Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lessons Learned from Geese?

It's Sunday and so far there is no movement from the last 3 eggs in the goose nest which means we have 15 goslings divided between two nest. The boys had not left the gate all day yesterday and last night when I let them into the pen I stood and watched to make sure all would be well. I've done the goose thing before so I didn't expect any trouble from them and I was right.

They immediately went to the nest to check it out. Both girls stood up straddling the goslings tucked in their cozy nests. The boys stuck their heads in to check out those babies and actually pushed some of the babies further under the moms. When the moms finally settled back down one gander snugged up to the outside of one nest while the other stood guard in front. They stayed that way all night.

 Morning came and unfortunately I needed to check on the remaining eggs and knowing I would have to argue that point with the boys I took my mini leaf rake and broom with a half handle into the run with me to coax them both out the gate.  The guard gander immediately started protesting while the other attempted to climb into the nest with the babies. I had to literally lift him off with the plastic leaf rake and move them both out through the gate.

The moms were fine with me messing around but much to my disappointment the last three eggs were still intact. Mom on the right seemed to be having a harder time covering her babies which may be why daddy was in there so I moved two over to the other nest.

The great thing about these guys is that they seem to be practicing cooperative parenting. They also did this last year when the eggs were not fertile. Last year I only had one nest with one sitter but when she got off the other mom got on and kept them warm. When mom #1 came back the other would get off and stand guard with the boys until she was needed again.

This year I only saw one gander breeding with one goose. That was Alphy and Mimi. Sebastian and Bella just seemed to hang around lending assistance and support. Apparently the alphas are the breeders with this breed.  When Mimi was ready to sit on 19 eggs I divided them into the two nest boxes and both geese started sitting even though I am pretty sure Bella had not contributed many if any to the nest. I removed 1 egg a few days later because there was no growth when I candled them.

My point is this family group of geese seem to be raising these babies together. So far there is no fighting. All four seem to have only one purpose and that is to raise these babies.

Earlier today just before I was heading out to a neighborhood meeting I went to check on them one more time. All the parents were in one nest box! My first thought was cold half dead babies so taking my life in my hands I entered the run and physically carried each male out the gate one at a time so I could see what was going on without getting eaten. They didn't like it but they also didn't bite me. Dressed in my Sunday go to (neighborhood) meeting clothes I crawled into the empty nest box to rescue the orphaned babies. NO BABIES! What the heck! All the babies and both moms were in the next box over. Now I don't think geese pick their babies up like kittens and these guys aren't old enough yet to have their running legs so the only thing I can think of is that the boys pushed them there so the whole family unit could be together. Never seen anything like that before but everyone of them were in that box. I quickly readjusted the empty nest to be deeper and wider and added straw around the edges to create a deep berm, added half the babies to it and got a mom over there. That lasted about 6 hours when I let the boys back in and went in to start dinner.

Those boys are determined to keep the family together so I give up. They must know what they are doing. The girls are both in one nest with all the babies and the boys are the front guys. Again.

Then some of the babes decided to go out and meet daddy. 

Guess that answers the question as to how they all got in the same nest. 

Lessons learned from Geese?

Leave them alone. They know more about family and cooperation than most humans. 

Friday, April 5, 2013


CAN YOU TELL I'M EXCITED!!!! Earlier today when I got these girls off the nests for their bath and to get a drink I checked the eggs. One looked like it MIGHT have a crack but other than that things were pretty quiet. It is 7 pm and I just checked again. This time I didn't make the moms leave and go out to the pasture. I just moved them off the nest while I checked so I was eyeball to eyeball with a mom that was giving me the "what the f... do you think you are doing" hairy eyeball. I am always surprised at how calm these girls are with me. So while mom was staring at me I started picking up each egg and OMG! Cracks and holes and peeps! OH MY! I kept hearing a really loud one but couldn't figure out where it was coming from. So I moved over to the next nest (on the right) got moma off and started to look. As soon as I did an egg started screaming at me! Has to be one of Mimi's because she is a screamer too. That's why the name. Screaming Mimi. The man named her. So while moms are staring at me but being calm the boys are at the gate wanting to rip me a new one. Literally.

 They have spent most of their time sitting by the gate waiting, or, when I do get the girls off for their daily bath and drink they run up and down the outside of the fence screaming at them. Get back on! Get back on! You're killing my babies! This is why we don't let ganders' into the delivery room. So we should have babies tomorrow.

You may wonder why I am so excited. Metzer farms where I bought these lovelies said this on their web site;
Fertility seems to be a problem with most Sebastopols, along with lower than normal egg production. Fertility is adequate early in the season (and they do seem to come into production earlier than most breeds) but quickly drops off. Oftentimes we will have no fertile eggs the last three weeks of production in the spring. In 2005 we tried artificial insemination with our Sebastopol but with discouraging results. We hope to try it again in the future but with some basic changes in our methods and materials

  and last year all the eggs were a big fat ZERO so I was not expecting anything this year. In fact both girls together only laid a total of 22 eggs. Three went in the fridge for easter and one was not fertil so I tossed it after candling. The remaining 18 eggs were full of baby so pessimistic me was just wondering how many would die in the egg. I can't wait to tell John Metzer. Maybe he needs a few tips! hahaha

I will keep you up to date when they get here. If they get here. So far they sound really robust. Here's a shout out to Chuck. You're gonna be a grampa!

Sebastapols and ducks at Metzer Farms