SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Though the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for grocery shoppers in the South fell 0.3 percent in December, meat, poultry, fish and eggs continue to be a pinch in the pockets of some shoppers while leaving others out appreciate the money-saving traditions they grew up with.
“People are definitely going back to their roots and definitely growing some vegetables, at least a tomato bush or some peppers or some lettuce or something to save money at the grocery store,” said Jamie Cribbs, owner of Economy Feed and Seed. “Feed stores are for people preparing for things like this that are happening now.”
Columbus Jernigan, a retired union builder, and his wife Shirley, a retired school bus driver, are certainly such people.
Columbus was born and raised in Ellabell.
“I left here, but I prefer the country, country life. Country life is the place for me.”
The goats of the Jernigan family. (Photo by Hollie Lewis)
Shirley said: “We went to Florida when we got married. First we went to Miami, Florida, and then we went to Fort Lauderdale, and we stayed down there for about 8 years, and then we moved back home.”
Today they live on over an acre of land and have 17 goats, chickens, ducks and a garden all for food.
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“Raising chickens and goats, we’ve been doing it all my life, and it’s much easier for you to live. My family used to raise pigs, but I and the pigs don’t get along. I prefer the goats because you don’t have to worry about goats hardly coming out,” Columbus said. “I think it saves a big heap. Meat is very high and eggs have risen so high that they can hardly be bought.”
As for how much money they save at the grocery store, Shirley said, “We save at least about $50 or $60 a trip.”
Currently, Jernigan’s ready-to-harvest garden crop includes vegetables, cabbage and broccoli. Although they go to the grocery store from time to time to buy produce, they have enough meat, eggs, and vegetables on their land to be completely self-sufficient.
Greenery grows in the Jernigan family garden. (Photo by Hollie Lewis)
“It’s very, very important. You can always live by your garden. You plant vegetables, corn, peas, beans, a little bit of everything, and it blesses you,” said Columbus.
For those struggling to get food on the table, Shirley suggests growing and raising yourself.
“It’ll save them a lot of money on gardening and, you know, raising animals. You can also sell them and get money out of them. Some people come by and want to buy a goat or some chickens. They would really make money and save money, so it’s a good idea if they start doing this while they’re young. It will help them learn how to save money.”
For those considering this type of lifestyle and perhaps starting with eggs, Cribbs offers some advice.
“Chickens don’t need much. It also depends on how you hold them. Now if you let them roam free in your yard, run around and eat bugs and plants and things like that all day long, let them forage for themselves, you really don’t have to give them much.
Economy Feed and Seed has chickens and roosters. (Photo by Hollie Lewis)
Cribbs said it’s important to ensure they have access to fresh water, a fortified, nutritious food to ensure all their dietary needs are met, or they can feed them leftover food such as grits, rice, pasta and other specific fruits.
However, chickens should never be fed high-fat or high-salt leftovers, rancid or spoiled feed. Certain foods that hens should not be fed include raw potatoes, avocado, chocolate, onions, garlic, citrus fruits, uncooked rice, or uncooked beans.
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Two to three healthy hens will lay about two dozen eggs a week, which could save over $150.00 a month.
The investment? About $6.75 per chick — and thousands of people have benefited from it every year, according to Cribbs.
Those interested in trying it should first read the Savannah Code of Ordinances for compliance.
Nest, consider buying chickens from a reputable seller.
On January 31st, Economy Feed and Seed will be selling Amberlinks, Cinnamon Queens, Light Brahmas and Americanas.
“These are the chickens we’re going to sell next, and they’ll be about four days old when they come, so we’re going to do chicks this time,” Cribbs said. “I ordered 200 of these. It will probably take less than a week to sell those 200 birds.”
For those considering raising goats for food, Columbus has some advice.
“It’s simple. The greatest thing about goats is to cage them and keep them away from dogs. Dogs, they attack the goats and kill them quickly. If you can keep the dogs away from them, you can do good with them.”
For those worried about bonding to the goats, he said, “It’s hard. Some of them I have to bottle feed and it’s quite difficult to get rid of them, so if someone wants them I’ll trade with them.”