And then there were three.

My gaggle of geese gives me so much pleasure as I watch them grow, form friendships and create their own groups. They preen, make friends or enemies with each other, honk when a big bird is flying overhead or when they see something in the woods.

Their antics often make me laugh or scratch my head in wonder. And of course, I feel very wanted because every time I head toward the pen, they begin their welcoming call. Of course, I know it’s because they know I’ll be bringing them some food.

But along with the joy and smiles I constantly receive, there are some sorrows, too.

Two of my lovely 6-week-old goslings disappeared last week.

They were still small enough to squeeze under the wire fence to do some grazing. I wasn’t all that concerned for two reasons: it’s impossible to keep small goslings in a pen without locking them up, and they’ll return when their mom or dad calls them.

But not this time.

Gracie, Suesun and Buttercup returned. Sylvie and Daisy did not.
I’ve looked everywhere, but I know from past experience that they won’t be found.

Along with the blessings of living in the country is the downside — at least for baby geese. Coyotes, raccoons, weasels and other predators share the woods with the birds and rabbits.

Once one of my geese or ducks has disappeared, it never returns.

Although the goslings’ family, Finny, Shamus, Susie-Q and Sammie, generally stay apart from the rest of the flock and take turns eating the food and water I’ve brought them, whenever something dramatic happens, they come together.

They stood at attention as the goslings hatched, one-by-one, last month, and they were silent once the moms and dads stopped calling for their babes last week. The whole flock surrounded the surviving three goslings and stayed nearby for several hours.

Of course, once the sadness wore off, the two flocks continued their divisiveness. The remaining goslings continue to grow. None of the goslings can wiggle under the wire fence now, so they are secure in their home — and they are eating up a storm.

It seems that I can’t keep enough greens, cracked corn or pellets in the dishes. The older geese defer to the young ones most of the time.

If Gracie, Buttercup and Suesun survive until adulthood, the geese will have raised more than they ever have.

Each of the previous hatching seasons has resulted in two full-grown geese — females Sammie and Dufey the first year, Finny and his brother, Shamus, the second year and Blackberry and Plum Blossom the third year.

I’m hoping the three survivors are all females, but I doubt it. I won’t know their genders until late fall, when they will more clearly show feather configuration and attitudes compatible with what I have observed in the past.

In the meantime, I am slowly earning the goslings’ trust, and I am clearing out much of the gone-by greens in the garden. This is the best time of year for the flock, as they get to eat all those yummy greens.

Despite the loss, watching the little ones grow and observing how the flock interacts with each other is still a joy to experience.

Eileen Adams may be reached at [email protected]


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