It Must be Spring

Despite the snow and ice and 55 mph winds whipping the farm, spring must be on its way. Friday night I had left an open bale of hay on the barn floor and yesterday morning when I arrived for chores, I discovered the geese had stolen a flake of hay and built a large nest in the middle of the aisle. K was sitting in it.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. My gander, Andy, has become mighty protective lately, screaming and hissing and flapping his wings. I have been careful to avoid arousing his ire. I don’t want him to think of me as an enemy. Having an ugly-tempered goose is a headache I don’t need.

Since the cattle and horse would soon be tromping down the aisle, when K got up for breakfast, I scooped the nest in my arms and carried it to a back corner of Birch’s stall. I don’t have enough room in the barn for a dedicated goose nesting site, and they have always liked to stand along the side of Birch’s stall and pull hayseeds from the back of sheep hay feeder next door. Birch is very tolerant. In fact, he is too tolerant.

I discovered last week that the nibbling geese had trimmed off half his tail. All the animals tolerate this nibbling, even the cats. They stand quietly while the geese work them over. I think it must feel like a brisk massage — right up until the geese find a tender ear or twist of skin and then — yow! The nibble-ee jumps away.

The geese were startled to find their nest had levitated and relocated, but I saw them check it out with many head-bobbings and murmurings. When I returned after lunch to muck the barn, there was an egg in the nest.

A bird will lay an egg a day in a hidden nest, each time departing immediately so the nest remains undiscovered. It is not until she has accumulated the number of eggs that her brain deems proper that she will sit down to incubate them with her body heat. This is nature’s clever way of starting the clock on all the eggs at the same time.

Thus the geese had left the nest and were loitering in the aisle when I went in to muck out the dirty bedding. When I had finished and departed, they waddled in hurriedly to make sure I had not disturbed anything. I watched from Katika’s box.

I have not seen any mating action in the snow from the geese, so any eggs may be infertile, but who knows?

I would dearly love some Easter goslings.

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3 Responses to It Must be Spring

  1. Tricia says:

    Usually the geese need a pond or something similar to “enable” breeding. usually but not always! Maybe the found the water tank?

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Yes, that’s what I thought, too. We’ve had such strange weather that we’ve had a few giant mud puddles in between the trips (as tonight) to 6°, but I have no idea if Andy could have taken advantage of a brief interlude! 😉

      There is also the point that without the hen sitting on them, the next couple of nights of just above zero will probably freeze and break the current eggs.

      I hope she keeps laying for a few weeks, until there’s more of a chance for success!

  2. Tricia says:

    Our goose, Lucy (yeah great name!!) is laying now but we don’t’ have a male. I’m hoping to borrow one and see if he will take to a temporary date with Lucy so maybe she can raise babies. A bit warmer would be nice. It is to be 65 here on Wednesday!

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