Tag Archives: livestock

Country Living Introduction

Escape the rat race. Leave the crowds, the crime, the problems behind. Move to the country and live the simple life.

This is like believing, if you’re poor, winning the lottery will solve all your problems. All it does is trade one set of problems for another. And the new set includes problems you are unprepared for.

I did leave the city behind many years ago and wouldn’t want to move back. Country living suits me but the learning curve has been steep and painful. I am still learning about the simple country life through reading and the school of hard knocks.

weather and country living

Weather is an important consideration. I don’t mind a little snow and cold but don’t need months of it. The Ozarks weather suits me most of the time.

Lesson 1

My way of country living is definitely not for everyone. That is true for all of those how-to books and articles.

This does not mean reading these books is a waste of time. It means you must adjust what you read to the conditions where you live or plan to live.

I live in the Ozarks. There is a winter here but nothing like northern areas where snow is measured in feet for months. I tried that. No, thank you.

Rich deep soil may exist here and there in the Ozarks, but not where I live. My garden soil is half gravel. It grows a lot of nice vegetables but not carrots or other deep taproot ones. It dries out quickly. Hot summer sun cooks the plants.

A lot of those gardening books and articles won’t apply to me. I do enjoy reading them as I find ideas now and then to improve my own garden. Other ideas may sound good but don’t work for me.

livestock and country living

Gardens and livestock tie you down. Livestock, especially, needs attention daily.

Lesson 2

Know what your goals are before you look for a place to move. Be sure those goals are realistic. Just as important is whether or not everyone in your family shares those goals.

Are you wanting more room between you and the neighbors? You don’t intend to do serious gardening or raise livestock? Then all you need is a house on an extra large lot.

Are you a serious gardener? You might keep a few chickens but raising livestock isn’t on your agenda. You will look for a place with good gardening potentials.

Are you planning on raising livestock? This takes room unless you dry lot and then you need a big hay barn. Cows like pasture. Goats like brushy hills. Horses murder pastures so they need extra space. All need water.

Is a nice house important?

If you will hold down a job, be careful your dreams stay small. Nothing burns you out faster than working all day, every day and still never getting things done.

Consider, too, you don’t need to achieve all your goals the first year. It takes years to build up a good garden spot, arrange it the way you want and find the crops that grow the best for you. If you’ve never had livestock before, get one kind so you have time to learn about them, make sure their housing is adequate and you are comfortable with them before the next kind comes home.

It is tempting to dream big. Having a big dream is fine. Start small and build up as you are ready. You can look for a place big enough and suitable for that big dream, if it ever comes true. Big dreams take more than one person working to achieve them. At the very least, they need everyone supporting them or everyone will end up unhappy.

wildlife and country living

Wildlife invades even the cities but country living is living in wildlife territory. That place you buy belonged to them first. And some of them will come in conflict with you.

Lesson 3

I grew up in the city. I was lucky because my parents kept chickens. For a time we had rabbits. We ate some of them.

The how-to books and articles explain how to raise and butcher your own meat animals. There are good reasons for raising your own meat. I prefer to.

What is missing from those directions and matters a lot to city people is what it is like to butcher an animal you have raised and cared for sometimes for over a year. This is not some neatly wrapped package in the market meat section. This is a living breathing animal that doesn’t want to be your dinner.

Or you find one of those cute raccoons in killing your chickens. Perhaps it is your dog doing the killing. Or a woodchuck is eating your garden and fruit.

Either you can look at the animal and pull the trigger, ending its life, or you can’t. If you can’t, move to the suburbs. You will be much happier.

Think It Over

Country living has lots of challenges. Every day can bring life and death decisions. Ordinary days mean hard work.

There are times I shudder thinking about the day’s agenda. There are times I would love to sit down and relax, not bundle up to milk in thirty degree weather. There are times I ache from head to toe.

This is part of country living. I might sometimes think I’m crazy to keep doing this. Then I drive to town and see the houses side by side and the people crowding the stores, hear the noise and smell the cars.

For me, living in the country far from neighbors, able to walk the hills, enjoy my garden and animals makes all the downsides worth enduring. If you agree or, at least, want to try country living, perhaps you can benefit from what I have learned over the years.

 

The first homesteading topic which is on water will be posted next week.

Making Decisions

No matter where you live making decisions can be difficult. For city people now living in the country these decisions take on another dimension.

So many times I’ve seen city people get a few acres. They are so happy as they begin buying livestock and plowing up that huge garden. Finally they can live their dream of country life.

The problem often is that this is a dream and should stay a dream.

Nubian doe and triplets

High Reaches Jewel’s Pixie has triplet doe kids. Pixie got hurt somehow and is brain damaged leaving her handicapped walking. It was a hard decision to make to breed her. she and the triplets are doing fine.

Even country people can run into decision problems. The livestock and garden can become more than they can physically do.

Changing the size of a garden isn’t that difficult. Part of the plot can lie fallow. Vegetable allotments can get smaller. Flowers can move into a part.

A garden must be sized according to what the gardener has a use for and can physically tend. My garden has changed a lot over the years.

The area hasn’t really gotten smaller. But now it is laid out in smaller beds. Weeding has been controlled with mulch. Daffodils, daylilies and a rose grow in one corner, hollyhocks in another.

Nubian kids playing

Watching goat kids play is so entertaining. From a few days old they are built on springs and so full of life. Yet keeping them all is not possible. Decisions on which stay and which leave are hard to make.

Livestock is another question. These are living creatures.

I love my goats, most of the time. Well, I suppose it is all of the time although that can be hard to remember sometimes. Goats do get into trouble.

Dairy goats are confining. They must be cared for and milked twice a day, preferably on time. They require grain and good quality – translation: expensive – hay.

A goat barn is necessary. It usually needs some maintenance at the most inopportune times. It needs cleaning out. What are you going to do with all that manure and used bedding?

brown Nubian doeling

This is a lovely Nubian doe kid. She will be a good milker. She is for sale as my herd must go down in number.

Goats require good fencing. Woven or field fence wire is expensive. Putting it up is time consuming and hard work.

With dairy goats there is another consideration: the milk. How much milk do you need? How much cheese (think time and work along with this) can you consume? More arrives in the kitchen twice a day.

The more goats you have, the more time, money and work they require. How much of these can you devote to them?

Goat kids are adorable. They come bouncing over to see you. They are entertaining to watch. They grow up.

My herd now numbers 22. There are presently 18 kids. Two are now three months old. It is time to make some decisions.

decisions lead to selling Nubian doe kid

Like her mother High Reaches Drucilla this doe kid is polled. She is from a good milker, is friendly. Decisions about kids can be very hard but I must sell her.

I no longer have the time for a large herd. I can’t afford that much alfalfa hay. I can’t do the same amount of physical labor anymore.

The kids are so much fun. There are several I would love to keep. I can’t.

So decisions are made for practical reasons and regret tinges them with sadness. One doe kid will stay. The wethers will go to the auction and sell for meat. The other doe kids are now for sale, even one who is polled from an excellent family milker and one I wish I could keep.

City people must learn to make decisions like this if they want to live something close to that dream they moved to the country with. It isn’t easy. But not making those decisions can destroy their dream entirely.