Homestead Animals

5 articles in category Homestead Animals / Subscribe

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I have read from those much further along in the agrarian journey than I that there is no such thing as too much food. This is the answer given when we all ask the inevitable “How much food should we be raising?“. The answer’s indefinite nature appeals to me and our general agrarian philosophy – just keep working at it and leave the results up to God.

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And now, having gone through several years of squeaking by in egg production, I am finding this philosophy to be in fitting with our chicken situation. Our core flock has grown, mostly through chicks hatched right here on the land. We also expanded the laying production through a generous gift of chickens that are now directly under the care of the boys – 8 and 10.

There were many times that we bought or hatched out chicks to achieve this very end and by our own power. These attempts have failed many, many times… but then over the past year or so things shifted. It’s been good for us to see our own failures and watch the Lord provide by means we could never have planned or worked towards on our own.

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Stewart stepped on a nail last Sabbath evening and until this past Friday was hobbling around gingerly. I try to thank the boys whenever they come in from animal chores and particularly when they are more on their own as in last week. One morning I asked them if they enjoy the chores or ever tire of them. A resounding no was the answer and continual requests for more animals to care for (and harvest from) are thrown about.

It’s not that we haven’t wanted to expand here or there or everywhere, really – and honestly the boys and I are usually the ones shouting pigs, cows, more goats! (My involvement in these shenanigans is all the more ironic because of the very little I contribute to animal chores – besides the harvests and cooking).

But surely there is plenty of work to be done while we wait on the Lord to make our next steps apparent. Namely water and fencing and waiting for Papa to give the go ahead… and learning to stifle my enthusiasm for all things bovine and porcine. Ahem.

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But back to the egg production… I can’t fathom that there is such a thing as too many eggs… or too much milk or vegetables, for that matter. Right now we are averaging around 15 per day and, with a few dozen gifted us per week, we still find ways to use them up. It’s been such a blessing to not have to stretch out the eggs over so many days or ration these boys (and girls, but mostly growing boys!) who can out eat Stewart and I at most meals of the day.

But I’m not sure I would have appreciated it as much if we were producing plenty straight off the bat. And surely the Lord knows what is best… and surely that perspective He has granted has been worth more than all of the golden homegrown egg yolks in the world.

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We’ve had a buildup of roosters and now old laying hens so the past few weeks we have been butchering 2-4 per week for meat and broth. It’s been a real blessing.

The boys have been asking about learning to butcher for some time now. We’ve been trying to give them their own homestead domains, both to give them something of their own to work towards and to foster a sense of responsibility. So far this has looked like gardens and chickens but more animals is high on their list of requests.

First, I suppose, is learning to go from flock to food with what we already have. So last week Stewart stood by them at the counter and talked them through the gutting of the chickens. These photos are of Abram’s time at the butchering block but Elijah, ever the extrovert, came directly to me after his turn and proclaimed it “Fun!” with two eyebrows up.

So I’m thinking they’ll want to continue helping with this for the foreseeable future. Which is great since I learned to butcher roosters at 29 and they, at eight and ten, would do well to get a jump start on me in just about all areas of life.