Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Toodle-oo, Toulouses

The geese are gone.  We stumbled across someone looking for 3 Toulouse geese and we nabbed the opportunity to give them a more appreciative home. 

It is kind of quiet without these characters--they had a very large presence on our farm.   I loved their pompous self-importance and their obsessive curiosity.  They were so picturesque walking around the farm.  And I loved their constant chattering amongst themselves.

On the other hand, they thought they were the bosses of all creatures on the farm, including us farmers.  Last summer they were sweet, but as  full-grown adults they had become obnoxious and sneaky. They waited until you were preoccupied or indisposed and then ganged up on you. For instance, you have an armload of eggs and they won't let you out of the chicken coop. You have an armload of hay and they won't let you out of the barn. You are milking the cow and they sneak up and bite you on the behind. You are hauling out the recycling and they bite you on the shins. They don't have teeth- their bites are actually more like pinches, but strong pinches, that leave a significant bruise.

I had read and tried different strategies for training geese, trying to figure out how to  tame them, or at least get their respect.  If you  shooed or kicked them away, that  just made them more fierce. Usually it worked to act like a bigger, meaner goose, raising your wings, looming over them and  hissing loudly -not practical if you are carrying buckets of milk or baskets of laundry. They didn't really like to be confined, so if you picked one up and  held it in your arms, if would then leave you alone for a while--but the problem was there were three geese, and when you picked up one, the other two would take the opportunity to get you.  The dogs were no help--they weren't going anywhere near those scary things.

All of us found ourselves trying to outwit or avoid being seen by the geese. Sometimes you had to take the long way around the barn --or hide in the shed.  Everything took three times longer than it should. 
So, life is much calmer, quieter and more peaceful now.  But I feel a bit wistful -- I do miss them. I hope the new  owners are coping with their bossiness - at least they are experienced goose-owners and knew what to expect. 


katiegirl said...

I don't blame you. We used to have geese and they were pretty darn obnoxious. And their bites definitely hurt. I'm sure their new owners will love them. ;-)

Mystic Prairie said...

I have 50 geese- Pilgrims and 3 types of Toulouse, and not one of them is mean and bossy. They are either content, friendly and curious, or shy, cautious or fearful. I've never been attacked. Yet everywhere when I mention that I raise geese, people tell me stories like yours. I've been wondering about this, and I've decided that I think people turn geese bad. Geese aren't inherently bad. People completely misread their signals and react the opposite of the way they should, and then permanently screw up their relationship with the geese, and blame the geese for it. Maybe I'll start a Goose Whisperer TV show, and rehabilitate the poor geese, and train the people to be good geese owners.

Susan said...

HI Botan, I wish we had had you as a resource when we were trying to get along with our geese! As goslings we made sure ot handle them a LOT, wanting them to grow up calm and friendly around people, and they were. But after the long winter, when they were living in the barn with the 2 ducks and not getting much people time, they were like jekyll-and-hyde characters, sweet one moment and suddenly vicious the next, for no apparent reason..We learned how to outwit them and weren't afraid of them, but we worried about our guests, whom they would frequently intimidate.