Geese at Amanda Esposito’s home in Greenwood are living the high life. “They’re curious, super curious, and they play with everything,” she says. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Amanda Esposito of Greenwood and Anne Sheehan of Norway met by accident, but they hit it off immediately, kind of like, well, two geese pals.

As a gift to her mom, Sheehan’s daughter put an ad in the newspaper looking for someone to help her mother clean around her new property.

“Amanda responded,” Sheehan recalls, “then I found out she raised geese and we just clicked right away. . . . She still comes, but we probably spend more time talking about our geese.”

It turns out, that’s the way it often goes with the large fowl. They’re off the radar screen for most people — even the most ardent animal lovers — but those who give ownership a try often end up gushing about their geese.

Wilton’s Eileen Adams has had a geese gig for over 20 years and wrote many a Sun Journal column starring her Finny, a Toulouse and Sebastopol cross. Adams said geese first sparked her interest at the Farmington Fair, where a breeder would bring some of his flock to show. “I don’t know (why). I liked them, so I got them. And I’ve had people ask, ‘Why geese? They’re so grouchy.’ You’ve got to know how to handle them, that’s the thing. You’ve got to understand them. They’re just so fun.”

Sheehan started raising geese shortly before the pandemic began, intrigued by her neighbor’s flock. Esposito started shortly after. Esposito got her first goose, a male named Beaker, over Craigslist and committed her reluctant husband to help juggle the new responsibility while also keeping watch over new chickens and their hatchlings-in-progress.


“This was definitely a COVID whim. . . . We got the chickens, then we got the ducks, then we got the geese,” said Esposito. “Then I read geese should not be alone.”

Geese are companion animals, usually mate for life and they need to socialize. Geese are also stellar parents and will take orphaned goslings under their wings. So, the Espositos got another, a female, before their move to Greenwood. Unfortunately, the fowl were greeted by a bobcat, which took the female goose but spared the rest of the birds in Esposito’s flock.

Anne Sheehan pours grain Monday for her geese and ducks at her home in Norway. “They’re just so stinkin’ cool,” she says of her geese. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Esposito said she loved the two geese together, so she tracked down a guy in Oregon who bred a variety called “lavender ice American.” Luckily, a local breeder bought some of his stock, so Esposito took a female/male pair and named them Arwen and Aragorn after characters in “The Lord of the Rings.” Though she wanted to even things up with a second female, she adopted Frank from a woman in Vermont who was selling her home and could not bring her goose with her.

Sheehan started off with a male and a female she got from her neighbor across the street. “I said ‘Really like your geese,’ so she gave me two. They were young and they were great — and then the male got mature. And then it got ‘un-great.’”

For instance, getting the goose inside at night was a task; he would flap and bite and do anything he could to drive Sheehan away and waddle around at his leisure. “He would come after me and I’d get my fingers out and hold his beak shut and literally lead him into the stall by a shut beak. My neighbor – and this is why the goose is no longer with us – would get the backs of his legs chewed up. . . . If you went anywhere near any of them, that’s what he would do. . . . I didn’t (eat him) because I couldn’t bring myself to, but I’m pretty sure where he went did.”

Adams said geese can indeed be grouchy as their stereotype suggests, but they are not always that way.


“These are Sebastopol,” said Adams, showing off her flock, “and they can be grouchy during the mating season. But they’re very unique, each one of them. They have their own personality. It’s like with any animal — or person.”

Esposito’s flock are approachable, but 23-year-old Frank can be crotchety. He sometimes socializes and keeps watch over the flock, and other times meanders and wants to be by himself. Beaker has a crooked upper beak that makes it hard for him to bite, but that doesn’t take the ferocity out of his protective nature when he needs to show it, particularly to the ducks when they get on his nerves. As for Arwen and Aragorn, they get along fine, but it is Aragorn and Beaker who have become soul mates, giving Esposito plenty of entertainment.

“Beaker and Aragorn are kind of in love and Arwen gets left out all the time. . . . The boys have spent a lot of time mounting each other. They’re ridiculous, but they were attached as babies. I would bring them into the house at night to sleep in crates because I was worried about something eating them. They would come marching into the house every night and get into their crates. From the start, (they) would go into the same crate together and always slept together. For whatever reason they liked each other and they do everything together.”

