People often ask us how many animals we have, so I thought I would do a little update of our creatures.
I will start with our most beloved animals, our blue heeler mixes, also called Australian cattle dogs. We have 2 and both are adopted from shelters. Sadie is estimated to be about 7-8 years old, but her age was unknown when we adopted her. She is a sweet dog with some quirks. She hates wheels and is very attached to Ryan. Sadie also sticks pretty close to Micah’s side but has never taken much interest in Harrison.
Kelty is our rambunctious dog. She is sweet but full of energy and likes to bark. We adopted her as a puppy in June 2012. We try to discourage our dogs from barking, but they protect their flock in the backyard, so I can’t complain too much.
We currently have 18 egg laying chickens and a rooster. We do lose a few chickens every year to predators. It is sad every time we have a loss but it is the cost of letting the chickens live a free-range life. We could keep them safer in their run, but they really love digging up treats from the forest floor. We have had issues with coyotes, fox, and bear (more on that later). Our biggest predator prevention is allowing our dogs outside for most of the day. Every spring we get more chicks to replace any loss we predict for the summer. We currently have 6 more chicks in the brooder, bringing our total to 25.
We have 7 ducks. 6 are females that lay eggs nearly every day. The ducks nest on the floor of the chicken coop. They love swimming in their pool (when it is above freezing). Ducks are messy with water and have added a little bit of adventure to our homestead. We originally had 15 ducks, but we butchered the males. Our ducks are 2 years old.
We also currently have meat chickens. We had a tragic run in with a bear that killed several of them before we were able to get rid of it. The bear ripped the locked door open on our garage and helped himself to the birds (which were about 2 weeks old at the time). We assume this is the same bear that killed our turkeys last year when it climbed on top of and collapsed our tractor coop. The bear will not be returning… Anyways, we currently have about 35 chickens left. The remaining birds are doing well and gaining weight like crazy. We will put them outside next week with an electric fence.
Every spring we talk about getting a few milking goats. We won’t be getting them anytime soon, but I guarantee they will be part of our homestead in the future. I would also love a cat, but Ryan is allergic so it would have to be a barn cat. That means we need a barn…..Ryan?… I mean, the kids will love it.
We raised turkeys last year. The bear got our first batch, but we did successfully grow a second batch. We ground most of the meat and it is delicious. We will grow turkeys again in the future, but they take a bit more work than the chickens and we wanted to have more time to travel this summer. Between the chickens, fresh eggs, my garden, and our fruit trees we should have plenty to put in the freezer for the next year. I’ll be sure to update throughout the summer. Thanks for reading!