Did I mention we have geese. Well yes. Desert and geese don’t really go. But my husband was fed up with our chickens digging up our fruit tree roots, and I didn’t want to keep them house bound so he swapped our six chickens plus one rooster for three geese. Two females and a male.
Apart from the odd incident (like when the male goose bit the bottom of my youngest son in a surprise strike attack) overall, I like them and their funny ways very much.
We’ve had them some time now and as it turns out getting from goose egg, to gosling, to adult goose is a lot harder than it looks.
My philosophy to start with was – mother knows best therefore, let the mother do the hatching and raising.
The first year between the two females (who stupidly laid their eggs in one nest and then spent the month fighting over who was going to sit on the eggs) they managed to hatch 5 little babies. After about 1 month they all died. I found them one by one. One next to the water, then next day another one under the trees, the next day one in their house, the next day one disappeared. Then after pathetically trying to save the last one that was dying (I had though he was stuck in the water bowl, but when I got him out I realised he was convulsing) I thought perhaps something was going on. Google search revealed to me that I had possibly poisoned them all. It seems the lovely small soft green apricot tree leaves I had been giving them every now and then are poisonous to baby goslings. : (. Fail.
The second year, one made her nest in a really stupid place – right in the corner of where our house meets the neighbours wall so perfect for children to perch up on the wall and harass her. I attempted to move her and her eggs. She didn’t move and spend a month sitting on nothing (while being harassed by unsupervised children perching on the wall while I was not around). Nothing I would do could get her to move. In the end I chased her off and made a BIG pile of sticks and rubble on her ghost nest. She stubbornly continued to sit next to the big pile (sigh) until her 30 days were up. The second female in the meantime had decided she would sit on the moved eggs, so she laid a few of her own with them and then continued sitting on them. She hatched three little babies. I still wanted to leave the goslings to their mothers to raise them, so I left water for them (in a little dish) and special food my husband had bought all around the nest (no more tree leaves for you little ones). Within three days they had all died. I think the larger birds just kept tipping the water over in the little dish and they just weren’t getting enough water. Fail.
I concluded mother doesn’t know best and the next time I would remove any goslings once hatched and raise them myself so at least I could see what they were eating and drinking (I do know not to give them apricot tree leaves now).
The third year, two hatched. I didn’t act quickly enough. The first night after hatching one died. One was alive in the morning. I removed him right away, the children and I made him a little box house in our room. It was still cold so I put our electric heater close to his house. We put water, and crushed oats. He chirruped and chirped and was doing really well. After about three days living happily with us during the night he disappeared. I went to sleep to his little chirruping sounds. I woke up at Fajr and he was silent. I went to check his box and he was gone. I have never found his body. My husbands theory is that it was a cat. Which is fine except I have gone to great lengths to cat proof my house because when they are strays they are pests (we have strays here who know how to open the fridge). My initial theory was he somehow got out of the box and then wandered away from the heater, couldn’t find his way back, got cold and died. But there was no body… a gosling mystery. I did even ask my husband if he perhaps ejected him from the house, because he had said to me:
I bought the heater for you and the children not the gosling…
But he says Wallah he didn’t and I do believe him because he is a softy with animals and birds and likes to save them not send them to their deaths…
The children and I made a new resolution to “next time” make a better gosling house (that there is no doubt about – gosling cannot get out and the cat cannot get in), and to persevere with our plan for the geese to do the hatching and us to do the rearing…
Spring arrived in our fourth year. My two silly females, who did mange to make two nests, sat and sat, and one baby hatched. The boys and I quickly extracted him (this is quite a big job which involves a big stick to keep the male away from you and runs great risk of coming away with a peck) and waited for more to hatch. No more did hatch : (. One female remains at this very moment (about 2 months later) sitting on one egg (she started with four which disappeared one by one after one month, then she laid another one which she now sits on) and a empty shampoo bottle. No surprise, she will not be moved.
Our little fella/ fellarette was not given a name given the statistics of our earlier goslings.
Time went by. He ate, he drank, he cheeped. He grew. Boy did he grow. All is very well and he is very much alive. The only problem is….
He loves us.
My husband tried to return him to his mother. He would take him there. Then run back to our house. The silly little thing would run as fast as he could behind my husband back, to us, little wing buds outstretched. It was as hilarious as it was tragic.
So we waited, we couldn’t leave him outside until he would be big enough to not be eaten by the cats.
His little box slowly got smaller. His little yellow fluff began to give way to white and grey fluff, and little feathers began to develop.
Still we liked his company in the house chirruping away. In the day he would graze outside, but in the night we would bring him in.
In the end the final straw came over three nights.
The first incident happened when he got out of his little box early in the morning, before I was awake. He happily chirruped his way around the house leaving little poos EVERYWHERE.
Now any mother knows that you get quiet enough poo to deal with, when you have babies, so to wake up to soft piles of goose poo all around the house is very much a final straw.
I am a softy though so the next night we still brought him inside at sunset.
In the morning as I slowly woke up from the mists of sleep, I could hear him chirping. Strange, I thought, seems closer than usual. I half opened my eyes and peered around. Couldn’t see him. Woke up a bit better opened my eyes, sat up and there he was happily perched on the bottom of our mattress. Looking mighty pleased with himself and a nice big pile of poo at the bottom of the bed.
The final, final straw I thought to myself.
The next night I left him outside to fend for himself. I could hear him cheeping around outside.
Perhaps he was scared. All alone for the first time. I put my shoulders back. No he was big enough. The time was now and he had to return to his place.
In the night my husband came home late and heard him cheeping. He thought I had forgotten him and brought him inside.
Third morning another pile of poo.
That was the final, final, final straw.
Since then he has been outside all the time.
We still go to visit him everyday and sit under our big tree in the garden. He comes cheeping over and sits with us. He still hasn’t quite got that he is a goose….
Now the only questions and thoughts that remain are:
- Al-hamdulilah, finally we raised a gosling!
- When will we have more goslings?
- Is he a boy or a girl?
- When will he make his first honk rather than cheep?
- If he is a boy (as I suspect) when will he be big enough to eat? and has anyone got any good goose cooking tips?