Last night was the first night for the goslings to stay outside. It broke my heart to say goodnight and leave them in the dark of the coop wing. I have a cinder block in the coop that I sit on and watch the birds that rotate through our spare wing. The second round of teenage chicks joined the big girls and the goslings moved out of the nursery in the house.
They nuzzled me on the cinder block and jumped a bit asking to be held in my lap. So I picked each one up under my arm and they dozed a bit under my “wing”.
Goslings are amazing. They are warm and dense and soft. Their down is so compact that it feels more like a solid sponge than fluffy feathers. They are incredibly loyal and curious. They follow us everywhere and want to be near you, touching you, in your lap. I’m smitten… and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I feel a bit like Anna Paquin in the movie Fly Away Home. (Which may or may not be one of my favorite movies…)
We had no intention of raising geese at this point in our lives. But our local feed store ordered 13 goslings special order for a customer who didn’t pick them all up. Suddenly goslings became an option.
We chose two of the three breeds. A Pilgrim and a Toulouse. They also had African Geese but I’ve heard they can be mean. (This is just a rumor, maybe some of you who raise African Geese can shed some light on their personality?)
For a large heavy bird, substantial in weight, they are somewhat delicate and needy. I have to remind myself that they are only 3 weeks old even though they are eye-to-eye with our full grown Pekin Ducks. They are still learning how their bodies work and organizing their large feet.
Just this week they began getting their big kid feathers on their back. A beautiful brown/grey mousy color. The Toulouse is developing some roundness to its beak and thickening of he neck. The Pilgrim is changing in color and developing more pronounced nostrils.
So far, brooding geese is a lot like brooding ducks…only larger. Their mannerisms are very similar and everything revolves around water which makes keeping the brooder clean, an every day occurrence.
I also fill their large water dish about 7 times a day. I gave up on the “poultry waterer” 2 days in. They would empty it in minutes. I resorted to a large bowl and every time I passed their brooder I’d fill it with a watering can.
Mostly they like to play in their water. So if you plan on brooding geese, have an outdoor set up, or a waterproof brooder. I also find that the compressed pelleted pine bedding works really, really well with waterfowl.
The nice thing is that unlike chicks, they don’t scratch. So everything pretty much stays in place in the brooder.
Each night we take the goslings for a walk to the garden. They love grass! Let me say it again. They LOVE grass. They “help” me weed and nose around through the mud, snipping bits of clover and dandelions. When I squat over the raised beds, they lie down under me, between my legs. I am Mother Goose, they’ve nominated me.
They are incredibly social and curious. Zach and I were laying with them in the grass and he received a text. They had to know all about his phone.
After the text, he found a virtual game where a frog swats flies with its tongue. The goslings were obsessed with “catching” flies. They would peck all over the screen and peep at the flies. We’ve talked, and decided as a family to limit their video game time, as we want our geese to be well rounded and experience other things. Ha!
I don’t think I’ve ever been as attached to a bird as I am these geese. I know that geese are often used as guardian animals, but I see myself watching over these precious little fuzzies, well into their adult years.
And many adult years to come, as geese can live up to 40 years. It’s a commitment and a relationship that I’m excited to begin.
Do you raise geese? I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below or visit the Community Chickens Facebook Page.