Animals are an important functional part of our permaculture system at Hundred Fruit Farm, and they deserve our respect. We believe in the importance of treating our animals with dignity, care, and compassion. All our animals are raised on fresh pasture and allowed to forage, eat grass, and exhibit their natural behaviors. All animals that are butchered are done so humanely - as quick and painless as possible.
We usually have anywhere from 30-40 hens around, and usually a rooster or two as well. They live in the "Egg-mobile", a portable chicken coop built on a trailer so they can always be moved to fresh pasture throughout the year. Our chickens are fed only transitional organic grain and whatever bugs, grass, and vegetable scraps they can find for themselves. This varied and healthy diet gives their yolks a rich orange color and unbelievable taste. Why do we have roosters around? Partly, the hens are happier with the protection of the roosters and they help keep an eye out for hawks. But the main reason we have them is we raise our own chicks here and roosters are a natural part of raising chickens. Any clutch of eggs that hatches out will be about half roosters. In the commercial egg industry, male chicks are immediately ground up and killed because they aren't deemed useful to keep around. We let our roosters grow up with their moms, live a good life until they grow full-size, and whatever roosters aren't kept for breeding, we humanely butcher for stews.
We love pigs at Hundred Fruit Farm. Pigs till the soil, clean up fallen fruit, eat our food scraps, give us great manure, and are just really fun to have around. We currently have a breed of pig here called American Guinea Hogs. They are a small, black breed of pig that reaches only 1/3 of the size of most pig breeds. Originally imported from West Africa, the breed became popular in the American South where they were prized for their ability to perform well on pasture, good foraging abilities, their dark skin (resistant to sunburn), friendly temperament, and excellently meat quality. We love them for all the same reasons. They are the perfect homestead pig and we highly recommend them for homesteaders and people who want pigs but don't necessarily have a lot of acreage to keep them.
Our guinea hogs live a great life here at the farm. They are always out on pasture year-round, have a nice shelter to stay dry and warm, and get to eat and wallow in the mud as much as they want. They mostly play the role of cleanup crew around here, eating food scraps, spent grain from the local brewery in town, leftover pumpkins in the fall, and fallen fruit and acorns. We give them a small amount of certified organic hog feed as a special treat from time to time, mostly for the micronutrients and vitamins they might otherwise be missing.
Olde English Southdown (Babydoll) Sheep
Olde English Southdown Sheep go by a number of different names, including "Babydolls", "Babydoll Southdowns", "Miniature Southdowns", etc. They are defined by their small stature, friendly and easy-going disposition, and teddy-bear-like smiling faces. Although many people think that these sheep have been bred from a larger breed to a miniature form to make novelty pets, the opposite is true. These miniature sheep are actually the original Southdown breed from the South Downs region of England. They were imported into the US in the early 19th century and were enormously popular on small family farms in the UK and America throughout the 19th century and into the early 20th century. As family farms began to decline in the early 20th cenury, and electricity made large freezers possible, smaller breeds began to fall out of favor and the "bigger is better" philosophy resulted in people breeding progressively larger sheep until the American line of Southdowns became a large breed of meat sheep distinct from the original English breed, which had almost become extinct in the US. The breed was rescued from oblivion in the 1980s, and since then has grown to be an increasingly popular breed among smallholders and hobbyists as well as orchardists and vineyard owners.
We rotationally graze our sheep by moving them across our pastures every 1-2 days. Their main job is to move through the orchard and keep the grass down so we don't need to do as much mowing, and they do this job with great pleasure!