Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Web-footed friends.....and foes?!?

Or foes y`all are asking with a raised brow at the goofy yodeler who herds goats.

Clearly that woman has gone off her rocker since ducks are about as dangerous as kitten’s right? Well yes, ducks are pretty sweet birds no doubt about it. I can honestly say that out of all the ducks I`ve ever owned not a one was mean. I have heard tell that Muscovy ducks can be kind of persnickety but I`ve never owned a Muscovy so I can`t pass judgment.

I have owned many ducks since we moved here to the hillside farm. This year’s batch of Rouen`s is already proving to be just as affable and comical as their previous counterparts! As you can see they have certainly grown from the wee fluffy puddle-dabbers I brought home a few months ago. Their winning personalities have grown with them as well!

I THINK I have 3 ducks and 3 drakes judging by the color of their bills. Drakes of this breed have that lovely olive green bill and ducks have a golden bill usually. There are two in this group that have brown bills but talk like they`re ladies and no, that does NOT mean non-stop as Mister is muttering in the background. *Sniffs*

I`ll know for sure once the drakes molt out of their juvenile feathers and grow in that glorious blue/green head, white neck band, russet breast and smoky gray body. This bunch of waddling buddies is already very gregarious and will waddle up to me and discuss things in their amusing duck banter.

Then there are the geese. The five I own now are in no way, shape or form foes of any goatherder. For being geese they are rather docile with us humans. I`ve only had to boot my eldest gander Jack once this year for being a tad more defensive of his mate than I thought necessary. My favorite gander Lenny will eat from my hand if the mood strikes.

The geese and the ducks have begun to hang together, although the ducks do honor the personal boundaries space the geese insist upon from all who roam our yard. That includes dogs, cats and chickens. If another critter dare to step over the invisible goose line the barnyard Mafioso will retaliate quickly!

My pilgrim geese are pleasant enough though for me although I have owned geese before that were not in any way, shape or form pleasant. The first geese we ever had here were a mated pair of Embden geese that someone had dumped on our neighbor’s farm pond. Being the rather soft-hearted and some may say soft-headed gal that I am, we rescued the pair and brought them home. After a wee amount of time we could see why someone had dumped this pair, the gander in particular.

I would show you a picture of the duo but every time a shutter would open in the vicinity of this gander the celluloid would begin to spit and bubble and ooze from the camera. I am deadly serious. I snagged this image from the web so y`all could see what an Embden goose looked like. Must be this gander wasn`t possessed by some sort of poultry demon from Hell.

This gander who I think should have been named Beelzebub was hands down the meanest, ornery and plain old nasty bird I have ever encountered! Miss Yodeling was perhaps five at the time we brought them home, I can recall she was in pre-K at the time. That gander took one look at my daughter and made it his personal mission to terrorize her. He would go out of his way to chase this poor little child down every single day. She would come running inside, crying and scared half to death, not even able to play with her chicken buddy Turtle. This all within a darn week of them arriving!

One day Mister had gone to church to pick her up from Pre-K and brought her home. When she exited the car that fowl Leviathan spied her. That gander came charging down the hill, wings spread and hissing. Then Mister Yodeling stepped in front of my cowering little girl. Oh me and oh my did the feathers fly then! I had raced out of the house by this time and my daughter, me and the goose watched Mister and the spawn of Hades in feathered form go round and round.

Now my husband is not a small or scrawny man. He stands six foot and weighs in a good two hundred and fifty pounds. Damien Demonseed gave him one heck of a fight. That nasty gander would NOT back down! At one point the gander had a tight hold of my husband’s shirt with his bill and brought those wings back and CRACK, he whipped Mister on the shins with all his strength. My hubby said later that he honestly thought that goose had broken the bone it hurt that badly.

Eventually the two males separated, the gander was minus quite a few feathers and Mister had some lovely bruises. Did that episode stop the harassment of my child though??? Nope. Needless to say the die had been cast for that gander. As I have said before I don`t allow mean critters on this farm, and this gander and Dynamite the buck from the same hot underground location, were what taught me this very valuable lesson.

