Jackie is sitting on 9 eggs. At least we think there are nine. Patrick and Trevor get very upset if we try to go near her. Geese are supposed to be monogamous (or at least “in an open relationship”) for life, but maybe because we have two girls and three boys, both Patrick and Trevor seem to have decided it’s a modern family.
Of all the animals we have tried over the years, geese are shaping up to be one of the favourites. We have tried ducks (too vulnerable to goannas), rabbits (vulnerable, and also defensively vicious), pigeons (a winner for a long while, but then the grey goshawks moved in), goats (way way way too smart, and destructive when they escape), cow (we can’t use that much milk), a pony (huge rows with teenage daughter over whose job it is to clear the crofton weed from the horse paddock), even a draught horse (died of a heart attack in a storm on Christmas Eve – ever tried to bury a draught horse on Christmas Day, when no digging machinery is available?)
The stayers right through have been chooks. Though vulnerable, they’ve been so valuable that it’s worth it. Then last year we added fish in the newly lined top dam. (They’re doing well, now about 20 cm, and we may try eating one or two soon). And geese.
We had a dam. We had grass that needed eating. And we had an idea that geese might be aggressive enough to help protect the chooks. Originally it was just a pair, but a pair turned out to be a bad idea. Xanana (mistakenly named for the Timorese prime minister – he turned out to be a she) was killed by wild dog/dingo pups last summer. Kirsty grieved so grieviously, and we couldn’t keep her alone, so we bought another five geese – Charlotte, Jackie, Patrick, Trevor, and José. Charlotte died of natural causes, so we have ended up with five geese.
Five geese are a formidable pack. They can see off a goanna, make even a large carpet snake think better of it, intimidate a wedge tailed eagle, and so far they have survived a couple of encounters with wild dogs. There are enough of them to keep lookout, and they can fly, swim and bite to get away. They are noisy and sound scary but they are actually really endearing and with handling, quite friendly.
So, in a fortnight or so, with luck, we will see whether goslings will survive, at least long enough for us, and not the wildlife to eat them. There is a plan of goose for Yule dinner at the winter solstice. I couldn’t eat Patrick or Trevor or José or Jackie or Kirsty, but we are going to try to see the goslings as farm animals from the beginning.
But let’s not count the eggs before they hatch. (I think there’s nine).