Maybe it’s odd to devote an entire page to my animals on the website of an author, but you can’t really learn about me without hearing about my animals because I adore them. They bring me joy and take up much of my free time. They’re even a part of my quest to lessen my slavery footprint because the more I can produce for myself and my family, the less I consume without knowing a product’s origins.
There are many kinds of animals we talked about having on our little homestead. In the end, we started with a flock of chickens, two horses, and our Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs). We plan to add our first dairy cow this fall. I’m both excited and nervous about that venture.
What started as one flock of chickens has grown into several. I seriously love my chickens. At first, the intent was to use them as dual purpose animals. But my entire family fell in love and decided to be mostly content with eggs and countless hours of entertainment. It’s entirely possible that I spoil them – just a little. Maybe.
At the encouragement of my sister, who swore I would love ducks, we added a handful of ducks to our little flock. She was right; they’re darling creatures with delightful personalities, even if they are terrible gossips. (Okay, a handful has turned into twelve. They’re really stupidly cute, and their eggs are great for baking!)
Having owned cutting horses in the past, and having ridden many different breeds of horses with various seats and gaits, we decided that the best horses to start with on our little place would be a couple of good-natured trail horses that would be patient with the boys while they got more miles in the saddle.
Dixie, our 11-year-old appaloosa mix mare, is possibly the sweetest horse on the planet. She’s friendly and a quick-learner. It took us all of about five seconds to fall in love with her.
Casper, our 14-year-old appaloosa, can be a bit mulish at times, but there’s something very kind in his nature. He adores children and tolerates the tall people in the family. Although I think we’re winning him over…
I’m so proud of how much both horses have learned in their short time with us. They bring us so much joy; I can’t even begin to remember what life was like before they came.
The coyotes here in the Ozarks are huge. Sightings of cougars are more and more common as well. The list of smaller predators that would eagerly make a meal out of our chickens is pretty big, too, so that meant we needed a way to protect the animals in our care.
We lucked out with Charlie, our Newfoundland/Who Knows What mix. He naturally took a liking to the chickens and has diligently watched over them since they were a day old. He’s really the perfect farm dog. But a lone dog doesn’t really stand a chance against a pack of coyotes (and yes, they do run in packs here – they even howl like wolves.) While Charlie isn’t your typical LGD, I think he deserves honorary status because he does the job well.
My sister solved that problem for us by bringing us Kali, an Anatolian/Great Pyrenees mix. Kali’s still a baby, but so far, I’m thrilled with her. She’s smart and she’s loveable. One moment, she’s doing a silly puppy-dance to watch the chickens flutter up in the air, the next, she’s stoically laying at the front of the yard, taking her guard duties very seriously as she takes in everything happening in her domain. She and Charlie have become instant friends. They make quite the pair, patrolling the farm!
And of course, we have a couple of barn cats that grace us with their presence – when they’re not off being beasts of the jungle.