We love our animals and they make our lives SO much more enjoyable! Now…. Since we live off-the-grid and want to be as self sufficient as possible we expect everything to earn it’s keep. Our Animals included! Here is the menagerie of beings that make up the Crow Homestead:
Our Boris is the watchdog. He likes to stick by the house and never strays when he is out with us in the woods. He is big and strong, but he knows the chickens and ducks are off limits and almost always keeps the desire to chase them at bay. He is a rescue dog who was 9 months old when we got him 5 years ago. He is a big sweet heart with all people and loves kids. We send the niblings out into the woods with Boris and he always get them home in one piece! The only thing holding Boris back from being our “perfect” homestead dog is a nice thick coat for our brutally cold weather.
Pedro was grandfathered into our 0ff-the-grid lifestyle ( so he gets a pass on “earning his keep”). When we first got Pedro we lived in St. Paul, MN with the downtown skyline out our windows and never expected we would be living of this homesteading life in the future. He drove with us from MN to Belize in 2007 and spent some time on the Caribbean beaches. He lived in a houseboat while we built our house off-the-grid, and now Pedro is an old timer and living out his golden years in the woods. Pretty exciting life for a canine!
Olive Oil is our kitty who keeps all rodents at bay. She isn’t the best mouser I’ve ever seen….but she definitely keeps the numbers below the epidemic levels we have seen up here without a cat. My sister picked her up for me 5 or so years ago and the niblings named her Olive Oil…..or did Dee??? She loves to sleep under the covers in the winter and gets along with the dogs, ducks and chickens!
We have been keeping chickens since 2009. The chickens earn their keep in a multitude of ways. First off and most obvious is the eggs. Right now, each chicken is laying 1 egg every day or two. That is a ton of glorious eggs every week!!! Next is pest control. Mr. Crow and I, along with our dogs, find very few ticks on us even though we live in a very heavy tick area, cuz the chicken gobble them up! They also provide a wonderful fertilizer for the garden. We are designing our new coops to try and keep more of the chicken droppings separate from the wood shavings to be able to use the chicken droppings without composting it. Lastly… at the end of their egg production we butcher them for some chicken tacos and chicken stock. Every year my sister or mother have raised the baby chicks for me until they were big enough to live without the heat of a light bulb. I’ve had roosters to fertilize the eggs and tried ordering eggs and having broody hens hatch my chicks ….but no luck yet! I have always let my chickens free range. Yes I have lost several to the wild predators in the area…but for me even losing even up to 20% of my flock is still worth free ranging. It keep the flock healthy, keeps pests down and reduces the amount of feed we need to buy.
Here is my current flock. We have (1) Bantam Golden Laced Wyncott, (1) Golden Wyncott (full size), (1) Black Wyncott, and (4) Americanas.
DUCKS We added Khaki Campbell ducklings this spring, we have two males and two females. They have been so much fun to have on the Crow Homestead!! I love to watch them walk around in a row and gobble up tasty tidbits. Like our chickens they free range and love hanging out in the swampy area on the northeast side of our property. We decided to add ducks after we lost cabbages last year to slugs. I did some research on permaculture and learned that I didn’t have a slug problem, I had a lack of duck problem! So we ordered the ducklings up and set to balance the ecosystem! And I’m happy to report I only saw one slug in the garden during the entire 2018 growing season. We look forward to collecting their eggs soon and seeing how they deal with our bitterly cold winters.
Mr. Crow and I hope to add Bees and Dwarf Dairy Goats to our menagerie in the next couple of years. Animals are a really fantastic addition to the homestead, but we always try and stay focused on the costs and benefits based on what our land has to offer that animal and what that animal has to offer our land.