On Mother’s Day, my Pilgrim goose, Kay White, looked at her enormous pile of eggs, which she has been laying over the past five weeks, and finally decided to sit down. With luck, she will be rewarded with goslings at the end of the first week in June.
With luck and a little management from me.
Last spring I felt so defeated by the hard winter and Allen’s death, I did not have the energy to intervene in Kay’s nesting adventures. She laid her usual euphoric cascade of eggs and then sat on the huge, wobbly pile — eggs rolling out from under her — and sat, and sat, and sat. Finally, to save her life (birds can starve themselves in their monomaniacal sitting), I broke up the nest and threw the rotten eggs on the manure pile.
This year, when she had laid ten eggs (this took a bit over two weeks), I waited until Kay was off the nest and then numbered all the eggs in the nest in pencil. According to my plan, this would tell me which were the oldest eggs, and these would be the eggs I would discard.
When she finally sat down on Mother’s Day, I waited a couple of days to be sure she was well and truly in a broody trance before I intervened. I did not want to upset her and have her abandon the project.
Then I shooed her off the nest (she honked indignantly) and locked her out of the stall while I counted the eggs. Twenty-one! I had a pail with me and began checking for numbers, so I could remove the oldest eggs and put them in the pail for discarding.
Hmm. Most of the numbers I’d written so carefully in pencil were completely gone. I found a few, but the rest I simply guessed at, grabbing the dirtiest-looking eggs out of the clutch. When I let Kay back into the stall, she hurried over and surveyed the nest suspiciously, standing at the edge whispering to herself and poking at the straw for five minutes before she decided it was safe to resume her vigil.
I left her with ten eggs. This is a lot, but she can cover them. In another week or so, I’ll lift her off the nest and candle these ten. It’s likely the numbers will decrease some more.
If she can successfully hatch even one gosling, K will be thrilled. Andy the gander will shriek with pride, goose-stepping, hissing, honking, and rushing at me with flapping wings to warn me away from his new family.
I don’t need more geese. But my heart is warmed by their happiness.
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Two days ago it was 80°. Today it is snowing.