Nicola Chapman writes: We moved to Carr Farm in the summer of 2011 – quite a step-up from our three-acre smallholding near Dickleburgh in south Norfolk to 108 acres in the Waveney Valley at Burgh St Peter near Beccles.
We’d wanted to make the big step from smallholding to small farm for a number of years, and Carr Farm fitted the bill. In a lovely location, with the house and a useful mix of modern and older buildings in the centre of the landholding, and a variety of land uses including arable, marsh grazing and woodland.
We’ve had geese for over 20 years, always in the past as pets and ‘guards’ but with the added bonus of delicious eggs in the spring and early months. They do make the most marvellous scrambled eggs.
We were inspired after reading a newspaper article about well-known goose producer Judy Goodman in Worcestershire. It seems she started rearing geese when goslings were given to her as a present and has developed a substantial business in Christmas geese.
Geese are fantastic birds, but we don't believe you can successfully keep them if you don't have an affinity for their quirky nature. They seem to have something of a “marmite” reputation - people either love them or hate them, and there is no doubt in the breeding season the ganders live up to their aggressive reputation.
We simply love them and they provide us with endless entertainment over the year. They are creatures of habit, the smallest changes to their routine can upset them for days, even something minor such as someone different taking care of them or a different colour feeder.
Norfolk Geese at Pulham Market supply us with Legarth cross goslings, and they’ve also provided us with some good practical advice. The goslings arrive to us as day-olds in May and June. We get them out on the pasture as soon as possible as this is their natural environment and they’ll always favour new grass to any other feedstuff.
It’s been an interesting experience marketing a seasonal produce. We have garnered a loyal following among our customers who place their orders early in the year, with the remaining birds selling principally in the second half of November and early December.
Positive feedback from customers has in particular related to allowing sufficient hanging time for optimum flavour, feeding wheat, bird presentation and high welfare standards. This year we have started marketing through social media sites such as Facebook and upgraded our website to allow customers to purchase birds on-line either for collection from the farm or with local or overnight delivery. This is already bearing fruit with more than half our geese sold already.
It’s important to present the geese well and we supply them with spicy plum chutney made locally as well as herbs. And customers will find lots of information about cooking and recipe ideas on our website.
In the future we hope to expand the goose operation and are busy fencing a further hectare of grazing for them next year. However, we anticipate it will remain a relatively small operation of up to 150-200 birds.
(Extract from article written for The East Anglian Daily Times on 29 November 2014)
David and Nicola Chapman who enjoy rearing geese in the Waveney Valley.