Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Hows and Whys of Being A Zoo Chef

One of the favorite parts of my day is reading your comments, questions and emails!
I try to answer each in some form or another,
but every so often a comment becomes the next day's blog post.

And so it is, today.

Yesterday Tee asked:
Can you tell us why you have each animal?
Like is it for pleasure or breeding, etc?

And.....Patsy asked:
"I know about Dog Chow and Cat Chow.   
Is there Goat Chow?  Horse chow?  Turkey Chow?  Pig Chow?
Just wondering."

Reading that I realized that so much of what I do is foreign to a lot of you.
I think the subject of why we have and how we feed the animals deserves its own post.

The most important question of all is "WHY?" do we do this?

The farm was originally a retreat from the hustle and bustle of city/suburban life.
Then when it came time to downsize, we decided the the quiet of the country
was to be the second half of our life's story.

The end result is what happens when two animal-loving dreamers find themselves
in the middle of the country with lots of acreage and a barn.

A dozen chickens for eggs and a handful of ducks on the pond
soon turned into
125 free-ranging chickens, 
several generations of ducks,
three two turkeys,
an ever-changing number of guinea fowl,
15 to 20 fainting goats,
four Nigerian Dwarf goats,
one Haflinger horse,
two ponies,
two mini horses,
two mini donkeys,
two Kunekune pigs,
three babydoll Southdown sheep,
five, three dogs,
five, three cats,
and bees.
So much for downsizing!

It just might be a disease...although, it is a rather well-planned disease.
And if this is a sickness...I've got to say I have never enjoyed ill-health more!

Seriously, we are very careful to not take on more than we can easily care for.
This lifestyle is not for everyone,
as it comes with a responsibility that cannot be ignored... not even for a day, or a half-day.
We do it because we love it.
We love knowing that each morning when we awaken, our day is filled with purpose.
Our days are full of love.

We sell our eggs and our honey when we have enough.
We used to sell our goat babies when we bred them.
Now, however, our animals are our friends and we share them with as many
individuals as we can.

We open our farm to groups who long to commune with nature and animals,
to pre-schools, and daycares.

We try to bring awareness to others of the responsibility that we as humans have
for preserving our land and caring for our animal friends.
Although we grow lots on our farm, our most important "crop" is love.
That the legacy we wish to leave behind.
"We grow love."

As for how we feed this menagerie of souls...

All of our four-legged farm animals are grazers and subsist on a diet of primarily
grass and hay.

Each different species has a special chow that is fed daily or twice daily 
that supplies the animals with the vitamins and minerals needed for a nutritionally balanced diet.
That chow must taste really good, because everyone is quite excited at feeding time!
Appropriate snacks are given as well.

The pigs, being herbivores, get a pelleted feed twice daily.

Their favorite snacks are carrots, apples and chestnuts.

The equines receive a pelleted supplement daily as well.

The goats get a pelleted feed twice daily and have 24/7 access to grazing and hay...
and seasonal treats of pine trees (not to mention daily treats of Ritz crackers).

The sheep are perhaps the easiest of the animals...
relying on pasture and hay feeder for their nutrition.

A mineral/protein block is also available to them at all times.

Believe it or not, our chickens are our most expensive animals to feed.
Luckily they are free ranging and have access to insects and pasture to supplement the
chicken feed that is accessible to them at all times.

They also get twice daily snacks of "scratch"....

and liberal helpings of kitchen scraps.

Our turkeys, ducks, and guineas also have chicken feed available to them as well.

All of the animals and birds have heated water tubs that are scrubbed and filled daily.

At one point in his life when you would ask my son what he wanted to be when he grew up,
he would reply a "zoo chef."
I always thought that was a cute play on words...but he actually thought that cooking for the animals would be a fun job.
He's an engineer now and cooks for his family.
 I have tried to assume the role of "zoo chef"in his stead.
We are a lucky family...
our love for animals is genetic....
we can't help ourselves!


  1. You really grow love, Beverly. Thanks for answering the questions and showing your marvelous farm members. I also like Audrey and Stella (in the previous post). You're doing a wonderful job! Happy New Year to you and yours!
    Barbara Hit

  2. What a wonderful post, something we can all aspire to I think

  3. The animals all come first here, after doing feed rounds we get fed last on the list, to keep track of who has what I have put a white board up in the feed store as sometimes I change rations and hubby isnt good at remembering who has how much, also if ever we have some-one take over a feed round if we are out they can see who has what, all feed bins have been labeled as well as the turkey chicken alpaca pig and sheep supplement feeds are all pelleted and look very similar, your livestock look well loved and looked after :-)

  4. Wonderful post Bev . . .
    I liked the " we how love" part . . .

  5. "Zoo Chef" could be a terrific program on Animal Planet!

  6. Hi, I have read your blog for a very long time now, but have not posted comments before (not tech minded). I absolutely love your blog and read every day. I think it is a marvellous thing for you to share your daily life with other like-minded people. You are an inspiration - you certainly inspire me. Your farm and your animals are wonderful - thank you for sharing. Kind regards, Louise S, Cheshire UK.

  7. Aren't there more than 3 cats or doesn't Bobby count?? All the love your animals get is returned 10 fold..They are all happy, healthy and loving to each other..It's a wonderful life you have created for them and yourselves..another great post!!

  8. what a wonderful post. it's all so interesting and your animals are so lucky to live there!

  9. Thanks for sharing. One can certainly see all the love that is on your wonderful farm.

    The fur babies look so content and happy. They know their parents are special!!.

    Enjoy, Janie

  10. It is definitely more expensive to run a farm now a days then it was back in the 60s and 70s when we were on our farm and yes we lived of of our land and some live stock . Believe me if we could afford all the feed and vet bills I would have a hobby farm I miss farming and all the animals and the chores . Lovely photos and great post . Thanks for sharing , have a good day !

  11. Your experience in "becoming" a farm is similar to mine. Little by little, the family just grows. It is especially wonderful when they pro-create, adding even more family members. It certainly can be expensive, as you have clearly shown, but they are such fabulous friends, we want them to be happy. Being a farm mom isn't for everyone, as you say, there's a lot of work each day, cleaning up after them, hauling hay, trying to keep the sheep from eating EVERYTHING before the donkeys can get their fair share of goodies. But the happiness and rewards of witnessing the antics, personalities and habits of the animals on the farm is beyond words for the animal lover!


We welcome your questions and comments. Questions very often become the subject of a later blog keep those questions coming!! I read each and every comment...they are often the highlight of my day! Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us.....


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