Yesterday I woke up to an email from a woman inquiring about my Pilgrim goslings. They have been on Craigslist for months. I answered, not thinking much of it — too many of these inquiries are from folks who say accusingly, after a lengthy correspondence, “You’re four hours from me!” as if I did not have my location posted front and center in my ad.
However, to my surprise, at 3:00 the woman and her husband arrived at the farm and bought the girls. They had driven three hours round-trip. (Since they were a half hour early, I never got a nice final family portrait: the dark photo above, of the geese resting and warming their feet in a cow stall between forays in the snow, was snapped with my cell phone as I mucked the barn.)
The woman was an experienced goose keeper and told me about her flock of Toulouse and African geese, which live on a spring-fed, never-freezing small pond in a fenced pasture. She is going to look for an unrelated Pilgrim gander. I can’t imagine a nicer home for my goslings.
It’s never easy for me to sell animals. It’s not that I think I’m perfect in the husbandry department; it’s that I know I will always try my best. When I was a child, the 1877 novel Black Beauty, the “autobiography” of a horse moving through successive owners, each worse than the last, made a huge impact on me. (As it did on the world, inspiring the animal welfare movement.) I always worry for the future of my babies.
For example, my hay man has asked me to sell him various lambs and cattle many times. I never will. Rick is a hustler and a broker. He is a good person but to him animals are a commodity to be bought low and sold high. I understand this business-like mindset but it is not mine.
Meanwhile, it must be said that people who love geese may occupy an alternate universe entirely. When I sold the 2015 grown goslings, again a married pair came to the farm. This couple was older. Again it was the woman who was the goose expert, speaking to me knowledgeably about goose care, telling me of the goose house in the backyard. Again the husband was entirely silent. But in this case the gentleman had rather a hunted, desperate look.
When his wife went to the car to get her cash, I asked him kindly, “You’re not a goose fan?”
“I like geese all right, but not in the living room!”
“In the living room?” I was confused.
“She likes to sit on the sofa with them to watch TV!”
I could only blink, trying to imagine the scene. The woman had told me she had three ganders. With my two females, she would have a flock of five big birds. On the sofa. In the living room. Watching television.
Alarm bells went off in my mind, but the geese were already loaded in their car. I told myself that though the conditions might be eccentric, the girls would certainly be cherished.
Still, I was very happy yesterday to hear about the fenced pasture and the spring-fed pond.