with their labeling, but we're putting in getting them organic. They're in the forest, they're moving every week. I think really Josh as a content creator, so far I'm been homesteading and that's what we do.
But is there an element of now let's show what somebody could do take one acre, put 10 pigs on it. 12 paddocks moving them around every week. So the first paddock ... Every paddock gets 80 days rest before they come back, takes off that parasite pressure. They don't tear up the land too much in that time. That's attainable for anybody, one acre 10 pigs but I want to ideally, I mean, I could leverage my audience and sell those pigs, no problem, but I think it would be fun to sell those pigs as if I was a normal person.
Like anybody else, just the contacts in my phone. So I have some ideas about how to do that and creating content around that to enable others to just go get 10 feeder pigs, raise them for four months, check on them every day. Pigs are so easy, you check on them every day. You fill up their water, fill their feeder twice a week, move them once a week, that's it. That's like the perfect person entry level if you're like working 9:00 to 5:00.
Josh: That's great.
Justin: Maybe outside of meat chickens, we'll get to that I'm sure. But pigs are even less work than meat chickens, but they maybe take a little bit longer.
Josh: No, it's very doable, very accessible. I don't know, you're right I know in our area as well, there's a high demand for pork and the cost is going up, feeder pigs are expensive.
Justin: That's the thing.
Josh: I don't even know what it is this year. We bought some breeding pigs last year. So we're going to different vein now, but it's been 150 bucks, 200 bucks for a feeder pig.
Justin: This is what I want people to think of creatively too, is if they had 10 pigs, could they sell some as cuts perhaps, sell some as half that's probably what we'll do. Could they butcher two on farm, even hiring somebody that knows what they're doing to come and sell a workshop to 10 people surrounding that. People do that across the country, whether they have influence or not, they're going to the co-ops, they're posting signs for this kinds of thing. So there are other ways to do it. There are other ways to ... Well, if people picked up their pig, so what if you held back one of those pigs and cooked the entire pig and had a farm to table dinner.
There was a farm to table dinner this weekend. You talk about us trying to do too much. We were trying to go to this farm table dinner this weekend in Raleigh, which is going to be like four hours away from us and one day to go there and back. That dinner was going to be 150 bucks and they had 35 people signed up for that and they don't have this huge gigantic audience to leverage. They just made it happen. So there are other ways to monetize. One interesting thing I would want to look at one day is raising pigs for pork sticks. Like what ram sticks is doing. So adding value to that.
Josh: A value product.
Justin: And then making it shippable. So a pork stick, especially with somebody with any kind of audience, 3000 people on Instagram or whatever. Any kind of audience could then ship pork sticks and it opens it up because yeah, prices are going up. And so that's going to narrow down who's willing to pay for this premium product. But if you start thinking about value ads and shipping possibilities, your market becomes bigger.
Josh: Well, and I think there's a local element that's really exciting about that too. And what you're talking about and encouraging people to get involved on a level past raising their own food, and there's an entry level with a small piece of land where somebody can get involved adding value, not just to their own, what they're doing on their homestead, but adding value to the community.
Filling a gap and right now I'm sure in your area, in our area people have gone all in on meat animals, either raising them or trying to buy them from somebody local or butchers are all overwhelmed. And so there's a lot of little gaps to fill the resiliency within our communities, doing exactly what you're talking about. Even down to the meat sticks and that value adding, we've got a ton of shops around us that would take those products from a local person besides the internet influence, and getting them out there further. There's a lot of local people that if you've got that packaged well, a lot of local stores and shops that you could get a product into that. The more people we get doing that, we're building little micro economies and resiliency, not just on our own farms, but within our communities. And that's just a really exciting thought to me.
Justin: Think about this. It's not that much harder to raise ... Well, if on a homestead, you're going to raise two pigs ... Let that mower pass or is it too problematic?
Josh: No, that's good. It's real life. So that's fine.
Justin: So if you're on a homestead and you're raising two pigs, because you certainly don't want to raise one, definitely raise two at least.
Josh: At least two.
Justin: It's not that much harder to jump to 10 pigs. It's not five times more difficult. It's not even twice as difficult, maybe 10% more difficult just because you're going to have to buy a different feeder and water. That's about it. You can still move things without a tractor. Now maybe with 10 pigs, you're hauling a lot of food up there. You're hauling-
Josh: Food and water to bring it on.
Justin: You're hauling ... What? You're hauling-
Josh: And water.
Justin: Buckets. Maybe from two pigs to 10 pigs, if they're far out on your property, it would be nice to have a side by side. With two pigs at max, you're carrying two buckets and you could have one bucket in each hand and take them out there. But if the pigs are close or you can drop the feed off by the pigs. Here's what I want to say, Josh, is that if people are saying, "The price is high for pork on every sell." Don't say that because people get caught up in this can mentality all the time. And this is a good example of saying you might not have money. You not have money to buy feeder pigs. Say to yourself how can I. Instead of saying I can't, say how can I. At least, just do the exercise and challenge your brain and come up with six different answers.
Literally trying to put the ... I try not to ask my kids to do anything they can't do. I was getting her to put this milk bin with all the milk supplies in it into to Willie, the Kubota side by side. I can't do it. And I said, "Well, we roses we don't say can't. I want you to figure out a way." She girded up her loins and just [inaudible 00:11:17] and got it in there. But even if she couldn't, I was already knowing there were other ways. She could ask somebody to help. She could empty out the contents of the bin and then put the bin in and then put the contents in.
