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The Ross family

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The Sweet Life of Pets

@ The Ross Family Homestead

There is never a dull moment in the home of Kimberly and Christopher Ross. Six years ago, the couple moved to Georgia with two young children, one cat, one dog and six egg-laying hens. Since then, the family of five has blossomed with five dozen pets on a five-acre micro-farm just a few miles from downtown Fayetteville. As you can imagine, no two days are alike on the homestead but any one day is guaranteed to be a memorable one in the life of, er, interesting pets. 

Pumbaa (3) and Belle (6)

Just across the main home lies a fenced-in area where the egg-laying chickens and guineas cohabitate with their potbelly friends, Pumbaa and Belle. Apart from their frequent squeals and grunts, these pet pigs contribute greatly to daily life on the farm. They would occasionally wander into the nearby fields to pluck long weeds and fresh hay with their snouts to make cushy and comfy beds (that they dare not share). However, Pumbaa and Belle gladly welcome plenty of belly rubs from their owners and squeal “yes!” to a nice big salad from the homestead garden. 

Captain Squeakers, Cocoa and Scabbers

Captain Squeakers, Cocoa and Scabbers, 6-month-old rats, make wonderful indoor pets for the children, Taylor (11), Raegan (7), and Hunter (4). Apart from being smart and sociable, each rat has his own special personality. Coco loves kisses, Scabbers sleeps a lot and Captain Squeakers escapes from his cage to play hide-and-seek with the children.


High on the animal food chain is 80 pound Valko (V), the protector of the homestead animals. This dark-maned Karakachan dog patrols the grounds during the day with his senses sharpened for unwanted visitors. Coyotes, raccoons and even hawks dare not venture in his path. At night, V sleeps close to the goats, to ensure they remain safe from nocturnal predators. Occasionally though, V would relax on a bench on the front porch with the lady of the house or cool off in the big pond with the children. 

Cookie, Buddy, Oaky and Stewie

Cookie (1) is a first-time momma goat with her three new kids Yoshi, Timmy Templeton and Bailey. Though her name may indicate a sweet demeanor, she’s quite saucy in her personality. “She’ll head-butt anyone around her,” joked Kimberly. Fresh milk from Cookie goes into the making of ice cream, cheese and other delicious eats for the Ross family. Buddy (1) and Oaky (1), both wethers (neutered males), are Cookie’s cool “herd” companions. Stewie (3 months) spends his days with his three four-footed friends. He is a Zebu which is a miniature breed of cow that grows to be no more than one third the size of a regular cow. Though pint-sized, Stewie does a wonderful job keeping the homestead well-manicured by chomping up the grass on the grounds.  

On the homestead, the day begins just after dawn and finishes just before the sun goes down. Like their human counterparts, the animals start off with a yummy breakfast, fed generously by Kimberly around 7 am. All three children follow a schedule for chores inside and outside the house. In the evenings, Taylor tends to the pigs and Stewie. Raegan takes care of the smaller animals. Even Hunter is old enough to feed the indoor animals. During the day and early evening, Kimberly and Chris tackle the tasks of keeping up the homestead. Sometimes it entails repairing a fence or mucking (cleaning out) the chicken coops. “Everyone kind of just knows what they need to do and if one of us needs help, we just ask for the others to join in,” said Kimberly. 

The homestead is really an all day playground for the Ross family. The one-acre pond a few feet away from the main home is a special spot for swimming and fishing. Just beyond the walking path to the pond, the kids’ clubhouse sits among trees. At the back of the main house, a small greenhouse is used to store seeds for later planting. Earlier this spring, Christopher built a treehouse that overlooks the homestead garden. From unique and odd-sized containers sprout an eclectic rainbow of organic vegetables and herbs. The Ross family is already planning excitedly for their next pets - honeybees. Kimberly is learning all she can about beekeeping and pollinator gardens.

If you wish to live a much simpler life, consider micro-farming. The key is to start small and slow. Pick one thing, learn about it, integrate it and then expand it over time. In addition to gardening and raising interesting pets, you’ll also learn the values of collaborating, problem-solving, hard work, perseverance, love and kindness. 

Tours are now available at the Ross Homestead. To learn more, please send a message to The Ross Homestead on Facebook. 

  • Pumbaa poses for the camera
  • Raegan Ross holds one of the red hens
  • Barn yard friends
  • Kimberly holds one of her egg laying hens
  • Stewie. What a face!
  • Hunter holds a freedom ranger chick
  • The Ross family
  • Kimberly scratches Pumbaa's belly with Belle and Stewie by her side
  • Cookie in the shade
  • Silkie rooster on his chicken tractor
  • The Ross family
  • Taylor Ross
  • Cookie with her new kids Yoshi, Timmy Templeton and Bailey
  • Valko cools off in the pond