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Its OK to Go with Plan B on the Homestead

Posted by on December 11, 2014

Any farmer, gardener, or homesteader will be the first to tell you things don’t always go as planed. You can plan and prepare and research and build and set up and think everything is perfect and ready to go, but then something will happen to throw those plans right down the drain. One of the best lessons you can learn when homesteading, is that its ok to go with Plan B on the homestead.

It's OK to Go with Plan B on the Homestead - IdlewildAlaska

As many of you know, the hubby and I rather recently decided to get into cows. We talked to breeders all over the country, many local, and family and friends who had taken this path. We read books and websites to find out exactly what we needed to do and what we needed to have. We scoured Craig’s List and local livestock ads looking for the perfect cow to add to the homestead.

We decided we wanted something small. Dexters were perfect. I wanted the shaggy Scottish Highlands, not only because they’re cute, but apparently have wonderful personalities and are very laid back too. We found a weaned Dexter/ Highland/ dairy mixed bull (with the idea of breeding our own) at a wonderful price about six hours south of us in the little town of Homer, Alaska. We decided to use the 5′ tall fenced in garden area until this spring, when we would build a separate pen strictly for cows. We had a temporary shelter set up for him. All the wonderful people we talked to around the State all said the same thing. All cows in Alaska really need is a shelter they could completely fit in that protected them from the wind and rain. We bought hay and grain and were ready to go.

We drove the 6 hours to Homer Friday night and met the wonderful couple who sold us our bull calf on Saturday morning. We decided to name him Shamus, due to his Scottish ancestry. We drove him home Saturday afternoon and let him loose in the garden. He seemed to be doing pretty well, other than bellowing like an elephant to let us know he didn’t like not having “Mom” around, even though he was already weaned. We were both very aware that cows are herd animals, and if they grew up with other cows, they would need company and wouldn’t do too well on their own. Shamus not only had mom, but a goat buddy in Homer too. So we decided, while driving up from Homer, to get him a goat buddy here too. Back to Craig’s List.

Scottish Highland/ Dexter Bull - IdlewildAlaska

The hubby found a pure bred Saanen goat for a mere $50. So Sunday afternoon, he headed over to pick up Shamus’ new buddy.

I should probably mention that Shamus bellowed ALL Saturday night. No sleep was had by many. My cousin’s 2 year old heard him, and immediately exclaimed, “Elephant!” That is EXACTLY what he sounded like and was just as loud as one. No humble mooing for mom from Shamus. He let the whole neighborhood know he was not pleased.

When There's a Change of Plans on the Homestead - IdlewildAlaska

Sunday evening, the hubby brought home not just one goat, but two. The owners wanted to keep the pair together, as they were “mom” and weaned baby. So the goats joined Shamus in the garden. It seemed to help. Shamus stopped bellowing constantly to only once every couple of hours.

Until around 10p.m.

Then the bellowing returned in full force. Every couple of minutes. I’m not going to go into all the details of our night, it simply isn’t necessary. Needless to say, it was an incredibly long night, just like the whole weekend.

And so Shamus has been rehomed.

The hubby and I started this venture with a Plan B in mind. Goats had actually been our original idea for dairy production when we first started the homestead, and we’ve decided to return to it.  As much as we really did like Shamus, we decided that cows aren’t exactly what we want on the homestead, for now at least. For a while, I was disappointed in myself. I felt like I had failed, but I had to remind myself that we HAD already discussed our Plan B, long before we drove to Homer.

I’ve had to remind myself that it’s ok to go with Plan B on the homestead. Through this all, God blessed us with beautiful doe and doeling Saanen goats at an amazing price. Saanens are amazing dairy goats. They are sweet, VERY quiet, and are excellent milkers. This may not be the path we thought we were taking, but we’re very happy the way things have turned out. Our neighborhood is quiet again and we can all sleep. We’ll still have milk produced on our homestead.  The girls, who my sister has named Gurda (the mom) and Elsa (the baby), are still pretty skittish, but are slowly coming around.

Saanen Dairy Goats on the Homestead - IdlewildAlaska

Ah, winter in Alaska. We go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. Hoping to get some good pics of the new girls this weekend!

Oh, and the chickens have started laying eggs! We came home Saturday to find two eggs in the coop. We got two more on Sunday, but one was deformed and cracked (common for chickens first laying). Monday we got FOUR eggs! Woo hoo! Our little homestead is coming along.

Fresh Eggs on the Homestead - IdlewildAlaska

Our first egg!

This is the very edited version of everything that when in to the decision we made and everything that happened over the short time we had Shamus, but all the details aren’t really necessary or the point of this post. We tried something and realized it wasn’t in line with our goals or desires for our life on the homestead, and that’s ok.

Its OK to go with Plan B on the homestead.


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10 Responses to Its OK to Go with Plan B on the Homestead

  1. Pam

    What happened to Shamus?

  2. Debbi P

    that is life on the farm or homestead. Sometimes, certain animals do not fit in. And you find them a new home. And you try again. We had horses, mules, golden retrievers, cats, a Jackass, and for a short time, 6 very common goats and 1 bucket calf. The kids loved the goats so we bought them at a sale. About 3 days into the project, our 5 year old son had tried to ride the billy goat (did I say how awful billy goats smell), the billy bucked him off, busting his lip in the process, and they had eaten the wiring off 2 horse trailers. By the next weekend, the goats had gone back to their original owner. And we won the bucket calf at the town festival, gave it to a little boy for 4H. You find out what you are good at and stick with it. You’ll do fine, it just takes time. Debbi.

  3. Rebecca |

    Absolutely not a failure! All part of your journey. I, for one, am enjoying traveling with you on that journey, wherever you lead. The goats are awfully sweet 🙂

  4. Andrea

    The first rule of thumb for life itself….. stay away from Craigs List & ONLY buy an animal from a reputable breeder who has references. Life 101, dear homesteaders!! I so thought this was common knowledge by now…. but better late than never. Poor Shamus! 🙁

    God bless~ Andrea

    • Idlewildak

      Craig’s List in Alaska is still a great resource. We discovered how disreputable it could be while in NC, but it hasn’t really happened up here. The people we got him from have a great reputation, even while using Craig’s List. The livestock community in Alaska is a very small, tight-knit group, as there are only so many resources and we have to work together. In no way was anything that happened the fault of the breeder. They were wonderful people, and we were very grateful for all their help.

  5. Madeline B.

    It’s curious that he would bawl so much. Are you sure he had been weaned fully from mom or just weaned? Usually bovines don’t bellow so much — I was raised with cattle, beef and dairy, and we still have them. I own goats also, the prettiest little Alpines & Nigerian Dwarves, but cows will always hold my heart. Ah well, cattle aren’t for everyone. Goats are awesome, if you have adequate fencing and can tolerate the smell of the bucks! I’ve found a lot of people prefer goats simply due to their size and that they’re easier to handle.

    • Idlewildak

      The previous owner said he was weaned, but who really knows. The nice thing about goats, is that you don’t necessarily have to keep a buck 😀 We do NOT want to deal with the smell!

  6. JoAnna

    Thank you so much for sharing your homesteading story! I am learning how to get started and how to make better decisions as I begin.
    I live in southern Missouri and decided to do my homesteading research now while my log cabin and barn are being built.
    I welcome experienced homesteader tips as i compile a list of resources I may tap into, especially in these areas:
    Choosing, locating and buying the hardest cows and goats
    Living economically on a smaller acreage/homestead
    Gardening/harvesting year round-methods and tips
    Ways to make the homesteading pay
    Any advice which could help me avoid critical mistakes

    Thank you for sharing!

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