The Animal Kingdom – A girl can dream!

After Tuesday’s very epic ladybug release, I thought it would be appropriate to do a series on different animals we’re considering sometime in the future. I’ll devote a day to each type of animal; the benefits, the costs, the stuff I’m worried about, and the things we would need to learn or adapt our home to.

As of right now, in addition to 1,500 aphid eaters, we have a cat, Clarice:

I’ve already blogged about her usefulness as a member of the homestead – she really, really keeps pests down in the house. Even with the wet weather we’ve had, I’ve seen very few insects inside this summer.

In my opinion, cats are perfect companions, if you find one with the right temperament. Clarice is extremely low-maintenance; she likes her pets and getting her bowl filled every day, but it’s no stress at all for us to be away from her all day or even all weekend. When we go on trips longer than four days, we arrange for someone to come by and check her food, but that’s nothing compared to the needs of some animals.

Which brings me to a more sobering point when it comes to the animal world – our current lifestyle isn’t exactly conducive to owning anything other than a cat. It’s a hard reality that we’ve struggled with. Both of us are away at work during the week, and sometimes we have evening commitments as well. We also enjoy the freedom of being able to get away some weekends, and we try to take a nice, long vacation once a year. If we owned even half of the animals I’d like to own, every one of those days we’re gone represents the need to coordinate care for them at least once a day, if not more in some cases.

When I try to research what the practicalities are of raising some of these animals, I often run across blogs from some of the more diehard types who gush on and on about the amazingwonderfulglorious benefits and delights in their livestock. Or, I come across some extremely embittered soul who tried raising ducks or goats and had a terrible time with it because they just weren’t prepared for the responsibility. What I would love to find is practical research from someone right smack in the middle of those two lines of thought. Preferably someone who lived in a major city and maybe also held a job outside of the house, even on a part-time basis. And took vacations once in awhile.

This is one of my biggest beefs (haha) when I read homesteading blogs – it seems like some of these modern farmers just aren’t able to have a life outside of their barnyard. Which, please, don’t get me wrong, if that’s what you WANT your life to look like, then that’s fantastic. But that is NOT what Jason and I want our lives to look like, at least not entirely. I’d like to be home more, I’d like to be in the community more, but traveling and having adventures is a big part of who we are also. You can’t just pack up a flock of chickens into your car and drive down the road…

That being said…good things do come to those who wait. The reality is that neither of us want to continue with our current work situations forever. We’re both doing small things to help make these changes happen, and in an ideal world both of us are able to be home more and work less. I won’t get into the specifics just yet, but I have good faith in the idea that within five years one (or hopefully both!) of us will be home throughout most of the day.

Of course, changing our work situation doesn’t exactly solve the problem of animals needing daily care while we’re on vacation. Enter the virtue of patience once again – in our ideal world, we have really solid relationships with a few of the neighbor kids and allow them to earn some cash and some mad skills by hiring them as temporary farm hands. Now, granted, this has the potential to be messy (escapee chickens and runaway pups come to mind) and would require a LOT of trust for both parties involved. Trust that takes time to build up. But how cool would it be to be able to provide eggs for all of our neighbors? Or to show rabbits at the fair that were raised not just by me, but by the community?

When I think of homesteading being done this way, it gives me the freedom to dream bigger dreams. This is how it should happen in the city. This is how someone could learn the art of self-sufficiency – by actually reaching out and saying, “I need help. Let’s do this together”.

So, with all of that in mind, tune in tomorrow for our second installation of the Animal Kingdom (aka Johanna’s delusional dreams about being a crazy pet lady).


One Comment to “The Animal Kingdom – A girl can dream!”

  1. Looking at your setup, I’d say the next logical step is chickens. I’d love to have chickens, and the manure they’d produce you could put right back into your gardens. Cats are cool. I’ve thought about cats. But if they’re let outside they wreak havoc with the local bird population.
    I love wild animals much more than I love domestic cats, so that’s something of a problem for me. How about a turtle?

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