Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Weeder Geese" at B&D Lilies

Tufted Roman Geese checking the future lily field
behind the portable electronet fence.
Eight feathered workers joined the field "payroll" last year.  They are Tufted Roman Geese, considered a lightweight bird, and on the "critical' watch list because of the low number of known breeding pairs.  American Livestock Breeds Conservancy: Roman Goose
Tuffed Romans are not as noisy or grumpy as the more vocal Chinese breeds, but during mating season and the rearing of goslings, ganders naturally become more "hissy" and vigilant.  Romans lay a fair number of eggs per year, take good care of their families, and are excellent "weeder geese".

Our geese love poking throughout the lily field for chickweed, clover and other goodies during mid to late August while the stems are tall and the understory weeds are tender.  Large clumps of chickweed or clover mean trouble on the harvesting belt, which can "ball up", and a take a great deal of time to untangle from the lily stems and bulbs, stopping the entire operation.

Massive clumps of Chickweed in our field is not necessarily a bad thing however, because those succulent clumps indicates good soil fertility.  Chickweed pulls out easily for the table (in salads) or for Anne Marie's confined flock of chickens in September, when our resident pair of  Bald Eagles are perched above the creek next to the chicken run, watching for spawning salmon.  Busy days in fall can bring a bit of a thrill—or shudder—when you look up in the Alder trees to see an Eagle calmly staring down in your direction, perhaps only 30 feet away.

Much more docile when the days turn stormy in October, our flock of geese will wait patiently under our grape kiwis (Actinidia), looking upward, for ripe fruit to drop from wind gusts.  A tug here and there by a determined gander on a low branch will sometimes yield a prize, but the "shaker" never seems to make it to the harvest before the other geese scramble in to scoop up the sweet tidbits.

New coyote fence being constructed last summer.

Coyote protection is important.


During the day, a portable electrified mesh fence controls grazing geese and discourages coyotes.   At times, this temporary fence borders the 6 foot security fence where the birds are tucked in at night.  We leave the electronet fence active 24/7 should a nose get too close while testing the barrier, because coyotes seem to need constant reminders.

When we installed the night time pen, a 2 foot layer of hardware cloth was stapled to the bottom fence rail and placed lower than ground level.  This barrier discourages digging under the fence and the addition of both a "hot" wire and "ground" wire at the top rail is for additional security.

The section shown above, bordering our veggie garden, will be finished before Dianna's order of 15 Ancona duckings arrive in May.   With our irrigation ponds, salmon spawning creek and high winter/spring rainfall, slugs and snails can be a problem that ducks are more than happy to control, plus they also lay tasty eggs, so its a win-win solution for natural pest control.

As the summer progresses we'll share photos of our waterfowl earning their grain.

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