As the winter wind howls around our snowy fields, it is the time of year for huddling inside by the wood stove. Time spent indoors is not time spent away from tending to the farm, as this part of the year is full of reflection on the past season and planning for the spring and summer to come. We have a few resolutions and goals for our flock in 2018.
1. Focus on Breeding Geese
With more than a dozen geese of various breeds, it is certainly safe to say that I am a goose keeper. But I have always wanted to focus on preserving certain breeds of geese, rare and heritage breeds that need conservation. Up until now, we have kept geese for their abilities as guardians and their large eggs, but we have not done any breeding on our small farm.
Every winter, part of the fun is browsing through hatchery catalogs and websites, picking out what breeds to get for the coming spring. This year as one of my resolutions I’m focusing on expanding my holdings of a few specific breeds, purchasing sexed females, and using only the best farms to ensure quality stock. With a good ratio of male to female birds of the same breed, I can start breeding my own line of these birds and hopefully help maintain their breed’s integrity. In particular, I’m interested in more Dewlap Toulouse and Roman Tufted geese.
2. Add More Ducks
Despite our large flock of geese and more than two dozen chickens, we have very few ducks on our farm. It is a shame because ducks are reliable egg layers that produce even in winter. They are also quite hearty and have amazingly friendly and curious personalities.
So, continuing with the resolutions, this year we’d like to add various breeds of ducks to the flock, focusing on types that are good for egg laying. Our chickens do a great job of providing us with eggs, but their production slows down in the winter months, and I don’t like doing too much in the way of supplemental lighting. A flock of female Runner ducks ought to help us keep up with the demand for eggs and also take in some good entertainment as they make their way around the barnyard.
3. Complete a Pond
Our biggest barnyard project and another of our resolutions for 2018 is having a pond dug for our property. This pond is partially for irrigation purposes, but it will be just off the back side of the barn in easy walking distance for our birds. The geese will love being able to bathe in a space larger than a livestock trough, and being able to swim during mating season should increase their fertility rates.
4. Use More Eggs in the Kitchen
We use many of the eggs that we collect for breakfast and dinners, making lots of quiches and omelettes and custards. But as one of my resolutions I want to expand my culinary egg horizons and start trying some more unusual egg-based recipes. This will definitely include pasta, and hopefully many more desserts.
The goal of every year is to keep the birds happy and healthy, continue being a productive homestead and enjoy the company of the animals that we keep. It looks like 2018 will be another wonderful year on the farm.