Summer of 2017 was a summer of next to no rain. It made for a difficult first year of gardening for us on our new property. We got a soil test done last year which told us what our garden was lacking. One of them was organic matter. Back in September 2017, we plowed the garden and seeded with winter rye and forage radish. The radishes have long roots which helps aerate the soil, and the rye helps build up organic matter when it’s tilled in.
Last weekend, Robert went through our careful orchestration of acquiring the tools we need to do large scale garden work. We borrow a cone spreader from our friends at Green Garden, and a tractor from our friends Dave and Nancy. He also had to borrow a van to transport all the bags of fertilizers home.
Our garden is about 3/4 of an acre. Because of the large size, and how poor our soil is, we needed large quantities of everything. It started with 1500 pounds of lime. Lime helps raise the pH of the soil. Most plants want the soil between 6.5 and 7, and ours was at 5.4. In addition, 400 pounds of 19-19-19 fertilizer was added. This adds nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. And finally, our soil was especially poor in potassium, so 40 pounds of potash was mixed in, which is 0-0-60.
So far, so good with what has been spread. We still need to till in the rye and spread our plastic mulch. But, it’s progressing, which makes us both happy. We can’t wait to share what we are growing with you!
We’ve been told that spring is coming, but we beg to differ. We’ve had alternating days of wonderful weather, with clear skies and reasonable temperatures, and complete garbage. This morning, I woke up to snow dusting the entire yard. Luna wasn’t super impressed with it when I took her out to do her business and care for the animals.
First thing every morning, we let the flock out of the coop. The chickens, ducks and muscovies spend the night in the coop, and the geese stay outside. They are too large, and just too mean to keep in with the rest of the flock overnight. Plus, we have them as “guard dogs” so we want them to make noise if something is amiss. This is what “Unleashing the Feather Beasts” looked like back in the fall.
In the last month or so, we’ve added several birds to our flock. The first were a pair of male muscovies. We got a white, as well as a lavender. Shortly after, we got a trio of females to go with them. We plan on breeding them to raise babies for both egg and meat production. We also acquired three female Toulouse geese, which seem to have bonded with the trio of American Buff geese we have. The plan for those is also raising babies for meat production. Plus, we’ll enjoy some eggs while we wait for the ladies to go broody.
We have also ordered more layers, as well as our first batch of meat birds. The layers are going to be Easter Eggers, to add a little color to our cartons for the market. The meat birds are Red Rangers as well as Husky Rangers. The Easter Eggers will be added to our laying flock after brooding in the barn for a few weeks. The Rangers will be put into tractors to be moved around our pasture. We have several reasons we’ve chosen Rangers as opposed to the usual Cornish Cross meat birds, which we will go into more detail in a future post. Keep an eye out for that one!
Today, February 23, is National CSA Sign Up Day. We would like to take this opportunity to announce our Egg CSA!
Our eggs have been in high demand since we started selling them. We have several customers to tell us how much they and their children love our eggs. Because of this, we decided to offer a CSA as a thank you to these great people.
First off, what is a CSA? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. What it means is that the community or consumer prepays for a “farm share” or a set amount of product at the start of the season, and gets great farm produced food throughout the season in return. The consumer wins because their share is worth more than what the products would cost at market, and the farmer wins because they get more money up front to help fund their growing season.
How is our CSA going to work? We will sell CSA punch cards good for twelve dozen eggs, and you will pay for ten dozen. You will choose either chicken eggs, or duck eggs at the beginning, and the cards will be marked accordingly. We are starting with a very limited number of shares, as we would still like to provide eggs to other market shoppers.
Once you purchase your punch card, you will be able to purchase eggs with it whenever you want! They won’t expire, and you can choose to skip a few weeks, or get a few dozen at a time. We do ask that if you need several dozen at once to let us know as soon as possible, so that we can set them aside for you. Eggs can be picked up at the Marshall Area Farmers Market, or if you message our Facebook page, we can make other pickup/drop-off arrangements. We also cannot guarantee that we will have eggs available at the market later in the day. We sell out most weeks, so again, if you need eggs, just let us know ahead of time.
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask! We will respond as quickly as possible. If you would like to sign up, email us and let us know if you’d like the duck share or the chicken share. Thank you for supporting us as we endeavor to grow our farm.
Eleven months ago, we posted an introduction, briefly explaining who we are. So much has changed since then.
