Livestock: Friends and Food? Is it possible?
Yes but it’s not easy.
When my wife and I first moved to our farm about 16 years ago, we were advised that if we obtained any livestock that we intend to eat, then we should not allow them to become pets.
“Uu -huh” I said in my characteristic covertly defiant agreement. I think that means I lied.
Since then we’ve enjoyed having numerous animals around here that we’ve enjoyed both as near pets and as food. No, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we’ve hugged and petted these animals as we do with our cats and dog, but they have been cherished as a part of the family. Sounds a bit gruesome I know, but I’d feel guilty if we didn’t show them at least some appreciation as we raised them.
Our farm is blessed with a really nice chicken coop, so the first animals we obtained were chickens. They were given to me as a gift from a former neighbor. They are Aracauna breed, and I’m told they originated in South America. Known for laying eggs of multiple colors (teal, brown, tan and white) they are also cherished as dual-purpose chickens good for both egg production and roasting.I love the fresh eggs we collect and eat most mornings – I can really taste and see the difference! They are a wonderful benefit to health.
We were given one rooster who we were told is called Garth. We love the way Garth cockadoodles frequently.
I hope the neighbors do too! LOL.
Then another neighbor started telling us about how his kids raise piglets every spring. Before I knew it, there were squeals coming from our lower barn, both from my kids and the cute pink piglets!
We are amazed how fast they mature, growing from 40 pound cutey-pies to 200 pound hogs in a matter of weeks. And the pork meat is delicious; much tastier and leaner than what I’ve had from the grocery store.
I built them a very strong pen with heavy metal fencing so they could have plenty of fresh air and sunshine. “They’ll never get out of there.” I said. Ha! One day we arrived home to find the big boy and girl standing in the driveway. I still can’t figure out how they escaped because there was nothing amiss about their fence or gate. So what did I do? Well one of the tricks of raising livestock is to always shake the food dish before feeding. So I opened up their gate, stepped in, shook the food dish to make it’s distinctive sound, and in they ran! Hey mothers, try that and see if it works on your kids. LOL!
Then one day I saw a young turkey for sale at a local farmer’s market. “I’ll take it” I gleefully said, picturing my family drooling at Thanksgiving as they eyed the roasted fresh home-grown bird. We named him Gobble and enjoyed watching him grow. Well, as Thanksgiving approached the kids stated asking “Dad, we won’t eat Gobble will we?” Luckily turkeys freeze well. LOL!
Then, somewhere along the line I decided to tackle one of my greatest fears – bees! Ever since I was 6 years old I’ve panicked whenever I hear something buzzing. This terror began on the day I saw and heard my sister screaming after she stepped on a honey bee with a bear foot. Even the sound of a fly put me in a panic. So a friend gave me some bee raising equipment and before I knew it, and after much anxiety, I was raising bees. Their kind of difficult to hug, but make for a very interesting hobby! Amazingly, one can obtain 20 pounds of honey from even one good hive. I’ve really enjoyed giving my fresh, organic honey away as gifts, not to mention using it as a sweetener.Have you ever tried honey in coffee? Fantastic!
So, we’ve enjoyed these animals both as near pets and food. I’m delighted to be eating this freshly harvested, organically grown food. Animals are truly a gift from God. As the author of the book Whole Health Healing: The Budget Friendly Natural Wellness Bible for All Ages, this kind of healthy, holistic lifestyle is right up my alley.
What’s next? I’m considering cattle, maybe goats, or even emu. I’ll keep you posted.
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