This year has been a turning point in our farming story in many ways. One new road we're walking down is that of breeding. For many reasons it was never in our minds to do so (neither was raising livestock), but we have at this point become thoroughly committed to raising heritage breeds that are all critically endangered or threatened.
Some of the responsibility we feel in helping bring heritage animals back into favor involves looking for strong traits to keep and removing genetic lines that diminish the integrity of the breed. Along with that, in our pursuit of a truly sustainable farm system, outsourcing all of our animals every year is not a good long term plan. It is a concern for bio security reasons and financially difficult. Beyond introducing genetic diversity, raising your own really is better.
All this said I am an old school farmer in the sense that I want to raise good mothers to do their job so I don't have to. This might be a fantasy but we'll update you once we've given it a try. No incubators for us, just broodies!
The newest members of our flock are two mating pairs of Sebastapol geese. We got them from Ravenna Farms in Washington. They are our good friends and livestock mentors who are now an exclusively heritage livestock breeding farm. If you haven't connected with them yet through our Friends page, then do so! They have very high standards and run an amazing operation. They will also be teaching some classes for us this year so keep a look out for date announcements soon.
Last year they gave us a few geese to raise for meat that didn't make the cut for their breeding program. To put it bluntly, they are delicious. Also incredibly friendly for geese. They watched over our chickens and ducks, hissed at intruders and followed us around making us feel loved.
They are a smaller breed and market weight peaks at 10-12 pounds in larger birds. The obvious distinguishing characteristic is their curly feathers. They are an ornamental breed in that sense, but are also considered a meat bird.
Geese are also great food forest animals. They can survive fairly easily off forage exclusively. We will be running them a different times through various parts of the property.
So please, welcome Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes to Out of Ashes! (The smaller couple has yet to be named.)