Earning College Money on the Family Farm

An Iowan tells a story about a lesson she learned while raising geese for college money

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I used to raise geese on our family farm for college money. One year our geese didn't earn any college money for me. We hatched the eggs in incubators. I did everything I was supposed to do, including keeping the eggs at the right temperature and turning them over daily. The eggs would develop right up to a week before time to hatch. Then they would suddenly die and rot. We couldn't figure out what was the matter. Then a thought occurred to us one day. The breeding stock geese had been kept in the lot where the cattle were several years before. The cattle had been fed diethylstilbestrol. We asked the veterinarian if that could be the cause of our problem, since the geese like to drill their beaks into mud puddles. The veterinarian said he couldn't say for sure. That was before the harmful effects of DES were known. After that, we kept the geese out of that area and didn't have any more trouble.

That year only one gosling hatched out of 360 eggs. She was really spoiled. We named her Peeper because she sounded like a robin when she was little. We kept her in a cardboard box in the kitchen until she got bigger. When she grew up, we kept her for breeding stock for several years. Even when she was older she would answer me with a "Cock, cock, cock" when I would call to her from the house. Sometimes she would come running to see what I wanted.

Joy J. Palmer
Forest City, Iowa


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.