Summer and Solstice couldn’t be safer if they were surrounded by a Marine battalion.

My two newest goslings, at 3 weeks old, are loved and protected by Finny and the flock. Evidence couldn’t be any stronger than watching their goodnight ritual.

First, Susie Q, the mother of the two (I think Dufey is the biological mother but somehow, the two girls switched nests while they were sitting), waddles into the coop and sits atop the nest. Right behind her are Sumner and Solstice who move under her warm, downy wing for the night.

At the opening to the coop, Finny perches to block the entrance. He remains throughout the night to prevent any predators from going after the goslings.

But he’s not alone. At the end of the short ramp leading into the coop, Shamus positions himself, so if any skunk or raccoon tries to get in, it will be beaten soundly by the two large ganders.

In front of Shamus and positioned in a half-circle are Blackberry, Plum Blossom, and Sammie who serve as the first line of defense. It’s so amazing how these birds try to protect their young.

Last year, when six goslings hatched, Seb, the former leader of the flock, his brother, Sam, and Dufey were still part of the flock. As I peered out the back hall window to check on everyone late at night, I saw a circle at least 20 feet in diameter with all the adult geese evenly spaced and all facing out of the circle. In the middle, were the goslings.

How I wish I could take photos at night of these very obvious protective measures, but my camera won’t cooperate. Animals have far more intelligence than many of us give them credit for.

This year, the flock is divided, with Dufey and Seb protecting Ossie and Gossie, now 7 weeks old and a gorgeous gray and white, in the little pen.

Finny, as king of the flock, decided he didn’t want Dufey and Seb in with everyone else and he made his feelings well known. Each were attacked to the point where I knew I had to split the flock.

Even when I let all the geese and goslings out to graze at the same time, Finny goes after Seb, Ossie and Gossie. Apparently, to the goose way of thinking, only the approved geese should exist anywhere, inside or outside the pen.

So I post myself between the two mini-flocks until all are immersed in grazing on clover and dandelion leaves. I also make sure I shield the garden from all the voracious feathered critters.

If I don’t keep a close eye on them, in fewer than five minutes, an entire lettuce or pak choy row can be wiped out. Or some of the geese, usually Finny because he knows exactly what I do each spring when I plant the garden, will head for the cabbage, broccoli or Brussels sprouts to enjoy a nutritious meal.

Even when I keep a close eye on them, somehow I miss a sneaky goose who has wandered into one of the crops. Big gapes in the broccoli or cabbage are evidence that they have been there. Further evidence is finding goose poop right next to a plant.

We had hoped to get a fence built around the garden this year, but that hasn’t happened, so I must remain vigilant whenever the geese go out to graze.

Despite the likelihood that some of the garden will be devoured by my pets, I can’t think of any pet that gives me more joy or makes me laugh so much.

Geese really aren’t silly, as an old saying goes. But they are funny.

When one starts flapping his or her wings, everyone else follows suit. If one decides to stand on one leg, so do the others.

And when someone, usually Finny, decides it’s time to have a really great time by flapping their gorgeous wings and running back and forth from one end of the main pan to the other, usually including a dip in the pool, all of them join in.

When winter comes and it’s a real effort to shovel a path to and into the pen, I think back to the summer months when I laughed so much at their actions.

Eileen M. Adams has been raising geese for more than a decade. Most seasons result in a couple of goslings to watch grow up. Together with her vegetable garden, the geese, and now a dozen ducklings, she finds no greater joy. She may be reached at [email protected]


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