It’s occurred to me lately that we may have bitten off more than we will want to chew with these non-food producing animals. With seven guinea hens, four cats, and now two English Shepherds, we are overflowing with animals that cost money to keep alive.

Guineas

It seemed sensible to have the guineas first, since they are excellent tick eaters and our property was overrun with ticks in Spring and Summer. So food producer or not, these guinea hens provide an invaluable service. Reducing the tick population improves our family’s future health as well as our peace of mind. There’s nothing quite so uncomfortable as feeling your skin crawling at night because you’re not sure whether you checked yourself thoroughly enough.

Cats

The cats were the only surprise, really. We’d discussed getting a barn cat to keep the rodent populations down. Then one day, four stray cats show up on our front porch. They’re adorable and starving to death, so we start feeding them. And of course, we don’t feed ANYONE GMOS or processed food, so they get grass finished beef like the rest of us. Not cheap.

Dogs

Now that our guineas are free to roam, they need protection, hence the English Shepherds. I bought two so that they wouldn’t be lonely. I am not willing to commit to being a dog’s primary source of companionship, so we get the brother and sister combo in order to stem that potential problem. Unfortunately, there is a necessary lag time between purchasing them and working them. These seven week old pups are barely weaned. They don’t yet recognize their names. They just love to eat, to be held, and to nibble on the kitties’ tails.

So we find ourselves with a LOT of mouths to feed. And I wonder if we’re not making a mistake keeping four cats when one would suffice. And even one dog would have been enough to keep track of our land and animals for the first year or two, really.

Either we have erred on the side of bleeding hearts or we have wisely though somewhat expensively created our own animal kingdom community. Time will tell.