Farm Animals

Keeping animals is an integral part of any homestead or farm. Keeping animals and growing your own food enables you to experience and witness firsthand the entire cycle of life on a farm – from growing food, to feeding your animals, to seeing them breed and reproduce and then supply you with food. Their manure and wastes also go into enriching your soil and further benefiting your vegetable crops.

These days most children think that milk, eggs, cheese, meat and vegetables come from Woolworths (a local South African supermarket chain). It is a delight for me to see my little girls knowing all about growing vegetables and raising animals. They have planted seed into the ground, watered it and seen them grow into plants, and they know how to pick vegetables right of the plants and eat them fresh and green. They have seen lambs and calves being born and chickens hatch after the mother hen has sat on them for 21 days. They have also witnessed our animals being slaughtered knowing that they will be eating them soon afterwards. Introduction to these concepts early in life means that the children understand the natural cycle of life and have no problems with it. We care for our animals well and they care for us well in their producing meat, eggs, manure and milk for us.

In addition, these days most of us who have not grown up on a farm do not know how to farm – to grow our own food and look after animals. Modern society has robbed us of basic skills to survive off the land as we specialise in high tech qualifications and outsource the production of our food to large-scale industrialised farms. However, there is a new trend where people are deciding to leave the city with all its stress and to move back onto land where they can produce their own food and raise their children and animals in the peaceful country side. While it is not for everyone, there are those of us who find it very fulfilling.

Those of us who choose this lifestyle need to learn a set of new skills such as growing our food and raising animals – all of which is totally new to us. Although this requires a steep learning curve, and lots of hard work, it is very rewarding to eat the fruits of your labours. Please enjoy these few pages of how to keep farm animals, like keeping chickens and keeping sheep, and while they are not comprehensive in everything you will need to know, I hope they will provide you with a good start – as you learn the rest as you go along.....