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Fee

Lawnmowing animals

The guinea pigs did a great job of keeping our little back garden lawn trimmed in the old house but the new house has 3.2 acres to deal with, I don't think, resident buzzards aside, they're quite up to the job and I don't fancy hundreds of guinea pigs Laughing

Arthur would really like goats, probably because the goats we've encountered are full of mischief, kindred spirits! maybe also because several have enjoyed nibbling his little sister's wheelchair Laughing

Alpacas and sheep seem like a good option but seem to come with lots of paperwork, or does it look more complicated than it is?

I think we'll almost certainly get a few piglets to churn up what is eventually going to be the wildflower meadow, probably not till next year though as we won't be in the new place until the end of April and I don't want to add any extra stress of new livestock to be dealing with. Especially not as rescuing some kittens are top priority and getting the chooks back, and maybe a few extras Wink
wellington womble

No paperwork for Alpacas. They are exotic pets.

Sheep have paperwork. And you have to Do Things. Icky things. Dunno if you’d be able to get them sheared (this is my concern. Lady J really wants some, and I’ve said yes, provisionally. Idiot!)
Nicky Colour it green

and this... is how it began. Be careful, it's a slippery slope!

it started with how nice to have a bit of land...

then how are we going to keep the grass down..

got some sheep - then chickens, pigs, ducks and turkeys... learnt how to butcher, grew lots of veg, planted an orchard, started selling eggs at the door,learnt to spin, felt, dye, grew woad, learnt how to dye with natural materials started selling yarn and knitted and felted things at local gallery and online........

it all starts with 'how are we going to keep the grass down..'

We chose sheep - partly because we like eating lamb and mutton. Alpacas are very expensive - £600 for a wether, but the fibre is nice, goats - well I love the idea of keeping goats, particularly for milk, but it is a big commitment and they escape and upset your neighbours. Plus I'm not sure goats graze so much as browse.

The paperwork isn't difficult. Sheep husbandry is learnable - might be worth finding your local smallholders association, ours ran courses where you could get hands on experience, and make friends with local farmers and smallholders, people will lend a hand. and you can pay someone to shear the sheep.
Fee



it all starts with 'how are we going to keep the grass down..'


Hahaha Laughing
sgt.colon

Surely it has to be a sit on mower. Laughing
Fee

Surely it has to be a sit on mower. Laughing


Have you been talking to Happytechie and Arthur?
Nicky Colour it green

No paperwork for Alpacas. They are exotic pets.

Sheep have paperwork. And you have to Do Things. Icky things. Dunno if you’d be able to get them sheared (this is my concern. Lady J really wants some, and I’ve said yes, provisionally. Idiot!)

don't you have to get alpacas sheared? I found a shearer for the sheep through local ads in the paper. I do fancy having alpacas.. but I assume they nibble trees and being taller than sheep, the fences around my trees in the orchard are not tall enough..... I want the fibre though......
wellington womble

You do, but it’s a lot easier to get a small number of alpacas sheared than a few sheep. They also need very little other care and attention.

They do nibble trees and hedges, but they aren’t that tall. Mine are 5 foot, which is exactly as tall as me, so they make the orchard passable (at least, that’s the idea. I haven’t noticed they are especially keen on the trees. The love raspberry canes, though) They also eat brambles and bindweed. I’ve always liked them, but discovering they like bindweed means I’m besotted with them!
Slim

Alpaca also taste alright. frewen

But then you are back to the grass problem again

(kicks Slim under the table)
Slim

Well it's not like Nicky Colour it green is letting the mutton in to sleep by the fire!

Lawnmowers are good, but when they have the ability to self-replicate it can be useful to have a turnover plan in place.
Fee

Alpaca also taste alright.

i'm also not paying £600 for an animal I'm going to eat!
sean

Alpaca also taste alright.

i'm also not paying £600 for an animal I'm going to eat!

How much do they weigh? It might not be that much/lb.
Fee

No idea! Womble? Nicky Colour it green

Alpaca also taste alright.

i'm also not paying £600 for an animal I'm going to eat!

well that's the thing.. if you have a sheep that is problematic.. it becomes mutton. but with alpacas at 600 quid a go.. you have to live with your choice. We did do a few years of lambing, but actually found it worked quite well to buy an older ewe with lambs at foot every few years. Once the lambs were completely independent, she became mutton, let the lambs grow up .. then they join the freezer, and you get a new crowd. - so you can have slowly rolling stock of animals that have grown on your grass.

alternatively you can have pets.


whatever you choose be clear with all concerned if they are pets or not....
wellington womble

No idea! Womble?

50-70 kilos liveweight. But the fibre is to die for, and you can sell that. Sheep were originally bred for wool, and were too valuable to eat.

Also, if you are thinking of chickens, they really do chase off foxes. I know, because I still have some chickens.
Fee




whatever you choose be clear with all concerned if they are pets or not....

