A Goose Story
We’ve had two Toulouse geese since our first year in France (Goosey was given to us early in 2004, then aged 10 and we bought a baby - whom we called Baby - a few weeks later to keep Goosey company).
We kept just these two geese until in the April of 2007 when we decided to buy two more female baby Toulouse geese from a farmers’ market.
The intention in buying these two was somewhat different from our reason for keeping Goosey and Baby, who had become our pets. We had become acclimatised into being “country folk” and decided to grow our own Christmas dinner!
Those two babies were very cute but as they grew quickly into adult size we realised that one of these “female” babies must be a male (and our friend, James, agreed) despite having asked for two females. “He” developed an aggression that the others didn’t have, though the others soon followed his noisy example and so we often had four big geese rushing up and down their very large area of garden, with wings flapping and squawking loudly. This really confirmed their fates and any qualms that I’d originally had about taking those sweet little babies to the abattoir vanished, (and of course they were no longer “sweet little babies“ though we couldn't have done the dirty deed ourselves ...
Fortunately for us, James offered to add these two young geese to his own flock that had an appointment in Guéret and so in the end we had two “ready for the oven” geese.
This year (in the Spring of 2008) we decided that we’d do the same again though we chose a different breed of geese at James's suggestion, as these were accorded a much calmer nature. On that basis, we bought two cute little white baby geese which, right from the very start, were clearly different in temperament from the Toulouse. They were unafraid, friendly and curious of us and we spent a few hours, on and off during their first few weeks, sitting on the big stones in their large compound studying them. After the initial flap from foster-mum, Baby, and grumpy granny, Goosey, they were all quite happy to wander about and peck at the grass quite close to us. The babies used to stand and turn their heads sideways and really study us back.
On our return, we noticed that one of the white youngsters was limping and not running around with the other three geese, so we watched her and found she wasn’t eating either. Terry then built her a small compound encircling our unused dog kennel and we caught her and popped her in there, feeding her the nicest tid-bits that we knew geese loved. After a couple of days she had perked up and was no longer limping and she had regained her strength to the extent that she was wearing a path in the grass along the length of her fencing in an effort to get back in with the others. We caught her and popped her back, where she appeared to fit in again within the family. However, three days later Terry went down to them on his early morning visit to find her dead at the side of the compound. We never really knew what was wrong with her but she had not developed at the same speed as the other white baby and still had her fluffy neck feathers, so perhaps she had been the “runt” of the “litter” as it were and nature had taken her course.
Terry buried her before coming in to tell me the sad news, and although I was sad, I must be more countrified than I thought as I accepted it as a fact of nature.
We had called the two white babies Snowy and Whitey, but with one gone, the remaining baby became Snow-White. I am quite taken with how beautiful she is. She has grown to be larger than Goosey and Baby and is still much more friendly and interested in us than the others have ever been. She comes over to the fence and I talk gently to her and she cocks her head to one side and listens then makes quiet little clucking sounds back to me. The others will then run up loudly honking and she will run off to follow them.
She is too magnificent to send to the cooker though - so much for being a country woman now ! She has earned her place in our goose family. Next year ... More babies ...?