We moved to our farm in 2012 and had no intention of having any kind of farm animals. In fact, when the previous owners asked if we would take over the care of their 10 laying hens, I have been quoting several times as saying, “10 chickens? That seems like a lot of responsibility to take on.”
Oh, how things change.
Since making that infamous statement, approximately 45 animals have called Pauley Alpaca Company home. That number does not account for the turkeys, deer and other woodland creatures that pass through on a regular basis.
Farm Animals in general
Farm animals are great. Some better than others. Some animals have jobs to do, while other are here just for our pleasure and amusement. When an animal takes up residence on our farm, he/she will become the subject of some sort of online silliness. For example:
- The 2012 Facebook showdown between a dog and a chicken (BOK vs. BARK)
- The 2015 Presidential election between a horse, a dog (incumbent), an alpaca…and my mother-in-law
- The compost manufacturing process as run by the animals themselves
We’ve learned a thing or two about the various species that inhabit our farm. I’ll share some of our experiences so you can make the best decision about what kind of craziness you want to unleash at your home.
Ah, the lovable kitten who often goes by names such as Buttercup, Cuddles, Whiskers or even Captain Sparkle. Don’t let the cuddly, fuzzy exterior fool you. Barn cats are mini-tigers. Don’t get me wrong. These cats are lovable and adorable, but they also have a job to do: varmint control.
We’ve found that our cats go over and beyond. While their primary role is to police the ground to seek out and destroy mice, they have also quite successfully guarded the garden against chipmunks, gophers, rabbits, and in one unbelievable incident I witnessed with mine own eyes…a duck.
Now, for the love of all that is holy, make sure you get the females spayed. We were going to get our 2 female mousers spayed this past spring. However, the local tom cat was too fast for us and we ended up with 11 unplanned kittens.
Chickens are great! They provide farm-fresh eggs, rid your property of wood ticks, and largely take care of themselves. However, you need to keep an eye on them. Before you know it, they begin posting on their own Facebook page, start their own clothing line…
and begin running slanderous political campaigns against other animals on the farm.
Remember how I said I was anxious about taking on 10 chickens? Well, I also said “we will never own a horse”.
Since saying that we’ve owned 3.
A word of caution to others: Signing up your daughter for a few days of riding lessons to “get it out of her system” will only fuel the fire inside them to own horses.
That being said, there are far worse things for kids to be involved with than riding and training horses.
These are going to be the critters that significantly change your lifestyle for the better. You will research rotational grazing techniques on YouTube, turn a barn into a gift shop, host public events, and have physical confrontations with your own children over freshly-laundered alpaca socks.
There is a type of animal for any person, farm or even mood. Pick one (or more), learn as much as you can, take good care of them, and be open to your family suggesting more. Your life will never be the same.