Farm Animals

Post date: Sep 22, 2016 5:1:23 AM

Recently we added two German Angora rabbits to our fiber animals. May they produce lots of soft, beautiful rabbit wool for our use and to offer for purchase as a ranch product! While contemplating the decision, I was reminded of something by Joel Salatin I read some time ago. He said that every animal on his farm - as I remember he specified chickens and pigs - had to do two jobs. With Angora rabbits, fiber production is obviously one of the jobs. When these two grow up, they most likely will have the "job" of producing more rabbits. And, I remember from long ago when we raised French Angora rabbits, their manure and discarded bedding makes wonderfully excellent compost as a garden amendment.

Our Santa Cruz Island sheep have multiple jobs as wool producers, grass and brush mowers, and fertilizer makers, also producing more lambs to bolster the population of this very rare breed. The Navajo-Churro sheep we still have also are wool producers, mowers, and fertilizer manufacturers.

The llamas, like the sheep, produce fiber which is quite nice (if I ever get around to shearing them, and making a fiber tumbler to remove some of the vegetation matter). They mow grass and brush nearly as well as the sheep, and can reach upward into the trees to defoliate the lower branches. It all helps reducing fuel of wildfires. A couple llamas, namely Georgie and Sahne these days, do the additional job of guarding sheep from coyotes.

The chickens produce eggs and the combination of manure, bedding, and feathers makes excellent compost. Chickens will graze too, helping with weed abatement. And they eat insects. One of these days I need to find an artistic use for the beautiful feathers they moult. I don't write about the turkeys much, but they are grazers too, and insect catchers. Their eggs are great especially for baking, when we get them before the ravens carry them off. And their feathers are beautiful. The main use of the turkeys are for meat, of course, but we have a few old ones left that probably would be tough.

Dogs and cats? Theoretically the cats are mousers, the dogs guard dogs, but their main function is companionship and entertainment.