Absolutely. Arthur says he wants goats, we've talked about them being 'table goats' as he understands that concept, we've talked about having table birds plenty, but he gave me a look when I told him the specifics, that they would be going to the abattoir to be killed and come back as chunks of meat for us to eat. He needs to know that from the start with any of the animals we keep that will be meat. I'll make sure there are plenty of pets alongside Wink
NorthernMonkeyGirl

Geese graze.... wellington womble

We have cute pet chickens, and table chickens. Basically, any j likes or can distinguish (reliably) can be pets if she wants. Other disappear at regular intervals. She hasn’t really noticed. gregotyn

I have 5.5 acres, of which I let 1.5 acres for summer grazing for 2 horses-a big grey, Paddy. and a Shetland, Nutter for £10 a week (the pair), the wife feeds me and husband does digger work for me! The other 3 acres I "sell" to a friend for hay; he does the work and I get some help with other things-house maintenance usually-his son goes up ladders! This is good if you want the ground but don't want to work it.
But, if you want the ground for you to do the work then get the animals you like and go on a "How to keep course for beginners" if you have no experience of that livestock. Some folks do "suck it and see",-this can lead to disasters and livestock dying through lack of knowledge. I gave up thoughts of keeping livestock-age-although an agricultural graduate, and ex-college pig man. Whatever you decide enjoy it, but do it slowly and methodically. I put up a building once only to take it down because I had not thought it through. The other advice is if you don't know, ask!
Fee

Quite right! Hence coming back on here Wink

Lots will be slow work. Arthur is home educated so we're going to learn a lot together, too.
Nicky Colour it green

one thing to be wary of... In my experience, as soon as people find out you have some land, they start making suggestions that they keep their horse on it.... wellington womble

Not if you have already made your feeling on horses very, very clear.... Nicky Colour it green

Not if you have already made your feeling on horses very, very clear....

true.... it just gets tiresome, and found I had to re assert my feelings all over again when my situation changed.
Fee

Oh, good tip off! gregotyn

Horse folk usually have the money to pay the rent even if they don't like parting with it. I started charging 50% up front and the rest at 3 months on and only have them for 6months anyway They are made to collect the manure into a place I designate and then I use on my garden when I decide to garden, getting a bit long in the tooth for the amount of bending down to weed now! Potatoes in dustbins and old tyres are the way to go-upwards! buzzy

Rabbits are what you need. They keep the grass nice and short, with the added bonus that they come free (at least they do in our garden). Only drawback is that you will need to fence off things you don't want eaten.

Henry
Fee

I think we might get rabbits whether we want them or not Laughing dpack

considering the areas involved and the unsuitability of several types of grazer

moos are not a starter animal and there is not space for enough of them to make a proper herd, GPs are not ideal on that scale, geese are well messy and often antisocial etc etc

sheep have "maintenance" and personality issues but some folk like em ( i get on very well with them once they are dead )

if you already have rabbits you will need to protect veg anyway but a managed warren might make a good edible mower.

for the meadow stuff 2 well timed cuts or grazes seems to work on most land.
are there any nomadic pastoralists near by who could deliver and collect a grazing herd of something suitable at suitable times?
are there any micro harvesters (old fergie fans etc ) or scything folk?

horses are usually a lot more bother than expected.
Fee


sheep have "maintenance" and personality issues but some folk like em ( i get on very well with them once they are dead )

Laughing I do too.


are there any nomadic pastoralists near by who could deliver and collect a grazing herd of something suitable at suitable times?
are there any micro harvesters (old fergie fans etc ) or scything folk?

I'm sure there will be, it'll be a case of getting to know folk, I need to make contact with the Cheshire smallholding group. Might do that now.
wellington womble

I think practically you are looking at sheep or Alpacas. I love having alpacas. I know they aren’t really edible, and that puts a lot of people off, but for ease of maintenance (which is not a plus point for sheep) you can’t beat them. And they mow all the fiddly bits, too.

The reason I have them is to keep the grass and hedges manageable, chase off the foxes and provide fertility for the garden. I love the fibre, but I could buy that. (Also, you should see the neighbours faces when they appear in the garden. It’s picture!)

What about getting some orphan lambs and raising them for meat? That way you wouldn’t have all the sleepless night of lambing (quite enough of that sort of thing already) or hassle of shearing and even sheep can’t be that hard to nurse through one season?
Fee

I am tempted by alpacas, they're very cute. We've talked about orphan lambs for a session, too. Nicky Colour it green

tbh you have to get both sheep and alpacas sheared. - in both cases you will probably pay someone else to do the deed. I really wouldnt let shearing be a reason to choose one over the other, when both have to be done.

Bottle fed lambs do have a higher mortality rate than those that stay with their mothers, and when grown are completely unafraid of people, which is cute in some ways, but can be annoying when they are pushy etc. Could be good for the children, could be bad if the lamb pegs it, or keeps headbutting everyone.... Laughing
Fee

Considering one of the reasons the puppy didn't work was because Arthur didn't like it wanting to be with him and play with him all the time, following him, I think we need to just take things slowly. We won't be rushing into any I don't think.

Also, he doesn't like alpaca and once he's decided something, it's not an easy job to persuade him otherwise Laughing

We'll get some hands on experience and give him some exposure before doing anything, I think.

i'm attempting to join Cheshire Smallholders, looks like I might have to actually talk to someone Wink
wellington womble

Alpaca won’t bother him. They’ll follow me for a bucket, and are really, really nosey, but they are skittish, stay well out of touching distance and lose interest quickly. They are more wary of J because she is a lot noisier and faster and doesn’t come with buckets. They mostly just hang out in their half of the field while she bounces around in hers.

It was really easy for me to get an alpaca shearer, because the local chap I bought one of my alpacas from shears. He will happily come here and shear for about £60 (I think. I can’t remember now. They will also bring their male for a drive by mating if I want). But I haven’t yet found a shearer who will come here for a single figure flock of sheep, which it’s why it’s harder for me personally to get sheep. It might just depend on what’s available locally, but is the sort of thing that needs to be established before you buy animals, rather than assuming you can get someone in fairly easily and finding out later it’s a problem.
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