15 May 2009

Gosling Adoption

We tried for several years to get our geese to hatch their own goslings, but were never successful. Goslings are fairly expensive to purchase (nowadays going for eight or nine dollars each, not counting shipping), so we didn't give up easily. But what would inevitably happen is that a goose would make her nest --- and then another goose would make her nest right next to it. And then other geese would climb in there to lay, and soon there were far too many eggs for the broody geese to cover. And then a chicken or two would lay eggs in the goose nest, and the goose would return before I discovered those eggs. The weight of the goose would crush them, coating all the goose eggs with sticky egg fluid. The nest material would then encrust itself all over the goose eggs.

I think it might've worked if we'd had just one or two geese, plus a gander, and been able to isolate their nests in a private area away from all other birds. We ended up concluding it was easier to simply purchase new goslings.

Which we did again this year. As reported in recent posts, they've been doing wonderful work busting sod for Mrs Yeoman Farmer's new garden beds. Yesterday, however, we ran out of sod for them to consume. I turned the eight surviving goslings loose in the pasture, and after a bit of orientation (and time to overcome their shock at suddenly being surrounded by so much green stuff), they went to work mowing down high weeds along the fence.

And then something interesting happened. Our two mature geese (which we kept because they are too old to butcher; we sell their eggs to a woman who paints them for crafts) eventually emerged from the barn, and slowly made their way toward the goslings. One of the geese seemed especially interested in this new little group, and approached them with her neck extended and head lowered. When she reached them, she shook all her feathers (making herself look bigger and more imposing), and then hissed at me and the dog. Within moments, all eight goslings were following her around. She hissed and honked at every nearby animal, and made little maternal honking noises to urge her little brood to move in the direction she wanted.

A day later, the new goose family is still all sticking together. They slept together in a group in the barn last night, and have been inseparable in the pasture.
You know that expression about "birds of a feather"? Truer than you might think.

And I think we'll be keeping "Mother Goose" for at least one more year. Craft sales of her eggs have more than paid for her keep...and how do you compute the entertainment value we got yesterday?

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