Friday, May 18, 2012

Very Grown Up Geese

This is neither here, nor there, but the voracious groundhog that lives beneath our back porch is exhibiting a startling tail that I thought you might want to see. This picture was taken from our dining room table, so it doesn't have quite the same impact that seeing the tail outstretched behind the fleshy beast, just feet away from you, would. At any rate, the tail looks like a rigid, shaven pole that bursts into a pom pom of fur at the very tip. I guess the rats have been grooming him while he sleeps.  

The real reason for me writing is that our geese had their first grown up day today. We let them out of of the hoop house to graze on their own. They kept so close to each other that it was as though they were one animal. They are totally adorable. When I first went out to check on them after about four hours I couldn't find them anywhere. That was worrying. A few more anxious minutes passed before I saw them clustered in the shade. They graze the way cows wish they could. They take a few steps and then land on their bellies, nipping the ends of everything they can reach easily before getting up to waddle a few steps farther. 

Although they are predominantly sweet and submissive now, their goosely powers have already become evident. Garth said that this morning he watched them intimidate a chicken that had come by to examine them. They stuck their heads out and extended their necks like upturned cannons ready to fire. The chicken, though twice the size of one of them, was scared away quickly. 

Will they always move like one animal? Will they rule over the chickens on day? If they do, will they stop there? I don't want to be subservient to another goose. It's happened before and it's unpleasant. At least for now, they are just adorable. 


Friday, May 4, 2012

Chicks and Goslings

Our goslings came this week. They were meant to ship two weeks ago, but the hatchery had an under-hatch and couldn't send them until now. 

This is our first time raising geese. They are so different than chickens. First of all, they are not frantically afraid all the time. They are goofy and clumsy on their feet. I often see them trying to do something and 'oops!' roll over themselves.  This is true despite their being very rugged and hardy. They are ecstatic about eating grass. When I reach my arm down to do something in their brooder they waddle over to my hand, unlike the Black Australorp chicks next door that fly into a panic and huddle together in the corner, leap frogging over each other to get as far away from me as they can. The unfortunate confession I have to make is that I cut one of the gosling's beaks by accident yesterday. I was cutting up some grass into small pieces, and one of them was so eager that it went in for the blade I was cutting right then, putting its beak between the shears. It was so sad. It bled, but that seemed to be the worst of it. 

We read that if you become bonded with geese when they are young they may see you as a threat to their authority in older age and be more aggressive towards you in time. It's similar to raising bulls. The ones that stay under their mothers and are not cared for exclusively by humans are less likely to challenge humans later when they are vying for dominance. This challenges all that I've heard about the mutual affection between people and geese. Whatever the case, if what we read is so, it seems like it's going to be very hard not to become fast friends with them.