Monday, April 9, 2012

Geeseses and other such additions to the farm

I think we're beginning to hit a fairly steady rhythm on the farm. The weather is perfect (before it gets unbearably hot in about 2 months), we seem to have the predator problem under control (knock on wood), and our animals are having a good ole time on pasture.

See, now why did I have to go and jinx it!?

Earlier in March, we ordered 10 baby goslings (a mix of breeds) from McMurray Hatchery, and we've only lost 2 so far. One was literally pecked to death by the other goslings, and another was a victim of a predator attack (although I kinda suspect the dog... ). Right now I have them running free in the barn and a small fenced pasture area where the dog can't get to them, and they are like little squeeking poop-spewing lawnmowers. They do a wonderful job of eating up the weeds, but holy moly do they leave behind a mess.

We also started thinning out the flock of chickens we bought in January, and most of the meat birds are now in our freezer. Oh! And we bought 2 new Pygmy nannies. So right now we have:

  • - 6 Pygmy goats
  • - 19 chickens
  • - 8 geese
  • - 12 rabbits
  • - 2 donkeys
  • - 2 dogs
  • - 2 cats

But nope, no partridge in a pear tree. The only plans we have animal-wise are to process the remaining 7 meat chickens, sell the youngest billy goat, and buy 2 feeder pigs.

And then there's the garden! I've been trying to get someone to come plow our little field, but it's been difficult. I've offered the neighbor some hefty moolah to do it, so we'll see if he does. He actually wants me to buy his tractor, so he thinks if he delays it, I'll somehow mysteriously get thousands of dollars to buy it.

But anyway, I'm excited to finally start planting the veges I have growing under a Gro-Lite in my pump house.


  1. Have you guys thought about Kinder goats? You need a Nubian doe to breed with one of your Pygmy bucks. It's pretty cool; whereas a pygmy is primarily a meat goat, the Nubian cross creates a dual-purpose dairy/meat goat, which is nice for a small homestead farm.

    I am surprised that you had problems with geese aggression. Our geese and ducks absolutely beat up on the chicks - they totally trampled one to death, or drowned it, or something (and then we learned not to keep ducks and geese together, because those guys are SO messy with water) - but they didn't have problems with each other. I wonder if that's a breed thing. Or maybe the presence of the older ducks (who quickly showed the geese that they were boss) kept the geese from attacking each other.

    Buy your feeder pigs and release them on your field. They will clean up plant matter, root through the soil, and fertilize it. As long as it isn't too wet (so everything turns into mud), it should be a solution to your "plow my field" problem.

    Do you use a plucker or pluck your chickens by hand? We are getting ready to slaughter our first round of ducks and my husband is building a plucker. Should be interesting...

  2. Yeah, I'm not sure what was up with the geese. They began pecking the fluff off of each others' backs after about 3 days, and they all decided to go after one more than the others until he bled and died. Now they all get along though. I tend to think the brooder box I had them in was a bit too small and they were feeling overcrowded.

    I'll check out kinders! That sounds like a good idea.

    I was actually able to pay my neighbor to plow the 1/8th acre for our garden, so he did that last night. I want to start planting this week, and we haven't been able to find any pigs locally yet, but hopefully from here on out, it's all pig plowing.

    As for the chickens, I skin them. I hang them upside down and pull the skin off like a sock, with the only real trouble areas being around the wings. With the pastured chicken meat being so tough (I allow them to run around), we crock-pot all chickens anyway, so keeping the skin on doesn't make sense to us. I usually cut them up into sections: legs and wings in one freezer bag and the gutted body in another. It takes some practice to not make a mess, but I think I have it down pretty much.

  3. Oh yeah. I know pigs will bite each others' tails off if there isn't enough space, that that may well be what happened.

    I am sort of dreading our first bird slaughter. I am not too sentimental about any of our animals in particular, other than the goats, but I don't like hurting things. I told my husband if he kills them and deals with the guts that I will take a shot at dealing with the rest. Heh.

  4. Yeah, that is a hurdle, for sure. When I killed my first few chickens, I was a nervous wreck afterwards. I could go on and on about how we've gotten away from the way things have always been, but I'll save the speech ;) I don't look at it as killing an animal now (and I especially don't name the chickens), but it does get easier.

    Now I don't think I could ever kill a goat. I've only done chickens and rabbits. Further thoughts on that might make for an interesting blog post!

  5. Yeah. I really love our goats. We raised them from kids, bottle fed them, named them, etc. I will never kill them. Maybe their goofy progeny - I can probably steel myself against getting attached to a genetically so-so buckling, for example - but not the original four.