Notes From a First Time Front Yard Farmer – Keep Good Records

A while back I was poking around in iTunes looking for a new podcast to listen to. I found the Heritage Breeds podcast, produced by the Livestock Conservancy. As the name suggests, they talk about farm animals. Looking through their episodes, to find something interesting, I saw one where they had interviewed John Metzer of Metzer Farms. Being that Metzer farms is a big and respected hatchery known for ducks, chickens, and geese, I concluded this would be a good listen. In the interview, he talked about how his family got into the business of hatching ducks and geese, and shipping them out. Towards the end, the interviewer asked him what was one thing a poultry farmer should do, and he said “Keep good records.”

I heard that, and thought, “Huh, I haven’t kept any records. I should start doing that.” And then I promptly forgot, but not completely. Since then, the idea keeps coming back to my mind. I don’t really have all that many birds to have an involved record keeping operation, but I could keep a daily journal.

So, the last time I went to the bookstore, I remembered to get one. For the first three days I faithfully wrote my morning observations of the birds. I recorded their behavior, names, how long we had had them, personalities, and who was on the to be eaten list (their inclusion on this list is often related to behavior). Since then, I haven’t written anything. I begin each day with good intentions, but the morning moves quicker than I do. If anything, I should at least write how many chicken and duck eggs I have been getting everyday, but I haven’t even done that.

What I want to write is how joyous the geese are when they come out in the morning. They go to the top of the driveway, and walking on their tip-toes, they circle around in a dance, slowly flapping their wings, as they build momentum, then they turn like synchronized swimmers and fly down the driveway. For that brief moment in time, they remember. They remember they were once Greylag geese, and at one time, they really flew.

I think about the chickens, and how they hurtle out of the coop in the morning, and quickly turn and look up at me, expecting that day’s treats to be swiftly given to them. If I dawdle, Petunia will jump up and try to take it from my hands. This spring’s batch of chicks are so sweet. They let me pet them as they eat their crumbles, and if I’m not paying attention, will try to leap out of the back of the coop. The chicks are no longer small. They are just about full grown, and are ready to be integrated with the rest of the flock.

When the feed store was out of bedding straw, they suggested pine shavings for the chicken coop.  Figuring it couldn’t hurt, I tried it out. Even though the chickens were not thrilled with it the first day (they don’t care for change), I love the pine shavings. The coop seems to stay cleaner, and is less smelly. The only drawback is that the shavings tend to fly everywhere when you open the door.

The ducks can be heard quacking clear across the yard. They are ready to rush out, and start grubbing for bugs and weeds. The Saxony ducks are double the size of everyone else, but clearly have the lowest social standing. They are second to the water and food, even though they tower over the older birds. Mr. Reynolds spends his morning chasing the Saxony drake, making sure he knows who is in charge.

I should write about my barley fodder experiment. It’s not going well. The barley molds too easily, even though I rotate the trays, and only water every other one. It’s time to go back to wheat. I can save the barley as a wintertime treat, when everyone needs the extra calories.

My plan is to make a better attempt at writing these things down everyday. I have tried writing in the morning, but that’s not working out. Perhaps in the evening, after dinner. Of course, at the end of the day there are the kids and Dave to talk to, and I would like to find out how things are panning out on the Great British Bake Off. I could pack my journal in my bag and write before I go into work. But you know what I should do? Just quit procrastinating, and write in the darn thing.


2 thoughts on “Notes From a First Time Front Yard Farmer – Keep Good Records

  1. I enjoyed reading this. As a non-livestock-owner, it’s interesting to hear about the animals’ behavior. Maybe just think about what you need for your journal. Is it facts and figures? (Who’s laying, who’s looking sickly.) Or is the personal reflections of their personalities and behavior?

    Liked by 1 person

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