Amanda Esposito holds Aragorn on Monday at her home in Greenwood. Esposito has chickens, ducks and geese. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Unfortunately for Arwen, Frank is not an interested suitor. Over 20 years her senior, Frank is just too old, said Esposito.

“Frank really tries, but . . . he gets cranky, his feathers get a little ruffled, his eyes get a little squinty, and I’m like, ‘Oh, you’re feeling mean today, aren’t you?’ . . . What I’d like is a couple more females, but you never know what you’re getting before hatching.”

Sheehan took her neighbor’s whole flock of fowl when the neighbors were no longer able to care for them; that meant six geese and 13 ducks including her own. Sheehan has two Embden, two Chinese and two Toulouse geese. The Toulouse are two years old and the eldest of the flock, and the others are under a year. The female Toulouse is not laying eggs due to the season, which is typically between February and May, and the others are too young, but Sheehan’s ducks lay year-round and that means plenty of eggs.


Goose eggs are richer and huge compared to chicken eggs, said Sheehan. “They’re good for custard and stuff like that. The duck eggs are also richer. . . . My grandson insists they taste different. I don’t think they do, but they do go further.”

Sheehan also used to keep chickens, but they were all taken out by owls. In their place, much to Sheehan’s chagrin, are three interloping raccoons, which remain undeterred by Sheehan’s efforts to oust them from her barn. They steer clear of the geese, though, she said.

All three geese owners acknowledged there is work and some challenges to raising geese. Sheehan said one thing you might want to have if you plan on raising geese is a pair of earplugs. Especially during mating season, when they can get both noisy and mean. The combination can be overwhelming, the women said.

And then there’s the day-to-day care. Like bedding — bales of hay usually — and an enclosed area predators cannot get into. And protecting your garden. “They’re great weeders, but they’re not discerning. They would eat my vegetable garden if I let them,” says Sheehan.

Esposito puts the bottom half of a dog crate — because her geese can’t fit into a regular nesting box — in a secluded spot so the geese have some privacy. Their needs are minimal, Esposito agreed: shelter from night predators, fresh water, correct food. “The food is important, but other than that, they’re low maintenance. They don’t get sick often. . . . They like grass and dandelion greens when you can find them. They also graze down the grass, but they’re also selective about what they graze on.”

One of Anne Sheehan’s geese communicates some thoughts to the photographer at Sheehan’s home in Norway recently. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Sheehan said two challenges she’s faced with her geese is the price of grain, which has nearly doubled, and providing the geese with water in the winter since it must be brought out in gallon jugs. “Last year, I had one of those tiny (premade garden) ponds that we dug a hole for and I set up this whole drainage system, and I had a stock tank heater in there and the damn geese never went in it once last winter.”


The women agreed that if you have the space, the money to feed them and get to understand their basic needs, “you’re all set,” as Sheehan said. Since their personalities can be so different, once you tune into their individual quirks, they are well worth putting up with for the pleasures and entertainment they give back.

“One time a couple of them got out somehow,” Adams said. “They marched down the road to the next house and my husband went after them in the car, gathered them back, with the geese (marching) in front of the car, and got them back home. It was so funny. They’re great entertainment and I love them to pieces.”

Their loving and protecting nature makes them great pets, said Esposito. The geese will always be the first to respond to commotion around the house and property.

“Just the other day I was cleaning something out on the patio and they came out to help me and help break down boxes and all of that,” said Esposito. “They’re curious, super curious, and they play with everything, trying to figure everything out. For the most part, they’re pretty mellow. They’re super easy to take care of. The ducks need water constantly, the geese not so much. All I have to do is take a couple of sleds and fill them with water and they will be so happy with that. The ducks will complain about it all winter long.”

Sheehan said she plans on trying chickens again if she can figure out how to keep them safe from the owls; she will continue raising ducks even though they lay eggs everywhere, get all muddy and splash around to clean themselves; but the geese are where it’s at, she says. “They’re so different. They’re just so stinkin’ cool.”

Noted Esposito, “They’re not for everybody. I think you’ve got to have the personality to match the goose. I was outside with them every afternoon when they were babies. I’d just go sit out there, read a book, and they’d sleep on my feet. I’d bring treats all the time, so they’re pretty well bonded to me. To me, it’s worth the investment in time.”

Raising geese is not much different from owning any other pet — you have to be devoted and give them attention every day, Adams said. “You have to be really constant. They can get used to you and may even like you in their own goose way.”

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