I’m starting to think that I might have a problem with hoarding. Not your typical too many shoes, clothes, toys for the kids type stuff (although I suspect I may have tendencies toward this too) but animal hoarding. Yikes!! Okay. It’s really not that bad. I also have a tendency to be dramatic. The drama queen in high school? Yep. That was me. Is me…. whatever! We went on a wee bit of a spree and added 10 (TEN!) new geese to our gaggle of six. It started out all innocent and actually for a good cause. But I start to wonder if I can justify everything with my reasoning. We don’t really need ten more geese.
I’m leaning toward blaming my daughter for this one. Ever since the county fair and birth of our Toulouse goslings, she has been on this “Saving the Heritage Geese” kick. I support her all the way. This girl has set up a website/blog (www.weheartpoultry.wordpress.com) dedicated to saving the geese, passed out flyers, given speeches, made presentations, done an interview with a big magazine (Ducks by Hobby Farms coming out in February), and sent her work in to the local newspaper. She is passionate about it. All she wants for her birthday is a Buff Pomeranian Saddleback gosling female that she can name Pumpkin. Anyway, Todd spotted an ad on Craigslist for heritage geese for sale. Two days later we were taking a two hour drive to go get them. Lexie came along, but we didn’t tell her what we were up to. She thought we were going to pick up duck and chicken feed so she grabbed some of her flyers and joined us for the ride. She spotted the goose farm right away and off she went!
We put 10 geese in the back of our Ford Expedition. Todd hung bird netting across the back in case any of the geese had any ideas about trying to escape. That was a lovely ride home! Okay, it wasn’t that bad. A tad smelly but the geese were quiet. They weren’t quite sure what to think. At all times there was one goose standing watch. Just in case.
We had to go over a lot of hills and winding roads. It was cute to hear the pitter patter of goose feet trying to keep their balance in the back! Occasionally you’d get a single Honk! just to let us know they were still there.
We released the geese into the pasture and introduced them to the group. The first thing they did was jump into the baby pool and clean themselves up. We had one goose that was so excited to have a pool that he didn’t even wait for the water – he saw the other geese splashing around and he copied them – in the dirt! It was one of those moments when you wish you had a video camera because it was just that funny. I’m getting the giggles just remembering it!!! Hhmmm… guess you had to have been there.
Anyway… we now have two Sebastopol geese. A male and female pair that we named Ivan and Olga. They originate from Russia and are considered rare, which means there are less than 1,000 breeding pairs surviving. They are still fairly young (born this past summer) and are suffering from angel wing. Angel wing is pretty common in Sebastopol geese from what I have read. It can result from a diet that is too high in protein when the feathers are developing and coming in. It will pull or twist the wings out from their natural placement under the weight of the new feathers. I’m sure it’s more involved than how I stated it, but you get the gist of the problem. It looks gnarly. Hopefully we can correct it so that it doesn’t cause any lasting problems.
We tried to wrap the wings in the correct position. We watched videos and read articles to figure out the best way to wrap them. This is Todd with Olga. Her wings are worse than Ivan’s. She wasn’t too happy with the tape on her wings and it wasn’t long before they were out of place again. So, back to the drawing board (or internet). We also changed their diet to a lower protein diet with pastures for foraging.
Hopefully they will grow up to be the beautiful birds that they should be. Adults look like they are wearing feather skirts or suits. Long twisty feathers that flutter in the breeze. Like they belong in a Russian ballet doing a swan dance. I’m holding Ivan – he is actually the smaller of the two. We vent-sexed them to be sure. Not quite as gross as it sounds, but unpleasant none the less. See, the vent is used for multiple purposes – including where they dispose of the unused food products. Yep. It’s also the poop hole. (shudder)
We have 3 American Buff geese (one male and two females). American Buffs are on the critically endangered list with less than 500 breeding pairs.
And a Buff/Sebastopol mix. Lexie is excited because she wanted a Buff Sebastopol. Not sure how that works, but I’ll leave the breeding up to her. She knows her goose business.
And… four Embden geese. Two of them are younger. We are pretty sure that we have 3 females and one male.
Embden geese are a large heavy breed and they lay the largest eggs of all the goose breeds.
So, now we have a gaggle of 16 heritage breed geese. Hope you’re happy Lexie! Such good parents, supporting their daughter’s endeavors! *cough* Next we need to get Nik his turkeys. He wants to raise rare breed heritage turkeys. You should see his heirloom seed collection. We’ve got totally awesome kids.
Just try to come into our poultry yard! We have a gargantuan gaggle of gawking geese (check out my use of alliteration – my kids will be impressed) that will run after you in the hopes that you will feed them some scratch!!
We met a lady this weekend who came to buy our chicken plucker that informed us about Lucy. She is our mix breed goose that we rescued and we weren’t really sure what she was a mix of. Now we know! She is a Touloose/African mix. We got her at the same time that we got Desi and we thought they might be a breeding pair since they always stuck close to each other. Hence, Lucy and Desi (we were on an I love Lucy kick). Now we also know that Desi is a she. Yep, checked the vent. So maybe they are sisters. All I know is Desi is the peacemaker of the group. She tries to get everybody to get along. She’ll be the first to go up and introduce herself and will stand in the middle of the group making peace. She is really true to the breed – very talkative and calm. Maybe we’ll have to add a few Africans to our group for her. See – I’m telling you, I’ve got that hoarder thing going on!
In other surprising news – it turns out our sweet little Peep is a rooster!!! Say it isn’t so! Sigh. Oh well. We were going to thin down our flock for the winter and start with a fresh flock of Australorps next year. We hand-raised Peep so he’s part of the family now. Unless he attacks the geese again! He doesn’t seem to like Ivan. Not sure if it’s because Ivan is a smaller male or new to the group (that stupid pecking order business) or what. But he put up his hackles and scared the doo-doo out of us when we were trying to wrap angel wings! He sat right next to Todd and turned into that little dinosaur on Jurassic Park (the one that spits in your face before eating you!). Creepy chicken! We try to keep him on his toes and let him know that we are the bosses of the barnyard. He is a confused chicken. He was raised mainly by Lexie and sleeps with the ducks. He tried mating Lexie’s hand and seems to think he’s a duck. Last chicken in at night, first one out, playing in mud puddles and in the rain. I might have to get him in to chicken counseling. Hopefully sooner or later he’ll show an interest in the hens and not hands!