rancherwriterpoet

Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Archive for the tag “Sebastopol Geese”

Once Upon A Time, the Saga

Once upon a time! That’s how most fairy tales and stories for children begin. One can write a story and start with this idiom and immediately it gains some sort of legitimacy. So with that in mind, I begin another story of Gweeny Goose. I will try to keep this story suitable for children.

Once upon a time, there were three geese, Bailey, a gander, Indie, another gander, and Shya, a goose. (I am told there is no specific name for a female, so I will just call her a ‘goose’.

‘ Three geese coming from pen

Indie came by his name because he was rather independent. And Shya came by her name because of her shyness. And Bailey? Well, the characteristics were appropriate for a female. As it turned out, she was a he and since the name Bailey is gender neutral, Bailey it was. However, we now had two ganders and one goose. Bailey has evolved, seemly, into the dominate gander, although he is actually the smaller of the two ganders. Like they say dynamite comes in small packages. I think that Indie is just biding his time.

Life was good for the ganders but not so well for the goose. According to the geese experts, a female chooses a monogamous partner about the age of three. Since these three are just now approaching the age of two, it is difficult for the lone goose to manage two suitors.  I can only imagine her difficulty.

On a regular basis, I interact with these three ‘geeses’ (I call them ‘geeses’ which they understand). It requires much study, but I have a Master’s degree in geeses language, and I speak it fluently. Like, ‘att choo doin’ geeses?’ Sometimes, I yell, ‘eir u goin’, geeses? They honk back at me and the louder I get the louder they honk.  Since we put them up at night to protect them from predators, we have taught them a method of cooperation to help us at that task. From goslings we have called out, “let’s go home” as a means of bringing them in. It works quite well, even as they have matured. We sometimes use a small children’s rake to ‘herd’ them into their pens. These three geeses mind very well, most of the time. And most of the time they answer to their names. But a friend of mine reminded me that it is a scientific fact that only when they want too!

And at breeding season, forget all this information. I recall last season. It was so very difficult to go around them. I believe Bailey saw me as a threat. And Indie was not subtle either. Occasionally we would have to use the aforementioned children’s rakes to defend ourselves. The secret to defending yourselves is to not let them get behind you. They are sneaky. Face to face, they seem quite mild. They are friendly and will come close but not too close. Have you ever had a dog nip at your heels? Our geeses have picked up that trait during breeding season. We have a kennel full of dogs and on their afternoon run, they have learned to not go close to the geeses.  Talk about nipping at heels!

So breeding season is fast approaching. Enter Gweeny Goose!  If you read the previous post you know how she came to be the newest addition to the geese population at the Fuzzy Chicken Farm. This story, “Once Upon A Time”, is part of a continuing sage of Gweeny Goose. Perhaps you have once been the new kid on the block or at school. You may recall the reluctance of many to make friends with you or you with them. Such is the case of the “geeses”.

Yesterday was the first day the four were allowed out at the same time. The “Rancherette” and I were very apprehensive about letting them out simultaneously. It was unknown how any of them would react. Would there be any animosity between them?  Would the three original residents cause any rancor? Or would she? Well, there wasn’t necessarily any congeniality between them but there was no bloodshed either. That’s a good sign.So, this morning was the second day of mingling.They appear to be “mingling” just fine. Swimming together and checking each other out. Bailey is either nosy or jealous. He  wants her to be around but then he chases her away when she gets too close to Indie and Shya.

Foour geese a swimming                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Since they slept in adjacent but separate pens it was a curiosity of Bailey and friends to check out her apartment. It seems that she has spacious sleeping quarters. Gweeny's apartment

She has good food, too. (It’s the same stuff.) But, it is only a matter of time before she will move in with her choice. [being a female (goose) she is allowed to make her choice.]

But do not be dismayed, breeding season is fast approaching. And I am trembling.

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Gweeny Goose

Among the many “critters” we have on “The Fuzzy Chicken Farm” are three Sebastopol Geese.  They are a hoot, or should I say honk. These three geese answer to the names of Indie, Shya and Bailey. (When they want to)  Once upon a time we thought Bailey was a she but we soon discovered she was a he. Luckily we gave her a name that could be used with either gender.  We are approaching the breeding season and they become aggressive during this time, especially with two males and only one female. So the “Rancherette” decided another female was in order. Indie needed a mate and the“Rancherette” was determined to play matchmaker.Geese April                                                                                                                                                                    IMG_7134

The search began for someone who raises this breed of geese and lo and behold, one was found. The downside was this person lived about 3 hours away. They do not deliver; Hence a road trip. We are accustomed to road trips since the “Rancherette” shows her fancy chickens at various chicken shows.

