Recently I wrote that I thought I had reached an accommodation with my trio of geese (“Hitting My Stride With the Geese”) by letting them out during the day now that they had begun laying their eggs in the shelter. At first they would stay on the property all day rather than heading for the creek and not returning till evening or possibly even the next day. But soon they began making frequent trips down to the creek again, often spending the day there.
At least they would return every evening and head for their shelter to see if dinner was ready. But sadly, one evening the gander returned with only one goose. I wondered if perhaps she had made a nest somewhere down by the creek and would return in a month or so with goslings. I knew the odds of her surviving along with her goslings weren’t all that great, but I was hoping for the best.
After a couple of weeks, though, the creek flooded its banks, and if her nest had been anywhere near the creek she would have been flooded out. I’ve read that once a goose is disturbed from her nest she won’t start another one, so I thought maybe she’d come home — but she never returned.
Meanwhile, the gander and remaining goose seemed to be staying closer to home. I had debated whether to keep collecting the eggs or let her assemble a clutch and have goslings. I wasn’t sure I could handle the demands of six to a dozen more geese, but a friend assured me I’d be able to sell any I didn’t want to keep. Finally, I decided in favor of the goslings.
Here’s where the story takes a sadder turn: One day I was sitting at my computer and I heard a sudden outburst of alarm calls from my chickens and guinea hen, who are in the side yard next to the house. I rushed outside and found the chickens, guinea hen, and gander all standing around looking startled, and no goose. After a quick search of the property, I confirm that she’s definitely gone.
Now, I’ve written a lot about the predator problems here at Panther’s Hollow, which have included occasional visits from coyotes or wild dogs or dog-coyote mixes — I’m never sure which. In fact, I had seen one on my property a week or so earlier just prowling around. So I assume that’s what got the goose. Apparently they’re very quick and efficient, leaving no trace.
That evening before shutting in the gander, I collected five eggs that my goose had hidden in the nest. As for the gander, I started confining him 24-7 since I expected the predator would soon return for him. So I was again trudging up the hill two or three times a day with buckets of water and piles of greens. Still, the poor fellow showed little interest in eating or drinking, and sometimes I’d return to find the food and water untouched.
After several days, I discovered that if I stayed there and encouraged him for a while then he would start to eat, sometimes with great gusto. Then he’d go over to his water pan and start drinking. Clearly this couldn’t go on, though. It was no life for a gander, and he wasn’t any use to me in the shelter. I called the friend who gave me the geese and asked if she thought she could find another home for him. Today she came and got him and said she’d put him back in with her flock, where he’ll at least have a grassy yard and feathered companions.
Obviously I don’t have the proper facilities for keeping geese, what with the predators and all. But I can’t help thinking, for the eight months or so they were here, they had a pretty good life. They had the best of both worlds — a meal of grain every evening in a comfortable shelter and the freedom to roam the meadows all day and go swimming on an awesome creek!