She could have went and got a stool. She could have paid, get in to do it. The list could go on. So with pigs, you don't have money for feeder pigs, this is what we did in the beginning. We didn't have enough money to farm. So we like I said, it doesn't take much more to raise 10 than two. So if you need two, raise four and go ahead, and what we would do early on in these days, we did it with grass fed beef is we would go ahead and sell shares. Hey, you want a quarter of a beef pay half now? You'll pay half at the end, right before we butcher too. So half now we can get some supplies, we can get a water trough. We can pay ourselves a little bit for this trouble. We pay for what it costs us to buy our own cows to run with them and then get the other half at the end right before you go to butcher. So you have your processing costs. If I would've said I don't have the money to raise my own beef and felt sorry for myself, you already failed.
Josh: So you know, a lot of what you're bringing out is mindset. And this is something we try to talk about a lot because a lot of ... We can talk about how to specifics for pigs and cows chickens all day long. But a lot of it is how we think and how we process and that abundant mindset of ... AND Carol and I approach life in not like can we do this? I mean, that's a step above can't, but it's how do we do this?
Josh: It's not even can we do it most of the time, it's like how do we get this done? Just like you're teaching Lily, like it's not a matter of you can do this, but you're teaching her also not just that she can do it, but to think it through and think about how can I do that? And that so much happens out of that process when we approach things that way and begin to make something doable. Like, well, I can't do pigs. Well, yeah, you can and actually you can do, it's not about whether it's four or 10, but think about what you can do. How do you pay for it by raising 2, 3, 8 extra?
Well, then you can sell those pay for all your feed. And maybe you're not trying to run a farm a business, but you're then paying for your own food. And a little extra for very little extra effort, like you were pointing out. And that mindset is just ... I don't know, that's exciting to me, but it's so important for people to get the hang out of it.
Justin: It takes the brain over and I didn't want Lily to gird up her loin, that was one option. I didn't want her to grunt it through. I wanted to shift her thinking from this failure, from the scarcity mindset to this how can I do it? I mean, truth be told is just of bad mood and in a bad attitude, whatever. But still trying to work that through and get that in their habit, because then when they're as older and they're in a fine mood and they want to do something, but feel like they can't because that's a real thing. Figure out how. And listen, I'm not putting Shaquille O'Neal on a race horse. Shaquille O'Neal with all the positive thinking in the world. I don't know he's over 300 pounds. He's huge, he's not going to win the Kentucky Derby.
Josh: Well, that's a bit of [crosstalk 00:14:52] there.
Justin: No, he's not going to ride the horse, but if he wanted to win the Kentucky Derby, he would buy the team.
Justin: And have the horse. So Shaquille O'Neal can win the Kentucky Derby. I'm just trying to train this roundabout way of thinkings, even for my own self. I act like I'm some champion with this right now and it's all textbook and good as you sitting here and talk, but it's good to reiterate that and teaching my children so that I remember it. I'm thinking of it because I had a defeating morning. I barely got any content for our show today. I'm on a daily post for our blog.
Things didn't go well to get to my project. I had this project in mind for a film. I must have gotten six shots for it by now. Usually I'm done by now. I'm going to have to find time this afternoon. And I'm here as I'm talking about this saying instead of just saying I'll just put that off. I won't put one up tomorrow. Well, one that would be the first time ever in like six years. So instead of saying that saying, how can I? Sometimes that means you just need to sit down and think, and sometimes it doesn't feel like you're doing anything in that, but you do need to sit down and just the plan wasn't working, rework that plan and know that you are doing something.
Josh: It's actually some of the most important work just sitting down and thinking and you talked about just kind of your own experience and you've got bad days too. You're having a rough one this morning. Even remember to think the way we talk about we're sitting up here, speaking to you guys out in the audience. And a lot of times it looks like we've got it all together. But the reality is we're struggling just the same. Sometimes we're having these moments where we're looking at the homestead, trying to solve something and you feel kind of like an idiot, because all of a sudden you see something and you go, "Well, why didn't I think of that?"
I'm not even using my own thinking in this area. I'm sure Justin, you experienced that. And we hit that throughout times, and we've all got to come back to that. Sit down, think, pause, observe like in the permaculture mindset. Observe, take action and observe and get into that cycle. And it's easy even for us sometimes to just go, how did I miss that but you did.
Justin: Sometimes you just need to sleep or step away. If I'm having my problems that I had out in the woods, the one acre pick farm, just coming down here for a while, doing a little physical training, having lunch, getting on this show. It's going to ... I don't know, getting out of the place, contribute that mind and get you thinking in a different way.
Josh: People ask us this, do you guys take vacations for that reason, for exactly what you're talking about right there. Just like totally to get your head cleared a little bit. Because if you're like me, my mind doesn't stop if I'm here. There's just so much. The enjoyable side, the stuff that I'm excited to do, I'm looking forward to getting into. And then there's just all the challenges. I like to say challenges if I can instead of problems, but you know, all the things that I got to solve and figure out and the mind doesn't shut down.
I know for us sometimes it's helpful. Like you're saying to even take a step back a little bit further to kind of clear things out, and let the brain slow down and let new ideas kind of come in, in a different environment. Do you guys do that?
Justin: Yeah. You make a good point. I mean, we'll ... Well first we try to create a life that we don't need a vacation from. We've worked hard to build a life that is also enjoyable. So for us, that means we are extremely hard working, and as an entrepreneur, you have to be disciplined. So then we work just as hard at resting as we do at working. So that means we've been a little naughty lately, because it's not been 9:00 AM with the time change. It's a little more difficult.
