One Simple Piece of Advice for Raising Livestock

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Gaye Levy, Contributor
Activist Post

As it would happen, I have become somewhat chatty, email wise, with Ron Brown, the author of Lanterns, Lamps and Candles. When the subject turned to backyard farming – and livestock in general – well, the conversation became interesting.

But I digress. I need to explain that for the past few years I have had a romanticized vision of raising chickens and possibly some farm animals. Alas, I have almost no yard space and live in an area where such a thing would be impossible. Yes, I can grow veggies in my front landscaping. That is considered charming. But chickens, rabbits and sheep? Not so much.

So I continue to think about it and hope that some local farmer will take pity on me and allow me to share their chickens. And actually, truth be told, I do have one that periodically shares eggs with me.

But back to Ron. He knows a little about a lot of things, raising livestock and chickens included. Since it is Saturday, and I feel the need for a some serious fun, I thought I would share his simple piece of advice for raising livestock.

Here is what Ron had to say about raising livestock.


And so it was at a cocktail party that a man asked me, ‘How can I learn about agriculture?’ It was a sincere question. He’s a business-manager type as well as a prepper. He’s concerned about the future. The next day I emailed him a list of books: 

Backyard Livestock by Steven Thomas
The New Seed-Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel
Old Fashioned Recipe Book by Carla Emery
Small-Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon
Garden Insects of North America by Whitney Cranshaw 

And to the list I attached this note: These are the best books I own on small-scale farming. But I caution you that farming is like sex. Reading about it and doing it are two different things. 


There’s a survivalists’ adage: If you haven’t done it yourself, it doesn’t work. That may apply more to raising livestock than any other endeavor I can think of. 

Rabbits sounded like a good idea. After a week I gave them back to the man I bought them from because I couldn’t stand the smell. He then had both the money and the rabbits. 

4H gave my son a sheep. Free. Pedigreed stock. The only stipulation was that the firstborn lambs had to be given back into the program. We gave the sheep back after a week. Couldn’t stand the smell. If you haven’t done it yourself, it doesn’t work. 

The keeping of livestock is bloody business. Birthing, butchering, castration, dehorning . . . these are facts of life. And whether it’s a chicken or a cow, the first time you cut into that body cavity you’re gonna smell a smell you ain’t never gonna forget. 

The best single piece of advice I can give you on livestock – any kind of livestock – is this: Never bring a critter home until you’re ready for it; until you have its home (a stall, stable, cage, coop, whatever it takes) prepared to receive it. 

Never ever. And even as we speak, I know you will. And you will regret it. I know that, too.

The Final Word

Now it seems to me that Ron has a thing about smell. It also seems to me that after a time, you would get used to it. And further, that if your livestock was your only source of meat (for the meat-eaters out there), then perhaps the smell, or the thought of smell would not be so bad.

Did you notice that there was no mention of chickens? I am wondering about that I think I will ask Ron about it in my next email.

Enjoy your Saturday!

Read other articles by Gaye Levy here.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, the SurvivalWoman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable, self-reliant and stylish lifestyle through emergency preparation and disaster planning through her website at SurvivalWoman speaks her mind and delivers her message with optimism and grace, regardless of mayhem swirling around us.  Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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