I know that they *do* enjoy their jobs, but I also know that their jobs are stressful. Personally, I also enjoy my job, but I think I would enjoy doing the same tasks more if I weren't under stress from schedule or having to get a product on the market.
I've been reading a few books about retirement and post-retirement and a couple have mentioned that some people like stress. One went on to compare a few case studies where people who noted they liked their stressful job had happier retirements if they found more stressful retirement activities than those who had more relaxing activities. One example was an insurance exec who retired and felt lost until he bought a ranch and started dealing with deadlines, requirements and other stressors like fickle weather
This is why I always laugh when people say they want a farm/homestead as a 'relaxing retirement activity'.
Like, guys. I have a huge garden, and animals, and we're expanding (we only built the house last year!). It's hard work! It's work I enjoy doing, which makes a difference, but it's not relaxing swanning around checking if the chickens have laid eggs in a perfectly-groomed chicken coop, y'know? HARD WORK.
I have such townie homestead dreams, but this is why my husband and I have agreed on no animals. If you have plants then you can always put off pruning, weeding or even harvesting until tomorrow. Sure it might be suboptimal and the plant might even die, but hey it's a plant and this is a hobby not subsistence farming. But you can't just not feed the animals today because it's raining. It's a wrench because I totally have wild unrealistic yearnings to raise pigs and potter round feeding the chickens, but in all honesty I don't want that daily responsibility. But a few tomato plants conk out because I couldn't be bothered to water them sooner? Hey ho, never mind.
Chickens are probably easier than you think, just to make your pipe dreams last a little longer. We only have four, and raising them from chicks / getting a good coop were the hardest parts. Now that they're grown up, we give them a ceramic heat lamp in the winter so they don't freeze, make sure their food and water is full in the morning, use the deep bedding method (you just add more bedding every week for about a month, instead of cleaning out the coop - keeps them warmer, saves you time and bedding), and feed them veggie scraps and let them roam around our yard when we're home.
Actually, reading that you have a garden, keeping them out of the garden is the hard part. We have bird netting around our entire garden to keep them out. They will DESTROY anything you've got going once they can reach it. They ate/scratched up our whole 4x4 foot bed of lettuce and snap peas in about 10 minutes once. That was pretty lame.
Chickens aren't that hard, assuming you're willing to feed them daily, teach them to get into the coop at night and ALWAYS lock it up (owls, coyotes, weasels, etc = no more chickens), remove the eggs promptly (a chicken that learns to eat their eggs is a HUGE PAIN), actually shovel out that deep bedding every so often (not that frequently, but it's a hell of a gross job when you gotta do it)... Like, none of that is particularly hard, but it's at least a bit of attention every single day, plus a half-day here and there.
Geese are MEAN. Like, the farmers we know have a pet dog and a guard goose, and the goose will chase people out of the barn.
Ducks are fantastic, tasty (ahem), make very strong-tasting eggs (depending on your tastes, that can be positive or negative), and make a gigantic mess in man-made ponds. If you've got a decent-sized pond, though, they seem to be a good option -we have one out back, so we're considering them, maybe in a year or two.
Goats are great but need milking and escape EVERYWHERE and climb EVERYTHING.
The easiest, IMO, is lambs. As in, you buy male lambs in the spring (ours are arrving in about 2 weeks, once there's no risk of frost and they're old enough to leave their mothers). You need a lean-to (closed on 2-3 sides to provide basic shelter from sun/wind/rain, but that's about it), water access (a hose in a bucket can work), occasional grain as treats, and a fenced-in area with enough grass to graze (movable electric fence is best/easiest/most convenient, since that means you can shift the size of the pasture as needed). Drop the lambs in there, ensure that they have enough water, mow if the grass starts getting too high (they feed better on the newer grass, so...) and then take them to the butcher's in the fall (and empty out the poo that's in the lean-to. Put it in a pile, cover with black plastic garden tarp, let compost over winter, plant squash/pumpkin/succhini/melon seeds into it the next year by piercing holes in the plastic. Guaranteed amazing harvest). Downside, of course, is that you're then buying lambs every year, but upside is that you avoid the huge hassle of overwintering. Between the cost of the lambs and the cost of the butcher, the meat works out to about 8$CAD/lb for organic, local, grass-fed, etc...