Josh: Well you're in spring.
Justin: We are in bed at nine o'clock. That means after the five o'clock dinner, Rebecca does her self care for an hour and I'm watching all the kids. And then we flip and I do the self care, and the kids are in the bed. They're in that and listening to audio books. And then we're giving ourselves eight, nine hours of sleep. But how's that of hard work. It sounds nice. It's hard work because you want to keep working, you want to watch a program.
Josh: It's not easy to stop.
Justin: On something. You want to just-
Justin: Keep checking the emails. You have to be disciplined. That's the hard work and say, I'm going to take care of myself and then you sleep and you come in charged it. If you walk around the farm, the problem is we'll go on walks often and real quick after dinner or something and you can't help, but see and say, we need to do this or that over there. Look, this sheep is going to get out.
I mean, I called it yesterday. We went on a nice leisure walk and I said, "Winnie is not tied up." The new guard dog and she's got that calf pen. I guarantee you she's going to chase that calf through the fence, but we just wanted her out so we're fortunate, we walked off the property. That helps, a neighbor lets us walk on their beautiful property. We could also walk down our road. We're fortunate to live on a dead end road.
Justin: So that does help. But then by the time we came back from that walk, the dog had chased the calf out and they'd knocked down the fence. And so the bull and everybody else was out and it was about ...
Josh: You want a drill.
Justin: I knew that was maybe probably going to happen and it did. But we got our rest. It wasn't the end of the world. Sure, they tore up some elderberry bushes, but gosh, how many elderberry bushes do we need? We haven't even harvested from them for the last two years. Let's just be real with ourselves. We can't cry over the crushed elderberry bushes because in reality we're not even harvesting. We haven't even gotten around harvesting them.
Josh: You got to never need them.
Justin: We did take a vacation a couple of years ago, we got to the spot with our business where we could actually afford a vacation, and we would go to Florida and that does help. Hiring a good farm sitter, because you can back charged. You come back, ready to go and have this energy. So long term, give yourself rests every night, many vacations and that vacations and then hire a killer farm sitter, put it in the budget. Don't say I can't afford a farm sitter. Put it in the budget. Find a way and get out of there. We're even thinking about now because what's progress. What's success? Grind it. Maybe this, maybe that is it somebody wanting to killing it for 16, 17 hours a week or 17 hours a day, or is success getting your farm so streamlined and so smooth and getting a good relationship with a farm sitter that even one day you could take your kids and go on a hike on a Friday there in the middle of the day, every two weeks. So you could do a little one day staycation.
Josh: I think that's important. I think that's really important to have things throughout the season and you just talked about a whole lot of options and I think all of them are good. It's going to look a little different for each of us, but making sure you're getting that break. Both the mental break and just different activities that are relaxing and fun. And they're bonding for the family together, outside the work and even the beauty of the farm, and all the things that we enjoy about it.
Getting those hikes, getting those ... We go down to the river in the summer every afternoon when it gets hot, just we have that right here. And when we take an hour and go play together in the river and then come back and do chores and finish up, do our evening routine. There's different things throughout the season and that's really important to this whole picture that we're doing that as a family and getting some of those rewards.
Well, hey, let's switch gears for a second. Because I wanted to talk about your thing I'm a jigger. And I was just catching up with what you guys were doing last night and saw one, you just put tomatoes in the ground and I got to tell you that just hurts. Because I'm in north Idaho and we were 20 degrees when we woke up this morning, we'll be 16 and so you're eight weeks ahead of us.
Justin: For sure. It was 70 degrees that day.
Josh: No, you guys will just look warm and comfortable and we're at that point in the season, we're like you can't wait man. Give me some sunshine and some warm weather. But seeing inside your greenhouse there and what you were doing, because I grow tomatoes similarly in our DIY hoop house. And usually I string them with Jude, but it's actually a lot of work to tie that Jude up every year and each one, one foot and we got two sides, 60 something foot long. So it's 120 feet and you had a deal that I know I'm interested in. And I think our audience will be interested in, and that just looks slick, hangs right up, real easy for stringing these tomatoes up. And I've never seen anything like that before.
Justin: Let me ... I will text Rebecca. I'm actually texting her right now to give me that link. Those came from Growers Solution and those ding thingamajiggers, you hang them up and it's twining on a reel, and they're super easy to hang up too, by the way. You hang them up, you pinch this wire and then you can unroll this spool and you unroll the spool all the way down to the ground. And it's just a twine that then you can get ... You get little, you didn't see it in that video because we haven't done it yet because tomatoes are little, but they get these little plastic clamps where you can attach your tomato to the string.
Justin: You just keep attaching these plastic. Maybe she can send me a picture or something or-
Josh: You don't-
Justin: In the show notes.
Josh: You don't wind the tomato, you just clamp it on the string as it grows?
Justin: Right. You don't wind the tomato and then so the tomato goes ... Potentially like she's like, I want them to go all the way to the roof this year and they could, so then they've grown, you've gone through your seasons. You've gotten these tomatoes and you're done. So then we pull the tomatoes down. Now what we do is then you can cut that line because after the tomatoes, what happens on our farm if you've been watching our show long enough, we bring it ... It's wood chipped in there. And so we can bring in the chickens and the pigs for the winter.
