Raising Livestock: Just Because

In addition to the livestock we have raised for the freezer, and the waterfowl that I had just because I liked them (although they did produce eggs), we've had a few more projects that have come and gone since we moved to Oak Hill.

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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  1. what would you say about having goats to help with some yard work by eating stray bushy weeds and things like that?

  2. We got our chickens for their eggs, and our guineas for their tick-eating prowess. But I kind of consider my chickens "just because" livestock because they are like pets and I love them! The eggs are just an added benefit :)

    That saying about guineas is so funny. Probably because it's true! We've only lost a few to predators in the last two years, I think because our guineas all roost up in the trees right above where our guard dog sleeps. She deters the predators really well.

  3. Most of our animals have a purpose but we do have a couple just because. My daughter has a pet pig and the thing serves no purpose at all except to make her happy. She will never be put into our freezer.

  4. Hi Jennifer! In an earlier post in this series I mentioned that we also have chickens, dairy goats and horses, but I should have restated it in this post too!

  5. April and Tammy, I certainly understand about having some livestock as pets, even though they might have started out with another purpose!

    I think we lost most of our guineas when they were broody and stayed on a nest at night. They were easy pickings.

  6. I have chickens for eggs and entertainment, I hope to add goats for milk and entertainment, and one day I would like to have chickens for meat...but I have to find a way to deal with the killing and processing part. Maybe I should find a farm training program to show me how.

  7. Backyard Chicken Lady: We've been told by numerous people that butchering meat chickens is a lot of work for a little meat. That's why we've waited till now, when there is a poultry processing place "nearby". It's actually a few hours away, but a friend said he'd take ours when he takes his - he raises 100 at a time. When we raised meat birds in Michigan, before moving here, we had a poultry processor just 15 minutes away from our home so it was an easy project. :-)

  8. Well I guess it depends on who you ask - my husband would say he doesn't really understand why we have any of them. Until the year we didn't have a barn cat...ugh! The dogs protect us and the other animals. They also deter bunnies and such from our garden. The goat was originally brought as a companion to the pony when we didn't have a big horse but he is great at weed whacking and mowing places I can't get the riding mower into and eats the weeds in the pasture that the horses leave behind. The horses keep my sanity but if pressed for a purpose there is always compost production! LOL :)

  9. April S, I had to laugh at your comment because my husband wonders the same thing: why do we have these animals? I like the "compost production" reason to have the horse.
    ~ Kathi

  10. All the animals in my barnyard/backyard - one dog, two goats, one pot-bellied pig and fifteen chickens are all pets. They all give me something. Mostly happiness and love. Eggs from the chickens are a bonus, as is the dog sleeping on our bed and keeping my feet warm on a cold night!

  11. Thanks for sharing on the HomeAcre Hop. Please come back and share with us this week: http://everythinghomewithcarol.com/the-self-sufficient-homemaker-hop-10/


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