a girl and her geese
By Renae B. Vander Schaaf
When the fresh air of spring arrives to dispel winter’s dreariness, we work at finalizing our preparations for spring.
The seed corn is in the shed waiting for the shop doors to release the planter. Little seeds were sown in plant boxes in the house and now look like little cabbages and tomatoes.
Bushels of potatoes and thousands of onion plants came at their appointed time. Now they wait as spring seems to have been delayed. So much for that global warming nonsense.
Cool weather couldn’t delay the arrival of the bumblebees I ordered, delivered right on time by UPS. I have apricot trees, that according to my records, bloom around April 14. They didn’t do that this year, and it is too cold for the bumblebees to go outside. So there they sit on my kitchen counter in their neat little box.
They need food, so we feed them pollen. They come to life at the smell of food, and we hear buzzing. As long as no one lifts the latch, we are safe.
Last November, I placed an order for goslings and turkey poults. The post office called early in the morning to let us know our birds had arrived. The children volunteered all sorts of reasons why they should stay home. But their nasty mother sent them off to school anyway. I promised to leave the birds in their boxes until they came home.
So for a few hours my house had the steady chirp of baby birds. Once the geese quieted down to nap, we had to be extra quiet not to wake them. They weren’t always well-behaved and got out of their box so a taller boundary had to be built.
Geese are a mess, and they can be nasty. They chase the UPS man or college girls dressed in sandals. Sometimes visitors are scared to leave their cars as the gaggle of geese surrounds the vehicle. It must have been a moment of insanity when I ordered the geese.
But, I think not. I am a mother, and my youngest daughter, Rachel, just loves the geese. Last year, while she was at school, and I was the goose-sitter, I thought they needed fresh air and sunshine so I let them out of their shed. The adventurous geese went into the cattle yard but not all came out. This year, Rachel has them inside a small building with an attached fence inside of an electric fence. So if mother decides they need sunshine, they will be safe.
There will be a bonding so that when the geese spot Rachel they will come and talk to her. She will be able to hold and pet them. The geese will follow her around and her presence will calm them. She will, of course, name the geese. Sometimes she will pick a name based on the goose’s personality, or just select a name she likes.
My kitchen was raided for food to feed the geese. These babies just needed a little bit of grain to get started to supplement the grass. Everyone decided the perfect menu consisted of wheat berries, flax seed, oatmeal and wheat germ. I think they looked at what they didn’t like and decided that would make the ideal ration.
In years past, geese were used as weed eaters. It seems far-fetched to me but on a video of a past John Deere days, it shows a farmer using geese to weed his field. It was in the 1950s and 200,000 weeder geese were used in the San Joaquin Valley in California to weed crops.
I’m still skeptical on that one but research in recent years does support this.
A gander and a goose were often given as wedding gifts as a symbol of commitment. A goose and a gander will mate for life. If one dies, the remaining goose may wait several years before choosing a new mate. The gander will be quite protective of his mate. This year, if our few geese produce a couple, I suspect we’ll have to keep them permanently.
Geese are interesting fowl, as are any other of the birds now available at local farm stores. It is our habit to stop with the children and look at the baby birds. I am thankful we live on a farm and our children can enjoy caring for baby birds. They learn a lot of life and death besides the responsibility of chores.