They get all the weeds that had accumulated or whatever and those lines had been cut. So they're out of our way. The next season you go in there, you get your tall ladder and get up on there and you just squeeze that bar. You can pull more line out and we're talking about going on vacation. That's the thing, Josh. I'm like, you get your animals that you want. And it's all a big mess. When we came back from the Great American Farm Tour, we just got all the animals and figured out a way. And you think I was having a bad day today? No, no. It compares nothing to just exploding a homestead when you first get started, but every year you do something. Not even it'll [crosstalk 00:26:45].
Justin: Every day we're doing something, improve something. I'm like improve 1% every day. Or if that's too much for you, improve 1% a week. If you did it every day, it's a compounding rule. You've doubled. Not in 100 days. You've doubled it yourself in 72 days. So you go out there and last year we hung the wire that holds those thingamajiggers. We put in the thing image, because we didn't know about them before you were just learning about them. You'll probably put them in this year, but guess what? Josh, next year you won't have to put in the thingamajiggers. You would've already done it.
So then you're like, "Oh I've got all my animals that I want here." Don't be going crazy. Don't be keeping going crazy. Be happy with sheep and cows and pigs and chickens. Don't be going nuts. Buy your honey from the local guy. Don't become a cheese specialist, but let the craftsman do their work. I mean I don't got anything against honey or cheese. I'm just throwing those out as an example. Pick these things that you love, streamline it, make it better. Be willing do trading with the community. If it's food trade or if it's dollar bills, there's nothing wrong with support in the community and get some steps going, and getting those thingamajiggers because I don't have to do it next year.
It took us two days to plant tomatoes. Now we're not working that whole time. We have jobs too. I mean we create content. So we go to work, we only have so much time to do a job and other things are going on the farm, and we hung those thingamajiggers. Well, instead of it taking two days or instead of last year, it would've took three or four days. Well this year only it took two.
Josh: Well and that's key to success. Two things I want to draw out here too, that you're talking about. That's really key to people being successful, and that is doing what you can do well. One what the land you have to work with can do, and what you're going to enjoy. So if you enjoy dairy, great, go do dairy. But you don't have to try to do everything I think is your point. Do the things that you're going to do well and that you're going to enjoy and leave room. We need other people doing other things that they do well. That's part of what's going to build resiliency in our communities.
I don't like the term self-sufficiency a whole lot to go too far with that because yeah, there's a level of self-sufficiency but we want resiliency on our homestead and in the communities and that's finding that sweet spot. You find that sweet spot in what you do. And yeah, we're going to do a whole lot of things. We want diversity. We want diversity of enterprises and actions on a homestead, but we also want to be fostering other people in the community. And so if somebody's great at honey, they've got a good environment for honey. If that's their passion to do that, let them do that and then buy the honey from them. And then we have this trade and this interaction that's going on in the community that's building resilience. And when everybody's not working themselves to death thinking like I got to provide everything for myself on my piece of land.
Justin: I say that in the book, like I encourage people to grow right outside your door. So first of all, you don't get intimidated. That's a permaculture principle. Where do you start? Well, start right outside your door. If you don't have anywhere to start outside your door, will then get a five inch terracotta pot and put it in your window seal. Please tell me you have a window and get started there.
But I take it a little further and say, grow up what's outside the door of your heart. So grow what you like, grow what you like to eat, grow what you like to manage. Rebecca and I are balancing it on the homestead. I love to eat meat. I'm basically a carnivore plus a little bit of fruit and she's all about the veggies. So I'm head of the animal production and she's head of the veggies, and we've even found a way to marriage it so that my animals are in the greenhouse in the winter. And I'm getting my eggs and chicken meat and pork and they're manuring and scratching the deep bedding that then becomes the soil underneath there for her tomatoes. So we move the animals out, plant the tomatoes and then it's one thing. Then I'm excited because it's an animal system and she's excited because it's a vegetable system.
Justin: That way I link the trellis crop support is what it's called. That's what the thingamajigger is called and then
Josh: Yeah, we'll get-
Justin: It's called a roller hook.
Josh: Roller hook-
Justin: And then the clips. So I link those in the chat.
Josh: We'll get those into the feed you guys down below for the links on those. Let's revisit that for a minute because you talked about something really important besides my own interest in it, what you were talking about, about that 1% and those little bit of improvements. And a lot of times folks trying to do the homesteading thing. We want to be DIY, we want to be cheap is the word a lot I hear a lot.
I don't like cheap. Cheap's not the right answer. We all want to maximize value. We want to be good stewards, but this hits right on something besides liking this tool, that's kind of nifty and makes things easier about spending a little bit more money for a system that yeah, okay. This year I got to put it up, but then next year, like you were saying, it's that much easier. It works great and it's then freeing me up to go on to the next thing to do something else well, and kind of achieve that 1% that I know you've been focusing on with yourself and in your homestead and in your business.
I'm going to spend a little money, more money this year for that particular thing. But what it's going to do to optimize my time or one of the kids' times working on that and move us ahead and make better use of our time. I think that's a really important mindset for people to think those things through, and be willing to upgrade a system in the right place. Even though it has a greater expense to it, but there's a savings and a value that's added by just a little tool like that, thingamajigger, I don't even know what it's called. That's what you called it on the video. But those little steps add up and just like what you're talking about in that 1% day after day, when we're willing to do those things.
Justin: I almost wonder if sometime ... And this is the first time I've ever had this thought, but I sometimes wonder if this macho, like I got to do everything if maybe somehow that's ... If maybe hidden behind that is really an excuse to not do things, because there's no way you can do it all. There is this heavy, like even this homestead shaming. You're feeling this pressure to do everything yourself and I can give you an example of our raised beds. If you buy cedar and you build these four foot by eight foot raised beds and I encourage people to buy the cedar, because that lasts.
