We live on a 40 acre farm in East Texas along with 2 Great Danes, 2 Great Pyrs, a Cocker Spaniel, 4 cats, LOTS of goats, 12 sheep, 1 llama & 1 llama-alpaca mix, rabbits, geese, 9 horses and 2 donkeys....plus chickens and doves!
People wonder why and HOW we have so many animals....well, for me it's just "normal." I grew up on a beef farm of 400 acres, with my father renting as much as 1200 acres more at times. In the middle of the Piney Woods of North Louisiana, I grew up surrounded by cows, cows and more cows! And of course we had cow-horses, cats, dogs, etc. Having animals is just a way of life. It seems strange to live otherwise.....
Early on, through my great-grandmother, I discovered my passion for history and artifacts. During college I worked at the archives and in a museum, and went on to graduate school in Museum Science, combining my knowledge of traditional agriculture and animals with what I learned in local history museums. I still love to give historical programs for children, often dressing in c. 1858 attire.
After my marriage, my husband and I had a horse, but we wanted a few goats to clean up our land, and that's how we got started with Nigerian Dwarf goats. We instantly fell in love with these charming and friendly little animals. Now, about 6 years later, we usually run between 40 and 60 goats (Nigerian, mix-breed milkers and some Angoras) on our almost-40-acre farm.
Goat-herding has been a real learning experience, and I'm still learning. I think with goats you never STOP learning. They're quirky animals and worlds of fun. They've brought us so much joy, and brought joy to our daughter, friends, family, visitors and residents in local nursing homes.
But goats are only part of what we do. Although we're in no way self-sufficient; (Knowing what I do about 19th century life, I don't believe that is really possible in many areas today) but our farm & animals DO have the capability to provide at least some of our food and other supplies as well as items for sale or trade. I'm striving for as integrated a system as possible. Currently we can get as least SOME:
milk & cheese from the goats (also milk for goats' milk soap)
vegetables from the garden
fruit (pears, plums & eventually apples) from the little orchard
wild berries, persimmons, nuts
meat from the goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, sheep and eventually cows (we have a young dairy heifer that we hope to eventually use for milk and to raise steers on. Currently my father raises our beef. )
fertilizer from all the animals & garden scraps for composting
worms from the worm-bed for gardening and fishing use
eggs from the chickens
fish from the pond
wool, mohair and llama fiber for yarn, textiles or sale
The land also has the potential for providing wheat (we raised our first batch of experimental wheat last year) for bread-making and power from the draft horses, although I usually use a tractor.
Life's never dull or boring around our house, and if you come over, I might just put you to work bottle-feeding a baby goat!
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