Geese in an organic Alaskan garden
The weather has been warm and beautiful, the days are getting noticeably longer, and the snow is slowly melting. These are all wonderful things, but this year the sure sign of spring at Woodside Gardens is goose eggs! Gerdie has laid 3 eggs so far this season, and it has me excited for the year to come.
My geese are most definitely my pets, and I would keep them simply for the compost boost they give me, but I’ve decided to sell her eggs to cover the cost of their food (see the facebook page!), which really works out nicely.
I have been ridiculously impressed by how well these birds did over the winter. Their coop is not heated or insulated (except lots of straw, of course), and I had no supplemental light other than a string of small white LED Christmas lights around part of the fence perimeter to help me see the moose.
I kept a metal trash can in the coop for food storage, along with a heavy ceramic dish for them to eat from and an elevated (so they don’t try to swim in it) heated dog dish for water. That’s all it took! They have 24 hour access to their fenced run, and they actually chose to spend most of their time outdoors. I filled the coop with a bale of straw last May, and added another this past January, stirring it a bit every month or so.
Having a permaculture-centered garden means that I don’t purchase fertilizers, I make them myself. My compost bucket in the kitchen doesn’t fill up very fast anymore because I feed the geese all the edible scraps. Those scraps still make it to my garden soil, but first they provide free food for my birds. They also eat all the weeds I pull out of the raised garden beds, and every dandelion they can get their beaks on!
After Gerdie is done laying eggs for the season, I’ll pull all the straw out and throw it into the compost pile, and start the whole process over again. The compost feeds the soil and also builds it up, so every year I have more soil to build more gardens, which feed my family and birds, and feed the compost pile. It’s a beautiful, never-ending cycle!
I do feel that it is important to note that geese are BIG birds, and they can be dangerous. When I steal an egg, Gerdie wants to kill me, no kidding. I know how to handle them, and I’m not afraid of them, which helps, but they are NEVER near my children or visitors.
Geese are easy to care for, but I don’t want anyone to think they are cute and friendly like chickens (which can be vicious also!). Some geese are sweet as can be, but most are not, and you must realize this before you get them. That being said, they have provided endless value to me, and I’m glad I have them!
About Jamie Woodside
Jamie shares her thoughts and ideas as she explores organic gardening and permaculture in Big Lake, Alaska. She writes about chemical-free gardening in a cooler climate, saving energy or using alternatives, cooking from scratch, and living a more frugal lifestyle.