The mini-flocks have come together into one nine-goose flock after I had to separate them for the past few weeks.

I finally took a chance and herded my two old boys, Seb and Sam, and year-old cutie, Plum Blossom, into the pen with Finny, Shamus, Susie-Q and Blackberry, and let Dufey out of the coop to join the rest of the flock. She was immediately accepted by Sam and Seb, but not by Finny and the gang.

Only steadfast Sammie remains outside the pen because she is sitting on a clutch of eggs in a nest she built just beyond the fence.

It’s been a tumultuous April. Poor Dufey, who had laid a clutch of eggs in the coop, was being attacked by the boys, so I had to close her into the coop, letting her out only when they were allowed to graze in the backyard.

She sat faithfully for 35 days, losing all but two eggs, but I finally had to remove them from the nest. I knew they were dead, because goose eggs generally hatch in about 30 days. When I cracked each open, my suspicions were confirmed. One contained a dead gosling, and the other contained nothing but a putrid odor.

She’s free now, and she has discovered that she can fly. When the boys come after her, she takes flight.

Seb and Sam, along with Plum Blossom and sometimes Sammie, get on well, but not with Finny, Shamus and Susie-Q, so they’ve stayed outside the pen. They are all there right now, and a check on them this morning showed that they are staying in their own little clusters and have not hurt each other.

I have no idea why the boys are misbehaving. Usually, the male geese will put on show fights between each other during the mating season from March through June, but this year, the girls were targets, too — which is probably why Sammie built her nest outside the pen.

She’s amazing. I have collected a few eggs as they were laid for cooking, but have about a half-dozen left. She has been sitting for about two weeks, so by the end of the month, if any are going to hatch, they will.

During the recent heavy downpours, I worried about her and the clutch, but a quick check outside during a rainstorm showed that she knew what she was doing.

Like her wild cousins — the Canada geese that often honk as they fly over the pen — not only did she cover the eggs with the soft down from her breast, but she also extended both her wings over and around her nest so that all the eggs were securely covered. Her nest is made from what she could find outside the pen — dried leaves, a few twigs and plenty of breast feathers.

Susie-Q presented me with lots of surprises, too. When her sister, Sal-Gal, was alive and providing us with what seemed like an endless supply of eggs, Susie-Q would help Sal-Gal with the sitting and mothering, but I don’t believe she ever laid her own eggs.

But this year, she created a nest of leaves and has deposited a half-dozen eggs in it. She sits occasionally, but I don’t think she sits often or long enough to hatch out any little ones.

Susie-Q, along with Sam, tangled with some kind of wild critter a few weeks ago. We nursed Sam back to health, but Susie-Q, although quite healthy, was left with a limp that hasn’t improved.

My husband said that whenever she hobbles in the pen, he’d like to get her a little cane. She may limp, but she’s sturdy and well able to keep up with Finny and Shamus.

Blackberry, my year-old punky, misbehaving adolescent and Plum Blossom’s brother, was finally curbed by the older boys. He now behaves and prefers the company of his sister to the big boys. I have no idea what happened. I only know that goose psychology and behavior are fascinating to watch.

As spring turns into early summer, the time my flock gets to spend outside is restricted. They can only go out when I am with them. The garden is almost completely planted, and they just love my broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage seedlings, as well as the lettuce, spinach and pak choi. If left alone, we will have none for the supper table.

But they continue to be a joy to watch and to try to figure out. They are beautiful with their bright blue eyes, white or gray feathers and their purposeful waddles.

Finny, now at nearly 2 years old, is a mature gander, and although he still knows that I am somewhat special, he prefers the company of his crew of Shamus and Susie-Q, as it should be.

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


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