Having a sustainable homestead with animals has always been one of my dreams. But there is nothing stopping us or anyone else with a dream like that from learning and practicing practical, frugal and sustainable homestead living right now where we are. Think of all the skills we’ll have when that dream is fulfilled one day.
It seems to me, though, that a lot of people have such a romanticized vision of what farming or homesteading is that they are actually unprepared or disillusioned when they actually try to do it. It is a long term way of life and the results are not instant. There is a lot to learn and it is a lot of work. And while you skip a day in the garden, there is no slacking, time off, snow days or sick days when it comes to the well being of your animals who depend on you. The blog Walking In High Cotton has a good post about “Is Raising Your Own Meat Really Frugal?”
While it is a good and very needed post, I think I would answer a little differently. Yes, it can be very frugal. It isn’t cheap.
One thing that I have learned from trial and error is that there is a big difference between cheap and frugal. Farming, homesteading, or sustainable living is not cheap at all. But it can be frugal. Living cheap is all about the short term, squeezing the life out of every penny regardless of who or what it might effect. Living frugally is thinking long term, being careful with spending, even if it means spending a bit more to get better, lasting quality. Living cheap expects instant benefits, living frugal plans for the long term rewards. Living cheap is easy, living frugal (farming or not) is work.
It certainly can be frugal raising your own animals for meat if you are willing to put the work into it. If you are looking to do it because you want cheap, it certainly isn’t for you.