We purchased our home in December 2016. We are located on a nine acre parcel in Calhoun County, Michigan. In 2017, we acquired many, many chickens and ducks, as well as a trio of geese. We kept several sheep belonging to our friends at Queso Cabeza, and we also had a llama and an alpaca belonging to some other friends. We attempted to grow a garden, but didn’t do well at that.
A decision was made that 2018 would be better, and more organized. We have ordered plastic mulch, irrigation supplies, and are preparing to raise meat birds more economically. We will also be growing nearly an acre of vegetables, fruit and flowers. We are much more prepared this year. We’ve gotten a soil test done, and have added cover crops this winter to help amend the soil. We are looking into getting a couple of beehives on our property to help with pollination. We are working smarter this year, and we are both very excited and driven to succeed.
In the past year, we butchered our jerk of a rooster, Roofus, and turned him into nachos. We’ve also butchered a half dozen ducks with help from a couple friends, and had another dozen or so butchered by some local Amish folks. Nicole has helped with butchering a sheep, and Robert has butchered some of the ducks that were badly injured by a predator. We’ve come a long way from the vegetarians we both were a few years ago.
Some of our goals for this year are as follows:
Grow flowers for Robert’s sister’s wedding
Raise three batches of meat chickens
Grow broom corn for a friend who makes traditional brooms
Raise geese for holiday dinners
Blog somewhat regularly to keep everyone up to date on what we are up to
We have some other non-farm goals that we are working on as well. So far, we are incredibly excited with what we have going on this year. We hope you are too!
Chickens and ducks have a wide variety of foods they enjoy eating. There are several human foods that are given to them because they are higher in certain vitamins or minerals. Ducks need extra niacin (or vitamin B3) when compared to chickens. Cheerios and green peas both have higher levels of niacin, and they are easy to find. We give them a few handfuls of one or the other every few days, which gives them something to do, and helps them develop correctly.
Last weekend, we took our ducklings out for a walk. The only way we could get them all heading in the same direction was leading them with their drinker. It’s basically their favorite thing in existence. We had to remove the sound, as we didn’t really expect this to be posted. Future videos will have the babies in all their squeaking, squawking, quacking glory.
Hello and welcome to Frontière Farm House! We are Robert and Nicole Goetz, and we’re happy to have you here. There is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes with the website, but it’s coming along. We wanted to introduce ourselves and share a little of the work we’ve done at the farm lately. Our first wedding anniversary seemed like the right day to start.
We closed on our house on December 23, 2016. Being that the holidays were right after that, not a lot of work was done in the beginning. The warm Christmas weather caused much of the snow to melt, which led to the discovery of a cow carcass in our horse pen. This slowed us down on the progress we were making, and is an entire post for another day. In addition to the cow carcass, the previous homeowners left a freezer full of trash in the barn, piles and piles of rotting straw and hay all over the property, and piles of random junk. We’ve cleaned up half the junk so far, but there is still a lot left to do.
In the last three weeks, we’ve acquired three grown chickens, and the two hens have started laying. They’ve also escaped their yard a couple times. We need to repair some fencing, and build up the soil beneath it to close all the gaps. Hopefully, that will stop all the escape attempts.
We have also acquired many other birds. The first purchase was twelve day-old buff orpington chicks. We unfortunately lost one shortly after bringing them home. The stress of the cool weather, being moved in a vehicle, and then put into a new enclosure was just too much for it. The good news is, the remaining eleven are doing great!
We prefer using mason jars to hold their food and water, especially in the heated areas. It’s easier to see if they need to be refilled, and we have TONS of them. We can also clean them in super hot water. The outside birds have a Harris Farms galvanized steel drinker, as well as a plastic feeder from the same company. The steel drinker is double walled and will stay cooler in the summer, and is less likely to freeze in the winter.
Just this past weekend, we purchased another two dozen day-old chicks, as well as six ducklings. In addition, we received seven week-old ducklings from a gentleman who didn’t realize his ducks were incubating some eggs. They are all pekin/rouen crosses, and are incredibly cute.
So for those doing math, we have two humans, a cat and a puppy (who haven’t even been mentioned), three big chickens, eleven medium chickens, twenty four small chickens, seven big ducks, and six small ducks. Fifty five mouths to feed. Luckily, the majority of them are content eating bugs and weeds. And a large number will earn their keep in five to six months, when they start laying.
We will be back soon with more information about our animals, some tutorials, recipes, and lots more!