I placed a portable pen in the pickup bed, wrapped it with a heavy-duty bed quilt for the goose’s protection from the wind and used bungee cords to secure it. With a printed map and directions to the geese herder (?) we hit the road. Before I could get 10 miles down the road, the quilt began to blow in the wind. Of course I stopped to further secure it. Again another few miles and the stupid quilt came loose again. You must understand I am not a professional truck driver. I do not have their expertise at securing loads. You are probably thinking it will happen again. And you would be correct. Fortunately, I had several bungee cords with me. This time I secured it so tightly it would have taken a stick of dynamite to remove it.

So, with that chore finally completed, we “hit the road” again. Of course no road trip worth its salt would be without a “pit stop”. Such was our case. When one gets to be our age it is imperative that one finds a place to get a “bar of candy”, if you know what I mean. It means nothing to say, “You kids go before we leave because I am not stopping!” That was then, this is now.

Mission accomplished and back on the road again. Driving down the freeway, one can get lost in the moment. Luckily I had my printed Google map and directions.  If only I would have taken the time to read them, I probably would not have missed my turn. About twelve miles down the freeway I remembered. A U-turn was the next course of action. I took the next exit which could take me across to the correct highway without a U-turn. Or so I thought. I believe it was Yogi Berra who once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”. There was no fork in the road, however, the detour was a dead end and one must turn right or left. Big decision, my road map was of no use any longer. The “Rancherette” turned on her IPhone gps. We turned right. I drove all the way to the next town, passing a mushroom processing plant. Now I love mushrooms and have eaten my share of several different varieties, however the smell from the processing plant was very difficult to overcome. Hurriedly, we passed.

We came into town and because I had failed to follow directions, I was lost. (Me? A male? Lost? Unheard of) I turned around and began to retrace my steps. Ugh, it was the mushroom processing plant again. I picked up speed and passed the plant quickly.

So driving further down the two lane highway about ten miles or so, the “Rancherette” thought we were still going the wrong way. She was correct. I turned around and once again went back to where we came from. Yeah, I passed the “mushrooms” for the third time. We finally located the correct road and quickly arrived at the geese home.

A varied menagerie of critters, including a very colorful Tom Turkey named Kevin which seemed to have other things on his mind. The owners met us in the driveway as well as many dogs, chickens, goats, pot-bellied pigs and geese. Travis and Joy, the owners are such nice people and their baby is so sweet. we offered to bring her home with us and the goose, but they declined, just the goose. After an enlightened conversation the “Rancherette” picked out Genevieve the goose. It seems her nickname is Gwenny, thus she will forever be known as Gweeny Goose, not to be confused with Granny Goose.

Gwinny Goose

With a long drive ahead of us (assuming we don’t get lost) we said our goodbyes and departed. But there was no way I’m passing the mushroom processing plant again.  Stay tuned for the continuing sage of Gweeny Goose.

BEWARE OF DEAD PLANTS

We are in the middle of a drought, or so the meteorologists are prone to declare. You see, there are various stages; no drought, dry, moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional.  Today, August 22, 2018, we are in a moderate drought not quite severe but mostly dry.  The locusts are not even chirping, they always make a lot of noise in the summer, but the crickets are, chirping and noisy and smelly. The trees are losing their leaves, called transpiring.

Most of the ponds around our rural area are drying up or already dry. Our pond is no exception. In fact, it did go completely dry about two weeks ago. We since had a little rain and a few inches collected in the pond. However, it is quickly shrinking. The geese are blaming me. In fact, all the animals are blaming me. The one that seems to enjoy this predicament the most are the pesky flies. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get them to at least move away from here. Go back across the fence where there are cattle with tails that swish.

 I try to keep the geese satisfied by furnishing them with kiddie pools. We have three Sebastopol geese and each has their own pool. They waddle through the mud and any remaining water in the pond, then immediately waddle into their kiddie pool and of course muddy the waters.

Then they waddle out and stand around and watch me empty the filthy water and wait, not too patiently, (geese have no patience) while I clean and refill them. I slowly lift the pools to empty. I say slowly, because last week I lifted one and discovered a Copperhead snake underneath. That will get your attention very suddenly. The geese were not very empathetic about the situation. They just want their pool filled.

