Keeping the grass fresh in the goose pen

April 27, 2011
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March 6th, 2011 Grazed & brown goose paddock next to fresh & green paddock.

I love grass. It feeds the animals and keeps things nice & clean. The geese love it too, and will eat it down to the roots if they are on it long enough.

The challenge is: How do you keep fresh grass around a nesting goose, without moving the nest? I do it by putting the nesting shelter in the middle to the paddock, and then splitting the paddock in half with a temporary fence. When it’s time to shift the geese to the other side, I move the temporary fence over to the other side of the nest. This puts the nest on the “green” side of the paddock without having to relocate the eggs or the sitting bird. (more…)

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Eagles love to eat ducks

April 14, 2011
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Can you find the eagle in the tree?

It’s not uncommon for us to have eagles come by, but we got to know one up close & personal last week.

Most of our ducks are penned up in 5′ x 10′ open bottomed pens.  They get moved to fresh grass every day, but they don’t get to run free.  Our runner ducks are the exception.  They are too high strung & intelligent to be happy in a pen.  They are excellent foragers, and do a great job on holding the slug & bug populations down on our place.  At night, they are closed up for protection against raccoons, but at first light, they have been free to roam….    But not any more!

On Monday we heard the geese making a terrible noise.  When Kathy and I went out to see what was the problem, we discovered an eagle had decided to breakfast on one of these free range runner ducks. (more…)

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Selling blown duck eggs

March 25, 2011

Abigail helps blow the eggs for breakfast

The value of my eggs tripled this week.  I just sold a dozen duck eggs on ebay this morning for $16.50, shipping not included.  The best part is that I got to eat them before they sold!

I’m moving into the egg shell business.  Blown goose eggs move out pretty regularly–I’ve already promised to ship off the rest of the ones I get this spring.  The surprise came when I found out that there is a market for blown duck eggs too! (more…)

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Goose Laying an Egg

March 15, 2011

Here is a sequence of photo’s I never expected to get.  I was building nests for my geese (hole+sand+straw+shelter) and I happened to have my camera along.  Good ol’ Splotchy was having contractions, so I snapped these as the egg came along.  This is my 6th spring with a flock of geese, and it’s the first time I’ve seen the event.


A lovely pair of geese.

Contraction in progress



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How to nest a goose

March 15, 2011

This hole is 3 inches deep and about 18 inches wide

It’s spring (or nearly so), and that means nesting time.  Now that I’ve finally got the routine worked out for successfully nesting geese, I’ll share it with you. For those of you who just want to see how much I’ve learned from doing this the wrong way, you should skip to the list of mistakes at the bottom of this post.

First is the hole.  I dig out the sod a little more than 12 inches square.

Next I fill the hole back up again with sand.  The sand keeps the eggs much cleaner, allows the rain to drain away from the nest, but still keeps enough humidity in the nest for a good hatch. (more…)

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Blown eggs–an easier way?

March 7, 2011

A small air compressor is a handy kitchen tool

I love finding ways for my birds to pay their own way!

Spring is coming, and the ducks, chickens & geese have been laying more eggs–good news!  Our surplus eggs (pastured, organic, no-soy, no-corn) have gone to friends.  That “egg money” goes into an envelope to help pay for the feed.

Finding ways to fill that envelope has had my attention for the last couple weeks.  Besides selling eggs, I continue to ship blown goose eggs for $1.50 each, which also helps.  The blown shells go for Pysanka, which are decorative Ukranian-style Easter eggs.  I’ve recently discovered blown duck eggs are selling for $6/dozen, which is a dollar more than I’m getting for them raw.  The challenge is finding a way to quickly and easily empty the contents from the egg.  This is a perfect (maybe) application for power tools! (more…)

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The First Goose Egg of Spring

February 23, 2011
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Joel found the first goose egg on February 22nd.

Joel ran to find me yesterday morning because the first goose egg of the year had appeared.  This year’s first egg came from a pair of American Lavender Ice geese.

He is responsible for taking care of the chickens, and will often go “on patrol” after his morning chores are done.  Apparently this includes checking all the pens for any new eggs.

We had separated out our 8 pairs of geese into breeding/nesting pens on February 8th, because it’s time for them to begin laying. (more…)

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Boron: A Soil Supplement

February 9, 2011

This afternoon’s project was spreading Boron on our pastures.

This plastic spreader worked great until it fell apart after one hour's use

Boron is a trace element that helps with calcium and nitrogen availability.  There is a good article about it on the Albrecht’s Animals page.  It is also soluble, which means in rainy Western Washington, it’s quickly washed out of the soil.  That’s what the soil test showed too.  We were to add about 3 lbs of boron supplement (13%) per acre.  Instead of mixing a foliar spray to apply dissolved borax, I bought a 50 lb. bag of “Granubor”, and walked around with a hand-held spreader.  The mineral grains were just the right size to make a 20 ft swath, so I was able to cover the ground I needed in less than an hour. (more…)

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Why top bar beehives?

February 4, 2011

This top bar is upside down so you can see the bee-covered comb

Here is my post about why I’ve decided to use foundationless and top bar hives for my treatment-free style of beehive management.

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Hand dipped tallow candles

January 27, 2011
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Filling the dipping vat with pieces of tallow

Once a week we have a “candle lit” dinner, so we go through a lot of candles at our house.  I’ve been thinking of this project for a long time, so when I ended up with about 10 lbs of rendered tallow last week, I had to give candle making a try.

I learned a lot through the process, and I’ve been very pleased with the result.  I started with filling my 4″ dipping vat.  It’s 15″ tall, and it takes a lot of raw material to fill it.  Because I was putting cold pieces into the vat to melt, it took about 30 minutes before it was full and liquid. (more…)

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