Crystal is the mama behind Melton Manor Farm, a 12 acre homestead in South Carolina where she lives with her husband and four daughters. What today is just a family farm they eventually see using as an outreach for youth, cultivating relationships with them, teaching valuable life skills, all within the context of working hard to grow and raise their own food. The following is an excerpt of a previous Instagram takeover.
Hey homesteading mamas, I am Crystal over at @meltonmanorfarm taking over for the next couple days. I am married to a wonderful husband who is a youth pastor and we have four daughters ages 15, 9, 7 and 2. We have 12 acres in rural South Carolina located near the coast. We began our farm 5 years ago with a couple goats and some chickens. We have increased in animals by a whole lot since then. I also homeschool my girls which I believe works out best for our family.
My husband and I are both prior veterans who served for the US Air Force. We bought our property with the intent to begin farming after my husband retired. My husband has big visions and I didn’t quite see his vision in the beginning but, now I do. I find myself outside spending hours on the farm. We eventually want to open our farm as a youth ministry day camp. We would like preteens/teens to come and learn about farm life and how the process works along with teaching them valuable life skills.
Let’s talk about goats. If you own goats, then you know how much work they require. Proper fencing is a must because they will find a way out if you don’t have them secure. We started our homestead with 3 Nubian goats and we have been up to 20 at one time but, we realized that goats are not the farming direction we are looking to go. We are currently transitioning our heard from dairy goats to meat goats. Milking goats is fun but, it also ties you down to the farm. My husband is a youth pastor and that means long days/hours. At one point I was milking 4 goats by hand twice a day! Goats milk is very yummy and has many health benefits. My husband and second daughter are lactose intolerant but, they drink goats milk without any issues. We use the milk for drinking, cheese, yogurt, soap, and ice cream.
We are currently raising our 4th batch of Cornish cross chickens. We raise them for 8 weeks and they are ready for the freezer. We use chicken tractors to keep them separate from our free range egg layers. The chicken tractors also allow them to eat bugs and grass also. We process all the chickens here on the farm ourselves. Depending on how many chickens we have to process it can be a whole day process. We live in the south so we always begin early in the morning to avoid heat and bugs. We have all hands on deck including the younger girls. The two year old will spend the morning either on my back in the carrier or nearby playing.
When you run a farm and have a toddler you must use a carrier. I have 4️ girls and the youngest is two years old. She is a free range child who doesn’t understand that climbing over fences is something she shouldn’t do. My oldest daughter is a teenager who is very helpful but, she is also taking college classes at the local state college right now so that is where her focus is. My other 2️ daughters are 7 and 9 and can be helpful sometimes but, they aren’t reliable. I have figured out over the years that if you allow them to do things they enjoy doing then they won’t mind helping with things they don’t like doing. My 7 year old enjoys all things related to farm life but, sometimes cleaning up after them can be a pain. If I allow her to have a incentive then she will do it without a problem. Her incentive is riding her horse or holding baby chicks! When it comes to homeschooling my girls we do a combined approach of unschooling plus some book work. I use curriculum for math and English but, I like doing hands on learning for science & history. My girls know how to help birth goats and also process chickens. We don’t hold back anything from them when it comes to farm life. They see new life and they have seen death.
Let’s talk about rabbits. We just started our meat rabbit adventure this year. My husband was dead set against raising rabbits until this year. We are currently waiting for our first set of babies. We have 2️ does and a buck. They are American chinchilla rabbits and are sweet as pie. I have learned a couple of things about raising rabbits. They are very inexpensive to raise. They have a lot of poop which is the perfect fertilizer for the garden. We do a combination of hay and putting them in runs to graze. They also get a supplemental pellet which is very cost effective also. One bag of pellets lasts us for months. I am not sure why we didn’t get rabbits sooner.
And I want to put the spotlight on one of our livestock guardian dogs! We have 4️ Great Pyrenees. Three of them are adult females and we just added a new puppy who is a male. We are going to begin a breeding program next year. We have been very selective about which female will be bred based on health and temperament. These dogs keep our livestock safe. We are able to let our chickens, ducks and geese free range because of them. They won’t even let a crow touchdown on our property. We learned pretty early in our journey that in order to free range your animals you need to have protection. These dogs are the bread and butter of this farm. I have really enjoyed this takeover, and I thank everyone for all the comments and feedback! Please follow me for more of our farm adventures.