 If I understand geese talk, the conversation went something like this, “OK, Dad, hurry up. What’s taking you so long? Can’t you see we are waiting? It’s only a little snake. Are you afraid of a little snake?” The answer is emphatically YES, all snakes and all sticks that look like snakes. And this conversation is over.

So, I’m letting the geese out of their pens this morning, I notice a small brushy thingy in the almost dry pond. It is moving ever so slowly, stops for a bit, moves a little more and repeats its maneuvering. Is it a snake? It is leaving a trail in the humidified, algae infested water, which causes more algae to grow and hide such creatures as snakes.

By now my curiosity is peaked. Should I go get the rifle and shoot the darned dead plant out of the water?  That seems to be an oxymoronic statement. Dead means dead, yet the plant was moving. (Well, everyone knows DEAD plants don’t move) Come to think about it, LIVE plants don’t move either. But snakes do move until they are dead.  Some even continue moving minus a head.

I stalled while I continued about the chores of feeding the chickens in the coops and the dogs in the kennels, neither of which seems concerned about snakes or dead plants floating in the few inches of water. They all have the same mindset as the geese. “Hurry up, they crow, cackle, bark, honk!”                                                         

I’m fixated on the dead plant. It continues to move ever so slightly. I go into the supply room and fetch my 22 rifle. However, I do not want to shoot until I know what is causing the movement. Then I pick up the rake and the shovel. One can’t be too prepared for dispatching a moving DEAD plant. Slowly I reach out to the DEAD plant with the rake. It has a long handle and I place the prongs around the thing and begin retrieving it to the bank. Suddenly, it moved quickly. So did I.

Well, the geese are watching from beside their kiddie pool, content to observe from a distance and not willing to help in the least, laughing in their honking way of conversing. They want their water changed. Most geese are extremely vocal about any unusual activity. These three weren’t the least bit concerned about my welfare. Occasionally, when a chicken misbehaves I simply yell, “Chicken Nuggets” and that usually will quiet them down. It doesn’t work with geese. I can’t wait until the rainy season.

All I know, is watch out for floating dead plants. There may be a turtle pushing it around.

Cardboard Boxes

Spring is springing and it is raining today. That’s ok, trees are budding, grass is growing, flowers are blooming, redbuds are beautiful, birds building nests and laying eggs, and our menagerie is fulfilling their destiny. The geese are nesting. Ahh, the geese!

They arrived in a cardboard box through the U.S. Postal Service about a year ago, this thundering herd of geese. Namely three Sebastopol goslings, which have since become like full grown Geese, two males and a female, depending on whom is making the assessment. The “Rancherette” presumes the opposite of my viewpoint. We are sure about the one named Indie, a gander and Shya, a female. I find it odd that a female goose does not have a specific gender name other than a “goose.” The one named Bailey, is the one in question, a “goose” or a gander? But it is a gender neutral name.

Regardless, they frequent our lives on a daily basis, honking, nibbling at the pants legs, flapping their wings in a not-so-subtle way of discouraging your presence or demanding your attention.

  flapping wings

They can untie your shoes, strip the cushion ties from the patio chairs, scare the bejabbers out of you and clearly intimidate you, all the while creating an atmosphere of amusement.  During the mating season, this becomes much more prevalent. You do not want to turn your back on these obstinate, two-legged, pillow-making waterfowl.  Things could get ugly in a heartbeat.

When they were younger they were trained to go into their pen on command. Utter the words, “Geeses, let’s go home” and they would immediately walk ever so slowly into their pen. Actually, they do not walk, they waddle. They stumble over any obstacle in their path, be it a pine cone or a tree root. But the going home part, not so much now they are grown. Resistance has become the norm. Hence, the pants-leg gnawing. We use a child’s rake to guide them home. They will wrest it from your hands, believing it is an orange-colored predator and will bite it to death. If your finger is substituted , they can gnaw ‘til it’s raw. They make excellent guard geese. We already have Poodle Home Security. Now we have a subsidiary company, as well, the Geese Patrol.

Much like the Postal Service, rain, sleet nor snow will not discourage them from their appointed duties, like  swimming in their ¼ acre pond no matter the temperature. They do not mingle with the chickens or dogs, although there is occasional  interaction between the pens. They are very curious birds and intent on observing everything you do.  Always watching, they do not miss anything. The kennel dogs roam freely throughout their portion of the back yard, taking care not to violate the demarcation line next to the fence that separates one from the other.

