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11 Goose Eggs and She’s Sitting

11 goose eggs

Eleven eggs in the first nest, and Jackie is sitting on them, and another two in a second nest.  So fingers crossed they might hatch a whole lot of goslings this year.  Last year was disastrous for them.  We had built a haybale shelter with access only from the water, thinking that would give them enough protection, but goannas managed to raid the nest over and over.  And geese in mating season are so noisy!  Months of being woken before dawn, and no goslings to show for it.

This year we have built a floating island on the bigger top dam out of recycled panels from a coolroom, with nesting boxes on them and a couple of stands of low electric fence surrounding the whole dam.  And we’ve spent the year getting the geese used to being fed at bedtime up there, then turning the fence on at night.  They can fly out over it in the morning if they want, but mostly they just wait to be let out.

The gaggle are fiercely protective of the goslings once they are hatched, but eggs and baby goslings are vulnerable to carpet snakes and goannas and hawks and eagles and owls and foxes and feral cats and dogs, and we’ve even encountered quolls here.

The idea is goose dinner once a month or so.  But there’s another flaw in the plan beyond getting goslings past the predators.  Geese are one of the nicest and most engaging animals we’ve ever tried, much more intelligent and affectionate than chooks or ducks.  But if we can raise enough goslings, we can trade them with a neighbour and eat his.  I know it sounds silly but it just might work



{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Jude wright August 10, 2013, 9:41 am

    It doesn’t sound silly at all; it’s probably the only way to do it.
    I remember plucking geese as a kid; you have to dip them in really hot water with detergent in it (after they are dead of course) and even then you can’t get all the pin feathers out. I think my dad eventually decided to skin them instead and cut off the wing tips; it was easier than plucking.
    Aside from the plucking problem there is the getting-to-know-them problem; it’s so hard to kill someone you are on a first name basis with (apparently something hostage negotiators use all the time, if movies are to be believed). I have failed miserably in the home meat department because I am the major care giver for the animals; I just can’t kill them or have them killed after spending all that time protecting them.

  • Linda August 10, 2013, 12:56 pm

    I wonder if it has to do with the age of the goose? I know with ducks there is a perfect stage just after all their adult feathers are through and before they moult. And yes, that’s been our experience with animals too. The only meat animals we’ve really succeeded in raising are fish and yabbies!

  • Jude wright August 10, 2013, 5:46 pm

    You may be right about the age of the animal; rabbits are like that too.
    Empathy can be a real disability if ou want to kill your own meat hey?

  • Vanessa August 10, 2013, 11:13 pm

    Good luck with your goslings! They sound pretty safe from all but the airborne predators now. I have to admit I’m scared of geese – my sister and I came across some rather hungry ones in a park once and I’ve never quite got over it 😛

  • Leanne August 11, 2013, 5:54 am

    We let Gus and Geraldine have a clutch – all six hatched and lived…The parents were very proud of their family and they all grew well. We rehomed 3 and 3 went in the pot. VERY hard! None of our family actually loved the taste of goose but it was the first time I have ever cooked goose and was rather gamy and tuff. How do you cook your goose?
    Love Leanne

  • celia August 11, 2013, 7:27 am

    Sigh. I hope you find a way to eat them, Linda, I know how hard that is! 🙂 But more importantly, I hope they survive all the other things out there that want to eat them too! x

  • cityhippyfarmgirl August 11, 2013, 9:08 am

    Doesn’t sound silly at all Linda, I think that’s a great idea to swap…I don’t think I’ve ever tried goose.

  • Linda August 11, 2013, 1:10 pm

    Hi Leanne, one of my cooking heroes is Maggie Beer, and roast goose is one of her signature dishes. I saw her do it on the Cook and the Chef (I think it was) once. This is her recipe: http://www.maggiebeer.com.au/recipes/roast-goose-with-apple-onion-and-sage-stuffing. I don’t do oven bags but I’ve got an old fashioned baking dish with a lid that works really well for those kinds of things where you need to keep the moisture in. I also think it has a lot to do with the age of the goose. Commercial meat is always really young, and I think we’re used to that non-gamey flavour of young meat. We haven’t yet eaten a goose, but I know with ducks and chooks they’re much less gamey young. It is hard, and it makes you really appreciate the value of meat, but a young animal raised well and slaughtered humanely has that value I think. Not something you can afford every day, but I don’t think industrially produced chicken has that kind of value.

  • Linda August 11, 2013, 1:12 pm

    Hi Vanessa, our geese are really friendly. They’re raucous and they’re big birds, and they come racing up to greet us, but they don’t attack. They’re Pilgrim geese, and from what I read Pilgrims are much less aggressive.

  • Linda August 11, 2013, 1:13 pm

    I shall let you know how they are if we get that far!

  • Lisa the Gourmet Wog August 12, 2013, 8:06 pm

    I think a swap is a fabulous idea Linda! I hope you get to eat them before the goannas do 🙂

  • Leanne August 15, 2013, 2:18 am

    Thanks 120deg c I think is the tip I will try next a long slow cooking. Our geese were 7 months but free ranging so lots of muscle. And I will only prick the skin next time not go all the way through to the meat.
    I look forward to seeing how you cook your goose.

    Love Leanne

  • Tracie October 18, 2013, 9:06 pm

    I have a pair of Toulouse Geese (Mildred and George) which are 12 months old and layed 10 eggs, my first eggs. I have waited now 36 days and still no little fluff balls. I snuck into Mildred’s nest the other day to see what is going on to find only 5 eggs and still no fluff balls. We noticed a large goanna the other day but didn’t think anything of it but now reading your blog wondering if this could be the reason. They are in a fenced yard with the Girls (4 xSussex) and their Man (Fanido) live together. We have only a small bath for Mildred and George which we are working out where to put a pond in for them. Will the goose eggs hatch or this being their 1st year would they not be fertile? Do I take them away? And how do I catch the goanna if he/she is the problem…….Ta Tracie

  • Linda October 19, 2013, 8:23 am

    Hi Tracie, the eggs may not be fertile. Geese need to mate on water. It looks quite rough but hey, I guess they like it. The male dunks the female and holds her underwater to mate. So if they only have a small bath, maybe he hasn’t been able to fertilise thee eggs. And I would guess that the goanna could well be the cause of the missing eggs. Goannas love eggs. Last year we caught and relocated a dozen goannas, and either they just came back or another took over the territory. We have a cat trap that we used some years ago to catch a feral cat, and we used that to catch the goannas. National Parks in our area have one you can borrow (to catch cats!). This year we have the geese sitting on an island in the middle of the dam, with an electric fence around the dam just above the ground overnight. And still eggs went missing.

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