If circumstances had been different, I would have kept the dorper sheep just because I liked them too. The lambs were adorable. However, we didn't like the taste of their meat, and the ram was scary - and you can't have lambs without a ram! And so the ram went into a friend's freezer, and we sold the ewes and their lambs. While it's tempting to have animals "just because", I try to have livestock that have a purpose, whether they produce eggs, meat, or milk, or they protect those animals that do (the outside dogs), or they eat mice and rats and gophers (cats). The big exception to that rule is my horses - they don't produce anything, but I love them, our daughter showed in 4-H at the local, district and state level, and I still ride even though she is grown up and married now. My horses keep me sane, so I can say that they produce mental health in humans, right?
We also had a hampshire wether lamb for a year, our daughter's first 4-H project. The next year she switched to boer goats instead, buying a doe kid as her first show goat, and then breeding her to obtain the next year's show goat. In our county, dairy goats aren't a recognized 4-H project at the spring livestock show - although we can show them at the county fair - so even though we had plenty of dairy goats, she also had a few boers. She sold them just before she left for college.
For awhile we also had guineas, funny-looking birds with the big job of eating ticks and fleas. I bought two dozen chicks from a friend, a variety of chocolate, blue, lavender, and pearl colored birds that were very pretty as guineas go. They roamed our entire property as well as the neighbors' and out into the untamed woods behind us. Of course they were picked off by predators one by one as time went on. After two years they were gone, and the following summer we sure noticed the increase in the flea and tick population. If you have a tick problem, guineas are a great solution, although they aren't very smart birds. As the saying goes, "guineas share one brain, and today isn't your birds' day to have it."
We also had some alpacas for a short time. That was a failed fiber project, but you win some and you lose some, right?
One of the things I've learned since living here is that homesteading friends are a blessing. We've bought animals and birds from them, and we've sold animals and birds to them. If you need a barn kitten, someone will have a surplus, and if you have a surplus of kittens you can find someone who needs one or two. We've traded vegetables, milk, handmade soap, and livestock. They always have a word of advice if you have a question, and can help you out in a jam.
Do all your livestock have a purpose? Or do you have some "just because"?
Raising Livestock: Freezer Bound
Raising Livestock: Webbed Feet
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