Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What is this, a petting zoo?

Luckily, Tropical Storm Fay gave us nothing worse than cabin fever here at the House at Two Palms. We had four days trapped inside with a six year old and a five year old… It’s a wonder we survived.

More Fay photos here

During our house arrest, we watched movies and played board games – Blokus is a lifesaver! We also spent a lot of time reading; at one point I was reading excerpts from a book on pasture-raised chickens to the monsters. That was when I realized that we had all gone insane.

See, it started with sheep and goats. We want sheep for wool and goats for milk, and both for meat. But, if we have sheep and goats, we have to be prepared to fight parasites. We want to minimize the routine use of medications, so we will need something to help keep the parasite load down. That led us to chickens.

Chickens are perfect for the job; they can graze behind the ruminants, scratching up bugs and fighting the parasite cycle. Plus hens lay eggs, bringing us closer to self-sufficiency!

But chickens need to be protected from predators. Now we’re learning about “chicken tractors” and guard animals. We’re thinking of adding a few guinea fowl to the flock as watch animals; they may be one of the ugliest birds on a farm, but they sound an alert against intruders, and they eat a ton of bugs.

Are you keeping count? When you add the rabbits, cats, and dog that we already have, that makes seven different types of animals. It won’t be a farm; it’ll be a zoo!

Our time together during the tropical storm reinforced the fact that we are all invested in this crazy farm scheme. Even the kids are caught up in the idea: asking questions, learning about the different animals and their care, sketching plans for pole barns and chicken tractors, and just dreaming with us. Seeing the kids excited and involved in our plans is absolutely priceless.

Since no storm can last forever, this week we finally went back to work and school. I am the proud mom of a kindergartner and a first grader. sniff They grow so fast!