Goose News

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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.

*    *    *

Two days ago it was 80°. Today it is snowing.

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2 Responses to Goose News

  1. Missy says:

    Selden, how happy I was to stop by and see you’ve stated writing again. I enjoy your writing so much. I especially enjoyed this lovely recount of your geese which brings all their fussing and flapping to life through this inanimate screen! Best wishes for many hatchlings! Unfortunately, the only downside of reading about your geese is the desire it produces in me to acquire the same! (I won’t.)
    I’m pleased to hear you’re doing better in life too. You certainly experienced some uncomfortable providences last year.
    Life here in Oz continues on. Its still hot and dry here as we head towards winter. Our paddocks are bare. I’m glad my hay guy was able to make an extra cut of lucerne just recently. This will be Midnight’s last winter though. With her last calf gone to freezer camp just a few months ago and her not having become pregnant in the last 2 years, I think her calf bearing days are over, at 17. She has been a good, good milk cow and I’ve learned so much from being her owner. Next summer I will make the difficult and tear jerking decision to send her to freezer camp as well, as mince. It’s going to be dreadfully hard, but hubby refuses to dig such a large grave and if she’s still healthy I can’t justify “wasting her”. Unfortunately, such are the difficult decisions of raising and keeping livestock. There will be no more cows after Midnight.
    Anyway, it is so nice to hear of your adventures again. I thank God for Midnight and Katika, 2 sweet cows that allowed me, a teacher-farmgirl, to be able to peek into the life of another teacher-farmgirl on the other side of the world…
    Best wishes, Missy.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Hi Missy! I’m so glad to hear about you and Midnight. Seventeen — Midnight has had a wonderful life. I wish Katika were still here! I too am thinking now more milk cows, after Moxie — my life has changed too much to make it practical. My children are gone from the house and I drink about a gallon of milk a week… I don’t need four gallons a day. Meanwhile the dairy where I bought day-old bull calves for fostering has closed. Still, I will surely have a couple of beef cows if I can swing it. We shall see. Big hugs to you as you head into winter.

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