For those of you playing along from home, here are a few photos of the new place...
We are home. Horses, cows, goats, geese, dogs, cats, fish, plants, tractors and people all moved north to our new home, our new farm.
I am behind in taking photos mainly because I have been wrestling with moving boxes. Updates coming soon. It is almost goat kidding time.
I'd forgotten, or had the memory blocked from my mind in order to preserve my sanity, about the last time I caught geese. Long time (LONG TIME) readers may recall the episode but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of eight years ago, long enough to remove the scars from my mind and body. Not so anymore.
If you need a few background details, I'll simply offer that a neighbor had had enough of the geese dirtying his lake area and molesting his garden, and offered to give them to us. Some chef friends convinced me that we could do great things with goose eggs and goose meat. I was easy to sway in those days, far more naive than I am now.
So off we went to catch the geese. I think there were eight geese and five of us. The neighbor's land was a rough, uneven, untamed place and I seem to recall spending the better part of two days figuring out how to trap and move the beasts.
If you've never handled a goose, I will offer this: they are mean. They hiss, they bite, they poop with a degree of filth that could be a bio-hazardous weapon, and worst of all, they fight with their wings which are powerful weapons for pain. In short, there is no good reason to ever, ever mess with one. None. And not in the years that followed did anything we ever cooked from goose eggs convince me that the pain I endured was worth it.
But, as I said, time dulls the memory of pain.
Time and the necessity of our current situation.
So what began as eight geese has dwindled to three over the years. Two geese actually managed to fly away during their first week at our farm. Several more became fox bait. But the three remained. Initially we planned to keep them with the chickens (how else were we to harvest their eggs and eventually their meat?) but they decided against that plan and moved themselves across the farm to our 15 acre lake. That was all well and good. Every evening during cocktail hour we swam our dogs in the lake and then fed the geese a small offering of shelled corn. They were happy and we were...complacent with situation.
Then came the sale of our farm, the need to move north to a new farm, and the knowledge that the home we had shared with the geese would soon undergo radical changes that would leave us and them unable to remain.
I am a softie. I admit it. I could not leave the geese. No way, no how.
So how does one catch three half-wild geese that live on a 15 acre lake?
I asked my husband if the alligator trapper from his job would be willing to come and dart them for me. He was not amused. I plotted. I thought. I planned. Then I did what farmers do: I domesticated the geese. Again.
The geese, like all of our animals to varying degrees, are suckers for food. They had grown accustomed to their nightly ration of corn and they were not about to give it up.
We built a makeshift coral. Every night for three weeks we fed the geese in and only in the coral. The first night they went hungry. The second night and every night after, they ate. Finally, one night which held no better shot than any other, I shut myself inside the coral with the geese and grabbed them.
I still have bruises. I still have scratches. The back of my truck still smells like goose poop. But I caught them. I caught them, I put them in a carrier, and I sent them on a truck headed north.
Grandma, who is presiding over all things Silver Creek, assures me that the geese have moved safely and happily into their new home.
And yes, they still come for corn every night.
It was still dark when my husband, toddler son and I made our way out to the pasture for one last roundup.
The bull was already in a small pasture confined close to the house thanks to a power outage brought on by Hurricane Irma that left us with no electric fence for three days. The ladies, lovely cows each and all except Flop Horn who hates me, were still sleeping. We roused them. I called, I chatted, I tried to sound positive.
"Off to your new home this morning, girls. The grass is so much better! And no mosquitoes!" (We have a horrid outbreak of those too thanks to the hurricane.)
The girls were not impressed. They glared for a moment or two before they began staggering to their feet.
Normally I do not work cattle without a horse. I love using the horse. First of all, it's an excuse to ride a horse and I get precious few of those these days thanks to Mr. Harrison. Secondly, a horse has four legs and I only have two and I would like to save mine as long as possible. But this morning there was no time for a horse. Instead it was farmer cattle driving 101.
I politely persuaded the girls to head into the working area. (Toddlers also have a way of forcing one to say, "Please go into that chute and stop looking at me or you are going to be in trouble," rather than the more...colorful language I would prefer to use when being challenged by 1500lb cow. So, cows went in and the trailers arrived.
I know that most if not all of this county hardly took notice today as 27 cows and one bull stepped onto trailers and left this land forever. I wonder in weeks and months and years to come, as this land changes, if anyone will even remember that we were here. I will remember. I will remember the sight of those animals leaving, heading north for a new farm and new hopes and new dreams, even as I stood this morning wiping tears from my eyes.
Safe travels, ladies.
This week was goat moving time. On Thursday morning, 75 nannies, two "pet" goats (Phil and Buddy) and one billy goat (Ahab) hopped onto a trailer and made the eight hour drive from the coast to the hills of north Georgia.
How, you ask, does one load 78 goats? Well...We decided that Phil and Ahab would travel in the front compartment of the trailer so they went on first. Phil, being mostly pet at this point in his life, was more agreeable than Ahab. We pushed and pulled Phil onto the trailer and then Ahab agreed to go too. Then we started with the nannies. The trailer had another four compartments so that we could divide the nannies into groups and try to prevent too much pushing and bumping. We opened the gate and Gracie quickly jumped on and trotted down to "chat" with Ahab. The other nannies were not so quick to succumb to his wily charms, but with a little encouragement, everyone was loaded and on their way.
Traffic presented some problems as we were running with the flow of others fleeing the projected path of Irma, but our livestock hauler (we'll call him "Steve") is the best of the best and he made sure our girls were safe and sound.
By 3:30pm, everyone was in their new paddock in Silver Creek enjoying a drink of fresh, cool water and new pasture with weeds which is, honestly, what goats love best.
Goats? Safe and sound!
It has been a sad summer in many ways, not the least of which includes not having access to our own produce. As the "stay behind team" here on the coast we have learned what we already knew: there are no other farms in our area selling local produce or offering a CSA (we would have happily joined!). Instead we've been stuck with what we could buy at the grocery store.
Yesterday, grumbling over the Florida tomatoes stacked in piles for $1.50lb, I watched in horror as the woman next to me picked up a tomato that was rotten, squealed in disgust, put it down and went on to the next tomato. I'll leave it at that; I won't even get into questions or quality control or how far those tomatoes traveled to reach the store. Sigh.
I am struck by the difference in vegetables as I wash, cut, and cook them. Gone is the crunch of freshness. Gone is the gleam of produce that was just picked. Instead I have sad, limp items that seem to plead with me to put them out of their misery.
It has been a sad summer eating produce not our own. We are ready for things to change.
Google it. Google "How to move a farm."
I am reasonably certain that the reason there are no returns on this search is because no person (or group of people) with any sense would attempt such an exercise.
It is insanity.