never say never

I swore I would never ever have another goose. Not after Cyrus.IMG_6794Cyrus was a pretty white gander that came to live with me when I was living in the wilds of southern California. As the story goes, my friend and I saw the poor goose at a feed store, isolated in a cage all by himself (should this have been a clue?), where we had gone to pick up some chickens for my friend. (Mind you, I just went along for the ride. This was a point in my life when I didn’t want any dependent pets, other than maybe a dog that could be my companion and tolerate my free-wheeling life. I’ve never known chickens to be very good road-trippers!) So my friend, who lived in a crowded neighborhood in Ocean Beach (San Diego), decided to take him home along with his new chickens. He was living in a communal situation, where he and his house-mates kept a nice little urban permaculture garden in the yard, and thought chickens (goose?) would be a fitting addition to the scene. Well, it didn’t take long for his neighbors to begin complaining about the early morning honking sprees, and my friend needed to find a new home for the goose.IMG_6777I was the obvious default home for Cyrus as I lived in an isolated house surrounded by trees, just one neighbor, absolutely no traffic, and even a pond. I’m typically game for new challenges, so I agreed to take the goose (and somehow the chickens became part of the bargain as well!) For awhile, life was fairly smooth with Cyrus. It was even rather picturesque having the white goose gliding around on the pond that was surrounded by live oaks, manzanita, white sage, and big granite boulders. But then Cyrus turned mean. Anytime he would see me coming out of my house, he would basically lower his head, extend his neck, and charge me. If his incredibly deft bill was able, he would pinch the shit out of my legs and proceed with flogging me until I could free myself. Lots of well-meaning folks gave me advice on how to best deal with the situation (I was a vegetarian at the time, so eating him was out of the question), but nothing worked. I even took to carrying around a baby safety gate as a shield to ward off Cyrus. IMG_6810One day, my sole neighbor, a single middle-aged woman, was having a tea party. All of the ladies showed up with their dresses and gloved hands. Charming Cyrus was out on the pond looking as lovely as ever. When the ladies convened around the pond’s edge, giddy with excitement to admire our friend, he quickly exited the water to give them his version of a welcome. The ladies apparently had to fend him off with their purses (I wasn’t there to witness the scene, I got the run-down from my incredibly tolerant neighbor). I will admit that I didn’t feel like a very good neighbor at that point. A few weeks later, before I arrived home from work in the evening, Cyrus was attacked by a large coyote. My neighbor said she heard the horrendous squawking, opened the door, and when she saw what was happening, decided her best option was to just close the door again. I guess I can’t blame her. So that was the end of Cyrus. And I have sworn for all of the years since that geese were not for me.IMG_6813Enter four adorable Brown African goslings. Oh my. From our research, these are one of the mildest mannered breeds of geese. Supposedly, with lots of handling when they are young, these geese become quite personable and refrain from attacking the hand that feeds. I’ll say I’ve got my fingers crossed. Their purpose here on our farm is to be the daytime watch-dogs for our chickens. We do keep a guardian dog with the chickens as well, but she is most often on duty at night. During the day, she often sleeps in the shade leaving attacks from hawks completely unguarded.  As far as the handling goes, Livi has that one covered. She is always eager to visit the “goose-lings”, and will sit with them for long spells while Eric and I tend to the garden or other chores. They are kind of irresistible…IMG_6816So, as long as these little critters remain nice, and don’t try to “goose” me, their gooses won’t get cooked. I’m hopeful.

2 thoughts on “never say never

  1. What an story! Of course the mild mannered vegetarian was the one to have an ornery goose! I’ve never heard of this breed – they are pretty with their dark beaks. Gosling-sitting looks like a good gig! I’ve admired Sebastopol Geese in catalogs, but no room for them here.

  2. our gander is a pilgrim and our ladies are buff and tufted roman. the ladies are well behaved after 5 years. the gander sometimes scares our daughter who is 5 during nesting time (now). he lowers his head and approaches me sometimes too, this time of year and i just do like my dogs do. which is to say ignore him.

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