Mother Goose

They say birds of a feather flock together. When you visit our barnyard, you will see that the chickens don’t like to spend much time with the geese.

In fact, most things give the geese a wide berth. Even our dog, Schwartz.

The geese tend to patrol the barnyard in a very stately manner, hissing and threatening anything they deem as not belonging. We have them to keep away predatory birds and it does tend to work.

This spring we got a few more goslings when we ordered our chickens. We also had a goose that was sitting on a nest of eggs. There had to be about a dozen or more eggs in there, so I was hoping for lots of little goslings.

We put the goslings in with the chicks at first, but this only works for a short time. Geese are water birds and like things muddy, but chicks don’t do well in damp conditions. So we separated them.

Geese standing guard

After being in such a large flock, the goslings didn’t like being on their own. So I made a special pen for them inside the same pen as the expectant goose and gander.

This ended up not working very well either. The gander’s job, when the goose is sitting on a nest, is to patrol and protect the nest.

In some way the goslings must have been seen as a threat, because one morning I went out to do chores, only to find a dead gosling. It must have been on the bottom of the heap of goslings.

After this we kept the goslings in a building, overnight at least.

A week or so after this unfortunate incident, the expectant goose left her nest. She had been removing eggs every now and then. Discarding what wasn’t viable, I guess. Finally she just walked away.

We keep our geese in a pen overnight to provide them a bit of protection from carnivores. Every morning they are let out to roam.

While on the nest, the mother goose stayed in the pen even if the gate was open. So when she left with the others I knew the remaining eggs in the nest probably weren’t going to hatch.

The goslings were still in a small corner of this pen, and after a while I noticed the mother goose wandering back to it and lingering around the gate. She could hear the goslings and seemed to want to be near them.

I decided to experiment.

I managed to separate her from the other geese and leave her in the pen with the goslings. I also removed the fence that separated them. Then I watched. These weren’t her goslings and she might just as easily kill them as adopt them.

When the goose is sitting on a nest, the gander’s job is to patrol and protect

They seemed to be drawn to one another. She needed to mother something and they were wanting a protector.

I left them together for 24 hours, then let her introduce them to the other geese. Again I watched to make sure they would be accepted by the flock.

Almost right away, the geese were standing between me and the goslings. Protecting them from a supposed threat.

The goslings are much happier being part of a flock again and the mother goose is able to be a mother.

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