It doesn't have the toxins of the pressure treated, and then find some logs and put in the bottom of it. That's the one thing hard to buy. But then I tell people, then buy the fill, buy the top soil, the field ... I'm going to say field dirt, but that's not right. The garden soil.
Josh: Garden soil.
Justin: People getting this well I got to make the compost. Well, I got news for you. I went on the Great American Farm Tour and the greatest, the GOAT of gardening, Elliot Coleman buys his composts in an entirely different state. Vermont Composting, shipping to Elliot Coleman, the greatest farmer gardener of all time in Maine. So I think we could take a lesson from Elliot and say, it's okay to not do everything to support the community and people will ... That's why I think maybe it's an excuse because people, will ... You getting back into that can because you can't actually do everything and you might say, well, the prices have gone up so much for the garden soil or for the lumber.
Josh: Well guess what? The food's going up too.
Justin: The prices I've gone up too and if you think about it, I did a study on it. I don't know if I'll be able to pull it up right now quickly in the chat. But basically, I put it in the book The Rooted Life. If you spent $1000, people were getting these tax stimulus at the time in 2020. Everybody was getting 1000 bucks. Well, what if you spent $1000 on garden, even the ... I mean you didn't do like the bulletproof garden that basically cost nothing where you just plant it in the ground and just did some grass clips and you mulch blah, blah. You did the my expensive raised beds. You spent 1000 bucks, you bought your own soil.
Well you should see our raised beds right now. We can plant 36, 44 lettuces per square foot. So it's something like almost 100 lettuces and just half of it, and the other half have a dozen broccoli. You can grow and then you can stack it if you plant it right and plant lots of crops in it throughout the season. And suddenly you've grown $3,000 worth of food in the first season. So you've tripled your money. You've 300% X the stock market, the best it's done over the last 100 years if you invested in the index across the board 8% a year.
Josh: I tell people you cannot go over wrong putting financial inputs into your soil to grow a good garden. People complain about this, they see it as dirt. Well, one dirt's dead. It's not dirt. It's soil.
Justin: That sends me too. You get upset inside.
Josh: Practically it drives me nuts when people call it dirt. I mean, there's a proper term for dirt. There's a place to talk about dirt. But what we're talking about here is not dirt. We are talking about soil and soil's a lot.
Justin: Get into pet peeves now with Josh.
Josh: That's right but people don't ... They get afraid to spend money on soil, on improving the garden. And one of the best experiences I had is about 10 years ago now. And it was one of our first, really large gardens. I spent like $2,000 between soil, mulch, seeds, everything on the garden. And my neighbors thought I was nuts. I mean, they thought I was just off my rock or bringing in all this quality compost. Because I couldn't make it. I didn't have it. And a little bit of manure from a neighbor. But we were on clay soil. It was soft we were converting it and it was it hands down the best first year garden I've ever had. It was a first year garden on this property and we grew probably $8,000. We did our best to track it and add it up and look what the prices were in the store.
And it was organic and so it was a 4X on what we invested and I've never seen that fail. And so that's one of those places where we don't want be cheap. We want to look at what we're doing and that soil's just a great one. So I get excited about that because I can't impress to people enough how important it is, and to be willing to use your resources in the right place to develop something that's just going to have such a high return. Besides the satisfaction and getting yourself going. And so like your raised beds are a great way on a small holding to produce a lot of food in a small space. If you'll spend the money for the Cedar and you'll spend the money for the soil to kick that off and get it going.
Justin: Because it's this idea of foolproof. I mentioned it in The Rooted Life is like by your starts, like we're experienced too. And we know how to start our own seeds. We did the soil blocking even and did that for a decade. But then at some point we're like, let's buy our starts. And that means for those that don't know, that's a four week old plant that's ready to go. So you didn't have to have a greenhouse. You didn't have ... I'm just telling people, you're just starting out.
Lowe's, Home Depot, the Gardeningstore, they're selling these starts, do that. Don't be a hero and erect the green house and start to see ... Maybe one day be the hero but my goodness buy the starts, buy the compost, build the raised beds and right out the bat, you're going to have this amazing production and wonderful experience. Really you're going to save time and energy and money. And you're not just going to go, whoa, and just sit back and go inside and watch Binge on Seinfeld. You're going to with that extra time, just do more gardening or get some chickens. That's ends up what happening. I mean, the more efficient you get then you end up just increasing your production.
Josh: Well, yeah and you're building success with that thinking, and growing your enterprise whatever it is at whatever level you're doing. And you're building in successes and that's really important. We can't do everything and we can't do it all. So those steps like buying starts or like butchering is another one. We have people ask us all the time, do we butcher all our animals? And there have been seasons where yes, we've butchered them all including an 800 pound steer ourselves without a butchering facility.
I don't recommend that if you don't have to because it's a huge job. Do we do that every year? No, not because we don't like to, I'd actually prefer to, we get a better yield. We like the way we do it. But a lot of times it just doesn't make sense. It's better to hire that out, get that done because there's other jobs that need to be done that are more important and-
Josh: Being willing to hire that out, buy the starts, pay to get the butchering done. There's a lot of examples we could probably come up with. But that thinking's important in the strategy on the homestead to help you be successful.
Justin: Let's go down the butchering road here for a second. That entire cow, you can look at the cow behind me. You can actually use ... If not eat every single thing on him. You could eat to skin. I mean, you could eat to hide if push come to shove, when people are starving, they eat leather.
