Friday, July 01, 2016

We Bought a Farm: These Darn Geese

I like the geese.

I'll start by saying that.

Bu they are causing so much farm drama, and no one is able to come up with an answer of what to do with these darned birds.

Let me back up for a moment and explain. 

We are new farmers. We are learning. We have decided that this year, we'd be trying out new things and seeing how they fit for us here at the farm. This is especially true when it comes to the animals. We are continually discussing how they fit into our life here. 

Specifically, we want our animals to do three things:

1. Bring us joy.
2. Bring us peace.
3. Bring us something.

This something is wide-open, but it means they are not just pets. Pets are wonderful, but farming is expensive, and we need our animals to be pulling their weight. For example:

1. The sheep are grazing the land and will provide meat.
2. The guineas eat bugs and keep our house area virtually tick-free! We also occasionally stumble upon a nest that provides tons of eggs for us or our pigs.
3. The laying hens provide eggs, help with the soil, and eat bugs.
4. The ducks are currently sitting on their nests and will hopefully have baby ducks soon. If not, they give us great eggs!
5. The pigs are busy eating as much as they can to provide pork for us in the near future.
6. The meat chickens are also eating as much as they can to get as big as they can.
7. The turkeys are doing the same.

But then there are these darn geese! The thing is, the geese bring us joy. We like looking at them. They are beautiful and graceful animals. Now that they are not in breeding season, they are even a bit peaceful. During mating season, they protect their nests fiercely, and if they crossed paths with the kiddos, you'd hear all of our kids crying and screaming and running from them. There is a reason that the word "goose" is used to describe someone pinching you. That's what these geese do. They run up behind you and will get you right in the rear end (or in the chest as Sidge can testify too.)

They say it can take three seasons for geese to successfully sit on a nest and raise young. In addition, due to predation, we are down to just five birds. This includes one male and two females in the pilgrim variety. We are hopeful that this male might take both females as "wives." But we also have just two males in the toulouse geese variety that most likely will never have a wife. Therefore their ability to do anything is significantly impacted.

In addition, we have tried, repeatedly and repeatedly and repeatedly to put these geese on the pond. They instead wander back to the dry area where all of our other animals are and torment them -- stealing their food and water and just bugging everyone they can. We really don't want to just fence them in when we have these beautiful ponds, but they simply refuse to act like geese and stay on the water. (And fencing in the entire pond isn't possible -- the ponds are just too large for us to afford fencing at this point.) We have put up fencing to try and encourage them to stay where they are by blocking them from the most common paths away from the water, but our farm is really big, and we can't block all areas.

This week I have, on two different occasions, walked these geese all the way back to the pond in knee-high grass and sweltering temperatures complaining at the one who is a little chubby and goes way too slow the whole way. This takes me close to a half hour. I have also put up fencing and tried to come up with ways to block them.

To no avail.

Nearly every day, JB and I discuss the geese. What do we do with these darned geese. We know that the book of farming would tell us to process at least the two big Toulouse males. But we really don't want to. We like the geese, and so we have told them that if they will just stop bugging everyone else, we will let them live a long and happy life on our pond. But they won't do it, and we just don't know what to do.

So each day JB and I say, "We'll figure out something tomorrow." And then tomorrow comes and the geese are still here, and I like the geese, but they have got to leave the other animals alone.

I'm learning every day how complex farming is. It isn't just animals. It isn't just crops. It's lot of decisions -- many of which are governed by financial complexities. And it is also simply getting everything to work on the farm. 

C'mon geese! Go to the pond. Live a happy life there. Stop eating the chicken food and goosing their rear ends, and taking their water and chasing the ducks and jumping into the pig pen and scaring the kids. Just go be geese floating tranquilly on the pond. Either pond will do. You can do it. Go!

Darn geese.

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