There are times when I think, had I known the decisions I'd have to make doing this homesteady business, I would have stuck with cats and an apartment. Hahahahaha - kidding. They do say that ignorance is bliss, and I believe that is true in my case. Of course, the more one learns, the less ignorance there is to shield you from the hard decisions. And the bliss fades a bit.
This year I have to make some decisions that are difficult for me. I have about four acres, but a lot of it is not suited for farming, grazing or anything useful. I have a full time job. I am a single homesteader. Sustainability or not, it is an expensive undertaking. I am having to focus on making this place and the animals on it pay for itself/themselves - at least in part. Right now, I have, in the sheep department: 4 ewes; 5 lambs (with one or two more to come); 1 ram; 1 llama. I have been waffling back and forth, to and fro about the purpose of my sheep. Would I raise them for meat? Would I raise them for milk? Would I raise them for their fiber? All three? Excuse me while I think out loud: being a long-time follower of Lewis Carroll, I find it difficult to eat anything I've been formally introduced to. I am too attached to my lambs. Milking four ewes? Just when would I squeeze that twice-a-day activity into my schedule? That leaves me with fiber. I am good with that. I happen to have ewes with great fiber, so I am all set there. Of course, there's the shearing, skirting, processing, dyeing; but let's leave that for a later discussion. So, we're firm on one llama and four ewes. The lambs. There's a dilemma. I cannot make a firm decision on them until after the ram lamb trade negotiations are over. I had decided to keep one of Cocoa's lambs this time, so Banyan will stay. This is Flora's last lambing, so Hazel will stay. Then, there is Hickory, Acacia and Linden. And Juno, who is my secret favorite, hasn't even had her lamb(s). You can see the problem.
All this rambling to get to this: I do not need a ram. I do not need to neuter him because I do not need a PET sheep. If he had an outstanding fleece, I might consider it - but he doesn't. And he tends to be prone to respiratory problems. One sheep with respiratory problems (hello, Flora??) is more than enough. So I have made the decision to send him to freezer camp. I have been wrestling with this for weeks, but all indicators point to it being the right decision. He is getting more aggressive with me and has been shoving the lambs around. Temperament is a key factor on this homestead. Not mine, of course. I'm cranky, but I'm in charge.
Another decision is to cull out a lot of my existing flock of chickens. I am rather attached to many of them, so this is also a tough decision. Right now, I probably have 28 birds, including two roosters. Of those 26 hens, 17-tops- are laying. I refuse to cull Lucy, even though she probably hasn't laid an egg for three years. She came with me to this homestead, and she's staying 'til the end. Then, there is Marie-Claire, super-auntie. She stays, too. Junior, rooster #1, will have to go to make room for Kees, rooster #2, my Barnevelder rooster. Home Girl is going to go be cause she's a mean-tempered thing. Of my two remaining Ameracauna mixes, one is an egg-eater. She will have to go for practical reasons. I will miss her green egg, though. I am working through the flock to bring it down to 20, total. I have five Barnevelder hens that stay and four more chicks that I am raising. I have my work cut out for me, if you pardon the expression.
I am also going to sell my two rescued red angora rabbits. I had no intention of keeping them and, once I've spruced them up a bit, they are on the market. All this angst is the result of not having a plan. With a plan, you have a clear vision of what will work best and make the most sense. In order to make a small farm pay for itself -- or, at least, pick up some of the slack -- it has to be pretty flexible. But flexible in an orderly way. Clear as mud? I'd be very interested in hearing other views - pro and con. Like a lot of new adventurers, I have so much to learn.