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On Wednesday, July 27 the Ecological Farmers of Ontario(EFO) hosted a tour of Gerald Donnelly’s Donneyweir Farm. Donneyweir Farm was stunning. We started the tour at a picnic table by the Donnelly’s front door, and beautiful garden. The tour itself was not at all what I was expecting. Gerald Donnelly showed us all of his birds. He keeps chickens, ducks, but most of all, geese. The pride and passion which cascaded across his face as he showed us around his farm was so evident that with each stride I found myself developing a growing appreciation of the company of geese.
When Gerald was talking about all the breeds, it did help to see the variety of breeds of geese as they walked by. I had no idea how to tell them apart but Gerald’s tips, such as; “one will look like it has black lipstick” or “one will have pure white feathers, save for the black lining under its wings” started to help me sort them out.
When it comes to birds, Alfred Hitchcock, Daphne duMaurier, and fecal bombing from the sky have made me little fearful of our feathered friends, but I was enjoying Gerald’s birds. They were actually, really fun to watch. It was cool to see how they behaved together and how some would take charge and be a leader for the younger ones, or shyer ones. I could probably analyze them all day. Here is yet another example of how everything works the way it does for a reason, that everything has a specific cycle and works in sweet harmony with all that is around it. I learned that Gerald Donnelly does not use any antibiotics or chemicals on his healthy animals.
Gerald spoke about how he put his birds in shows and won. A lot. He’s very proud of it, and he really enjoys doing shows with his birds. We also learned about breeding frustrations, and how in some years it worked better than others and how in the end it was decided to leave the breeding up to the birds. It turns out to work better that way because the birds usually pick out better partners than humans could pick for them.
All in all, it was a beautiful day on a beautiful farm, filled with the birds I never expected to appreciate. I learned a lot, and came to understand birds, that much more.
For more information on EFO and their events, visit their website at http://www.efao.ca/