With a Cluck, Cluck here, and a Maaa, Maaa there, and a really quiet whimper sound...
Welcome to our Backyard Farm - E-I-E-I-Ooooooooo!!
When Andrew & I started dating in college, I loved to go back home with him to visit his parent’s farm. His parents still live on an old dairy farm with 37 acres of land near the coast of NC. My father in law has always kept lots of cows, chickens, geese, donkeys, and goats. While I loved getting to know Andrew’s parents, eating his momma’s biscuits, and looking through old baby pictures of Andrew and his brother (obligatory past time of all girlfriends everywhere) I LIVED to be outside with the animals on those visits.
My Dad doesn’t hunt or farm, he builds race cars and engines and I spent most of my childhood underfoot in the garage or in the pits of the local speedway. So while I was no city girl, this farm life was all foreign to me and I was captivated.
The goats especially captured my heart immediately. I always warned Andrew that he would have to buy me some goats one day, they are just so fun. For the first 4 years of our marriage, we lived in rental houses or apartments and then our first TWO home purchases were in a neighborhood (the same neighborhood actually! Shout out to CEDAR ROCK!) So when we moved our family of 6 into a 3 bedroom apartment in Greensboro, NC, we set out to find some land so that we could have some animals and the rest is history.
The little Farmhouse on the Highway:
When we learned that we would have to sell our home in Johnson City and find a new one in NC, we were determined to seize this transitional life season as an opportunity to get debt free. Soooo we lived in an apartment as our TN house sold, paid off all of our debt (including student loans that I thought I would take to the grave) and saved up a deposit before we started looking for a house.
Okay, that was a lie. We really did pay off all of our debt and save up money but how could we possibly wait to look for a house!? I was looking ALL the time (Darn you realtor app notifications) and I certainly struggled in this season with contentment & trusting God’s timing. We learned very quickly that in the housing market we were living in, a lot of land and the “perfect for us” house, was not a realistic (or wise) financial commitment at this time.
If you’ve ever bought a house, you are very familiar with taking the list of “MUST haves” that you started with and slashing it to the bare minimum until you hardly even list a bathroom as a requirement anymore. (Okay - drama alert - but you know what I’m talking about.) Buying a house is a sanctifying experience in more ways than one! (I’ll save that analogy for another post … let’s get to those cute furry animals)
We found a house right off of a state highway that sat at the front of a one acre lot and had recently been purchased as a flip investment & remodeled. We closed in July and started some more construction on it as we removed several walls in the main living area, closed up an unfortunately placed entry door and put another door where there once was a window. I should mention that we’ve NEVER done anything like this before so it is by the grace of God, the help of some family and friends, the hard work and perseverance of Andrew, and the technology of Youtube, that we were able to turn this house into a home. We moved in the first weekend of September and we’ve been working on it ever since. After a few miscellaneous repairs and improvements around the house, we started work on the outside, specifically the backyard.
We couldn’t get animals without proper fencing and shelter and the back 8th portion of our property was completely overgrown and there were three random sheds/buildings, two of which had to go immediately.
From the day after thanksgiving until the end of March, every weekend was filled with HARD labor, burn piles, trips to lowes, and trips back to lowes for that other thing we forgot or the tool we just broke. Andrew and I did as much as we could together, the kids helped in every way that they could, but there was SO much that Andrew did all on his own and I am FOREVER grateful for his dedication to bringing this dream to life.
Here’s a before and after of our back yard:
Establishing the herd:
Our little 2 year old Yorkshire-Terrier-Pomeranian mix named Rocky, is the king of the castle. We love him dearly and he is amazing with our kids! So far he has also been a mostly welcoming friend to each of our new additions. Here’s the story of our animals as it has unfolded:
Our girls got Bunnies for Christmas this past year so they have been the apple of our eye since then and have slowly been our introduction into animal maintenance outside of the usual domestic pets we are used to. We had our eyes on Nigerian Dwarf Goats and chickens. I had a few deposits down on some goats all around the state of NC and we were just waiting until they were ready and our shelter was finished.
Before we even had the shelter in the pin finished, I came across some Alpacas for sale. What?! What’s an alpaca? You mean llama? No, Alpacas are a species of South American camelids. While they are closely related to and often mistaken for llamas, they are noticeably smaller than llamas. Alpaca’s are adorable. I think they are actually becoming somewhat trendy lately, like the endearing cartoon sloth that can be found on graphic tees and coffee mugs. Anyways, Long story short, I went to look at 3 alpacas one sunday afternoon. A lady literally down the street from us was moving out of state quickly and selling a momma and her two sons for an extremely low price. She sold the mother before I got there but once I saw the boys and asked a few questions, I put a deposit down on the boys and planned to come back the next weekend after our shelter was built. Then I learned that Alpaca’s don’t need and most often don’t even go into their shelter with the exception of areas that experience extremely high winds. I reached back out to the seller and told her that we’d like to come get them sooner, she texted me and told me that she had already pulled out with a moving truck to head to VA for the week but that we could come get them if we wanted. I venmo’d her the rest of the balance, loaded the kids up, grabbed two halters from tractor supply and Andrew and I drove over, captured, and loaded those two alpacas into the back of our van and drove them home. (They make the CUTEST, SWEETEST little whimper sound)
Purchasing the goats was a lot more planned out and gracefully executed. Like I said, I had found two sellers already and had purchased two little bucks, one already wethered. We brought those boys home on March 28th as the birthday presents for our two sons. After a few weeks, I made a new goat-loving friend who had some little doelings for sale and I ended up buying all 3 of our girls from her.
Our Chickens all came from the same farm and we brought them home as 2 month old pullets. They should be laying eggs anytime in the next 2 months. The kids were disappointed that we skipped the adorable “chick” stage but we wanted to know what we were getting as we were learning and we’ve promised that for the future.
Be sure to follow Equipping Arrows on Instagram and Facebook to meet each of our farm friends (Farm Friend Intros every Friday) and catch all of the backyard farm shenanigans as they are happening.