Josh: You can fry it up. You can also have futuronis on the pigs.
Justin: You can eat the brains. You can eat the intestines. I know Slowdown Farmstead, she takes the stomach and the guts and stuff, and will cut it up and save it for her chickens and pigs. You can use the horns for different things, the hide.
Josh: You can compost even if you can't do anything else.
Justin: Well, but you can use every single thing on that for your direct use. Not even counting compost. Of course, yeah we can compost. But then Brandon Sheard, the Farmstead Meatsmith came out here and he would keep saying, "Pick your battles," because yes, you can clean out the test. You can clean out the stomach and make a beef haggis I guess, you can do that. You're going to be there all day and the next day-
Josh: And the next.
Justin: You got battles because you also have milk cows on the farm. You have sheep, you have chickens to tend to, you have kids. You probably have ... Most people listen to this Josh. Most people, my audience have the 9:00 to 5:00.
Josh: Same here. We've got all of that.
Justin: And really it comes back to the starts. Rebecca and I, who cares if we have the experience we've learned now that wait, we just met somebody that that's their business. They grow starts and sell them and they're local. Hey, let's contract with you because you're even better at it than me to do our starts. Then in the winter, we're focusing on getting the animals out of the greenhouse and the animals moving every day on pastures.
That freezes up to buy 10 pigs to do the one acre pig farm. We've supported those people. And our production has gone on up, not down because we've shelled out, because we've exported goods, return of surplus as permaculture would call it. You want to have a return of surplus and-
Josh: You need to have a return of surplus. That's essential.
Justin: Listen, if we did everything, you mentioned ... You were touching on a little bit earlier. It was about supporting the community. If we learn to do everything because we're scared times are going to get tough and people are going to be hurting. I don't want that's happening to us. We kind of getting to this ... I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this. Having a level of preparation in our mindset and motive, there's nothing wrong with that.
But follow that through, if something really goes down, that's that bad. Oil dries up or whatever and everybody around us is suffering. Are we really saying we're not going to have a heart to help, to share. I think it would've been good like you were saying earlier to have established some sort of community network so that everybody else isn't hurting as bad as maybe they would have had we not supported them in good times.
Josh: That's essential and yeah, Justin it needs to be part of the goal in what we're doing. And that's why I get to harp on self sufficiency a little bit. I mean, it has a place in the term, but I think it's much more about resiliency and resiliency not just for us, but for our communities, because we're not going to be an island alone. That's a bad situation you describe if you've got it all together and somehow you are self sufficient and the world's hurting all around you. That's just not what we want it to look like. And two, the reality is very few of us are going to hold on to all that. We're hopefully going to share with everybody and share the abundance and surplus to what we have.
That much better that we're encouraging each other and building resiliency and thinking out past our own homesteads and making these links and these connections. And I mean, I love that example with the starts. That's a phenomenal example of another thing. When you guys out there are thinking about your homesteads and the actions you're taking, what can you do that lightens your load a little bit? Springtime Justin's in the middle of it right now. Everything's exploding. We all know what that's like. So what can you do to lighten your load a little bit, but it still increases your product and it still helps somebody else in your community or build something that they're doing.
Then there's this interaction of resiliency between homesteads and within community. So that if those times come, and they're gunning on some levels and it's kind of a whole nother discussion. We could go down the rabbit trail and what's happening, but they're going to come. And the more we're building this now, the more we get through these things together, whatever they are or whoever the are.
Justin: You know what my resiliency plan is?
Justin: A bull, a ram, a bore, a rooster
Josh: Reading stock.
Justin: Those that don't know what I'm saying here. Josh is already onto it. These are males and of course I'm going to have the other end, the females basically breeding stock. We were out getting everybody back together. Remember I told you everybody broke out. We were getting everybody back together and I'm like, wait a minute. And I started counting cows. I'm like, holy crap we've got 11 cows. So we got eight acres, that's too much for eight acres. And for us, holy, oh my goodness we've become the crazy cow people.
Josh: So you're talking about a good investment portfolio right there, Justin. You're talking about diversified assets that reproduce themselves and grow.
Justin: That's right, because this was happening. Now Josh, enough with this. Enough with the we're not going to keep heifers. We're castrating the males. Now we have a six month old heifer to sell. We have a heifer we just trained as a family milk cow that has a calf to sell. So this will help other families. We have another heifer that's about breeding age. She's going to be for sale. And so what else? Well, three or four, and I'm no less off. I'm no less rich or wealthy because I've sold them. Why? I got more coming, because I got a bull. And when he expires, he would've already had an offspring bull that would replace him. You see?
Josh: And AI has a lot of challenges. We are always all the time why can't I just AI? Can't I just AI. Yeah sometimes you can, but there is nothing like having that male on your farm, that completes that cycle, that reproduction cycle. That is just such an important resiliency. I love it.
Justin: I'm telling you that male animal, especially in the cow, don't get me started on cows. You talk about grain prices going up and there's food shortages entering our vernacular for the first time. Food shortages, supply chain issues. Another thing entering our vernacular for the first time. That'll happen with sunshine and grass. If it does, we got way bigger problem, we gone. What I'm saying is the cow, the bull and a couple of cows all day long, eat the grass. I can see them as I'm talking to you, chomp chomp. I can hear it. Chomp, chomp resiliency. Resiliency is what they're saying as they chew that grass, because they move on. We let that grass, it just comes right back up. Just like they're offspring.
