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I’m taking a break from doing my taxes. Maybe, if
you’re reading this, you are, too. Or, maybe, you’ve done what I honestly
intended to do, and did actually start to do, got yours out
of the way early.
At any rate, I can think of a hundred things I’d
rather do anyway than my taxes. So, as the end of the day approaches and
my head is full of farm thoughts, scrambled with numbers, spreadsheets and
formulas, I thought I’d write a bit - to clear the cobwebs.
I was thinking lately about the hoops, or rings as it
may be, that I jump through on any given day, to have animals here on the
I mean, I’ve
got cats, dogs, chickens – including multiple roosters, horses and a ewe.
And that’s just the invited animals and doesn’t count the predators
who try to eat the fowl, do occasionally eat their eggs and young, and the
various rodents and fuzzy tailed rabbits that eat the fertilizer, tender
new crops, chew through drip tapes and insulation of the attic in the shop
and my house.
wonder sometimes if it’s the juggling of multiple roosters (I know, easily
remedied for some who see a stew pot as the solution); training
dogs to protect the fowl and not eat them – or their eggs – or
their feed; keeping the horses segregated during the mares’ “season” so we
don’t have any more fighting between the geldings, (I know, they
shouldn’t care anymore – but tell them that.);
down the ewe to not only try to measure her for her new shearing
head-stock, but to actually shear her – and then figure out what to
do with her beautiful wool that I now have several bags full of; try to
keep the various packs of neighborhood barn cats from fighting with your
own barn cat, by putting out enough food for all of them – which, of
course, seems to simply invite more to the party, and feed the local
raccoon and opossum family; (much less provide the occasional aroma left
behind by the feline parade of unaltered stray toms looking for love in
all the wrong places. peee eww!); and repair, nearly daily, the geysers
left in drip tapes by field mice and other rodents who are searching in
them for water – even though there is a rather large pond, full of
water – just a few hundred more feet away. But I suppose that would be too
much work for them. Chewing through plastic must be so much more
Yes, I can see where some farmers probably just threw
up their hands one day and said – no more animals! Sold them off, or
simply didn’t replace them as nature took its course, and were left with
just their quiet, non-aggressive and mostly compliant, vegetables.
Sure, you have to feed and water them. And weed their
beds, especially when they’re little. And then you need to harvest them,
of course, when they’re mature. And then there’s the bit about clearing
the stalks and such when they are finished each season.
But they don’t seem to stir up the same ruckus as a
flock, (or 5), of chickens, a pair of LGD’s, a ewe, the parade of cats and
rodents and a handful of equine.
WAIT!! What am I
saying? HOW BORING it would be around here without them all!
Well, most of them anyway. I could stand a few
less toms – nothing a few weeks of careful live trapping and low cost
neutering won’t remedy I suppose, and then maybe they'd focus on the
rodents more than the other cats.
Yes, I think I'd go nuts from the lack of commotion.
Not to mention, the missing benefits having animals on the farm includes.
worked at a farm that didn’t have any animals to speak of at all. No dogs,
no fowl, no livestock. Just a few, lazy ol’ cats – who were barely doing
their share to eat a few grasshoppers now and again – but there was
nothing moving there other than the grasshoppers. I can’t help but think
that the lack of animal life had a little something to do with that
I know they can be a problem at farms with animals,
too, but with zero checks in place, nature really seems to have an
opportunity to be out of balance. Much like when a rancher "clears" his
pasture or fence line, giving a clear shot to every insect from the OK
border south, to a vegetable farmer's nearby gardens.
Chickens or other fowl, for starters, help control
pests, do some weeding,
provide eggs, (and for some,
meat), and hours upon hours of priceless
entertainment, just to name a few of their contributions.
Who needs the comedy channel, when you have silly
chickens chasing around grasshoppers?
needs a nature channel, when you can watch the beautiful scene of a ewe as
she grazes in the tall grasses of her paddock - as the chickens chase
grasshoppers? Two shows in one!
needs pet videos when you have two big, fluffy, loving dogs who would give
their left eye teeth for you just to stop and pat them on the head?
needs $50 tickets to an amusement park, pay a field guide, or fight
traffic to see some planned garden showcase when you can jump on the back
of a horse, go fishing, or take a stroll through thousands of colorful
wildflowers any time of the year – without even leaving your property?
And let’s not forget, one of the most important roles
farm animals can play on the farm – sustainability.
Using farm animal waste in the composting program,
boosts nutrition and bacterial benefits in your compost pile that are then
used to side dress crops or prepare beds for an increase in production of
the crops – which is the main reason you’ve left the crazy “real” world to
become a farmer in the first place, right?
Ah yes, Old MacDonald. He
had the right idea. Eeee I Eeee I, Ohhhhhhhhhhhh!
I’m going out to check on and tuck in my 3- ring farm
circus participants, so they’re ready for tomorrow’s show. I can hardly
Now go eat your food - Naturally!
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