It was a picture few have ever seen.
Under the cold, clear December sky, a woman, armed with a hand saw, was dragging a newly-cut fir tree from the back woods. Leading the way was a dappled gray goose.
That woman was me, and the goose was my Finnegan, or "Finny" for short.
Finny is now more than six months old. He has become a gorgeous combination of grays and whites, bright blue eyes and smooth Toulouse feathers, accented by longer Sebastopol feathers that often brush the ground.
Even though he currently weighs more than 15 pounds, he still follows me everywhere.
Finny was born on May 25 when he burst from his shell, only to be later kicked out of the nest and left for dead by his mother, Sal Gal. Assuming the role of a Mother Goose has become an experience and responsibility I never really expected.
I’ve kept geese for years. They are my pets, but not the kind I can pet and hand-feed very often. I have even learned their speech and can actually converse with them — but Finny is different.
He spent the first six weeks of his life atop our dresser in the bedroom. There, he was kept warm by a lamp and hand-fed a combination of scratch, pellets and only the best leaf lettuce.
He grew and grew until he was big enough to go outside.
Unfortunately, the rest of the flock, particularly his mother, still won’t have anything to do with him. If Finny gets close to the flock, she will go after him, so Finny runs to me for protection. He doesn’t realize just yet that he is bigger than any other goose and could very well fend for himself.
One of my top goals for the next few months is to find him a mate from another flock.
But right now, he provides such humor and fun that it’s hard to believe I’ve never had a “goose child.”
He particularly dislikes our good-natured golden retriever, Dusty. Once while I was sitting on the grass with Finny in my lap, our very jealous Dusty came over, wanting to the petted. Finny immediately leaped to attention and chased him across the length of the lawn. Maybe he thought he was protecting his “mother” from a wolf, I reasoned. Who knows what goes on in a tiny goose brain?
When I walked into the woods to find that Christmas tree, Dusty wanted to come along. But Finny showed him in no uncertain terms that this was not to be. Finny struggled over and through many obstacles on our quest — fallen branches, slash left from cutting and the charred pit where we had burned some of the scrap wood. We checked out one fir tree after another before finally settling on one with a pretty good shape plus enough bottom branches to make a wreath and decorate the house with fir boughs.
I wish someone had been around to see us emerging from the woods and to take that picture.
Because Finny is an outcast from the rest of the flock, he has his own pen (which I rarely put him in) plus a house — a renovated, sturdy dog house that Dusty never uses, fully lined inside and out with hay.
He’s not happy being in his coop, though, and most often sleeps on the newspaper-lined top step inside between the back hall and the garage. Whenever I go into the hall, I hear him clucking and calling for me. Obviously, I have a mess to clean up each morning.
Yes, raising a gosling into a full-grown gander takes a lot of work and time. But he’s so entertaining and so funny that he makes me smile almost all the time. And aren’t smiles worth it?