Since I wouldn`t allow this gander to be sold just due to his terrible temperament he ended up in our freezer. His goose however did find a new home with a large farm pond and other geese to keep her company. That may sound harsh but sometimes farming is a harsh business.

Thankfully my pilgrim geese are much friendlier….well they`re as friendly as I wish my geese to be. I`ve read a great deal about geese since our first pair and have learned NOT to let goslings imprint on humans. Allowing them to imprint on humans sometimes causes trouble when the cute little fluffy-butts are mature, for they view you not as something to respect but as another member of the gaggle.

Respect is important when dealing with geese; at least it is for us. I`m sure others have raised geese and may have differing views on their development and how to raise them. For us yodeling goatherders we follow this thinking and have had FAR less problems with our geese.

So after all is said and done I guess we now have web-footed friends and that`s the way I like it!


Leigh said...

Great information! I have been thinking about getting a goose but have heard so many horror stories... maybe I should just get ducks instead!? :)

Sallie said...

What a great storyteller you are! I love the nicknames for the bird. Damien Demonseed...LOL! You are so funny! Awesome pictures.

~Tonia said...

Geese are definitely defensive. We have dealt with Muscovies and I liked them.. Would like to have more but Hubby says no... I dont hav e apond here for them to be on and they love a good pond. I dont want to find them swimming in the goat water tubs either..
I would have definitely put one like that gander in the freezer too. Those wings are strong and they do hurt. Mean animals should not be tolerated. If you have determined they are not hurting or anything else is wrong then unfortunately they should be culled...

Sharon said...

Your ducks look like a committee, I can almost hear them. Your geese seem to be quite amiable! I wrote about my geese from hell a couple months ago, don't know if you read it.


small farm girl said...

I have had the misfortion of being attacted by the white demons. Therefor, no geese for me.

Brenda said...

Great story. I'm glad your new geese are friendly. They and the ducks are too cute. I'll bet they're lots of fun to watch.

Willard said...

As often is the case with your writing, this post brings back memories of growing up on the farm. I can recall being "flogged" by a leghorn rooster when I was a tyke, and my grandmother was always telling me stories about how ganders liked to attack children, but we had no geese so that wasn't a problem.

I didn't like to sit still long enough to get a hair-cut and I can recall that my dad went and got the rooster that had flogged me and held him and told me to "set still and get my hair cut, or he would turn the rooster on me" and believe you me, that really worked.

houndstooth said...

After a few run-ins with geese myself as a kid, I'm not particularly fond of them, either. We did have a rooster as a pet for many years, though. He slept in the dog house with our border collie and they were great friends. We were escorted out to feed the horses by the pair of them every morning.

Feral Female said...

I tend to think geese are fine birds as long as they`re not treated as pets, at least in my experience it works better that way.

Someday I`ll have to relay the story about my MIL`s attack rooster to y`all! =)

Jabacue said...

Thanks for this Geese 101 lesson. I am learning so much about these critters and have a better respect for them and their owners.

Texan said...

We have lost every duck we have ever had to predators here. We said if we can't have them where they can get to the pond (which makes them very happy), we sadly just will not have them. They are so neat. None of ours were ever mean either. Well they were not mean to us. We did have two males once that beat the snot out of each other.. Honeyman had to put the one down it was injured so badly by the other.

Flat Creek Farm said...

Agreed. Respect is the key :) And also, never attempt to remove an egg from underneath a seemingly sweet, angelic goose. For she soon shall turn to a quite ugly temperament and cause great discomfort to your hand. Not that *I'd* know that ;) -Tammy

Sammy and Andy said...

What a wonderful post!!!!!!!!!

Carol............. said...

I love the geese and ducks...but I got bit in the butt by a goose many years ago so I'll just stick with the ducks! LOL