Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lucy the Goose

'Sweetie' the Queen Goose

I stepped out of the car one evening, two weeks ago, closed the door, then heard a questioning nicker from the darkness. I said "yeah, I'm home." The horses cantered to the barn, full blast. Then I about tripped over the smallest goose.

She was alone, curled up in the grass. I scooped her up, felt something inside her grate together. She'd got a broken bone of some kind. I put her in with the chickens while I put the horses in their stalls and fed them.

 When I checked on her, she was shivering. So I scooped her up, again, took her to the tack room where I put her in the 55 gallon tub I use as intensive care. I hooked up a light to keep her warm - gave her food and water. She shifted around a couple of times, but every time she tried to stand she made a noise and lay back down. After a couple of minutes, she fluffed her feathers, nibbled a sprout and seemed to settle in for the night. I kept her confined for a few days until she could stand.Once she was standing on her own and moving around, I tried to put her back with the other geese. But that didn't work. After a few hours she seemed worn out and in pain. So back she went into intensive care.

The next day she did seem perkier, but she honked in the most forlorn fashion. The only thing I could think to do was put her in with the ducklings. This worked very well. She was outside, had company, but wasn't going to be harassed.

She spent 4 days with them before I returned her to the flock. This time, she could walk well enough that I left her with them. As long as the flock doesn't travel far or fast, she's okay.
Yesterday, I was hand-feeding chickens on the back porch when the geese came up. I've got some rapport with one of the ganders, Lumpy. I made eye contact, said his name, then offered him some feed. He looked at me, looked at the grain, decided to eat from my hand. The other geese watched before they tried it, too.

With that taken care of, I can look into the feather eating problem. It appears to be either stress or not enough protein. Since the larger ducks aren't eating feathers, I divided them from the smaller, female ducks. Now I can make sure the smaller ducks are getting enough to eat. 

Eventually, I'm going to move the fully feathered ducks in with the rest of the flock.This is usually only a problem for one or two days. After that, everyone gets along just fine. This is mostly due to the fact they are loose for several hours a day. Chicken World has a 12'x12' inner coop and an 8'x24' outer coop. I'm working on a plan to put in an outside door to the round pen for the winter. 

I have to be careful, I don't want to allow predators to access the coop.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pretty Day in October

There was sunshine and warm breezes today while I was selling eggs at the farmer's market. I sat in the sun and felt so content. When I got home I mowed the lawn and let the geese and chickens loose.

I was checking on the ducks. They are still picking each other's feathers off. I looked it up to find they either are too crowded, or there isn't enough protein in their diet. I gave them some cat food because I've already separated the two groups.

I spent a few minutes with the geese - only to have 'Sweetie' come up behind me to ram me with her chest. I bumped her back and knocked her over. She wasn't pleased with me.

Later, I was hand-feeding the chickens, the geese came up to eat. I actually made eye-contact with Lumpy, called him, then offered him a handful of feed. He hesitated before he ate from my hand. Pretty soon they were all eating from my hand. I was fortunate - only 'Sweetie' offered to bite, so I bopped her on the top of the head. She backed up and shook it off, then was better behaved.

It has taken a couple of weeks to get them this tame. I'm going to keep at it - I don't want my geese to be mean. I want them to be friendly. Lot's a luck, I know. But at least I'm trying.

PS - "Swallow the Moon" is part of the 'Which Witch' promotion this month. More to follow!