Youth learn roots of homesteading in 4-H

Mar. 02, 2013 @ 07:50 PM


Homesteading, quite simply, is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. If you don’t grow or raise it, you don’t eat it.

It is a lifestyle where simplicity is the key but along with simplicity comes a lot of hard work, responsibility, flexibility, and creativity along with the ability to adapt your best-laid plans when weather and the markets don’t cooperate. It is a lifestyle that more and more people are adopting, from the young to retirees who want to get “back to basics.”

What does homesteading have to do with 4-H? I have a 4-Her who raises his own sheep, shears them, cleans and cards the wool, spins it into yarn on a spinning wheel and then he and mom crochet clothing items or make felted items for use and sale. And he does public speaking presentations demonstrating this. Quite a few life skills at work here and he began all this at a young age! His involvement in 4-H encouraged and mentored these skills.

Then, I have another 4-Her who sewed cucumber seeds in a gardening summer workshop. Several weeks later, his mom sent me a photo of his cucumbers and stated that he intended to expand his gardening efforts this summer.

Vance County 4-H continues to offer skills workshops for gardening, sewing, cooking, making healthy food choices, how to shop at the farmers market if you don’t grow your own vegetables, how to raise poultry and livestock, and how to share what you have learned about these “homesteading” activities by making presentations to share the information with others. In other words, Vance County 4-Hers have a head start on the booming homesteading trend.

There is an upcoming opportunity to involve youth between the ages of 5 and 18 in learning how to produce their own food. Immediately, Vance County 4-H is looking for participants in the 2013 Four County Pullet Chain. (A pullet is a female chicken that hasn’t started laying yet.) Entry forms and a $15 fee are due on March 15, by 5 p.m., in the 4-H office at 305 Young St., Henderson. For that fee, youth will receive 10, day-old chicks in early May and raise them until the culmination of the pullet project on Nov. 14. Please note that your child does not have to already be a 4-H member and does not have to join a 4-H club to participate.

On Nov. 14, youth will show and sell three of their best pullets at auction. Half of the proceeds go back to the youth and half go into the pullet chain fund for next year’s program. These pullets are sold at a time when they are ready to begin laying; in fact, several pullet chain participants have begun small businesses selling eggs. Other participants actually sell birds, either these birds or by incubating and hatching eggs from these hens.

This year the pullet chain will partner with Little Birdie Hatchery and its Charity Chicks Program, which also partners with Wake Interfaith Food Shuttle. Pullet chain participants have the option of donating three or their remaining birds to the Charity Chicks program where they will be funneled through Interfaith Food Shuttle to inner city youth who will continue to raise them for eggs for their families or to sell as a small business.

The 4-H volunteers and I am so excited about this new partnership and the opportunity for 4-H youth to give to less fortunate youth in this way. What a win-win!

Please share this opportunity with any youth between the ages of 5 and 18 so that this year will be the biggest, best opportunity for “Making the Best Better” through the Four County 4-H Pullet Chain. Contact me, Pam Jones, 4-H agent, at (252) 438-8188 for more information.