We love our little house on the Colorado prairie. I have dreamed of having a small spread like this most of my life. The desire to feel dirt between my toes as I plant and live off of the land is a yearning that I simply can not explain. I have known many people in my life that could not begin to understand those desires… but there are equally as many that get it.
One of my desires has been to have farm animals. It all started with our nice little flock of chickens that we brought home for the kids on Easter 2015. We enjoyed our chicken entertainment far more than we could have imagined! We watched them all summer long, impatiently awaiting that first egg. It was fun to find not one, but two that very first time!
As summer progressed, our awareness of rattlesnakes quickly heightened! Although our awesome cat had been a great mouser, sometimes it just seemed like she could use some help. We didn’t feel that we had a set-up yet that would be conducive to barn cats so we decided that we would add a Rat Terrier to our farm to help with rodent control. After months of searching, we found Pepper. She was eight months old and although a high-strung puppy, she proved herself rodent worthy very quickly.
With our long-term animal plan, we knew we would need predator protection. So, I drove all of the way to Illinois to Red Gate Farm, LLC to pick up our precious Colorado Mountain Dog. After many puppy behavior setbacks, Samson is becoming a reliable and trustworthy LGD-Livestock Guardian Dog.
Handsome was enjoying the new activity bustling around the property but reminded me often that he really wanted to pace ourselves with the growing a farm. I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to obtain more and more. Yes, he is the boy flying the kite (keeping my grounded) and I am the kite riding the wind…
Things were quiet on our little prairie for the following few months. Unfortunately, Samson was having some difficulty adjusting to the new property and needed animals to bond with and to “guard”. We needed to be mindful of our investment in a guardian dog. The earlier he could be working with animals to guard, the better in the long run. So, we began searching. It wasn’t long after that we had an opportunity to obtain a couple of Dwarf Nigerian goats. We were blessed with Sunflower and Joseph, a doe and a whether. I could already taste the sweet milk that wouldn’t come until at least next fall. Again, Handsome gently tugged on those kite strings. I understood.
And then Sunday came. A gal at church informed me that she had two roosters and needed to get rid of one. Ooooh, I always wanted to hear the rooster crow! I would also like to try and hatch eggs some day… Handsome was OK with it… what’s one more chicken, right?
But then the baby chicks began to arrive at the feed store! This time it was Handsome that reminded me that we needed to start earlier with the chicks this year so that we would get more eggs in late spring instead of early fall. Yes, baby chicks. Oh yes! So, I drove on down to the feed store (45 miles away) only to find that they were already gone. It was a sad moment until they told me of the chicks that would come in the following weeks. We had so much fun looking at all of the varieties of chicks that would be arriving and placed our orders. The four chicks quickly became a dozen which quickly turned into two-dozen! I had to cancel a few orders after Handsome reminded me that we had limited coop space and he really didn’t intend on building another coop this summer.
Life on the Colorado prairie was such a joy as we watched the cold winter days warm into spring. While making plans for moving our pen area I realized that Sunflower was quite possibly in heat. Oh my… I knew we had to move quickly as their window of opportunity is very short! I contacted a gal that I had made previous arrangements with about doing a driveway service (I still giggle at that term) and she asked me if I was interested in a buck that was of age. Hmmm, I knew I was going to be in trouble! I was there in less than an hour and brought him home to meet his new girl. Handsome ended up being OK with the new addition because it meant that it would lead to kidding and then milk. I don’t know if they have done the deed yet, but with him here full time, I am sure he will take care of her when the chance comes.
Things then began to settle again… until the day that I got a welcomed notification from a friend that someone was needing to find someone to take their breeding rabbit buck and doe. Hmmm, I just knew I was the someone that she was looking for. Rabbits were high on my farm endeavor list, but not on Handsome’s list at all. I had also made a promise to Handsome. I decided, for once, that I would let him know the details and make the decision instead of jumping into it on my own. I know, it’s taken me eight years to figure that out. He took the details, thought about them and gave me the green light.
I’m ready to slow down. I need to prepare for the upcoming goat kids this fall and the rabbit kits. We bred the rabbits and made plans to provide her with a nesting box the first week of April. However, last week I noticed a dead kit in her hutch. It was definitely full-term, this was not a miscarriage! I quickly made a box for her and she went to work making her nest. The next morning there were six healthy kits in her box. Apparently she was pregnant when we got her! This was quite a surprise, but one that we are truly enjoying.
Our little animal farm has grown from one dog and one cat a year ago to one cat, three dogs, 26 hens, 1 rooster, 3 goats and now 8 rabbits! Yes, there are a lot of mouths to feed. However, they all have a job and are earning their keep! Eggs are a huge part of our diet. Milk will be a welcome addition. Two animals keep the rodent population down (less rodents = less snakes). Two dogs offer protection to us and our animals, and do quite well. The rabbits will provide awesome meat. Beyond all of the work that each performs, there is joy in just being around animals. There is something so very fulfilling being around life.
Yes, this is our prairie farm E-I-E-I-OOOOOO!