Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Why Geese?

One of my readers, Rain who makes her home in Canada, left a comment on my last post asking a few questions about our newly acquired geese.  So here we go, Rain.  I hope this will explain why we deiced to make geese part of our homestead agin.


The above photo isn't of our new
geese but rather some of the ones
we've raised in the past.

Over the years we've found geese to be easy keepers and have had a few different breeds of them.  The last ones we had were Shetlands, and we were very happy with them . . . for a few years.  We kept a male and female and raised their offspring for our freezer.  Out of the last batch of eggs this mama goose hatched out, we got only one gosling, a male.  The remainder of the eggs she was sitting on didn't hatch for one reason or another. 

Then the gander of the pair suddenly turned very nasty.  We don't know why this happened as this pair of Shetlands (and all of the offspring they raised) had always been quite tame and inquisitive whenever we entered the poultry yard.  Father Goose's bad temper "did him in", so to speak, when one day he took a chunk out of the back of Papa Pea's calf leaving a scar that's till visible today.

Occasionally we have small children visiting and, of course, they are always interested in the livestock.  We didn't want to ever take the chance of Father Goose attacking a child or anyone else for that matter.

We considered putting Father Goose into the freezer and keeping the female goose and her son, but didn't care for the kind of inbreeding that would bring about.  So, all three geese went to Freezer Camp.

That was two years ago and we've found we really, really missed seeing the geese grazing out in the pasture and watching their antics on the pond.

Our good neighbor whose property adjoins ours grew up on a farm where his family raised ducks and geese.  They processed the meat in their homemade smoker and D says he remembers the smoked meat, especially the duck meat, as being some of the best he's ever tasted.  If we wanted to obtain some breeding geese and ducks, he'd be glad to share the expense with us plus do the smoking of any meat we wanted.

That gave us the nudge needed to get back into water fowl.

So the two main reasons we wanted to have geese and ducks again are 1) for their meat, and 2) for the enjoyment and liveliness they add to the homestead.  

We have a very large fenced in poultry pasture (the pond is within the fencing also) that will easily accommodate our current flock of chickens, our new ducks and geese and any offspring they may hatch out and raise over the summers.  We certainly won't be against using any "extra" duck or goose eggs for cooking and baking if they become available.

Like our chickens, the water fowl need protection because of the number of predators living in our area.  Year 'round they are all locked up at night, but happily roam about the pasture and on the pond during the day in the spring, summer and fall knowing they can hurry-scurry back into their enclosure or thick cover of shrubs and trees should the need arise.  The water fowl will generally swim to the center of the pond when they feel threatened.

For this winter (although we have plans for better housing to be built in the spring), the chickens live in their chicken house and attached 8 x 8' "solarium."  The four Pilgrim geese are in an 8 x 8' secure pen, the four Muscovy ducks in a 4 x 8' secure pen and the four Cayuga ducks in another.  They all have covered shelter and access to sun on sunny days.  If we ever see the sun again.

 

20 comments:

tom said...
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Cindy said...

We also found the pilgrims to be very docile. They get along well with the horses, dogs, goats, chickens and ducks. Easy to handle and actually between our clean headed tufted roman and our pilgrim gander, we can take either for hands on petting displays when we do ag type events. Crossing our fingers we actually get some eggs and hatchlings this year! Good luck and if your nests are overflowing, we might be interested in swapping a couple with you :)

Susan said...

I wonder what triggers aggressive behavior? I love to watch ducks and geese and I do think that ducks are my favorite of all poultry. Just don't tell my chickens!

Mama Pea said...

Cindy - And if you've noticed, true Pilgrim geese are not easy to come by these days! That's why we were so happy to get hold of these two pairs. We will definitely keep your kind offer in mind for the future. Even though so many breeders had trouble with the Pilgrims successfully hatching out eggs this past year, we're keeping our fingers crossed that ours may reverse the trend this spring/summer. Hoping the same for you.

Mama Pea said...

Susan - Yes, just what does trigger aggressive behavior when nothing about his routine was changed and he certainly had not been abused. Maybe Shetlands reach an age when the protective, albeit nasty, behavior comes out? Dunno, but we were sure upset to see it happen.

Ducks are the cutest things waddling around, aren't they. We're sure hoping these four new pairs pan out for us in the sense of giving us some good duck meat.

Cindy said...

When we got our first female 2 years ago, the husband had been looking for one for at least a year or more. Luck had it we were attending a poultry show and ran into a breeder who brought down an extra bird for us.
Finding the good quality with the right attributes to the standard is also hard. They are so picky on the white on the head and their two fatty lobes!
Our other favorite is the tufted roman. A little smaller bird but even more docile than the pilgrims. We currently have a smooth headed goose(european standard allows this) and looking for a gander for her.
Wish you, Papa Pea, Chicken Momma and especially Tucker(his daddy was our first cardigan, Fred), a very blessed Christmas and stay safe!

Mama Pea said...

We don't show birds at all, but understand how good conformation is related to good health and that's most important to us.

I remember you mentioning before that Tucker's daddy had been your first corgi. When I told our daughter about you, she knew about Fred.

Best wishes for the holidays to you and your family . . . and all the happy critters in your care!

Leigh said...

An interesting story, and cautionary. It seems that as animals get older their personalities get stronger. We've noticed that with roosters. Not a good idea to keep aggressive animals around, however.

Anyway, I hope the new ones all work out better. And I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Rain said...

Thanks Mama Pea for the interesting post! It's one thing to read a book on homesteading but it's quite another to read first hand experience and the reasons why people choose which animals to raise and keep (or eat!). I learn so much from so many people. I'm grateful. Enjoy your Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Here's a reason for geese--maybe you can train your geese and enter a parade!http://www.wimp.com/marching-band-leads-geese-down-road/ JoAnn

Kristina said...

If we ever dig a pond here, I'd like to stock it with bluegill, and raise more meat birds too. I'd have to put up a fence also.

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - Father Goose became aggressive right after his mate hatched out a batch of goslings. I suppose you could attribute his behavior to that except for the fact that they had had several batches of "babies" before that. Perhaps, as you said, as he got older his personality changed. Not for the better!

Mama Pea said...

Rain - You're very welcome. I, too, really like to hear from folks who have had actual experience, but also keep in mind that what works really well for one person, doesn't necessarily hold true for another! (Just to make things interesting!! And frustrating!)

Mama Pea said...

JoAnn - :o)!

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - I know it certainly can be done, but ducks and geese seem to love a body of water so much that I'd feel badly raising them without some kind of a pond to swim in.

Pam said...

I love those geese, they are so pretty! :)

Mama Pea said...

Pam - We like the way geese look in the yard, too! Ducks are even more interesting to watch, I think. Heck, all animals add such life to a place, don't you think?

Pam said...

That is so true, makes things more magical! :)

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