Courtesy Stephanie Staton
It took two months of back-and-forth communications with the bank, the realtors, the owner and who knows whom else, but we finally purchased our dream farm: 10 acres of rolling pasture with a small 90-plus-year-old farmhouse. While still more challenges lie ahead of us—repairing the derelict house, moving the driveway and installing a leach field—my husband and I find respite in planning out how we’ll eventually use the property. We envision gardens and orchards for growing produce as well as raising our own meat animals for the table.
We’ve started work on the house in earnest, which means putting off some of our farming goals for the time being. With fall, and soon winter, upon us, I hope to steal a few minutes here and there to plot our garden beds before next spring. I’ve found that planning is not only essential to keeping our goals in sight but also is therapeutic when constraints, such as time, budget and weather, prevent me from doing much else. To this end, we’ve discussed, rediscussed and selected dozens of plants that simply must be narrowed down to a manageable number. In this respect, I’m glad the nature of this project forced us to step back and rethink our plans, allowing the necessary time to reflect on the feasibility of our ambitious project list.
Just like the garden, our plans for livestock evolve with each iteration of the must-have list. As we volley the potential species and breeds that will reside on our property, I find myself drawn to smaller breeds that offer slightly easier handling as well as require less space to thrive. Encouraged by Sharon Biggs Waller’s advice in "No Small Feat,” I’m now armed with inspiration and concrete information on the breeds that can (and eventually will) feed on our pastures and take shelter in the huge barn my 3-year-old son expects us to build. (Seriously, huge.) If you’ve always dreamed of adding livestock to your property—be it for milk, meat or mere companionship—take the first step toward realizing your dream by choosing compact or miniature stock for your menagerie.