Hello. I've enjoyed reading BYC forum postings for about a year now, but have never taken the time to introduce myself. I live in Northeast Ohio with my husband, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 3 goats, 2 pet starlings, geese, call ducks, chickens and the little green parrots that started it all. We have a six-acre "mini-farm" that still needs a lot of work, but it's functional.
Actually, it was a crow that started my fascination with birds. My husband had a pet crow when I met him. It couldn't fly, but it lived free in the tall pines around his house. He never missed a day caring for and feeding that crow over the six years of its short life. She (and we're pretty sure it was a female since it much preferred male humans to female) would hop from limb to limb in that tree, allow my husband to handle it, and even come into the kitchen for scrambled eggs. One day she joined us for breakfast, and I actually heard her say "hello" I couldn't believe it! I've since learned how well crows can mimic human voice.
An owl took her life one Easter morning, but she made a huge impression on me in the short time I knew her. I fell in love with birds. Soon after, we were given two little green Quaker parrots. The owners grew tired of them. They had hoped they would breed, but lost patience when they didn't. Well, they did for us, and that led to more Quakers. The babies are adorable, and I learned to hand feed them, but I also learned how hard it is for me to part with them, so I decided breeding and selling Quakers was not for me. I did acquire a used travel trailer that I converted to an aviary so that my family of 7 Quakers and one adopted blue-crowned conure could have the company of each other and nice large cages.
Then I came across two baby starlings that I hand-fed and raised. I learned that they are one of only two wild birds that you can keep legally since they are non-native. I also learned that they can talk, too, and that there's a whole group of people who raise them as pets (Check them out on You Tube - they're amazing!) So they live with my parrots and get along fine. They don't speak human words since they have each other to talk to, but they are so much fun to listen to and watch. They're clowns!
Next we learned about an elderly neighbor that raised and sold Pilgrim geese for years. I learned that Pilgrim geese were becoming scarce, and that led to my interest in heritage breeds of birds and animals. We purchased a male and female gosling from this person, and that started our love affair with geese and other domestic birds. Now I raise geese, call ducks, and Ameraucana bantam chickens. It's still a hobby, but I hope to begin selling offspring if I can figure out how to find buyers who will take good care of them.
Thanks to the Internet I've learned so much and found sites like BYC which help make it possible for me to do this, although there are farmers in my family, I'm not really a farmer myself (Yet!). I acquired a cheap styrofoam incubator a couple of years ago, and have now successfully hatched chickens, ducks, geese, pheasants and bobwhite quail. I've broken all the rules about incubation with this little incubator and my inconsistent schedule (due to having to go to two jobs to make a living), and lack of a real barn. The instructions say not to mix different kinds of eggs, like chickens with ducks, not to let the temperature and humidity fluctuate too much, not to help a bird out of its egg, and that it won't work for goose eggs. I'm attaching a few photos of this month's hatchlings which broke every one of those rules.
So now my goal is to keep turning our property into a real mini-farm, focus on raising heritage breeds of poultry on a very small scale, learn how to turn all this poultry and goat manure into good compost, and hopefully retire from my "real jobs" in a few years so that I can do this full-time. Oh - and re-build my 200-yr-old dismantled log cabin on the property. I'm already in my late 50's, so I feel a little pressure to get the hard parts of this done before I get too old, but I also hope to be able to live and work on my little farm well into old age.