Alfie, our resident Airedale troublemaker, who has a personal relationship with hardheadedness, can report first hand the effects of encroaching too close to the fence. The other kennel dogs must have observed that infraction and thus, are very reluctant to repeat Alfie’s action. If you ask Alfie, she will show you her scars.

So, here on the Fuzzy Chicken Farm, there is an assortment of poultry and canines. Until the cardboard boxes arrived last year, it was a peaceful co-existence.  We still co-exist; however, it is a delicate arrangement. After all, they are the royalty of the Fuzzy Chicken Farm.

Spring is springing. Beware of cardboard boxes arriving in the mail. It could be a thundering herd of geese. Honk! Honk!

The Geese say, “Early Spring”

Well today is the famous (or infamous) Groundhog Day. This is the day when Punxsutawney Phil, from the city by the same name, burst forth from his lair after hibernating over the winter months. Supposedly, if he sees his shadow, the winter season will last six more weeks.  Of course, if he doesn’t, then winter is over and spring is forthcoming.  I’m here to tell you that the little critter from the north did see his shadow this morning.

Living here in North Texas is not the same as in the utterly cold Northeast or Midwest, but, I do not want to see any more winter. I bet my counterparts in those areas of the country are in agreement with me on this. I have a different method for predicting the forthcoming spring as you will see below.

These days, Punxsutawney Phil is treated like “royalty,” so says, William Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club  But when Groundhog Day first came to Pennsylvania, that likely wasn’t the case. “It was a social party,” Deeley says. “They basically got together and instead of him being the honoree, he was the entrée.” Yes, that means they “probably ate the groundhog,” Deeley clarified.

I don’t know about you but I do not fancy eating a groundhog (woodchuck), although I believe Alaskans living off the grid fancy these rodents as a delicacy. However, being raised in the piney woods of East Texas, I have been known to eat squirrel. So I guess it is appropriate.

Around our place in North Texas, we do not have groundhogs. I am thankful for that. No shadow-seeking critter for me. However, I do have an abundance of gophers. The critters have little mounds all over my yard.  Since we have nine dogs, seventy-five+ chickens, Sebastopol Geese AND numerous neighborhood free-ranging chickens, I am reluctant to put any chemical on the ground for fear of the animals ingesting the stuff and leading to their demise. So I spread repellant. It is supposed to help in the relocation of these animals. Doesn’t work. And in the rare case where it did help, the moles just seemed to like it even so.

I am wondering if I could convince a gopher to forecast the weather. Naaa…, but maybe one of our Sebastopol Geese? We have three of these beautiful birds. Adorned with their long feathers, they look like a bride in a wedding dress.

Three geeses

They have about a ½ acre to roam complete with a pond and other features to occupy their time. The “Rancherette” gave them names upon their arrival here at the Fuzzy Chicken Farm. “Indie”, for Independence, “Shya” for shyness, and “Bailey”, just because it sounded good. They are smart and know their names. When it is time for them to be put up at night, we simply call out, “Geeses, let’s go home”. They usually go straight into their goose house.

So I’m betting I could train them to predict the weather. Of course, they love cold weather and cold water, so this might be a challenge. Even in the middle of the last cold snap here in North Texas, (15°) they did not falter about going into the pond. However, it was frozen and about all they could do was to ice skate. But the moment the pond defrosted, cold as it was, they were smack dab in the middle, dunking their heads and throwing water over their back.

I’m going to work on weather forecasting by geese. We know for sure that Indie is a Gander (male) and Shia is a Dame, (female) and Bailey, well I am not sure. Sometimes the goose acts like a Gander and sometimes acts like a Dame.

Anyway, I decided that training them to prognosticate is not so hard. I laid it on the line yesterday that if a goose egg was discovered in their pen it would mean an early spring. Well, guess what? The very first goose egg was found this morning. Yea, an early spring.

Goose egg

The challenge for you is to determine which egg it is.

Forecasting weather is a complex and serious matter. It takes many years of study and dedication to get it right, most of the time. The longer one prognosticates, the more experienced they become. Take Punxsutawney Phil, for example, his knowledge dates back to 1887.

But geese have been laying eggs and hatching goslings since time began and certainly after the great flood. You remember, two-by-two. It stands to reason that laying eggs is in their genes. this can be used as a prediction for an early spring. We’ll see how this works out.

Interestingly, the young groundhogs are known as “chucklings” which is what I am doing about now. All this begs the question,

“How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could
if a woodchuck could chuck wood!

None, he saw his shadow and scurried back inside his warm den.

Have a great “early” spring.

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