aka as Goose Poop Farm
by Ric McDermott
It's been a year and a half since I gave up city life to return to my roots on the farm. A day trip brought me to Pepin County in Wisconsin. Awed by the awesome scenery: hills, valleys, rivers, trout creeks and most majestic of all, Lake Pepin - the wide spread on the Mississippi River.
Down a lone gravel road in a valley, I found the century-old homestead, 40 acres that I now call home. A real farm house with hand hewn timbers for supports, a real 100-foot red barn silo and wind mill. It looks like what a farm in the country should, and now it's mine.
The first year was difficult; but not being defeated, the second year has started off much better.
Anxious to get started in my new chosen life, I tilled up a 50' x 100' garden and planted thirty dollars worth of sweet corn. July came with thoughts of harvest and loading up the back of the pickup with corn and heading off to the farmers market. I was so excited the day I picked the first ears of corn, and in less than a hour I was in heaven, eating corn that I grew. I slept well that night, only to awaken and find out that the raccoons liked my corn too and had a party in the garden with all their friends eating my corn. I was devastated and depressed; I never had those problems in the city. Lesson one: I am not the only creature out in the country that's hungry.
Then there are the chickens. A venture that also was new to me. It all started with a quick in-and-out stop at the feed store for cat food. Then I heard the sounds of baby chickens in the back. To make a long story short, I walked out with the cat food and a box with 26 baby chicks and two geese.
My new life as a chicken farmer has begun. A stock tank, bedding and lights now in the farm kitchen was home to the baby chicks. Soon enough, I added another stock tank to the kitchen to house the weekly newcomers of chickens. I was hooked. I found out they get a new shipment of chicks to the feed store on Thursday. I was there early every week. Not that that craziness was enough, I found out you can order chicks online. Three hundred chickens, fourteen geese, and thirty keets later I thought, put the breaks on; that's enough!
I still had no coop, but I had chickens in the yard with electric fencing around and a makeshift wooden shipping crate nicknamed the "clown car". Soon enough, I was introduced to the predators: weasels, raccoons, possums, hawks and even my tabby cat all took their share of the baby chicks. No longer wondering why I had so many in the beginning, the loss was great the first few months.
Fall was around the corner and still no coop; what was I thinking. The more I thought, the harder it became to figure out the coop. I was over thinking and that is dangerous for me. I needed help. In desperation, I sent out an email to my cousins and they arrived (30 of them) one day in October. They helped convert the milk house into the new coop. The end of the day, the barn was secure, the coop was up and running, all my trees were planted and we feasted on pot luck. Power in numbers.
That's just part of my story, My flock is now down to 13 geese, 70 chickens and one keet. The real thrill for me is today I found three goose eggs. Wow, This is my life!