My beautiful wife and I are blessed with eleven wonderful grandchildren. Several of them aspire to be writers. Always wanting to encourage young authors, we at Serendipity Farmhouse have extended an invitation to each to submit something they would want to share with you.
So, without further fanfare, here is the first post from Grandson #1. We hope you like it as much as we do.
Raising animals as livestock may to a bystander seem like a pleasurable, perhaps even romantic experience. Actually, it can be a stressful, time-consuming process, with few positive results…unless done right. It takes experience to succeed in raising domestic animals, and the rookie should certainly make it a priority to learn from those with familiarity on the subject before investing in livestock. I have been around farm animals for over five years now, and am still learning new do’s and don’ts, so by no means would I refer to myself as an expert. However, I know enough to offer the three following pieces of advice, concerning the decisions and preparations to be made prior to and following the acquirement of domestic animals.
#1 Ask Yourself: “Does the Profit Outweigh the Costs?”
Before purchasing any type of animal, be it livestock or a pet, you should first ask yourself: “Is this animal really worth the money and time it will take to care for it?” It’s easy to forget about money and time you will have to spend when you’re only thinking about the advantages to getting the animal. Remember the disadvantages. This may sound like pessimism, but it’s important to remember. Traveling could, for instance, become very difficult if you have a flock of chickens. You won’t be able to invite anyone over to your house with cat allergies if you acquire a feline friend. Think of all the disadvantages, and write down a list. If you can deal with each disadvantage, and if it’s still worth it to get the animal, then you can move onto the next step.
#2: Before You Get the Animal, Get Prepared
I cannot stress this enough. It doesn’t matter if you think you need a cow to mow down your rapidly growing grass NOW, or if you think you need free-range eggs NOW, or if you need a flock of gorillas to protect yourself from your neighbor’s rampaging crocodiles NOW. These are all good reasons to invest money in some livestock…but if you rush things, and purchase the animals before you’re truly prepared, you aren’t going to get anywhere, and the animals themselves will just be another bullet point on your list of problems.
I will now present a story demonstrating the importance of this rule.
A year or two back, my family invested in two female goats to try to solve the problem of spreading poison ivy (Yes, goats can actually eat poison ivy!). It was a great idea, but unfortunately this process was probably a bit too rushed. When they first arrived, we had no milking stand (the goats had recently been pregnant and needed to be milked for a while), no warm, secure place for the goats to stay during the winter, and most importantly, no knowledge of how to deal with goats.
We had to milk two crazy goats on a table, since we had no milking stand, which was a three person job—two people held the wild goat steady (one being me), the other milking the goat. We were fortunate enough to have a friend who knew how to milk goats, but even she could barely milk those crazy creatures without the help of a milking stand. P.S. We never got to taste any of the milk…a lot of it ended up on the table, and the ground.
When we first got the goats, we thought the barn room we prepared would be a perfect place for them to spend nights and rainy days. The goats proved us wrong. We had to prop many heavy objects in front of the door, just to prevent them from butting their way out! Even when we added a small outside pen to the room in an attempt to make them happy, the goats still tried to escape through the cracks in the fence. Once, they did escape, and we thought we’d never hear from them again. However, lucky for us, an animal control guy brought them back, saying that he received a call from a family a mile away from us who found two screaming goats on their deck. Oops.
The goats did help us with our poison ivy problem though, so there was definitely potential. We just weren’t prepared for them. So, when winter came along, since we lacked a warm place for them, we gave them away to our neighbors.
This story is pretty much just a long, roundabout way of saying “Before you get the animal, you need to get prepared.” Under all circumstances, do not forget this rule.
#3 Care for the Animal on Day #101 as You Did on Day #1
The day in which the majority of people give the most care to their animals is on day one after acquiring them. Then over time, as the days become weeks, and the weeks become months, they begin to overlook the animal a little bit, as they become used to feeding them, cleaning them etc. Don’t let this happen to you. Always remember to care for your animal to the same degree that you cared for it when you first got it. If you let yourself get into habits when dealing with your livestock, you may miss something important, such as the early signs of disease, for example.
Well, those are my three tips. Follow the advice, and I expect you’ll have a good quality experience with whatever animal you bring home.