Finnegan entered the world with a big bang.
But within a day or so, his mother, a Toulouse goose, had kicked him out of her nest, the rest of the flock had walked all over him, and the poor little thing was most certainly dead.
But he wasn’t. And that’s why I am now officially Mother Goose, and the only flock Finny will likely ever have.
Finny didn’t hatch like all the other geese have hatched — slowly, a piece of shell at a time. Instead, the three-chicken-egg-size shell seemed to explode, and there was this wet, splay-legged, closed-eye little gosling.
His mom, Sal, must have thought he was too damaged to make it in the world with the rest of the flock.
I took a chance and brought his limp body in. Right after my husband said, yes, he’s dead, his tiny head moved just a little bit.
I set up a heat lamp, and placed some water and a little grain in a tall plastic box lined with wood pellets and set the whole thing on top of our dresser in the bedroom. Our cats were way too curious about making him into a snack.
And so he stayed there. Almost every time I passed by, I dropped some greens in, and said hello, and he answered me. His eyes had finally opened, but his legs were still splayed so he couldn’t stand up. A little cotton twine tied just above his knees seemed to do the trick.
In a day or two, he was walking, squawking, and constantly calling for food.
Now, at 6 weeks old, he’s healthy, eats up a storm and follows me everywhere.
He resides in a giant dog crate in the garage until I come and take him out for a walk. The other geese hiss and go after him if they are out grazing at the same time. Finny runs toward me, his cherub wings waving with all their might.
I’ve learned his language — his various calls. If he coos, he’s perfectly happy, like when he crawls into my lap and pushes his head and long neck under my arm. That’s his “mother’s wing” and he feels safe. When I sit on the grass, he immediately jumps onto my lap and lets me pat his fuzzy, not-quite feathers while he plays with my long hair. And not once has he pooped on me!
If he just clucks, his grazing has found all the clover, dandelion weeds and grass that he needs. If he begins to squawk, he’s angry with me or he’s frightened. If I don’t take him out, he wants to know why. A very loud squawk means “put me down!” or “you’ve stepped on my foot!”
He gets picked up quite often. He’s a smart little buggar. He knows exactly where all the tender lettuce, spinach and cabbage leaves are in the garden, so to save some for our salads, I must pick him up and move him away. He gets shoved under my arm and off we go.
But Finny is persistent. I put him down, and off he goes to the lettuce patch, repeatedly, until I’ve finally had to put him in a temporary pen when I’m weeding the garden.
He knows when I come home and starts his greeting. He knows that when it’s dark, he’s supposed to be sleeping. That he learned while still living atop our dresser.
I’ve always loved my geese and appreciated their protective and curmudgeonly nature, and though not affectionate, like a dog and or a kitty, they have their own ways of showing they like, or at least tolerate, their human.
But I have so completely imprinted on Finny that he’s not at all interested in the other geese, and focuses only on me. I hope I can live up to his expectations.
And knowing that domestic geese often live 20 or more years, he may outlive me. So as time goes on, I’ll begin searching for a substitute mother for him.
In the meantime, though, I enjoy his company more than I ever thought possible. I like watching him grow, having fun in his little pool, and stroking his fuzzy feathers.
I never planned to be a Mother Goose, but that’s what happened. What a joy!