Cead Mile Failte !

A 'hundred thousand welcomes' to friends of all things Irish, organic, and environmentally friendly. I hope you enjoy my anecdotes and little vignettes. I appreciate comments. If you like it, why not become a follower? Click on Archive and then scroll down to the very bottom for the beginning of our story. Or see: http://Ioncehadafarminireland.blogspot.com/

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Goosey, Goosey, Gander

Germans love their goose for Christmas. So it was only natural for us to enlarge our zoo by a pair of these big birds. We once had kept geese before in Germany while living in a cottage in the countryside. When they were ready around St. Martin’s Day for the roasting pot, I took them in our Toyota Landcruiser to a place where they were killed humanely. The method of one of our neighbors was to grab them by the neck and put them in front of a chainsaw. We still owned the same Toyota which is padded in the back area with carpet. What eejit of a car designer puts a fitted carpet into the area where you are likely to transport stuff and not have it lined by plastic sheeting or metal container that can easily hosed down? Anyway, I didn’t want to relive the experience. The card board box I had put them in then was soaked through in no time by their constant flow of smelly green excrements. Maybe they were nervous too and knew what was coming?
We found a pair of geese for sale in the Nenagh Guardian that often advertises agricultural goods, hay, or animals. We set out to pick them up somewhere near Terryglass, on the other side of Lough Derg, a mere hour away. Our preferred means of transport for them was our big horse trailer, the envy of all our neighbors. The geese were a mature couple that had hatched goslings before, we were assured. The drive home must have been like a rollercoaster for them. We had put some straw in for them to sit on, but a horsebox that is big enough for 2 grown horses proved to be a big merry-go-round for them. On each bend in the curvy country road they slithered all over the place. When we arrived home, they must have been so relieved to be shown to their new abode, a hut similar to what we had built for our broilers. A slanted roof structure made of Creosote-doused timber to withstand the Irish weather all year round. We put them in a field nearest to the back of the kitchen that was fenced partially and had wall and gate for easy access from the yard. Hoping for some goslings the same year, they would keep the weeds and grass low in that patch of yard. Later we alternated them with the sheep in our proper garden and orchard which was also surrounded by a strong fence.
Geese take a bit of getting used to. They are not very sociable and make hell of a noise if someone approaches them. Remember the story of them saving Rome with their noise from assaulting marauders? They also try to bite you or at least nip you when you go near them, especially when they have eggs to guard. Then they can get outright aggressive. Mac was bitten through his jeans several times over the years.
We let them out in the morning and ushered them back in at night before a fox could get to them. When you open the door in the morning, you want to step behind the door and have it between you and the geese who will scamper out immediately , ready for some foraging in the grass. At night, it’s a different story. More often than not they didn’t agree with what we considered bedtime. Just like our kids. Luckily Brandy, our fist dog, had turned out to be useful at herding up animals. She had to overcome her initial fear of geese which was proven justified often enough. Brandy was faster than the geese however, and that often saved her hind legs and butt. In order to put the geese to bed, both an adult and Brandy had to use all their tricks to drive them into the hut. We would stand behind the door ready to pounce and Brandy would chase them and direct them in. Depending on the weather or their mood, it could take several circling trips when they overshot the target before heading for their nice bed of straw for the night.

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