All is peaceful in the goose pen. The temperature feels like something we’d find in the tropics because the thermometer reached above freezing. Amazing.

But during the past week or so, the mercury nearly fell out of the thermometer, the wind blew making it feel even worse, and I was so worried about Finny and the flock. I fretted and felt so bad for them, even though they have a well-insulated coop. They just didn’t seem to want to go into it.

After bundling up as much as I possibly could each frigid day, I went out back to the pen while it was still daylight and tried to catch as many of the geese as I could and put them in the garage for the night.

For a few days and nights, it was just like a year ago before Finny was finally accepted by the flock and he still lived in the garage by himself. I was his flock and he let me pat him, sinking my hands into his fabulously warm down.

He would tell me to carry him down from the top step between the back hall and the garage floor when he wanted food or water, or he’d beg for cracked corn from the red plastic coffee container I use for that purpose.

He is also very good at chomping down long celery stalks in virtually one bite.

He played with my hair, bathrobe ties, zipper on my jacket and sometimes the scarf I wore to try to stay warm.

The only thing different was he had company. I usually caught two or three other geese and carried them into the garage as well. They formed a tight, small flock on the top step and learned that I was OK, that I was the source of food, and they even let me carry them down the stairs.

Blackberry, the almost grown gosling who was born last May and looks a lot like Finny with his dappled gray feathers, got a little jittery one time and started flapping his wings as I tried to find my footing on the stairs. I lost my balance. Blackberry went flying both figuratively and literally, as did Finny, and I fell onto the concrete garage floor, hitting my head on the outside metal door.

The two geese were squawking and hollering, wondering what it was that just happened. Fortunately for me, after several tries, I got up. I was covered in cracked corn, hay and not a little goose poop, but I was just sore and bruised. Nothing was broken.

Plum Blossom also joined those I was able to catch and bring in, too. She is a gorgeous, pure white, very large 8-month-old gosling, who was raised with Blackberry. She’ll probably start laying those lovely, large eggs come April.

But most of the geese stayed outside in the pen during those brutal nights. And I fretted some more.

Every night before bed I’d don several layers of clothing and go out to check on them. Most were still outside, nearly buried in the snow. A few had ventured into the coop.

But every morning, they all got up and began waddling toward me when I dug my way into the pen carrying cracked corn, lettuce or another green, and water, once I had chopped the ice out of their dishes.

I guess nature has a way of taking care of critters that, although now domestic, had been wild and had to fend for themselves for eons.

A close look at the fluffy balls of feathers scattered through the pen each night showed that each goose had tucked his or her big, orange feet into the down on the underside of their body. Then they tucked their long beaks under their wings. Apparently this works, even at -15 or -20 degrees. But I still feel that I should try to protect them more.

Today, Sunday, is a warm day in comparison with the last few days and nights, so they are acting like normal geese — strutting back and forth, chasing each other, stretching out their wings and preening their feathers.

I have to admit, though, that I miss not having a couple of geese, particularly Finny, waiting at the back hall door for me to delight in while they play with whatever they can get their beaks on or into.

Geese adventures continue. In just a few weeks, I will be adding more hay to the coop, then the girls will start making nests for their future three-egg-omelet-sized eggs. I can hardly wait.

Who knows what future joys will emerge from the nests come June!

Eileen Adams has been raising geese for 10 years. She may be reached at [email protected]


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