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To The Geese, Raising Their Goslings in Our Midst

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Dear Mr. Gander, Mr. Gander and Ms. Goose,

First, my most sincere condolences for the loss of the other Mrs. Goose and one gosling on 5/27 at the hands of Mr. Fox.  We are truly sorry for the loss of your dear sister/wife/mother/son/daughter.

We would like to express our absolute joy at the growth of your brood of seven.   Your parenting would shame even the most anxious Manhattan mom or dad, as your helicoptering and minding ceases neither day nor night.

To the task at hand: As laudable as your efforts are, we are writing to remind you that the landowners, Katie and Matt, do reserve the right to utilize and occupy shared spaces including, but not limited to:  1) the driveway  2) the front yard  3) the entrance to their house  4) the garage and environs.  It has come to their attention that you wish to dispute this ownership, and that you have in fact chased them and several guests in the driveway at numerous times, employing threatening gestures while disturbing the peace. In his affidavit, the UPS man reports “they are not the worst geese on my route but they chase my truck every time.”

Your landlords would like to remind you that you inhabit this farm at their pleasure, and the threatening words and gestures that you employ are unwelcome and could be grounds for termination at a later date.  The terms of your lease are non-negotiable because you are birds and birds cannot sign legal contracts, even upon reaching the age of majority.

Please cease and desist your aggressive behavior, or our actions will escalate.

 

Sincerely,

Katie’s pretend-lawyer, conveniently also named Katie.

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Goslings Arrive

We have goslings!

The geese sat patiently on their eggs for most of April.  One goose set herself up beneath some haying equipment, allowing us to leave her generally alone.  Approaching the tarp-covered implement would invariably elicit a hiss.

The second goose laid her eggs in the ram barn, right next to the rams who still needed regular feeding.  So she honked, hissed and snapped at us whenever we fed the rams until they were let outside.

The under-tarp goose hatched her eggs first – seven eggs yielded just 2 goslings.  We think that maybe one or two were taken or that the eggs were predated.   The goslings came out and have been playing in puddles while following their parents around.

Yesterday, Matt came in to say that the second goose’s eggs had begun to hatch.  This morning, he counted six little goslings, one egg still pipping, and three eggs with no apparent activity.

I am eagerly awaiting the new little geese joining the older two, and our entire goose family enjoying the sunshine together.  Hats off to our patient geese, who sat for so long while the ganders cavorted about.

A photographic compendium of Goose Rage:

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How to Have A Goose Day

20180626_0827526am- Up with the Sun!  Time to come out from under the chicken coop to greet the day.

7am- Processional time.  Hint, a lot of a goose day will consist of traveling in procession with great importance, to nowhere in particular.

8am- The farmer is out!  Approach her when her back is turned to remind her that geese like a bit of sweet feed from the bucket she carries to the bottle lambs, but if she turns, RUN FOR NO REASON!  Can’t be too careful when you are a goose!

9am- The farmer filled our bucket with fresh water and moved it to a fresh spot so we don’t have to stand on the manure-ring around yesterday’s bucket location.  Time to fill this bucket with dirt, down and crud as fast as we can!

10am- Processional!  Down to the lower pasture to find some tender grass shoots.  Let’s not forget to defecate all along the road instead of fertilizing the grass for the farmer.

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11-1pm – Lunch of fine grasses in a shady locale.

2pm – We’re running across the lawn, wings outstretched, imagining that we are capable of flight.  If only our bums were a bit smaller…

3pm – One of us saw a lamb out and decided it needed pinching.  Farmer told us not to.  We resent her, but our water is cleaned and refilled again, so …

4pm – Standing in the driveway as a car pulls in.  Don’t get confused about who rules this roost, car!

5pm -7pm More grazing.  Be sure to mock the meat chickens in their chicken tractor.  Suckers.

8pm – Let’s think about bedding down – Chicken coop again?  Why not?

11pm – We are inexplicably out gabbling when the farmer does the night feeding of those cows she brought.  Midnight snack.

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Our Spring Projects

While we wait for more lambs to show up, I thought I’d share some of our anticipated spring projects for this year.

As usual, I am full of ambition to try all kinds of small-scale livestock endeavors.  With an unlimited budget, I’d get two bobcalves to feed up, a handful of pigs, more chickens, turkeys, fruit trees, nut trees, berries, maybe a garden….

But our budget is not unlimited, and neither is our time.  We have to focus on what the farm needs most.  After we got our soil tests back, we realized that we could add fertility with fertilizer, or we could raise some chickens for meat and let them do the fertilization work with a net gain of some humanely-raised chicken.  Instead of raising Cornish Cross chickens, we are going to raise the Slow White broiler.  Predictably, Slow White broilers are slower-growing meat hybrid.   Unlike Cornish Crosses, Slow White broilers’ normal metabolisms allow them to forage, perch and engage in normal behaviors.  Manure from the chickens will add huge amounts of phosphorus to the soil, which our land needs very badly.   Plus, tasty chicken!  If you are interested in learning more about meat chicken breeds, I wrote an article in 2015 on just this topic.

To top off our phosphorus-enhancement plan, we are also adding turkeys and a breeding flock of geese to our plans.  The turkeys will follow the sheep.  Hopefully, they’ll help clean up parasites.  Matt talks often of the pet turkey his family had while he was growing up.  Turkey Lurkey inspired Matt’s disproportionate love of turkeys relative to other fowl.  I hope he finds a friend in our brood this summer.

Most exciting to me, we have an order for ten geese in our queue.  I’ve never raised geese before, but their predilection for eating primarily grass and their entertaining antics tempt me to give them a try.  If we like them, we’ll keep a few over the winter.  Researching geese has been really enjoyable.  If you are interested in having a Christmas goose (or a goose for any other occasion), let us know!

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