My husband and I began this journey because we like to eat.
But with our love of food came a concern over the use of pesticides, non-sustainable farming, GMOs, and goodness knows what else. In our quest for good food, we realized that if we wanted the best food possible at the best cost, we needed to produce it ourselves.
And it has been a learning curve ever since. I love learning new ways to bring good honest food to our table. I love milking my goat everyday, not because I enjoy the kicking, screaming, bucking, protest that my doe puts up, but because I know the entire back story to that milk in my fridge. And honestly I have never had anything that tasted that good.
Home grown food has incredible taste! A taste that you cannot beat.
Our breakfast includes homemade bread, canned apple sauce that I made myself from the apples that came from our apple tree at our old farm, fresh eggs from the coop, and milk fresh from the goat. There is even a bit of a cream line in our milk!
(Goat’s milk is naturally homogenized, but Nigerian dwarf goats have such a high butterfat content that sometimes a bit of the cream will rise to the top.)
Our garden is filled with rich manure and mulch from their pens. We have even been able to trade manure for wood for our wood stove, or have given it away to our neighbors to buy favor with them. That manure helps grow our food. The extra food scraps go to the goats and chickens who eat it and return it to manure. It is a never ending cycle.
I love this way of life because I love food. And because I want the best food, I treat my animals with respect. I want the very best they can give me, so I do the very best I can for them.
And then you come visit and trash talk everything I’ve done.
I am not a glorified pet owner because my laying hens have names. I am not a glorified pet owner because I am considering keeping our little buckling, solely for the breeding line that he will bring to my herd. I am not a glorified pet owner because my chickens get to free range and dust bathe and sleep in the sunshine.
How dare you tell me that my hens are past their prime when they have only turned a year old. If you think that laying hens are no good after 9 months then you sir are doing it wrong. No wonder you think farming isn’t cost effective. Death will come to my laying hens eventually. But why kill a perfectly good laying hen? Why would I dispatch one of my girls if she is laying daily for me? Where is the sense in that? The eggs are worth far more to me. A laying hen will feed us everyday, whereas a dead hen will only feed us twice. I trade eggs for goods, services, or I sell them to go towards the cost of feed. In a good selling month the hens pay for their feed themselves, other times the feed cost is offset, not with money, but through trades.
The fact that some people can call themselves farmers, when their animals live in horrific conditions makes me sick. We are called in the bible to care for our livestock (Psalms 104:20-21). You are to know well the conditions of your herds (Proverbs 27:23). Only then will you reap the rewards (Proverbs 27:26-27). My heart breaks for animals living in wicked situations. If you want the most from your animals, you have to give them everything they need.
The fact that I didn’t grow up on a farm does not make me ignorant of how to properly care for livestock. I’ve been to many farms in my lifetime. I have made a lot of invaluable connections along the way. There are many many prosperous farmers out there who treat their livestock well. Those are the people I am learning from and watching for example. Those are the farmers I have made connections with, and through them have been exposed to huge networks of like minded farmers. Networking is everything! I have met meat farmers, breeders, chicken farmers, organic farmers, produce farmers, fellow backyard homesteaders and rabbit raisers. The majority of us all want the same thing – real homegrown food that has been treated properly. I have been to the odd farm that I will never visit again. There are some that I do not want to be connected with.
So come out to my farm and walk around! The goats will come running over to get a neck rub, and the chickens will come to see if you have any scraps for them. They are all healthy and curious. They are gentle and handled daily. They provide everything this little family needs, and they are happy while doing it.
So no, I am not a glorified pet owner. I am in this for the food, for the connection to the Lord, and for the pure joy I get out of this lifestyle. I am in this because I like pulling my own carrots from the earth, because I like the fresh eggs in my coop, and because I don’t mind wrangling a goat for milk. I am in this because I like to shake the hand of farmer I buy raw honey off of, I am in this because I drive past the farm that raises hormone and antibiotic free grass feed beef, and I get to see the cows out laying in the sunshine or grazing on the acres upon acres of fresh grass they get to enjoy. That, my so called friend, is what farming really is. And if I want to name my hens along the way then so be it!
*April steps off her soap box now*