Escapades with Geese
Entertainment is never lacking on a farm with geese. The hijicks of spring time add to the drama, as hormones are running high and fresh grass is newly available.
Our gaggle is currently seven geese, and with the onset of spring they have paired off. Pete, our Roman Tufted gander, has taken two of our new African geese as his ladies. These two girls are the most skittish in our flock, they're two years old and were not hand raised, and we only adopted them this past fall. Pete makes a hissing protector for them, his cuddly attitude overcome with bravado.
Meanwhile, in my favorite farmyard pairing, Rupert the Sebastopol gander is head over heels in love with Petunia, our Dewlap Toulose. These two won't get more than three feet apart from each other, and every moment of Rupert's existence is spent cooing over his massive mate.
This leaves two geese remaining, Lady Goose and Ashley, an African and a Chinese. We've had Lady Goose almost four years, she came as a gosling with another goose. When there are only two geese of the same sex on a farm, they will usually act as a mated pair even though they cannot produce offspring. One will take on the role of the female and try to nest, even if it's a male, and one will become pugnacious and aggressive like the male of the pair. Since Lady Goose and her first mate were raised together, they became a pair and Lady Goose behaved like the female of the two. Mr. Goose tragically died, and Lady Goose showed no interest in another mate for over a year.
This Spring we weren't certain of the sex of most of our geese, but we knew that all three of our Africans, including Ashley, were females. Lo and behold, Lady Goose has taken Ashley as a mate, behaving in all manners like a typical gander. While I'm still not convinced she's a he, we may have to start thinking about new names for her if this continues.
As the romance on the farm got going, so did the number of goose eggs we were collecting. We are now harvesting two or three large white eggs a day, and enjoying them in omlettes and baked goods. Goose eggs, like duck eggs, have huge yolks and a smaller percentage of white to the yolk compared to chicken eggs. They are perfect for baking, and a single goose eggs is approximately three chicken eggs.
Spring is not without other adventures. We had a dog attack our flock of chickens and take away one of our roosters a week ago. Fortunately the damage was limited, however the commotion did scare Pete and one of his ladies into a panicked flight across the road, down the hill, and into the Kennebec River.
Our current home is at a bend in the Kennebec, with a small inlet protruding into our neighbor's backyards. The geese spent the day floating with the tide, and by evening seemed determined to spend the night on the water. With some coaxing we brought them closer to the shore, close enough I could wade out behind them and urge them on. This did require walking through ice-cold brackish water up to my hips, but the geese were eventually collected and put back into their coop for the night.
We've built a temporary fence to keep our gaggle under control while spring continues and we prepare to move. I'm sure they will be as overjoyed as us to find themselves at a larger farm with plenty of room to roam and sort out their romantics.