The geese are laying, and they have a favorite spot in the barn where they queue up to have their turn (this particular goose is Sinéad, so named because she was bald last year from the gander’s attentions). While all of the ladies demand their privacy, Sinéad’s “stink eye” is enough to keep most other creatures away…and her bodyguard is an additional deterrent.
Her partner is yet unnamed, but he’s a big, mature gander with plenty of attitude and he’s not afraid to show it. I’ve read that some people are terrified of geese, and I think that the gander is hoping that I’m one of them (but, alas, I’m not). I do appreciate his attentiveness and his defense of his partner while she’s somewhat vulnerable on her nest.
What neither of them know, though, is that an egg thief – the same one that takes all the chicken eggs from the nest boxes in the main coop – stealthily removes the goose eggs in the afternoon. I make sure that the ladies have had plenty of time to lay their eggs, bury them under a thick blanket of hay, and resume their activities on pasture before I approach the nest. With the cold snap we’re having (snow and wind chill bringing “feels like” temperatures in the single digits), collecting eggs timely is especially important to prevent frozen eggs.
Despite the geese mostly posturing, they are worthy of respect, and a smart keeper would do so: I have been beaten about the chest by an unhappy goose that I was handling and also smacked in the face by very strong flapping wings, and neither is fun. And they will leave a mark. The geese can also bite if they wish, and hard. Fortunately, with experience, we’ve learned the proper (and prudent) ways to handle these strong creatures.
The gander was trying to keep me away from his lady, hissing, extending his neck, and generally making himself look as fearsome as possible. It was pretty convincing, so I tried not to let him see me chuckling.
I know the gander won’t attack me (and neither will Sinéad), but I steer clear of the sitting geese and their guards, giving them the space they need and (hopefully) encouraging them to lay where I can find their eggs. A single look can speak volumes – and Sinéad’s is a clear warning.