As I was lining the geese and duck coops with hay, which I hope will help fend off the soon-to-come cold weather, I took a loving, close look at each one of these wonderful creatures.

They are all so different and so beautiful in their own unique ways. Each has his or her own distinct personality, and most have some really unique coloring and feathers.

Finny, of course, has always been the most gorgeous, with his mixture of long, Sebastopol-like gray and white feathers. He’s a beautiful boy who I think fathered at least two of this year’s goslings.

One of them is Solstice. He has lovely, long side feathers that droop almost to the ground. His sister, Summer, looks more like a young Toulouse goose. She, too, is beautiful, but she lacks the long feathers like her brother.

Both youngsters were mothered by Susie Q, who is my old (about 12 years) gray goose. Only she, and Seb, a white pure Sebastopol, remain from the original flock which I got a dozen years ago.

All but one of the flock were fathered and mothered by the original geese, or were grandfathered by one of them.

Another new addition is Lucy. She’s different. She is neither Sebastopol nor Toulouse. We believe she is an Embden. Her neck and body are much thicker than either of the other two. It will be interesting to see what her goslings will look like when she mates with Seb next spring.

She also has a voice that’s hard to miss. When she is upset or wants something, her voice blasts out of the pen in a fashion that can’t be missed.

Lucy was the last of a flock owned by a kind woman in Livermore. The rest of her flock had wandered off and eventually were killed by raccoons or coyotes. I’m hoping Lucy will produce lovely goslings.

As the temperature drops and the days grow shorter, I think ahead to the cold, blustery, snowy days to come and all the shoveling I will have to do just so I can feed and water the geese and the ducks.

It’s a lot of work, but as I sit on the back stoop in summer or early fall watching all these gorgeous creatures playing, I know it is worth the effort.

The flocks provide me with so much entertainment and amusement. They, of course, have no idea just how funny they are.

Finny still comes to me for bread or greens and likes to play with my hair. Susie Q knows me very well. She too comes to me to be hand-fed. Blackberry and Plum Blossom, who are 3 years old, are my friends, too.

I expect the latest additions, Solstice and Summer, and Susie Q’s other two goslings, Ossie and Gossie, who share a smaller pen with Seb and Lucy, are also predominantly gray. They are about 5 months old and I’m not sure what gender they are. Most likely, they are girls, ensuring that we will have more than enough giant eggs come April.

Seb just kind of tolerates everyone. After he was dethroned by Finny and Finny’s brother, Shamus, and lost his brother, Sam, to a viscous raccoon a year ago, he lost lots of confidence. He can’t handle Finny, although he is, most likely, Finny’s father.

Dufey is another story. She’s about 4 years old and did a good job hatching Gossie and Ossie. They weren’t her eggs. They were definitely Susie Q’s, but Dufey treated them as her own. Dufey got her name because she’s not the brightest bird in the flock. When everyone else pours out of the pen when I open the gate, Dufey just can’t seem to find the exit.

Ossie and Gossie were so sweet a few months ago when they tried to get under her wings for safety, but were way too big to do so.

I wonder what and who the spring will bring. I don’t think I’ll take in more geese. Both pens are at capacity and introducing outsiders just doesn’t work.

Meanwhile, in the adjacent duck coop, my flock of Khaki Campbell ducklings turned out to be four females and eight males, unfortunately. Millie, the oldest, has been so generous by providing us with nearly an egg a day since we brought her home eight months ago. But now, it’s time to rest, so I have to resort to buying chicken eggs from a local farmer until spring arrives.

Once we’ve eaten fresh duck eggs, it’s really hard to return to chicken eggs. And I’ll never again buy “industrial” eggs. I’ve been so spoiled.

As fall slowly turns into winter, I let the two flocks of geese out quite often so they can fill up on grass and roam freely through the garden, eating whatever they want.

Soon, the snow shovel, posted at the back door, will be in use. The geese and ducks won’t be given water to swim in, but instead just enough to drink.

And so another yearly cycle ends. Each year is so different and so filled with antics, wonder and humor. My geese are worth every sore muscle I get from all the shoveling.

Eileen M. Adams has been raising her beloved pet geese for a dozen years. She may be reached at [email protected]


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