Monday, May 11, 2009

Goose Saga

Our original plan was to get 3 goslings. The problem is, when you order goslings, you must order 15. A friend had offered us goslings from their geese which were sitting on eggs, but the eggs did not hatch. We were starting to give up on the idea of geese this summer.
But then last week Cadence and I drove past a nearby farm and noticed they had dozens of assorted geese, many with goslings. Cadence persuaded me to stop and see if they would sell us a few babies. Don and Betsy, the farmers, turned out to be very friendly, fun people, wishing to downsize their flock a bit. They offered to give us as many geese as we desired. We settled on the plan of taking a Toulouse goose, her mate and her four goslings. Don said he would catch her after dark and clip her wings.
The next evening Don and Betsy delivered the mom and babies. Don showed Cadence how to pick up the goose, carrying her by the neck (so she does not bite) and the base of the wings. A large, hissing goose is pretty intimidating and Don was quite impressed by Cadence's bravery. We put them in the chicken coop for the night (poor startled chickens!) and created a pen for them the next morning to keep them confined until they got used to living here. Within half an hour they had somehow escaped the pen and were exploring the yard, but we thought all might be well even though they were loose. They looked so picturesque strolling around the farmyard.
By afternoon, Cadence was getting concerned about the babies. The mother repeatedly stepped on them. She kept walking and did not allow them to rest, eat or drink. Don had warned us that it is not unusual for geese to walk their babies to death. Then we looked out and saw that the geese were walking in the ditch outside the fence and one gosling was missing! Cadence looked for it everywhere, no sign. She was so upset she decided to take the goslings into protective custody. At first they were very unhappy, but once we warmed them up and fed and watered them they began to peep sweetly in their crate. An article online suggested giving them a stuffed animal for comfort. They snuggled up to the stuffed raccoon toy and fell asleep.

Meanwhile, mother goose seemed totally discombobulated. She sat in the center of the pasture for two days, barely moving. Geese are flocking animals and we knew she must be lonely, so this morning we caught her (easier said than done) and returned her to the farm to be with her flock. As soon as Cadence lowered her to the ground, a large gander who must have been her mate, came running fromacross the field toward her, honking loudly. I think she will be much happier.

The goslings have already bonded with us and accepted us as members of their flock. We intend to give them lots of handling and attention so they grow up to be people-friendly geese.


Rosehaven Cottage said...

I hope you will continue to write updates on your little family of goslings as they grow. If I had the room, I'd have some myself.


Anonymous said...

Awwwww I had two geese I was little. I don't know why my Dad bought them in the first place but I loved them. I don't remember them as babies though. I was rather little. I still don't know what happened to them. oh and I thought you were going to take her mate too? That must have been so cute to see her mate running to her. You probably had him worried sick. Too cute. Looking forward to the updates on the goslings.
I love your blog!

mo'ikeha said...

Thank you very much for keeping Nils Holgerson's dream alive.

Anonymous said...

They are adorable! I've never seen the goslings, the Canadian geese around here are fiercely protective. I was chased once, getting to close!

Susan said...

Michelle: Don was unable to capture the gander and intended to bring him later. Catching even one goose is a challenge!

Mo'ikeha : I didn't know who Nils Holgerson was so I did a google search and think I found him:

mo'ikeha said...

Yes, that's him. Being German I read the fairy tale of him very often during my's about a boy flying away with a goose, living adventures etc.