Usually when a young person wants a pet, they ask their parents for a dog or cat, or maybe something more exotic like a hamster or snake. With Pocahontas County High School senior Trevor Jordan, the requests were more varied and voluminous.
Four or five years ago, Jordan realized he wanted to expand his family’s flock of chickens and indoor pets to a menagerie of indoor and outdoor animals.
“I have inside animals, too,” Jordan said, as he looked out at his collection of outdoor animals. “I have hedgehogs. I have plenty of rats. I love rats. They’re awesome. They’re good pets. I’ve got finches, and I’m always hatching chicks, so I’ve got chicks in there right now. I’ve got cats. I’ve got some dogs – two dogs out there, one inside.”
Outside, Jordan has two pigs, two cows, five goats, six peacocks and countless chickens, ducks, geese, guineas and rabbits.
The menagerie grew after one particular day at the Pocahontas County Farmers Market. Jordan, who only had chickens at the time, was selling eggs at the market when he saw a vendor selling ducks and geese.
“They told me ‘these are some really nice geese,’” Jordan said. “They said the ducks were nice to have around. I was like, ‘I really want these.’ I talked to my mom and after begging her and begging her, she bought me my first pair of geese. She bought me the ducks, too.
“Since then, I decided to get into this full-blown,” he continued.
After the geese and ducks, Jordan added other animals and learned more about each species as they joined the family.
“I never thought about having peacocks,” he said. “I always liked them. They just have something unique to them that I like. Turkeys are curious little creatures that are pains in the butt, sometimes. Then you have the chickens who you question if they know what they are doing or not. Ducks, they do what they want to do.”
Soon Jordan learned of swaps in Elkins and Lewisburg where he could find more animals, as well as like-minded friends.
“I don’t really have that many friends at school,” he said. “Honestly, the animals really got me out there to actually go and find people. I go to these swaps that they have in Elkins and Lewisburg. I made a lot of friends there, so I feel like it’s opened new doors for me.”
In addition to selling eggs, Jordan has started processing meat, which was difficult at first, but has turned into a profitable trade to have.
“I always looked at it as bad,” he said. “If we had too many roosters, I would tell my parents they couldn’t get rid of them, they were like my pets. Now, I do process my own food, sometimes. Not ducks, though. I never really tried with chicks. I’ve tried rabbit.”
Jordan also sells animals to individuals who are trying to build their own farms or are in need of a pet.
“I sell eggs, full-grown animals, babies – anything that is born here or hatches here,” he said. “If it’s something that is an excess of what I have, I definitely try to sell it into the community. Some people, if they just lost something, I just try to restock them and try to help people out, too.”
While Jordan’s menagerie totals nearly 100 animals now, he isn’t necessarily finished adding to the mix.
“I want to add a milk cow to the bunch,” he said. “Other than that, I just want to add more of what I have. Maybe some more indoor animals. I’m also getting bees soon.
“I need a giraffe one day, too,” he added, laughing.
As a senior, Jordan is preparing to enter a new chapter in his life. While he knows the future isn’t set in stone, one thing is – his animals will always be a part of his life.
“I’m going to go and get my main classes that I need to get downtown at the One Room University,” he said. “Get everything done there that I need to do and then go and find a good college to be a veterinarian technician. If that doesn’t work out – whether it’s just I can’t stand school or what – the second option, which is going to happen either way, is I’m going to find my own plot of land and I’m going to, hopefully, have triple the number of animals I have now.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be goats, sheep and cows,” he continued. “That’s definitely something that’s going to have to happen on the side – whether I go to school or not.”
As a young entrepreneur who hopes to stay in West Virginia and raise a farm filled with animals, Jordan sees that it is important the next generation of agriculturists stay the course.
“There is a decline and it’s definitely not good, especially for bees and stuff,” he said. “There are always people who want eggs. They want the greens we grow. They want fresh meat, but there’s not enough people out there to actually do the work and get it out there.”
Jordan said he sees the decline when he sells at the farmers market.
“There’s a certain number of people who actually martket stuff and then it seems each time some of it just disappears,” he said. “Whether it’s because people don’t have enough time to do it anymore or it just gets to be too much of a hassle for them. That’s just what happens.”
Despite the decline, Jordan said he sees a lot of students at PCHS who are involved in their family farms or trying to create their own.
While most farmers in the county are second, third or even fourth-generation farmers, it is possible for a first-generation farmer to succeed.
Just ask Jordan.
“I wasn’t born into it,” he said. “I just wanted to do it.”