"This will be our last holiday together, And I'm so excited about it. "
We laze on the beach in an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic, a plate of nachos and lots of mixed drinks between us. The water was exquisite and our appointments were empty. A few rare days of total pampering lay before us, but all Ian wanted to talk about was livestock.
I speak in exaggeration, but only just.
If you have been following this blog for a long time, you already know that we both have terrible reasons for late gratification, and buying new animals is our biggest weakness. It only took us a month to adopt our first dog, and the animal and livestock we owned expanded every season until our homestead in the Knob House had chickens (both laying hens and silk hens), guinea fowl, meat rabbits , Tilapia and chickens included a pig.
We repelled these extra creatures before our big move to Michigan and started our time with "just" two dogs and three parakeets. Okay, okay, as soon as Tractor Supply has their chicks in late winter, we've brought some of those peeper into our laundry room. But when I found some unusual self-discipline, I told Ian we had to slow the pet catching up for a few months. We had to settle more in our house, I told him, and taking on too many projects at once would probably overwhelm us.
Therefore, we have set ourselves an arbitrary deadline for the late summer, when our Viehembargo should be lifted. And in the next few months, when I made plans to fly to the Dominican Republic for my dear college friend's beach wedding, Ian was planning as passionately as he could bring dairy goats to our farm as soon as possible.
A few weeks before we left, we joined Kyeema Ridge Farm, a Nigerian dwarf goat farm about forty minutes north of us. On our first visit, we marveled at the cacophony of hundreds of hearty delights, dollars and children, all at the same time demanding their dinner.
Yes, we could do it.
It was time to try goat raising. We've got a cuddly bug named Teddy and we're committed to buying him a friend as well.
Our plan was to start our goatowner trip with two bettors. As castrated males, goats are considered Wether if their genetics are not considered valuable enough for use as breeding stock. This means that they are often sold as pets. Wether are far from useless if you want to build a herd, but because of the lack of testosterone they have docile personalities and the same greed to eat everything within reach as their intact siblings.
And as an added benefit – they are cheap.
As much as we wanted to go headfirst into a goat micro-surgery, we thought it was smarter to start small and make sure we actually liked goats first. Besides, if we were to learn that fencing does not last in a herd, it would be better to lose two little boys than a herd that is much more expensive.
Before we could bring our two new darlings home, we had to end our summer travels. In this way, Ian was in a unique position to count the days until the end of our vacation, weeks before we even left.
But the wait was worth it. A few days after we flew back, we brought Teddy and Timmy home.
These little boys were tiny when they arrived, and their shrill screams whenever we left their pen (or, frankly, stopped caressing them) sounded like a kid's. They gummed the grass that grew in their bay with milk teeth, trying to suck our fingers, toes, and all the clothes within reach.
After a few days, we all got used to each other and Ian and I spent many happy evenings in their pen, watching them learn to bang each other's heads and test the entire foliage within reach.
And then Ian made a crucial mistake. He returned to Craigslist.
Our weekend plan was to participate in a folk music festival that would take us to the other side of the state. And most of all, near a hobby farm selling American Guinea-Hog piglets.
This breed has been on our wish list for a long time. American guinea pigs are a traditional breed, which is particularly suitable for homesteads. Not only do they stay small (about 200 pounds at slaughter weight), they also have docile personalities and love to eat grass.
If there is one of which our property has much, then it is grazing land. We thought it would make sense to raise a breed that can essentially feed itself for free.
With less discussion than the decision was likely to make, we decided to become a hobby pig keeper as well.
On the morning of the festival, we packed the family car with the same Dog crate We transported everything from the goats five days ago and set off Hard party at Frog Holler Farm. The two-hour drive was a bit tense as we prepared ourselves for the deafening squeak we would suffer if we drove the pigs home that night.
But all that ear plug I grabbed for free. The hobby farmers of Guinea Hog were so thoughtful to straw the box before we packed the pigs, and these two girls slept and grunted contentedly on their entire journey home.
Their adaptation to First Roots Farm went just as smoothly, with the exception that one morning Ian built his stable on a new grassy pasture.
Unknown, he missed a gap in the siding. Just a few minutes after we started accepting that there were no trunks in their pens under which the pigs could hide, numerous honking cars disturbed the silence, and our nearest neighbors hurried to see if we knew who two missing tiny pigs.
It turned out they'd hit the street and were fed directly to a neighbor's trash can. Confused spectators rode around them on the street, and most could not figure out which ugly puppy race they might be.
Luckily for a week on the property, the two pigs familiarized themselves with Ian and her eating routine, and all he had to do was shake a canister to convince her to return to her stable.
Two weeks later we picked up a dog. Our goal is to breed the ladies in a few months and hopefully have piglets this spring. For now, our goat experiment is proving to be equally successful, and I do not think it will take long for us to begin adding several individuals to the herd, preferably with promising genetics.
And while Ian can now be content to spend the rest of his vacation days tending to our pets, I remain convinced we will still find ways to get away.
Who could resist the opportunity to sit on the farm for such a sweet face?
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