Warning: If you are Vegan, don’t bother reading:
Big steps are happening around here. We took a HUGE step in our Homesteading journey this week by buying our first Cow! But since I loathe the thought of a single animal being lonely, we had to jump in and buy 2! We got a Jersey Heifer and an unrelated Jersey Bull, both around 5 months old. I hope to keep these animals for life as “the family cows”. Hopefully, the Heifer will prove to be an amazing Milk Cow and provide us with nice creamy milk, butter and maybe if I get real adventurous, Cheese! The future of the bull WILL depend on his personality of course; gentle bull around us equals long term, mean or aggressive bull (towards us) means lots of dinners in the future. This is the reality and harder part of raising your own animals. However, one or two incidences of aggression from your animals (Roosters or Billy Goats in my experience) can quickly change your mind on keeping an animal around “just because” to “that’s enough”.
I have a vivid memory of my Grandmother, Sallie, taking a mean rooster from my childhood and turning him into Chicken and Dumplings. I had hand raised this rooster from a chick, carried him around EVERYWHERE on my childish adventures and really, REALLY loved him! If someone said anything about eating that rooster, I would pitch a fit! Over the course of the spring and summer, Blondie grew up and got solely interested in the Hens in the Hen house. So, with disappointment from my side, he went from being my playmate and adventurer chick, to being King of the Hen House. I loved getting the eggs from the Chicken House to take back to my Granny. But Blondie just got meaner and meaner until I became scared to go in there. One day, he got me GOOD! Scratches with blood running down my dirty little legs and me running and screaming through the back screen door to tell! And that was the final straw. I remember MARCHING behind my Granny with my chest puffed out, stained tear marks on my scowling face (imitating Granny) and cheering her on as she snatched up that rooster and “taught him a lesson”. In reality, I don’t actually remember how the Chicken and Dumplings tasted, or if we had them that night or the night after. But I DO remember not feeling toooooo sorry for that ol’ Rooster, and seeing the flying blonde feathers as my Granny “cleaned him up” sitting on the back steps by the old Fig Tree. That was one tough woman. She could be mighty hard on the outside, but you knew when she meant business, and you knew that she loved you. That was a woman who lived and helped provide during The Great Depression. Where you learned to adapt and make do, or you didn’t make it.
We have a couple of mean Roosters and our girls are terrified of them as well. We are trying to raise our own pastured meats, and that means we NEED a Rooster and a spare (just in case) to make new chicks. However, my oldest is quick to tell anyone that sees our spare rooster that one day “We are gonna turn THAT rooster INTO Chicken POT PIE!!!” . And she MEANS it! This is coming from the little girl who LOOOOOVVVEEESSS HER chickens!! She does NOT want to eat our chickens, but after a chasing or two from those maturing Roosters, her tune changes.
Now, I know. I can see some of your horrified expressions as your reading this….Animals are to be loved and cherished and they have feelings too. And I COMPLETELY agree, up until a certain point. I recently was looking up “How to deal with a mean Billy Goat”. Almost ALL of the responses went along the lines of “Do NOT hit back at a Goat if he Rams you. Just take a water gun in with you and squirt him with that and he will know better than to mess with you”. ….Really?!?! I’m not a heartless person, but after our Billy Goat has horned me, leaving BRUISES, you better believe I’m not just walking into the field with a WATER GUN sweetly saying “Now you go on about your business, ya here?”. Um, no! If he comes at me, he’s gonna get his face in the dirt and me standing on his horns. Some animals, like people, only understand “tough love”. And like ANY other “Mama animal”, I will protect myself and my babies from another aggressive animal. Its just the way God made us (me anyway)!
So far, I sound like an animal hating person but that really ISN’T the case. We want, and are raising, our own animals so we KNOW that they are treated well. Our animals are hand raised from the time they’re babies, petted, brushed, sang to and fed treats. They are raised eating their natural diets with plenty of room to roam, play and have a good healthy life! It is so fun to watch animals play and interact with one another and they all have their own personalities! Giving our animals this sort of environment will in turn (hopefully), will provide our family with healthy meats and animal products that far surpass what we can buy from Walmart. Seeing the entire circle of life makes me appreciate the meat I eat so much more. Knowing the animal wasn’t raised as a “number”, but as a being makes me feel as if the animal’s life meant something.
So here we are, on this little homesteading journey with our growing little family. Life continues to show us new things and teach us new lessons. We are trying our best to teach our children the truest way to live, with respect to nature, animal husbandry and healthy living. If their is anything you choose to invest in, make it your family!