The Geese Discover their Freedom

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Quinn
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Late last summer I acquired a trio of geese, thinking they’d help me keep the grass and weeds under control since I was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the mowing. At first I was concerned about whether they’d make use of the small stream on my property for bathing, since I don’t have a pond. I even went so far as to make a bathtub for them with logs and black plastic!

I needn’t have worried. Soon they were splashing around in the stream to their heart’s content and floating on the small area that was deep enough to hold them up. Later I saw them visiting another part of the stream farther down. Then one day, I walked down the private road and spotted them swimming on a neighbor’s pond, which worried me a bit because I know there are big snapping turtles in there. The neighbor wouldn’t mind, because he’s rarely there and only uses the property for hunting, and he’s assured me he wouldn’t shoot one of my birds by mistake. That’s good, because often I’ve seen my birds foraging over there — not only the geese, but the chickens and guineas. Here they are after a swim on the pond:

With the onset of spring weather, they’ve been wandering farther and farther afield. One day recently I was surprised to see them all the way down by the big creek — a few hundred feet from my property. They started disappearing for entire afternoons, returning only at dinnertime. Then one day, I walked down the road to the creek and couldn’t see them anywhere, though they weren’t at my place either.

I got in my car to drive into town, and about a quarter of a mile up the road I looked over toward the creek, and there were my geese, making their way upstream! Of course, they were back at the house at dinnertime, announcing their presence with loud squawks and shrieks. “Here we are — ready for dinner!”

So what good are these geese to me now? Instead of grazing the lawn, they just go where they can find the best forage — definitely not my yard. I guess now I have to settle for getting eggs and maybe some goslings that I can sell. They’ve already begun mating, so I should start seeing eggs any day. But I just realized I have to keep them confined throughout the breeding season so the females don’t go off and make a nest who-knows-where. Not only would I not get the eggs, but by setting on a nest day and night the geese would be at high risk of getting killed with all the predators around.

Now I have to haul a bucket of water up to the shelter twice a day, along with heaps of grass and weeds that I’ve cut for them. And still all they want is to be let out. They’re slow to eat the food I bring them, and as of Day Two neither of the girls has laid an egg. Plus the gander makes threatening advances at me when I come in to feed them. But at least they’re not hanging out by the back gate pooping there all day. It’s kind of nice not to have to clear away poopy straw every time I go out my back door!

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