Starting Big

One of our biggest mistakes – along with the majority of new homesteaders – is that we started out too big. Every experienced farmer will say “Start small!” Kyle and I genuinely thought we were heeding that advice, but every month around the same time, the things that I can normally handle become heavier and seem to somehow coincide with some sort of animal emergency. Then out of my lips my husband will hear me shout: “I am exhausted and overwhelmed! We need to give something up! And if we just can’t part with any of our animals, then we need to STOP adding more.”
We have 8 rabbits, 15 quail, and 30 chickens. That doesn’t seem like a lot until you have a rainy day and the rabbit coop that you built isn’t as water-tight as you thought and suddenly you find 7 baby bunnies that are all soaked and not one is still alive. Then at 6 pm at night instead of putting the kids down early so you can have a quiet date night with wine, popcorn, and a movie, you are now outside devastated and frantically trying to find a place to put the 8 other rabbits while you clean out all the wet straw, find dirt around the yard to raise the elevation in the coop, fill the wheel barrel full of pee gravel that someone generously donated, cut boards and screw them over the gaps in the coop, cover the floor with the pee gravel, re-position the metal floor, and refill the coop with dry straw while your husband carries an incredibly heavy load of large bricks up the hill to place around the edge of the coop to keep the rabbits away from the walls in hopes that next time it rains, the adult rabbits and their next kindle will stay warm and dry and hopefully survive.
So what does “Start Out Small!” look like? I’m not sure, but if you find yourself regularly saying, “I am exhausted and overwhelmed!”or if you find yourself attending to some kind of animal emergency more than sticking to your kid’s bedtime routine, or if an animal crisis is regularly taking the place of your date-night, then you’ve probably hit your limit and it’s time to either give something up or manage what you have before adding more.

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