Finding and deciding on animals…

Lindsay and I spent a fair amount of time deliberating on what animals should populate our farm. Here is a short list of the animals we’ve considered (in order of size)

chickens
guineas
rabbits
ducks (Indian Runner Ducks)
peacocks
sheep (Jacob Sheep)
goats (many varying breeds, for milk and meat)
llamas
alpacas
cattle (Highland Cattle and others for milk/meat)
bison
donkeys (protect sheep)
horses (draft… mostly Belgian)

For now we’ve decided on chickens (starting in spring ’10), Indian Runner ducks (starting in spring ’10), Jacob sheep, and Highland cattle.

To read all about the qualities of the Jacob sheep and Highland cattle which brought us around to getting then, simply read through their breed information pages. In the most basic sense, in both cases, they were hardy low maintenance animals that calved/lambed easily with little or no assistance. Both were ancient breeds with a “threatened” or near threatened status (number of their breed in the world is low) yet unique and worth preserving.

Here are some various reasons that we haven’t yet, or may never have some of the animals I listed…

  • guineas (still on the “someday” list… possibly Spring ’10)
  • rabbits (someday soon)
  • peacocks (still on the “someday”” list)
  • goats – for now, on hold. Goats can breed with sheep and cause pregnancy that does not carry to term. Goats are also more mischievous, and frankly, I’m not convinced I want the hassle…
  • llamas/alpacas -they spit, they require shearing like sheep (but they are three times the size… so that becomes a logistical issue), and they are generally mischievous. Lindsay loves these, so hope stands for them despite my objections.
  • bison – extremely large and wild. Bison are amazing creatures… beautiful, majestic, truly american… but at the same time, they are totally wild, require specialized fencing, and they are not domesticated… therefore dangerous. Not exactly a “starter farm” animal.
  • donkeys – still a possibility for the future… I love how they protect sheep.
  • horses – my grandfather always had Belgian draft horses, and they were amazing gentle beasts. I hope that someday I can have some of these amazing horses, but for now, more learning must be pursued and more experience must be acquired.

Obviously, more thought has gone into these decisions than just a few sentences can describe, however, these were our primary reasons along with some hope for the future in some cases.

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Lasell said,

    We love our guineas. Not only do they alert us when something is amiss, but they decimate the ticks. I have not pulled a tick off a horse since I started keeping guineas. Some don’t like their noise, but then, we also have peacocks and they sound at an even louder volume! Before you finalize your cattle choice, have a look into the Dexters if you haven’t already. My husband went from Scottish Highlands to Dexter because of personality, especially of the cows with calves. We have been safe to approach and handle the Dexter calves, but not the Highlands. Those mothers were dangerously protective! I’m sure you will enjoy your farm animals and all the learning that is involved. I wish you the best.


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