Geese and Sheep

David and I got a romantic couple of geese early this year from Meghan at Waldegrave farm.  We’re pretty excited, but we know almost nothing about geese. 

We made them a little love-shack and put some nice fresh bedding in.  But they decided they’d rather kick the sheep out of their pen in the barn.  Spot, the female, started to lay big white eggs.  Big, the male, started to aggressively protect the nest.  Jen, the caretaker, started wearing protective clothing and attempted to sneak in the pen with feed and water, when the geese were out grazing.  I didn’t want to tangle with the gander if I could help it.  He’s kinda scary.  Even Bruce is scared of him.  Or I should say, respectful.  I did finally learn that if I make myself big, and spread my arms, Mr. Big will generally leave me alone.

Last time I checked, there were 10 eggs in the nest.  The goose very carefully covers the nest with hay every day.  I had to pull the hay aside to count the eggs.  I don’t know if she is turning them every day.  I know that when a hen is sitting on eggs, she pulls out all her breast feathers to provide the perfect warmth and humidity for her eggs.  She also uses her beak to turn the eggs.  I’ve seen it.  It is a beautiful and fascinating process.

Once the goose starts to set on her eggs, the incubation period is 28 days.  I will be counting the days.  We are also keeping a close eye on the ewes as they are due to lamb very soon.

We decided to focus on grass-eating livestock because we think they produce the best-tasting and healthiest meat, and because we have a lot of pasture land on the farm.  Chickens are more grain-eaters, although I am trying hard to convert them to grazing animals by feeding them minimal grain, and giving them access to nice pasture.  They do seem to enjoy protein-rich bugs, which helps with pest control in the garden.  Here they are digging in the garden before it is planted.

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