As I hit my late 20s and early 30s, it seemed like there were some pretty big changes in the lives of my friends. The obvious change was all the babies: my Facebook feed is almost nothing but baby pics some days.
But there were other additions to my friends’ households as well: livestock.
Mostly it was chickens, but I also have friends who’ve acquired ducks, geese, goats, and pigs. No cows yet, but I’m assuming they’re on their way to a few households in coming years.
We don’t have those kinds of animals. In fact, my husband has a clear and firm no-livestock policy. Farm animals are not allowed—ever, at all.
But what about chickens?
I mentioned the no-livestock policy to a friend who happily reported that she recently obtained new chicks, which were at the time temporarily living in the garage until a proper coop could be built. The immediate question was—like always:
Not even chickens? Surely you could get at least a few laying hens, right?
No chickens. Definitely no chickens.
Because chickens are just the beginning.
It starts out innocently enough by building a small coop for some laying hens. But before you know it, you’re making a pond for your ducks and waking up a half hour early to milk your goat. I thought I was alone in this observation until I saw this video, which captures it perfectly:
So we choose to not start down the chicken path, knowing that we don’t have the time and interest to see the farm animal “habit” through to it’s logical conclusion of a hobby farm or mini-homestead. We have a fair number of friends who are going down this route, and it’s really cool. But it’s not for us.
The Livestock Alternative
Instead of raising our own animals, we support a handful of hobby, part-time, and professional farmers in our community and elsewhere. The list is evolving, but this is the gist of our meat sourcing the past few years. We still buy some processed meat and eat meat at restaurants (yeah… about that…), but we at least have a good sense of where the majority of our meat comes from.
- Eggs: Our primary source is a friend, which we supplement with a local commercial farm.
- Pork: We buy a half pig from friends with a hobby farm 4 miles away. We also buy polish sausage made by my husband’s family, which is made with (commercial) pork from Lower Michigan.
- Chicken: We buy 15-20 meat birds a year from a farm less than 10 miles away.
- Bison: We occasionally buy ground bison from farms in Wisconsin near where my parents live (which they bring to us).
- Venison: Whatever he gets in the fall. Typically 1 deer.
- Wild & Water Fowl: Whatever he gets in the fall. Typically 10 or more ducks.
- Fish: Whatever he catches and doesn’t give away. It’s a lot, but mostly during the summer.
Plus, we can leave for an evening without having to ask someone to take care of our animals or, even better, take them along on vacation like a friend of mine has done—while you can put your chickens in a travel crate in your car, that’s more than I want to do.
What about you: Did you get chickens? And what came next?