We decided to homestead so we would one day be be able to grow a significant portion of our own food. Since we are not vegans, we decided we would raise animals for meat, milk, and fiber in addition to having a large vegetable garden. Before we moved to this property we researched what kind of animals would suit our needs and kept coming back to sheep. They can be triple purpose and because of their size are easy to handle. We also settled on chickens for both eggs and meat.
We have a flock of seventeen laying hens consisting of: Black Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, and White Leghorns. The Black Australorps have been our favorite and we have plans to add more this spring. They are allowed to free-range around the property. DD loves to chase after them and look for eggs. We raised a batch of Freedom Rangers and Cornish Crosses for meat this summer. The meat birds were kept in a mobile pen that we moved at least once a day. That ended up being a pain in the butt and I think next year we will allow them out into one of the mobile fences and have them follow the sheep. Then they would only be in the smaller pen at night.
Our full time flock of sheep consists of four Icelandic ewes and two dairy ewes. From spring to autumn we also have lambs. The dairy sheep are a cross between East Friesian and Lacaune. The Icelandics produce a beautiful wool coat and are sheared twice a year. I have recently started using the wool in needle felting projects and I am hoping to learn how to spin wool into yarn in the future. The dairy sheep will be for milk (of course) and are sheared once a year in the spring. I do not have any experience milking an animal, but I am very excited and am committed to making this work come spring. The lambs are raised for replacement breeding ewes or for meat.
This is Luna our family dog. She keeps us company, watches our property, and is beginning to be useful in helping us move the sheep. The kids adore her!
In the next couple of years we would like to add pigs to the inventory as well as honeybees. We have toyed around with keeping a steer, but for now we will stick with animals that are small enough for me to feel comfortable handling and only need one season to achieve butcher weight.
What animals call your homestead home?
P.S. This post has been linked up with Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop.