After the dark somnolence of winter, the hours of daylight are gradually lengthening and my poultry have started to ovulate again. The hens are laying, the roosters are crowing, and my goose Kay is preening and flashing her tail feathers. This signals the annual mental breakdown of my Pilgrim gander, Andy White.
Once again he is trumpeting and flapping his wings and seeing enemies in all corners.
One reason I like Pilgrim geese is that they are mild-mannered and unaggressive. Normally my gander Andy is Clark Kent, polite and devoted to duty. Neither snow nor sleet can keep him from his appointed rounds…
… supervising the sheep.
All winter long I see him out there lecturing the girls, sharing their hay, and giving them nibbly massages.
His wife Kay is less enthusiastic about spending hours outside in the below-zero cold, talking to sheep, but if the weather is not too fierce she will follow him out, at least for a little while.
Still, she spends quite a few winter days in loneliness at the barn, while Andy communes with the girls.
However, all this changes once ovulation starts. Suddenly Andy is transformed. Forget passing casual hours with the sheep! He’s a man with a mission: to serve and protect his fragile bride from danger.
In pursuit of this, he hisses and screams, flaps his wings, and runs at all perceived threats with his head snaking along the ground. His orange-rimmed blue eyes — normally quite pretty — develop a mad gleam.
The other day I came in the barn to find poor Birch running around his stall in frantic circles, chased by a flapping, honking, hysterical Andy. I have no idea what Birch did to arouse the gander’s ire — perhaps stepped on him accidentally? The geese have slept in a back corner of Birch’s stall for years. But no more. Andy is now fixated on Birch as The Enemy, and the minute he spots him, the gander races to attack.
On one level it is rather amusing to see a fifteen-pound bird in pursuit of an 800-pound horse. However poor Birch is a nervous wreck, and I can’t let an old man be terrorized. I cut a scrap of 2×4 to make a Goose Excluder Bar beneath Birch’s stall gate.
Today I am going to build a gate in the calf stall, to pen the geese up at night and during chores when I am away.
Though I pay little attention to Andy’s chest-beating histrionics, I think a holding pen will make it easier for others to cover the barn without worrying about Mad Gander attacks.