Josh: Man God's creation is just phenomenal. The abundance that He gives us if we will work with what He made and just that little cycle you're talking about right there, and that regrowth and the sunlight of the conversion of the sunlight and the energy and the carbon and everything that's happening there. There is so much abundance here if we'll get in sync and we'll get to working with it. I wanted to say-
Justin: My first permaculture teacher taught me. The only thing between you and your goals is this little thin skull. Don't let your mind go. And he said, he came to me and I think to make a point, he said, "You can grow Guinea pigs. They're the most efficient, high production, bang for your buck, pound for pound. The best thing." He was expanding my mind.
Josh: Was that Jeff?
Justin: No, that was just the local permaculture teacher, Chuck. Back to the beef thing, they're eating grass, the sunshine is growing. The grass of grass is growing and we can't eat the grass, but we can eat to beef. I've learned as being ... I'm really going to blow people's mind here. I'm not going to tell you to eat a Guinea pig, but I am going to tell you if push come to shove, a man can eat two pounds of beef a day and not just survive, but actually thrive.
Absolutely thrive and that's food on hoof, no storage requirement. Because if you talk about deep resiliency, you're talking about not alternative energy, but not needing the energy in the first place. You're talking about food stored on hoof, cows that giving milk every day and a new calf every year, that's exciting to me. And it's not just if push came to shove and you're eating beef and milk, what I'm saying is you're not just surviving, you're actually going to thrive and I've been proof of that. Eating more carnivore for the last two or three years.
Josh: That's been going good for you. I know a lot of people here may not know your story, but you've had some serious health struggles with Lyme's disease. I know you've been working through figuring a lot of that out over the years. And so going that more carnivore diet you have found has been really, really helpful for you.
Justin: I bring that up, not to say everybody's got to do that, but to say, get out of the shell, let your mind go and expand. Think about Guinea Pigs, actually grasshoppers beat Guinea Pigs for the most high efficient food source pound for pound intake to what they give you. They're not culturally acceptable for us to eat or socially acceptable is what I mean. Rabbits aren't necessarily socially acceptable. It's not really part of our culture here, but they can be more efficient. Ducks and geese. If we would eat more geese, geese can survive more on grass than chickens. I mean, chickens can maybe [crosstalk 00:52:29] max at 20% of their diet from grass where it's more flipped with geese.
Josh: They're like 80.
Justin: I want to say 80 to 100%.
Josh: It's at least 80%
Justin: In a pinch I had a friend free ranges ducks here, even in the winter and they make it. Now, is it high production? Are they going to give you as many eggs or whatever as maybe they would have on grain? No, but they cost you nothing.
Josh: Yep. Hey, I want to touch on something before we get too far away from, and that's that idea of having that male counterpart to whatever breed you're raising on your farm, and you get into big animals like cows, sometimes even sheep and pigs and people are like, "Well, I don't have room for them. I don't have the ability." So there's that limiting mindset that I can't. And I want to encourage you to think past that.
A bull can service like around 25 cows easily in a season, a healthy bull. So co-op, find somebody that's got the land and then co-op the bull and share it and go in on it and use it around a few people, a few smaller holdings, and you can do this with male animals and create a community. If you don't have the land or you don't have the resources to feel like you can maintain that sized animal on your land, there's different ways to get it done.
Justin: There's deep bedding, so people can raise ... I just, for example as a teacher, I raise two pigs under a carport. I petition half of it off with cattle panels and t-posts, and just to have walls and to hold mulch. So I put down eight inches of wood chips in the bottom, put two pigs on it. So they're only in half of it. Half of the carport is 10 by 12. So 120 square foot, only 60 square foot per ... We're talking about a carport. You guys, everybody listening knows how big a carport is.
Two pigs in half of it, wood chips in the other half to keep them dry and putting in wood chips over their manure every day, putting in a pitch fork, a manure in every day. So I don't have room. You got a carport. You can raise two pigs, which is going to be, let's see if you raise pig, I'm going to say 200 ish, 250 pounds of pork. That gets me to 400 pounds of pork freezer.
Josh: In six to eight months in a season, in a regular growing season. I love it.
Justin: If there's been a theme of the show, if what is the one take away, it's just stop saying I can't, don't limit that mind and encourage yourself to get thinking outside of that box.
Josh: I love that, Justin. That's a good summary and that's a good transition because we are getting in on time and I wanted to talk. I wanted to introduce people for a minute here to a couple things you've got going on. You've got a brand new book out. I think this is your first book, isn't it?
Josh: The Rooted Life. Let me get that in the camera. And we'll get a link to you guys to that book here. Tell us a little bit about this book for a minute and just why you wrote it and who it's for.
Justin: We are ferocious readers and love to read. Basically, we've found we are growing our own food and living this lifestyle, this home studying lifestyle. I'm so excited about it, basically, that's what's coming down to that. Then we've built a career about it and we're so excited. There's this ... It completes our joy. You find something that makes you happy and is wonderful on good. The only thing that can make that better is sharing that with somebody else. You know how if you're watching a funny show, it's hard not to laugh and look over at your most loved one in the room. You know what I mean? You want to look and laugh at each other first. Notice that the next time. Go watch your Seinfeld or something and then watch-
Josh: Is that what you watch at 12:00 at night when you cancel?
Justin: Why I've ended up bringing that up because it's been a long time. You could tell I was at my height in the '90s. I should tell them to go watch Nacho Libre, that's a guaranteed laughter. Then watch what happens when you laugh, you look at others. So we've discovered this amazing thing. So we've created it with movies through YouTube, but there's something and when we wanted to go bigger with a course or a product like permaculture chickens is one of our first courses in DVDs. Remember those?
