Most people make the enormous mistake of going out and buying animals before really preparing to care for them. They agonize over breeds and pedigrees and other stuff that isn’t half as important as the basics of good animal husbandry. Often, because they have the animals and are under pressure, they will hastily employ mostly purchased and sometimes gimmicky or uneconomic methods (buying feed from the store, portable plastic electric fencing, plastic animal shelters) and materials to attempt to contain the animals and care for them, which always ends up being more expensive, especially over the long run. It’s important to get things in order. Prepare for the major needs of the animals before you get them. An uneaten pasture won’t hurt anybody, and neither will a field of oats. A good fence deteriorates only slowly, and a living fence improves with time (wouldn’t it be great if we had sufficient time to always use living fences?). Having a proper shelter up and ready before they come home makes it a whole lot easier, too.
The truth is that there probably will not be enough time to wait for a living shelter or fence (hedge) to grow. Some amount of construction, which always deteriorates (because it isn’t alive), will probably be necessary because it is rapid. This means choices have to be made. Possible choices range from deciding to wait a few years to a decade before bringing home any animals as you wait for your hedges and living shelters to grow to constructing a barn and fence using 100% bought materials and hiring somebody to do it. There are places in between, which is what I think most people, particularly those of an independent and self-reliant spirit, will end up. The option I chose, which I now partially regret, was to construct using long-lasting bought material, erect it using my own labor, and to outfit existing structures for my uses using my own labor. I guess I am somewhat impatient, but I had enough money, and my land offered very little in the way ready building material (there are 7 mature trees on my property total) but had buildings. One could very well take a more patient approach, which I think would be better. I will outline a few strategies in upcomming posts.