When we moved our family back home to Southern Illinois finding a property with room to grow was key. My husband and I both grew up on family farms and we shared a strong desire to teach our children responsibility and instill a strong work ethic.
Our Farm Life "Why"
Last spring, we started looking at options to cut down on grass and weed control and we decided to start a hobby farm. We felt like life among animals would be such a wonderful way for our kids to grow up. Not only would interacting with the animals teach them communication and patience, we thought it would provide a positive model for future human relationships as well. For us, we really took our time researching the types of animals we wanted to bring to our farm and it has just evolved naturally over time. We knew it would be important to start small so we could dedicate the attention and care required.
Before we were able to bring any animals home initially, we knew we would have to prepare our property for farm life. Fortunately, when we purchased our home, it came with an outside storage barn. During our first year, we gave our barn a makeover and this summer my husband added onto it and enclosed a new area to offer protection for our animals against the elements. We also added welded wire fencing and several gates from Tarter Farm & Ranch Equipment. We knew the gates would keep our animals safely contained with no dangerous catch points. Installation has also been easy since they come ready to hang with hinge pins and snap chain.
Whether you are considering a hobby farm or just updating your existing farm and ranch equipment - we would highly recommend choosing Tarter! Our high quality Tarter products continue to withstand the elements and we love they are manufactured in the United States just a few hours from our home in nearby Kentucky. If you are interested in purchasing Tarter products, they are available at retail locations such as Rural King and other local farm supply stores nationwide.
We quickly fell in love with the Olde English "Babydoll" Southdown sheep. They met our need for grass and weed control and we loved how their small size would be much easier to handle than many other farm animals. Over the summer, we purchased two wethers and this fall we added two ewe lambs from Iowa. It has been such a joy to see our girls interact with our sheep.
The sheep have such a sweet temperament and will come right up to our girls and eat out of their hands. When our girls are old enough, I hope they will show sheep in 4-H like my grandmother once did.
Since we already had a shelter for the sheep, we did a little more research and settled on adding two jumbo Pekin ducks to the farm. They were very messy at first, but now that they are fully grown and outside with the sheep they have been much more manageable. Now we are just waiting for them to start laying eggs :) It is amazing how well the ducks get along with our sheep!
With winter approaching, we have really been focusing on tightening up our fencing and considering options for predator control. With smaller farm animals, safety is upmost importance. My husband and I built the fencing ourselves and while we felt it was secure, we knew we should also consider adding a large guard dog or llama to the farm. Did you know that llamas can instinctively bond with other animals and provide a high level of protection from predators like a coyote? After talking to other sheep owners, we decided a llama would be the best option for us. We loved that they would eat the same things as our sheep and we were lucky enough to find a llama that had previously been with Southdowns.
Once again, we worked quickly to expand our fence to accommodate the new llama and give our sheep more room to graze. Our animals mostly feed on fresh grass, but this winter they will have more hay. We also supplement with grains and offer minerals. The grain is mostly used as a special treat to help them bond with us and feel comfortable around us.
Tarter’s Adjustable Hay & Grain Feeder allows you to feed hay and grain to a variety of animals with ease. The variable height design allows livestock to eat at comfortable height, while the V-shaped hay rack helps prevent hay waste and provides stability.
We recently introduced our llama to the farm and to our surprise he has bonded well with our ducks too.
Family Hobby Farm
I hope this gives you a glimpse into our "why" for starting a hobby farm and how we've prepared for them along the way. In our area it is definitely not common to raise babydoll sheep, ducks or own a llama, but we wouldn't have it any other way :) We love having you along on this journey with us. Whether it's renovating a kitchen or updating an old barn, we appreciate your support! Our house truly feels like a home and our new animals have brought our entire family so much joy!! It seems like our favorite days are ones spent outside watching the animals interact or our girls helping care for them. We are always learning something new and I love that we get to do it together as a family.
As always, thank you for being here!!