Well, life finally cooperated and I have found time to not only get our new farm website up and running, but am taking time to start the long-awaited farm blog. Relatives, friends, customers, and HOMESTEAD BOOTCAMP alumni have all asked us for a website blog. So, here it is! I'll try to post once a week with helpful homesteading skills, recipes for weird things like rabbit and guinea, project updates on our sustainable practices, and of course some hilarious happenings from our little corner of paradise out in the middle of nowhere northeastern Colorado.
We'll start with a funny thing that happened last week...it takes a bit of background to actually get to the funny part.
We raise heritage breed livestock. Though highland cattle are fairly easy to find, livestock like purebred registered A2 jersey milk cows, Oberhasli goats, and Tamworth pigs are few and far between. Death and old age requires replacement with younger breeding stock, especially the females. When we need replacement breeding stock, it takes months of searching, and usually a long trip out of state to get just the right stock.
Last month, we decided that we needed a second Tamworth sow, as we were down to one purebred sow and boar. We like having several females for our breeding males. So, the hunt was one. We got an email out of the blue for some registered Tamworths for sale in Wyoming. After conversing back and forth, the sellers gained our trust and we theirs, and a deal was struck sight unseen. This was a risk, but educated ones must be taken in our business. The thing that really sealed the deal was that this farm couple was downsizing, and as a package add-on, they would give us their flock of 22 heritage laying hens and one rooster. That would about pay for gas with future egg laying and chicken stew. The catch was that these were free-ranging and we had to catch them. It was also mentioned that they had a pair of geese, Adam and Eve, they wanted to keep, and they were with the chickens...so, the story unfolds.
We packed everyone into our 15 passenger van attaached to our stock trailer, and headed for remote Wyoming - directly north of our remote Colorado farm. After 3 hours of a lovely drive through desolate, brown winter countryside, we arrived at the homestead to collect our beautiful new sow, Classy, and our laying hens.
While the adults and teens went to load the pig, the little kids and I went to catch the chickens. No big deal; we do it all the time on our farm. The Sellers pointed to the barn and mentioned they were all in there. We closed the barn door and started catching chickens one by one, putting them in cages that we had brought. As we caught and caged the majority of the flock, Adam the male goose, began his pitbull guard dog antics! He chased us all around, squawking and snapping his beak as we caught his 'girls' one by one. I kept my eye on him, and at one point grabbed a shovel to stand between Adam and my kids.
The biggest issue to all this catching was that the Sellers barn held a lot of things piled in the nooks and crannies between an indoor pen of baby pigs, horse stalls, old equipment storage, feed, and tools of all shapes and sizes. With less than a few chickens left to catch, the remaining hens and one rooster got very smart and started hiding underneath or behind all of the barn stored items.
Concentrating on one corner of the barn and the chickens who were hiding there, I lost track of the goose and my 11 year old daughter, who is in fact our best chicken catcher. All at once I heard the goose squawk louder than ever, then heard my daughter scream as if her life depended on it. I looked up to see my 10 year old son running from where my daughter was, toward me, faster than I ever could have imagined he could spring. Leaving my youngerest daughter to catch the chicken I had cornered, I grabbed a nearby broom and ran as fast as an out-of-shape 55 year old farmwife can run, and struck out at Adam in order to save Taryn! She was cowering in the corner with her arm over her head in protection, as the goose left her and flew over the broom. Fortunately her polar fleece hat was thick enough that it protected her from a nasty bite on the head.
After inspection, she was okay and the pig crew joined us just in time to catch the rest of the flock, while the Sellers kept Adam and Eve away from all of us! It was not funny then, but it is hilarious now! How could I have ever explained to emergency room personnel, and then subsequently social services after they reported me, that I put my daughter in harm's way of a killer goose, after I had transported her out of state on a school day? Well, it was just a typical day in the life of country homeschoolers! We all learned a lot that day in 'school'.
By the way, the photo at the top is Taryn with her baby chickens she raised last year for fair. I don't think she'll ever want to raise geese for 4-H!