Monday, February 2, 2009

Barnyard in OUR backyard?!

“Mom, how many gallons of milk do we drink in a week?” asked Larissa.

“Hm, sometimes you kids go through almost a gallon a day. But I’d say about four gallons per week.”

“And how much does milk cost?” she continued.

“Nowadays, about $2.65 per gallon.”

Larissa punched some keys on a calculator. “That’s about $550 per year that you spend on milk. Mom, if we got a goat, you wouldn’t have to buy milk anymore. At their peak, goats can produce 4.3 gallons of milk per week! Even if we buy the goat feed, we’d still save money.”

Larissa has been reading Barnyard in Your Backyard since visiting a family we know from church who have a dog, goats, chickens, rabbits, and a calf. But they live in the country; we live in the suburbs. Still, if you have an amicable relationship with your neighbors, which we do, you might be able to keep a goat, or better two, says the book. Two goats keep each other company; one cries for companionship. And two goats would produce twice as much milk…

“We could make goat cheese,” Larissa explained. “It’s really easy. The book tells you how.”

Last summer Alexandra convinced my husband George to keep rabbits, not for pets this time, but for the meat. I wasn’t very keen on this idea.

“It’s good for the kids to learn how to feed and care for and breed rabbits, just in case any of them end up having to be more self-sufficient than we are,” George explained, fully supporting Alexandra’s idea. He grew up on what I’d call a small-scale farm in Ukraine. His parents were both teachers, but they raised a lot of their own food and livestock, especially chickens for the eggs and rabbits for the meat. Me? I grew up in cities and suburbs where the only animals we owned were cats and dogs.

I must admit that although I don’t take care of these rabbits, I’ve learned a lot about rabbits since August. I didn’t know, for example, that

- A rabbit’s gestation period is only 31 days from the days she’s bred

- The female rabbit (doe) does not come into heat but will accept the male (buck) at any time

If our breeding was successful, we should have some baby rabbits in three weeks. I’m sure to learn more about rabbits; George is sure to learn more about building and adding on to rabbit hutches. When anyone will undertake learning about rabbit meat is another piece of the puzzle.

I have a feeling that a goat shed (or whatever you call it) will be next. Isn’t that in part what homeschooling is about?


gina said...

My ex husband and his wife had two goats for awhile- but just as pets. (and we live in the suburbs- he gets along great with his neighbors) They were cute and lived in a little shed with a fenced in pen they could run around in. When him and his wife seperated- the goats went to live on her sister's farm.

~*~The Family~*~ said...

Love your carnival post. We have 8 goats and we love them. Just had a new baby one last Tuesday, being cold here in Minnesota it lived in the house for the first three days. Oh, and cheese is really easy to make.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)