Monday, 27 May 2013

Happy Families ( There's a relief ! )

After the trauma of rejected goslings and rescuing poor unfortunate 'Lucky' to Carolyn's I am pleased and amazed to be able to report a complete turn around in our goose-rearing fortunes. We are not sure why but perhaps the geese got over the first shock encounter and spent the night re-thinking their maternal instincts, plus a bit of we humans being a bit calmer and not diving in to intervene as soon as we misread the signs. Anyway, for what ever the reason, once we had delivered the rejected gosling to Carolyn, all the geese calmed down and the females went back to quietly sitting on their eggs. Possibly overnight or early morning, but definitely by about 2 pm of Sunday I was fairly sure I could hear cheeping again and soon I was definitely seeing yellow down showing between the white adult feathers. We were on again.

Amazingly everybody stayed calm and I have seen even the Gander very very gently sniffing around the new goslings. He has moved permanently into the goose house and is doing a good job keeping guard - I have seen him lunge at Blue the cat when he approached the door. Even more amazingly and completely against the advice we had been given and had read, we do not seem to be getting any argument between the females as to who owns the babies. They are either sharing, or they each have their own and they know who is whose so it is not an issue. This, we know, could have been very different and still might, so we are not being complacent - we are keeping a very watchful eye on proceedings.

We think we have at least 4 goslings across the current brood (plus Lucky as a fifth). I have seen 3 and while I was watching the three, I could see rippling under the feathers of Goocie's back. It could be more, we are avoiding going in to disturb the happy family till they are good and ready to come out and explore the garden. There will be time enough then to 'count our chickens'.

Chicks, ducklings and goslings alike, hatch with the remainder of the rich yolk in a yolk-sac within their body cavity (it is drawn into the body during the final few days of incubation) so that they can live 24-36 hours without feeding. This is an adaptation to allow earlier hatching chicks to stay in the nest while more tardy siblings catch up.  Eventually though, you do need to feed them and supply them with water. We do not know for sure when these guys hatched but at some point today or tonight they should hit the hungry-gap.

On this one we were well supplied with advice, so I decided to make up a smorgasbord of all the likely ingredients. They should find something there that they can eat. In the picture, clockwise from top are chick-crumb, wetted chick crumb, water, chopped up grass, hard-boiled egg (including finely chopped shell). milled barley and (centre of tray) grated carrot. I sneaked this in mid morning to much protesting hiss from Gander and a bit of alarm from the Mums but I did my two-tone whistle which they know so well, and Gander's hiss turned to his excited 'food!' honking so everybody calmed down again. Gander loomed his neck over the tray and explored the contents with his beak-tip. I like to think he gave the selection his approval. As far as I know, no goslings have yet ventured out to the tray to eat but it has been disturbed, so maybe one of the mums or Gander have had a little taster. I will refresh this every morning and eventually they may learn to love it as did the baby chicks.

Meanwhile Carolyn has posted to Facebook a nice picture of Lucky getting his first swim in their house bath - he looks very tiny in what we think must be a big whirlpool type bath tub.

Finally we do not have a Bank Holiday today in Ireland, so we decided to bite the bullet and order the pond liner for the big pond. This measured out at 8.53 m by 12.5 m and set us back €915.90 or £782.85. It is being cut to size at the depot in Allenwood in County Kildare. We can collect it and save ourselves the lorry pallet-rate of €54. It is about 150 kg so should go OK in the back of the poor, over worked Fiat Panda. We are very excited!

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