About Our Animals

An integral part of the Kinnard Family Homestead is our animals.  Viewed more as “co-laborers” than as “pets,” each of our furry and feathery friends serve a practical and economically-justified purpose by providing us a functional service in exchange for a comfortable and care-free home on the range.

Current Workers

The Loyal Protector

Our first and foremost contributor at the homestead is the dog.  Currently, we have a Black Lab and Blue Heeler mix named “Heeler” who does an excellent job at alerting us to predators and trespassers on our acreage.  He also accompanies our kids whenever they walk to the mailbox or decide to play in the woods.  Previously, we tried keeping an Australian Shepherd, thinking it would be a good choice for future herding needs, but we had to let it go because of its high-energy nature which didn’t mix well with our breed of docile chickens.

The Egg Layers

Being one of the easiest farm animals to raise, chickens were the next logical addition to the homestead.  Partial to a crossbreed of the Road Island Red and New Hampshire Red known as “the Cherry Egger” (which we ordered from the great folks at PurleyPoultry.com) our birds are ideal both for egg production and, once their laying years have ended, for meat production.   Previously, we tried a flock of Bantam chickens from our local Tractor Supply store, but were disappointed by their overall performance in laying and the ratio of roosters per hens we ended up with.

The Mice Munchers

After our first few winters on the homestead, it was apparent we had a mice problem.  Because it was (and still is!) the habit of our kids to make and scatter just as many crumbs as our animals do, we must have provided a never-ending buffet to feed a few lucky mouse families both in our house and shed.  After the failed attempts of using mouse traps and poison, we finally decided to get a couple barn cats.  We were reluctant at first because of our initial dislike for cats, but were immediately satisfied to find one munching away on a giant mouse in his very first week on the job.  And now, we’re happy to report, it’s rare to ever see a mouse near the house unless it is desperately attempting to escape the jaws of one of our cats.  What’s more, it’s rare to see many snakes around the house because of the lack of mice, since mice ordinarily attract snakes.

The Lawn Mowers

One of the necessary evils of homesteading is mowing.  Lots and lots of mowing.  When you own a land by the acre, you’re responsible for a lot of growth.  In our case, about 10-aces of it.  In the absence of a tractor with all of the fancy attachments, we made due for a few years with a well-worn, zero-turn mower.  When it finally bit the dust one summer, we were faced with the decision of either investing a few thousand dollars in a new riding mower, or a few hundred in a couple of starter sheep and needed infrastructure to contain them.  In our research, we read that sheep (more so than goats) are effective at keeping a semi-manicured lawn.  And so, we settled on getting a male and a female of the Dorper breed, a South African cross between the Dorsey Horn and the Blackhead Persian varieties.  Their names are Shaun (after Shaun the Sheep) and Daisy.  We know we’ll eventually need an entire flock to manage our fields, but you start with what you can afford.

The Brush Clearers

Whereas sheep are by-and-large better lawn-mowers than goats, goats are by far better brush-clearers than sheep.  By adding a pair of Nigerian Dwarf Goats (who we’ve named Bombur and Gimli) to the homestead, we have an on-call crew of happy laborers to gradually eat their way through the unwanted weeds and brambles on our property. Because goats are both master escape artists and master eaters, it was important to first install the appropriate fencing to ensure they focused their attention on our unneeded brush and not our much-wanted landscaping and garden.

Former Workers

The Bug Eaters

It was the recommendation of some friends of our from church, who happen to have a good deal of gardening experience, to also incorporate Guineas into our homestead.  Apparently, Guineafowl have a reputation for reducing bug populations in and around a home and its garden areas.  Living so close to the woods, it made sense for us to give these birds a try, if for no other reason than to help repel all the unwated ticks.  Though we ended up losing our Guineas due to a few amateur mistakes (a story for another time), we plan to get more when opportunity allows.

The Pork Providers

Our decision to raise pigs was accelerated by a few years when some other homesteading friends of ours offered to give us one of their piglets as a gift.  As unprepared as we were, we were more than willing to give it a try in order to raise our own quality pork.  No one warned us (if they did, we weren’t listening well enough) just how smart, stubborn, and strong pigs are.  Suffice it to say, our family spent many afternoons chasing down the escaped animal and trying to patch the parts of the fence it bulldozed over.  The experience was worth it though, not only because of the valuable lessons we learned through the process (which included a tutorial in butchering), but because of the freezer full of pork we ended up with.
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