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Livestock newbie chose hardy Spanish goats By Paul Bailey


It all started eight years ago, having successfully convinced my wife that our suburban backyard could reasonably host enough laying hens to provide fresh eggs for the family. Finally, after months of carefully crafted persuasion, she relented and soon we had a brooder full of mail-order chicks. Within the year we were collecting several eggs each day and found ourselves really enjoying the backyard hobby of keeping chickens. The different personalities and antics of this mixed flocked only added to the fun.


Of course, what began as a small endeavor soon grew into a packed henhouse of 25 layers — too many for our backyard and the adjacent weedy “no-man’s land” that runs behind our home and the middle-school behind us. The hens were foraging down the landscape to bare earth! A solution was in order, but not one I could have planned.


When Covid 19 hit, we found ourselves the only house on the


block that wasn’t “scrambling” for eggs. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!) Neighbors that couldn’t find eggs on store shelves were calling and I delivered a few dozen to some of my favorite clients. It became pretty obvious our community (and country) relies very heavily upon a food supply chain that was proving to be more fragile than anyone expected. Soon, my wife and I began to talk with some local farmers and ranchers about alternative options to source food more locally and we eventually teamed up with some farm friends to raise 50 broilers on their property.


I was commissioned to build an oversized “chicken tractor” and they’d feed and maintain the chickens until we were ready to have a good ol’ fashioned butchering party. Several months later, with 25 birds in the freezer each, we began to discuss other options of raising additional protein. We usually have a deer or two processed each year during hunting season, but we knew it would be good to have more variety than just chicken and venison. Within a few months, having become intrigued with the art and science of regenerative grazing and creative land management, I couldn’t help but wonder about a block of land I had noticed while driving through a small “rural island” on my drive to the office. A small brick house sat on 5 acres smack dab in the middle of an older neighborhood and was encircled with a 6’ chain-link fence. While it appeared to be significantly overgrown, I spied a couple of old horse stables and the fields appeared to have been planted in pas- ture-grass at one point. Sadly, Bradford pear trees and wild rose and blackberry vines


Paul Bailey gradually grows his herd as his knowledge base grows.


September 2021 | Goat Rancher 33


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