Purpose of animals on the homestead

Q. What is the purpose of the goats, the turtle, the ducks, and Quinn (its a bird you have I just don’t know what it is called)? I saw that you feed them left overs then compost their poop, but couldn’t you just compost the left overs?

A. Our animals not only provide us with companion ship, they are vital to the holistic structure of the urban homestead’s ecosystem.

1.    The chickens and ducks provide us with eggs  (we call them “sunshine eggs”)  which are much healthier than any eggs you can buy at the store
2.    Duck and chickens also are good at turning over soil our raised beds at the end of the season and eating the “bad” bugs.  Our propetry is so small that we let the chickens and ducks loose in the garden sometimes (under supervision of course – because they can get carried away). There are movable “tractors”  that you can build.  Google “chicken tractors” and you’ll find plans I am sure.
3.    Ducks and turtles love snails (and slugs!) which are a menace to any garden
4.    The goats will one day provide us with milk
5.    These backyard barnyard animals are great composters and give nutrient rich fertilizer.  We like to called the animals POS (our pet organic compost system)  Why?  You are right, we could just compost the left overs but the animals take the kitchen scraps and instead of waiting for months for the left overs to break down into soil, they turn the food scraps into organic fertilizer and compost in a matter hours.   Very efficient.
6.    Chickens and goats can be used as a method of weed control
7.    We are vegetarian so we don’t eat our animals, but if you were to eat meat these animals would provide you with a protein food source.
8.    Each of the animals (yes even chickens!), have their own different and unique personalities.  We jokingly tell folks ” we don’t have cable tv we have animals.”  They provide us with hours of entertainment – they are fun to watch.
9.    Goats are great pets – you can train them like dogs.  We take ours for walks
10.    We don’t “compost their poop.” Their poop can be immediately used in the garden (no composting necessary).  The soil of our animal enclosure is now rich, black dirt thanks to all their droppings.

As for Quinn, he’s a pigeon we rescued. We found him badly injured (hawk attack) and nursed him back to health.  He has found a mate and no longer resides on the homestead. Instead he’s starting family with his new “girl friend.”

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  1. Sue says:

    You have inspired me to garden; however, my climate is more extreme – S.E. Texas. I was wondering if you can suggest how to deal with 100 degree weather and drought. I can’t find anything on the internet.

    • Ellen says:

      Sue, you might want to look up “xeriscaping” or xeriscape gardening – this is the term for drought or desert-like conditions, and I see a lot of hits for it on google (not sure how many of them feature edibles, but it’s a place to start.) If you know your USDA zone, that can give you a search term – also visit the website of your state/county cooperative extension service, they usually have a lot of PDF resources on local climate gardening.

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