Justin: Those guys don't do DVDs anymore. There's nothing physical about movies anymore. So there's something physical about a book. There's also something very special about being able to hold something, smell it. Have you smelled that book yet Josh? It smells great. I'm sure it's off [crosstalk 00:57:24], it's pretty terrible for you.
Josh: I'm going to check it out. I love it. You're right.
Justin: You can hold it.
Josh: Oh man and this is how I feel about books. I mean you and I, with Carolyn Rebecca, all of us out here are teaching right online and we're making a living and we're engaging with people out there that want to learn online, and that's great, but nothing replaces this and a book is still my go to when I'm looking for an answer, and you can engage with it, you can hold it in a way that's just different than the computer. It's also a layer of resiliency because the internet still all out there, it's a great tool. I absolutely love it as a tool, but we need to remember nothing, get this right, nothing replaces these right here.
Justin: And what that book does, what's special and different about that book. You're holding it up. It's not that thick. The audio book version is four hours long. It's my voice. We had a blast recording that. So in the time we've spent sitting on this podcast, somebody could have read a quarter of that book. They could have heard us say, oh, raise beds he probably talks about that in his book and looked it up, opened it up, ordered the stuff online or went to the Lowe's or whatever and get going on that.
So what's cool about that book though, is it's 60% guide and 40% lifestyle. So you don't even need that whole book to learn, and it's about gardening and chickens and putting it all together with permaculture design. You can go straight to the point I want to do the raised beds. Go right to that. Or you can sit down with your family at the meal and read the beginning of the chapter. Because it's a fun story. It's a fun, you're going to laugh. The little kids will enjoy it kind of thing. So it's entertaining. I imagine it's the book version of my vlogs. We've always wanted to make people learn and laugh in our vlogs.
Josh: Well both really is.
Justin: Text format now.
Josh: It really is. And Justin, one of the things I think you do great is you teach while telling a story. You're a great storyteller and that's one of the things I loved about this book is yeah, there's a lot to learn in here. I picked up some tips and things. I was like, "Oh man, I hadn't thought about it that way." Or you brought me back to something that I had learned in permaculture, but you did hit it in a way that just was one, it made me feel like I was sitting down with you guys and having a laugh and learning a little bit about you. And it was really pleasant.
Justin: Good. Thanks.
Josh: You guys check out The Rooted Life and we're going to wrap up here, but Justin, anything else to just, I want you to take an opportunity to share the book, you've got some other things going on on YouTube and A Plus and let people know how they can engage with you a little bit. And we'll get some links in there as well, aligned with that.
Justin: Justin Rhodes on YouTube and we have our own streaming platform, Abundance Plus, which means you can watch my vlogs that are on YouTube, on the streaming platform add free, censorship free too. So butcherings included and things like that. The stuff we can't put on YouTube, but you can also get television shows. We're producing high end television shows. We're talking with Josh about getting one later in the season with them and their family. And then we have a whole docu series called Rooted that documents our life in a deep cinematic Netflix style type of way. But we also have 400 instructional videos and a community.
That's one thing too Josh is like these big companies and we could do a whole nother podcast are coming down on us, just kind of serving us as parents. We don't need Facebook telling us what we can't, what we should and should not consume. We should be able to decide that for ourselves. But so at first it's like, Facebook will mark canning post as extreme and they'll have these prompts saying, do you know if someone that is too prepared? This is a true story of Facebook prompts and asking this stuff.
We build our own social media platform basically on Abundance Plus. You sign up for Abundance Plus, you get the streaming movies and instructional videos, but you also get a forum that acts a lot like Facebook but without the nonsense. You can sell your livestock, you can talk about canning and then not get labeled as extreme and all that stuff. Now we're about ... Because it's hard for folks to list livestock, you can't do it on Facebook marketplace. I think you can do it through Craigslist. I don't think you can list pets on Craigslist like dogs and stuff. So we're launching our own marketplace too. Josh, we're just seeing-
Josh: Good deal.
Justin: Problems that we're having ourselves, lack of knowledge, lack of community, not being able to sell stuff online and others are experiencing these same problems. And we're saying, let's come up with that solution.
Josh: What's the solution?
Justin: And you're doing that big time with Abundance Plus, and we're about to launch ... Probably by the time this is out, we've launched the marketplace and that can be found at Abundance Plus.
Josh: Good and you can find Abundance Plus I think on kind of your favorite streaming app, I feel like it's-
Justin: It's on your-
Josh: Awesome app. So people know like where to go.
Justin: You sign up for it online, abundanceplus.com and then you can download it on your Android or your iPhone, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Firestick. It's an app on all of those and then you just use your login credentials to log in and you can stream.
Josh: Good deal.
Justin: It's pretty cool.
Josh: That is very cool and it's a great platform. I've been enjoying the discovering home stories.
Josh: And of course, a lot of those are folks up here close to us, really been enjoying that. And so you guys check that out, we'll leave you all the links down below to get right to it. So you don't have to go searching around too much, and check out what Justin's doing. Justin, I think we're going to get together in June. Hopefully we can do this again and maybe sitting actually side by side and maybe have another chat like this.
Justin: I'm going to return to favor. I'm going to get you on my podcast.
Josh: Right on. Sounds good, looking forward to it. Say hello to Rebecca and the family and just you guys keep on there as you're in the thick of spring.
Josh: Great, and everybody, we will see you soon. Hopefully next week. Goodbye.
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