We milked our sheep, goats, and cows for more than one season and primarily sold cheese, gelato, and fresh milk. For that last couple of years, we've changed our focus to breeding, downsizing some animals, and adding other. We really enjoy our animals and farm life better. Here are some other changes we're making.
Yes, Tess is holding a chicken upside down. And, she's answering the judge's questions about the chicken's vent (butt). This nice buff Orpington lays nice creamy eggs. When she gets old, she'd be destined for the pot to make amazing broth. I don't remember what happened to this particular girl, but she was a pretty nice hen as most Orpingtons are.
We like to order a variety of heirloom and exotic laying chickens. Some of them we can't get sexed (one gender or the other), but only come straight run, which is both males and females. We don't want to keep the roosters as long as the hens as they don't lay, end up fighting, and aren't as good to eat when they get older. My husband usually takes the kids to do the deed. One of the times my husband and children went to dispatch the roosters, they encountered one now known as the spaghetti western chicken. Don't read on if you're faint of heart as this is about killing chickens and I don't sugar coat anything.
When we were first building a house in Oregon on property we planned to homestead, I told Brandon one day that I wanted to try keeping a hive of bees. He thought it was weird and wasn't really on board. That doesn't happen very often - we usually endorse each other's weird ideas or at least sit back and see how it goes.
Shortly after that, it seemed like only days, our future neighbor came by the office and talked with Brandon for a while. The topic of bees came up. Apparently, he had a couple of colonies and knew how to make beekeeping not seem so weird, which is funny in hindsight because he could be odd (but nice) sometimes. Brandon told me he thought it was a good idea, but maybe we should get two colonies. I was good with that. In fact, I had already decided I wanted two but thought I'd let him warm up to the idea of one first.
When we've had groups of animals, there is often one that has a knack for getting into trouble or giving me headaches. Among our Lowline Angus, it's a little heifer (soon to be cow) named Easter (because of the day she was born and not because of any religious qualities). Of our horse's, it's my daughter's mare, who happens to be a very good horse but a bit boy crazy at times. Among our dogs, it's also my daughter's - Link.
We acquired him as a puppy when we were building our house the first time where we homesteaded in Oregon. He peed on everything, slobbered any hand hanging low enough to reach, and liked to unload our laundry basket and chew up dirty clothes, then sleep on them. He also has a sensitive stomach but is the first beast to eat unholy things he finds outside - often after rolling in them - and then gets diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. Horses, cattle, and even sheep and goats are treat vending machines constantly leaving treasures for him to eat and perfume himself with. I don't know how many times he came back from a "quick bathroom break" outside with green stinky smears from shoulder to shoulder. But hey, he's a dog.
I was talking with an acquaintance once in her home with her children as she related the current challenges and drama in her life. I sat and listened because she seemed like she needed to vent. Sometimes it’s a little nice to know that I’m not the only one with continual problems … not that I wish bad things on others. My daughter, who was fairly young at the time, played nicely with her daughter, and I suppose we must have seemed calm and as though nothing went wrong in our lives. She informed me that I wouldn’t understand her problem of having to get a tempered glass window at the bottom of her stairs because I led “such a charmed life.”
Wife to Brandon, mother to Tess and Liam, farmer, entrepreneur, cook & baker, nurse, and accountant who loves to try new things, travel, and work toward greater self-reliance.