I’m getting excited thinking about all the things happening on our farm this year!
2019 was a rough year, and it didn’t seem like we accomplished a whole lot in terms of farm growth and progress. But sometimes times like that are necessary to regroup and focus on what we really need to get done, and as we make our way through winter we’re starting to lay out plans for a very busy summer.
Geese and Ducks
We are making a large addition to our goose flock in the spring, adding several Sebastopols and Dewlap Toulouse. We are also adding some more Runner ducks, because I cannot get over how entertaining they are to watch.
Sebastopols and Dewlap Toulouse are two of my favorite breeds of geese, some of the most enjoyable to watch in the yard, decent egg layers, and both have docile personalities. My hope is to grow our flock to be just as many geese as we currently have, but have them all be of two or three breeds. That way in the springtime, during breeding season, we can separate them by breed and hatch purebred offspring for our farm, and to offer for sale.
If you are thinking about goslings or ducklings, or any poultry for 2020, consider My Pet Chicken if you’re mail ordering them. I have an affiliate relationship with them, so if you follow any of the links on my pages, I’ll get a small percentage of the sale to put towards our grain bills. I do not normally do affiliate relationships, but I have been so happy with My Pet Chicken in the past that I’m proud to promote them. The above breed names and website title are also affiliate links.
We are also expanding our guinea fowl flock! We have enough chickens for the moment (our chicken eggs are just for our personal consumption), but we need more guinea fowl to keep our tick population under control. Therefore, we’re getting a whole slew of guinea fowl and I’m going to try and sneak a few pea fowl in with the order.
The downside of guineas is they are not bright and they wander really far afield in their tick hunting. We had over thirty birds three years ago, we have ten now. If you’re going to keep guineas, having to replenish their numbers is a reality. We are happy to do it, because they are so effective at keeping ticks and other pests at bay.
2020 is going to be the year of the pig! We are preparing to breed Nutmeg via artificial insemination, and will follow up with breeding Saffron in a month or so. This means lots of little piglets running around the farm this spring and summer, and I can’t wait!
Our primary use for our pigs is helping to clear land that we want to turn back into fields and a pond. We also have a large swath of land that was logged and there’s a lot of piles of brush and dead trees remaining. We can use at least a dozen pigs for several years to get all the land we want cleared, so we’re planning to keep a large number of the piglets. Those we sell are already spoken for by various farm friends.
We have our fingers crossed that we will be able to breed Ginger this winter. January is typically her last heat cycle for the season, so we’re hoping she takes when she visits the buck this month. If she does, we plan to keep her kid and milk her all summer. If she doesn’t take, we will try breeding Tater for a later summer kidding, just so we have some milk coming in this year.
At this point, we plan to keep any kids (Nubian or Nigerian Dwarf) born here in 2020. We would like to breed all or most of our Nigerian Dwarf does in 2021, and will be offering many kids for sale next year - or at least, that is the plan.
One of the biggest areas of expansion in 2020 will be the garden. When we put the pigs on the garden this fall we fenced in an area double the size of what we had. The pigs will turn over the soil so we won’t need to do any rototilling in the new area, and they will leave plenty of rich fertilizer in the soil so we don’t need to augment it.
The idea of a larger garden is to allow us to grow everything we need to get us through the winter next year. The main part of the garden will continue to be a mix of various vegetables, herbs, and a few flowers, mostly things that we will eat fresh off the vine or turn into nightly meals. But the expanded area will be full of everything that can keep through a Maine winter, or that can be preserved by fermenting. I am planning to grow far more potatoes in 2020 than ever before, and a large amount of cabbage, carrots, onions, and squash and pumpkins. I’m also going to try a few fun experiments because I can this year, such as growing my first melons and artichokes.
Finally, I am excited to buckle down on writing again in 2020! I plan to keep this blog much more updated than I did last year, and I already have several articles lined up for the summer. I look forward to continuing to share our farm’s adventures and my learning experiences with all of you!