2020 Farmstead Plans (Part 1)
First, we have learned farm plans are just that, plans, and rarely all goes as planned around the farm. As we wrap up the year and start a new, it gives us an opportunity to look back and see what we want to carry forward, as well as the changes we want to make in this new year. We are a diversified Farmstead so there are many moving parts to consider: bees, goats, chickens, ducks, pigs, geese, vegetable garden, herb garden, and hemp. So let’s break this down together, shall we?!!
The Bees. Last year we expanded our apiary by bringing in Russian bees, and 2 swarms of native bees. We started the winter with 10 hives. We know to date we are down to nine, and could suffer more losses as these cold snaps in February and March are really hard on the bees. We plan to raise our own queens for genetic diversity as we make hive splits this year. We would like to end this year with 15 hives.
The Goats. We are looking forward to kidding season kicking off in March. Who doesn’t love having those cute little goat kids romping around the farm?!! Oh and that also means raw goat’s milk and more goat’s milk soap! This year we will also evaluate our herd sires, and will likely bring in new sires for both our British Guernsey line and our Nigerian Drawf line.
The Chickens. We have downsized our flock significantly. We do still have a few heritage breeding pairs however. We plan to hatch out chicks from them to see if the lines prove quality, but duck eggs are our favorite so our chicken flock will likely remain pared down with a few show quality heritage breeds.
The Ducks. The duck flock is expanding. Our current Welsh Harlequin flock is from Holderread Waterfowl Farm & Preservation Center. We will add more Welsh Harlequins from their show stock this year. After 6 decades of furthering heritage breed waterfowl, the 2020 season will be Holderreads last. We feel sad to hear of the retirement, but hope to do our small part and keep the Welsh Harlequin preservation alive. Not only do the ducks lay tasty eggs, after rotational grazing our duck flock, they are also great at clearing out the underbrush in our timber!
The Pigs. Can you say farm fresh bacon?, Yummy! It feels like the pigs complete our Farmstead. We are excited to introduce them into the operations of our farm. From prepping garden areas, to turning compost piles and utilizing all our food scraps, we love it all.
The Geese. We have not formally introduced them yet, but we have added Cotton Patch Geese. We look forward to working with this heritage breed of Geese. Originally bred to weed the cotton fields, we will utilize them to weed our hemp field. In addition, they will maintain watch over our flock of ducks, they are great at alerting to predators. We look forward to utilizing the breed, and making an effort to preserve it.
So there you have it! This is our plan for the livestock on our Farmstead this year. Next up…… our Farmstead plan for our gardens, organic buffers, and fields.