We are starting a little farm here in the valley. Ever since we moved here 11 years ago I’ve wanted to do this but the timing was never right (is it ever?)… This time though it just fell in our laps so was clearly meant to be! It began with some ducks that were given to us by a friend. They weren’t working out at her home with her dog so we are the lucky recipients of 3 Welsh Harlequin ducks (2 hens, 1 drake) and a coop!
Of course our dog Lulu (also Welsh, a Terrier) is fascinated and obsessed with them. She wants to eat them so fully free range is not going to be an option. I’ve been reading about Joel Salatin’s approach to rotating pastures and raising multiple species in harmony so this is the approach we are going to try. As long as we already had some fowl at home I figured why not add chickens??? As its already fall and getting hard to find baby chicks I felt lucky to walk into our local feed store the very day they received their last batch of chicks. How about two of each I said? So now we have added 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Buff Orpintons, 2 Araucanas, and 2 Black Sex Links to our farm. We will probably add a rooster in the spring. With 3 ducks and 8 chickens we are going to have eggs coming out of our ears soon and we can’t wait!!
Now to pick some livestock… My husband and I wanted to get pigs for bacon and pork chops but the kids have protested and decided they are now vegetarian so… Maybe we will start with some goats that can help us with clearing. We bought 200′ of portable solar powered electric netting to protect our poultry from hungry predators. We have a lot of critters out here that would love some poultry for dinner! Lulu put one paw up on that fence and has since lost all interest in the ducks so it’s doing it’s job! The chicks are still inside but we put them out during warm days inside a pen so they can get acquainted with the ducks at a safe distance and experience the outdoors.
Once they are bigger we will add another coop for them to nest and roost. We are working on growing the best pasture greens for our animals. Until that takes we give them fresh lettuce daily from our garden and they gobble it right up. The ducks have a tub which they love to swim in. We change out the water often and use it to water our plants. Perfect fertilizer and no wasting! We can easily move the whole setup so they have will always have new land to forage and fertilize without fully depleting one area.
We can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for us with our new hobby farm.