While we wait for more lambs to show up, I thought I’d share some of our anticipated spring projects for this year.
As usual, I am full of ambition to try all kinds of small-scale livestock endeavors. With an unlimited budget, I’d get two bobcalves to feed up, a handful of pigs, more chickens, turkeys, fruit trees, nut trees, berries, maybe a garden….
But our budget is not unlimited, and neither is our time. We have to focus on what the farm needs most. After we got our soil tests back, we realized that we could add fertility with fertilizer, or we could raise some chickens for meat and let them do the fertilization work with a net gain of some humanely-raised chicken. Instead of raising Cornish Cross chickens, we are going to raise the Slow White broiler. Predictably, Slow White broilers are slower-growing meat hybrid. Unlike Cornish Crosses, Slow White broilers’ normal metabolisms allow them to forage, perch and engage in normal behaviors. Manure from the chickens will add huge amounts of phosphorus to the soil, which our land needs very badly. Plus, tasty chicken! If you are interested in learning more about meat chicken breeds, I wrote an article in 2015 on just this topic.
To top off our phosphorus-enhancement plan, we are also adding turkeys and a breeding flock of geese to our plans. The turkeys will follow the sheep. Hopefully, they’ll help clean up parasites. Matt talks often of the pet turkey his family had while he was growing up. Turkey Lurkey inspired Matt’s disproportionate love of turkeys relative to other fowl. I hope he finds a friend in our brood this summer.
Most exciting to me, we have an order for ten geese in our queue. I’ve never raised geese before, but their predilection for eating primarily grass and their entertaining antics tempt me to give them a try. If we like them, we’ll keep a few over the winter. Researching geese has been really enjoyable. If you are interested in having a Christmas goose (or a goose for any other occasion), let us know!