Keeping Goats, Geese
and Snakes in
your Garden and on Homesteads
Thinking of keeping goats? In our efforts to be green, to be more
independent, use less gas and so on, some of us have
found alternative ways to plow our gardens. Come and read about the
usefulness of using goats, geese and snakes in your gardens.
Keeping Goats for Plowing and Tilling
Goats have always been the poor man's cow, and plowing is no exception.
Goats are fantastic
animals. Keeping goats will give you milk, meat and draft capabilities
almost no feed costs. You can feed 11 goats or more for the price of
feeding one cow and her calf for
one year. That's 6 bred goats and her kids for the same year. More than
amount of milk, and over double the amount of meat for the same feed.
The personality of most goats is wonderful. I used to say they are like
dogs that milk. They
love you and will do anything to be around people. That's why they make
wonderful draft choices. My sons used to pick out a fancy wether and
training it before it was even weaned.
They would take an old horse halter and turn it backwards, putting the
goats head though the
hole there the horses nose would go, and strapping it about the girth
goat, with the part of the halter that would go over the poll of the
head and fasten. This was the best harness money could buy.
In keeping goats we never bought an actual goat harness. We just
wrapped the part of the harness that went over
the goat's chest with some sheep's wool to avoid sores when pulling
It was a lot of fun and it got a lot of work done that would have been
harder without those big fancy wethers.
You don't need fancy to
make a good draft goat, but you do want big. Wethers are really the
to go when picking out something that can really work for you. Breeds
large, however they are a bit more nervous and vocal then
other breeds. I found that a Nubian
with a more docile breed like Lamanche worked very
I showed and raised Lamancha
for over 15yrs along with some all of the Swiss breeds except
They have the genetics for off-flavored milk and I couldn't
take the chance. It was always the Lamancha that stayed due to their
kind temperament and easy going nature. They also have a high percent
butterfat and milk as well as the Swiss breeds without being as prone
The bucks and wethers were always well mannered and willing to work.
Well, most of them
anyway. I can remember a few dragging my youngest son across the
orchard with this
screaming for help. I think he did it for fun half the time.
This year while tilling small parts of land or your family garden,
consider keeping goats and
using the goat to help till rather than a tiller you rent or buy. It’s
a lot more fun, and you get
to use the goat for more than just tilling.
Keeping Geese for Weeding
After you get your garden planted, consider fencing it in and adding a
few geese. You
don't need a special breed to weed. Hatcheries will sell "weeder"
all geese will weed. This is a way to market colorful crossbred geese,
to name them "weeder".
A goose was once the
ideal wedding gift
, as it was a sign how long the marriage
would last. The marriage was to last as long as the pair of geese
lived. Geese live on
average 75yrs. This means you can buy just a couple for your garden and
have to worry about replacing them. A dog house for shelter and a place
a drink and your geese will be happy pulling up and feeding on small
new plants as they come up.
Have your garden plants well-started so the new shoots of weeds and
unwanted grass looks a lot
more appealing to the geese then your tomatoes. It also is good if you
them table scraps or a handful of corn every now and then. If you want
to eat, allow them to nest and by mother’s day, you will have a clutch
You can tell a male from
a female goose that is of laying-age, by watching them walk away from
female will have a low hanging "bag" that's her "egg shoot"
as I call it. That's not the right name, it’s just what I call it. The
male will have a smooth tummy as he doesn't need an egg shoot. This is
fail-safe way to sex geese of laying-age.
Goose Down and Goose Fat
I love geese. I love their personality. I love the work they do on the
I just love keeping geese. If you want to make your own pillow, don't
use feather, pluck the fluffy stuff under the feathers;
the down. Yes, your goose will be naked for the most part, so don't do
this unless the
weather is warm. Your goose will only re-grow those feathers twice a
When you butcher geese, save the fat. I skin geese and keep every drop
of goose fat I can.Goose
fat is the best water-proofing you can get for leather
I set my work
boots in the oven on the pilot light or out in the sun on a hot, hot
day till the leather is warm or hot to
the touch, then rub in all the goose fat I can. There isn't an oil or
water-proofer on the market that will do a better job or last longer.
Now that your goose has no skin or fat, you can wrap it in bacon and
bake it, or put it in the slow
cooker with some BBQ sauce and call it Mock beef. That's what I did for
as my family got so sick of eating goose. Finely the youngest son said,
"Mom, we know beef doesn't have those kinds of bones." My cover was
blown and I finely got rid of the geese.
I do have in the incubator a gift of 6 eggs that are Toulouse
and Ebden. I can't wait to have geese again. They have to be one of the
most useful animals a farm, or
even a garden could every employ. A goose is so eager to help with your
even fertilize it for you. They have quite good appetites so even a
geese will do a lot of good.
Snakes in the Garden and Geese
The last animal to help your garden is the snake. My grandmother had
such beautiful gardens
that people would go out of their way just to come see. She would put
out bowls of water
for the snakes. When I ask her why she said they eat the bugs, mice and
bad things that keep the garden from growing. She believed snakes in
the garden are good luck.
I believe that grandma had a beautiful garden, I also know grandma
didn't have geese in her garden and
that I hate snakes. I put the bowls of water out to honor my
grandmother but I also put the geese out to make sure I never see one
of those creepy snakes.
Geese suck snakes up like
. Thank goodness they do! Geese also eat bugs and
so, it evens out.
I hope your garden survives the weather and you have the most beautiful
garden ever this year.
By Gypsy, our resident homestead blogger
Wanderings Homestead Blog
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Goats, Geese or Using Snakes
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