I thought things were getting pretty bad a while ago when our collection of animals grew from ONE dog and three children to a gaggle of chickens, the dog, and a series of feral cats (never more than two at a time). One thing I’m learning though is that if you are willing to accept responsibility for an animal, someone will be willing to give one to you. Thanks to the wiles of the coyotes we were down to one cat and had cut our chicken flock substantially, so of course we needed to fill the void with something… Enter the goat, a bunch of turkeys and a kitten.
In our desire to “simplify” our diet (principally as a reaction to a life-changing diagnosis) we had shifted to drinking raw milk and moved away from highly processed foods or foods with ingredients that are made in a laboratory or manufacturing facility. Raw milk is delicious but expensive. Naturally raised meat is worse. The chickens were round one in a broader effort to have more control over what we eat, but only round one. While the best grass-fed raw-milk dairy in Texas is closer than the closest gas station, I sometimes feel like we were single-handedly paying for the farmer’s race car. Unfortunately, we were tapped out in the home/yard/pasture project portion of the budget, so even if we wanted to, we couldn’t afford a goat or dairy cow.
In spite of our best efforts not to give interest-free loans to the government, when we did our taxes this year we found we would have several thousand dollars we hadn’t planned on. We decided to use it to build a small barn to shelter things that turn grass into delicious food and string electric fence around about a quarter of our lot (electric fence is cheaper and quicker to install than any other type). About the same time, a friend was having trouble figuring out what to do with the milk from three lactating goats to the tune of about two gallons a day. She offered to let us take a few of the goats once our fence was up. Double good… she doesn’t have to milk as much, figure out what to do with all the milk she can’t drink, or feed goats she doesn’t get benefit from; and I get to cut down our milk budget by almost a car payment. Meet “Nipa” – on extended loan from down the street. She ain’t pretty to look at, but is quite the “sweet spirit.”The goat is about as entertaining as the chickens. I’m almost convinced she thinks she’s a dog. Any time the dog comes over, the goat wants to be right there getting a pat on the head. She spends a lot of the day on top of a large pile of dirt that was left behind when our builder dug the leach-fields for the septic system. I actually enjoy milking her in the mornings, and Liz has decided that she doesn’t mind goat milk as long as the milk is clean and free of the “goaty” aftertaste that was the result of our friend not brushing down the goat, thoroughly cleaning the udders, and stripping the first few squirts for the dog or cat (whoever is closer).As if the goat weren’t enough, we decided to try “free-range” turkey for Thanksgiving. Chickens were easy enough and kinda fun, so we ordered the minimum number of poults (baby turkeys) you could order from the hatchery. Several weeks later and we have nine disgusting birds that look a lot like vultures and poop all over the place (one of the original ten got smothered by the others the first night I moved them out of the brooder). They’d better taste good. They do eat a lot of bugs and spiders though.
Finally, we got ANOTHER cat. We were down to one (the one featured in a previous post) when a friend offered up a few kittens. Liz brought one home and Michael immediately adopted it as his. This has been the only thing that seems to work for keeping him out of the chicken coop. Any time he’s outside he’s got that cat in his arms telling himself that the kitty is “sooo cute.” He routinely dunks the cat in a bucket of water we leave out for the animals, then rolls it around in the dirt. When he’s not playing Chinese water torture with it, he’s hanging it by it’s legs or tail. The weirdest part of the whole thing is that the cat doesn’t seem to mind.