Geese in a Cage
We have geese. People often ask, what are the geese for? Do we use them for guarding? Do we sell goose for Christmas?
The answer is the geese just are. The original pair came from our postlady and a few years later she gave us another couple. Pretty soon we had more geese… They multiply.
The geese do a little bit of guarding but mostly they simply make a ruckus when something is up which brings it to the attention of our pack of livestock herding & guardian dogs who then deal with the problem. So I would call them alarms rather than guards.
I have sold a few dozen of their eggs over the years to people who wanted to make fancy decorated eggs. We have sold a few geese but always alive as I’m not setup to pluck them.
Last month I got an email from someone who wanted two ganders to add to his flock. The gentleman, named Kermit, inquired if we might have any ganders to sell. I said I don’t know how to tell them apart so he would have to do that, if he could. Turns out he is quite knowledgeable about geese so this was a great opportunity for us to learn a little from an expert.
The geese don’t get a whole lot of human interaction and almost never get picked up. As in I think I have picked up geese a grand total of about seven times prior to this day. Now that’s upped to nine times.
Typically they’re out on the pasture eating snails and forages, doing their goosey-goose business. To be able to show Kermit the geese we needed to bring them in and contain them. Ben and I fabricated a cage, a corral, out of some stock panel. The west end was setup as a funnel along the fence line to make it easy to herd them in. A little bit of bread as a treat helped the process.
So Kermit arrived in his surprisingly quiet car at the appointed hour and we looked over the geese. He greeted them and taught us how to observe little thinks like the bump on the top of the beak, behavior, how they hold their body, how they talk to each other that indicates mated pairs, who was male, which was the dominant gander and such.
After Kermit made his choice of a large white gander and a young grey Ben opened the cage and I went in: Cage Fight time! Or that is how it felt. I’ve never been in such tight quarters with geese before never mind so many all at once. I moved slowly down one side letting them pass by until the one I wanted was near and then gently made a loose ring around it’s neck with my hand – so it couldn’t stab at me with its beak. I gathered its body and wings to my chest and backed out of the cage. This worked fine both times.
Kermit showed me another way of carrying them by gathering their wings together behind them as I gave the big birds to him.
And off they went on a grand new adventure to see two new ladies, their goosies to be. Hopefully they’ll live happily ever after and have lots of little goslings in their new home.
Ducks in a Cage
In the process of gathering up the geese a few of the ducks got swept in. Or rather they insisted on going in to get the treat of bread we were using to encourage the geese. Normally the ducks and the geese get along just fine out on the pastures where there is plenty of room for everyone. In the tight quarters of the cage (about 16’x4’x4′) things were not so pleasant. One of the younger ganders asserted his dominance over the top male duck, the head drake. Only a few feathers were pulled but it left a bloody wing. Fortunately it healed up and the drake looked fine the next day.
Fact is, I don’t know a whole lot about geese, they just are. They pretty much take care of themselves with little intervention from us. But now thanks to Kermit, Ben and I learned a little bit more about how to sex geese, about breeds and how they communicate. Quite interesting.
Kermit and the Ganders – that sounds like a good name for a band.
Outdoors: 48°F/47°F Overcast
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/59°F
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