ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --
Marcy Releford works as an administrative assistant for the Base Operations and Support Branch at Arnold Air Force Base during the day, but before getting to her office in the morning and after she leaves for the day, she can be found working on her farm.
On her 7.5-acre farm in Morrison that she manages with her two children, Releford raises Nigerian dwarf goats and bantam Cochin chickens.
“Bantam means tiny, and of course, the dwarf goats are tiny as well,” she explained. “I currently have 20 adult breeding stock goats and around 30 adult chickens. However, at times, I have had up to 45 goats and 60 chickens.”
Around Arnold AFB, Releford is sometimes referred to as the “Crazy Goat Lady,” and it’s a title she laughingly accepts.
Releford grew up on a farm and instead of having toys as children, she and her sibling were tasked with taking care of the family’s animals.
“We had horses, cows, goats, guineas, dogs and cats,” she said. “It was a great life. My parents provided years of wonderful experience on the farm, which I feel prepared me well for my future.”
Releford has been around goats her entire life. She just started raising chickens four years ago, but she’s quickly become knowledgeable about the bantam Cochin breed.
“Bantam Cochin chickens are beautiful, friendly and are excellent foragers helping to rid farms of ticks, flies, grubs and other nuisance insects,” she said. “Bantam breeds also possess excellent maternal instincts, often hatching chicks from up to 10 full-size eggs from large hens.”
Releford added that some farmers prefer bantam hens due to their feed intake being a mere fraction of the amount required to feed larger chickens.
“My children have successfully incubated many fertile eggs to reproduce Bantam Cochin chicks with the aid of a $75 incubator purchased online,” she said.
As for her Nigerian dwarf goats, Releford mentioned they’re another type of farm animal that is easy to tend to without breaking the bank.
“Nigerian dwarf goats are extremely efficient browsers, which means they can thrive on weedy plant material, and subsequently there is little input cost for feed,” she said. “They are highly sought after for clearing land that might not be fit for grazing cows or horses because goats will eat the weed fodder that cows and horses will not eat.
“They also give birth easily, are excellent mothers and are friendly little pets with lots of personality.”
Releford stated most of her goats go to homes where they will become pets and a few are sold for milk production.
“Raising the goats and chickens is also a very valuable tool for teaching my children adult responsibilities,” she said. “They learn all aspects of running a farm, from purchasing hay and grain, administering dewormer and vaccinations, providing animal care and maintenance, record keeping, cost savings on inputs, breeding pair selection, and sales and marketing.”
Though the farm is Releford’s “home business,” she says that taking care of her animals is first and foremost her passion.
“I strive to create a home on our farm that my kids and I do not need a vacation from,” she said.