April has been a tough month in the goose pen.

Finny’s doing fine. In fact, he’s one of the stronger and more aggressive geese, but some of my other wonderful feathered friends have had a rough time.

A couple of weeks ago, Callie, the abandoned female goose I had rescued, was chased away by some of the other geese as they were outside grazing.

When she first arrived, they were curious about her, then more or less accepted this new addition to the flock. But two or three weeks later, she wasn’t.

Some of the male geese chased her; others attacked her. And one day they chased her away from the flock. I haven’t seen her since, and I am so sorry. She was a beautiful gray-and-white Toulouse.

Another time, the flock was outside when a raccoon, weasel or some other wild critter attacked Sam and Susie-Q. We nursed Sam back to health. Susie-Q is doing OK, although she has a limp she never had before.

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And my beautiful, distinctly different white Muscovy duck, Lulu, who spent the winter in a small pen inside and around a former doghouse, decided one day it was time to explore the broader world. She, too, has never been found.

I sometimes hope that she and her daughter, Lily, who disappeared a few weeks before, may have found their way to a bog not far from our house. But I know this is just wishful thinking.

Living on a back road in the countryside is not only peaceful, but also dangerous for domestic animals. We’ve seen coyotes and raccoons among the wildlife around the field and woods. One bold raccoon tried to remove the lid from the goose food container in our garage. Both like to feast on domestic fowl, despite the safety steps I try to take.

But there are bright sides to this year’s flock as well.

My 2-year-old female goose, Dufey, has laid a clutch of eggs in the goose coop and has been diligently sitting on them for more than two weeks. She gets a bit huffy with me when I bring her food and water, but her determination to hatch a few goslings is admirable. I haven’t seen much mating this year, but that doesn’t mean the boys and girls haven’t gotten together.

If in two weeks no little ones hatch, then I’ll know the eggs were sterile.

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Dufey’s sister, Sammie, has also created a nest for herself out of hay, dried leaves and fluffy white breast feathers. Five large, white eggs are now nestled under the nest makings. If she lays any others, I will bring them in and use them in our cooking. She hasn’t started brooding yet, so she’s apparently not done laying.

We haven’t had nearly as many eggs this year as in the past because my best layer and most intelligent goose, Sal Gal, died in early autumn. She was a wonderful goose and one of my original ones. She rests in our pet cemetery next to the garden. Her sister, Susie-Q, is also a smart and beautiful bird, but she has never laid an egg.

Every season is different, but this has been exceptionally awful one for my flock. Some of my friends have said that the long, snowy, cold miserable winter may have affected them, like it did us.

The boys have not only refused to mate with the girls, but they have also attacked them. The boys are constantly fighting with each other, which is normal for the mating season, but much more frequent and vicious than usual.

Usually these fights are more symbolic than real, but this year Finny and his flock drove out my two original Sebastipol male geese, brothers Seb and Sam.

The two old boys stay around the outside of the pen near the rest of the geese, because they are flocking animals, but whenever I try to reintegrate them with the rest of the flock, they get beaten up pretty badly, so I rescue them and take them outside again. Since Lulu has flown the small coop, Sam and Seb now have that shelter.

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My Finny is still affectionate and comes to me when I am in the pen or out in the field and garden. Whether he’ll ever father some “grand-geese” is questionable though.

If I hadn’t rescued him as a tiny gosling, he would not be here now, but most likely being raised by a human hasn’t done a whole lot for his identity as a gander. He’s my sweetie.

So the saga of the goose flock goes on.

My fingers are still crossed that either Dufey or Sammie will hatch out some adorable balls of fluff. And when late June arrives and the mating season is over, I’m sure all the geese will get along much better.

Then I’ll just have to keep them out of my garden.

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


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