When I came to this land – out of the city and onto some acreage with my baby girl – I had no idea what I would do with all the space that surrounded me.
I had bought 17 acres with an old farmhouse and two old barns. There were stalls to fill, and in a few years Veronica had grown up enough to want every farm animal she’d ever seen in her nursery books.
As life turned out farming, gardening and raising animals turned into home school curriculum (it seemed the most natural way to educate her). We started with egg-laying chickens, then meat birds, a horse, a pig, a cow, some goats and we just grew from there.
Every time we took a trip to a neighboring farm or to the country auctions we learned something new (or brought home new animals) but mostly just living with the animals from day to day is what educated us. We spent hours in the barn – observing, cleaning, caring for, and feeding our two and four footed friends. We ended up with a goat that thought she was a human, a horse that preferred to sleep by the front door at night instead of in the barnyard or stall, and a goose that thought he was a child first and then later thought he was a chicken.
Raising every single animal held joy and blessings. Even our old nanny goat that we purchased for $40 at the sale barn gave us kids to raise and milk for soap making. The amount of food she ate was minimal when compared to the gifts she bestowed upon us. There are other animals that didn’t have to earn their keep too. We started with one pony for Veronica to ride and over the course of a few years ended up with over 6 horses here – two of which were borderline endangered, the Rocky Mountain breed.
I’m often asked which animal is best to raise given that room and time are ample. This is one of the hardest questions to answer as it is highly personal.
Does your family enjoy fresh milk, home made cheeses, crafting high quality soap? Is your land overgrown with weeds and brambles? Do you yearn for hormone and antibiotic free meat that you can grow yourself with animals that are easy to handle (less difficult than cattle at any rate)? Then your answer is raise goats.
Does your family enjoy fresh eggs or farm raised poultry? Are you short on space and materials? Do you have 20 minutes per day for chores? Then chickens, ducks or geese would be a good fit. (Ducks and geese are happiest if they have a little water to splash around in too.)
If you have acres and good fencing you might try your hand at sheep or cattle. Some friends raise pigs without fencing but it is important to note that the pigs are trained (I call it tethered) to the land before they are allowed to roam free on the property. Don’t bring pigs home without fencing and just let them out of the back of the truck expecting them to stay nearby. It won’t happen.
Over the years we have learned quite a bit about raising our indoor pets – dogs and cats – that we wouldn’t have discovered if we’d stayed in the city. We started paying closer attention to our pets in the country, and learning about their needs. For health, for co-habitation, and for longevity.
As the GoodByeCityLife website started to come together I was approached by a few publishing companies to write a book on farm animals for them. After entertaining the offers I decided to write for Skyhorse Publishing in New York, USA and in 2011 “The Joy of Keeping Farm Animals” was born. If you need a good book that explains the care and blessings of over 5 farm types of farm animal, may I suggest my own to you?
In 2011 Skyhorse published the second of my books titled “The Joy of Keeping Goats“. As I write this it is just two weeks away from being made available to the public so I cannot say how the average reader will appreciate it. No reviews have been done to date. This second book deals mainly with meat goats, dairy goats, miniatures and only lightly touches on the Angora breed of goat.
The sections of Pets and Farm Animals in GoodByeCityLife are laid out below. In each section you will find at least a few articles on our adventures and what we’ve learned with plenty more to come.