Saturday, 24 May 2014

Testing Times (and a Minor Miracle)

Little George looks a bit lost with Big-G and Black Feather
We have been witness (and enablers, we guess) to a minor miracle. The tiny gosling rejected by the parent group on day 2 and rescued by us for, we thought, hand rearing, is now back with his parents. In our (limited) experience these rejections are permanent and if you try to reintroduce the rejects they can be attacked and killed. Geese are big, powerful birds, and the damage can be very fast and serious. Even as we let the reunion happen we were anxious that we might have to dive in fast and re-rescue George (Junior).

It was a charming and almost 'magical' day, the day after all our fun and games with exploding eggs described in the last post. Like a Mum who knows she is pregnant but daren't tell anyone before the 2nd Scan lest they jinx the thing, I didn't dare report this till now; I wanted to see us survive the first 24 hours and the first night.  Now, though, I can tell the tale. As I opened the goose house door first thing in the morning, I expected just George to march out to the orchard, and the 2 'women' to stay sitting on the eggs. Not this time. Out marched Black Feather on the heels of the Gander and off to the orchard in a determined way, her involvement in sitting on eggs now obviously over as far as she was concerned. She was a free range goose again.

Up the bath ramp at Mum's feet, down again nudged by Dad.
It was also a lovely warm morning, so I wondered whether to try again with the meeting we arranged 2 days ago between Gander George in the orchard, and G-Junior, safe inside a wire crate. That had gone well, with lots of excited beak-to-beak nuzzling and chuntering. It convinced me that Junior was well imprinted on geese, not humans. I wondered how it would go with George AND a female goose (Mum or Aunt, we don't really know). I did not use the crate this time, but put the gosling outside the orchard fence. Baby straight away started homing in on big guys and they on him. I held my breath. There was a good bit of the nuzzling and some open beak 'mouthing' of baby by George. Suddenly the gosling did one of his little clock-work-toy scampers in through the fence and was as suddenly 'in there' between the parents and was as quickly accepted by both.

These buttercups are a bit tall Dad!
The little threesome walked about in the orchard and even ventured up the bath ramp. There was some sitting down with baby allowed to sit close but Liz and I, looking on and feeling the rather keen wind which had sprung up waited for that moment when baby, who had been nudging around the sitting shape of Mum, seemingly nibbling the ends of wing feathers, was properly invited in under the Maternal wing, into the warm. The rest is history, really. They stayed nicely together all day so that we decided that they were better off like that than if we tried to end the experiment and 'rescue' the gosling again. It would have been more like 'steal' the gosling and we couldn't imagine the grown up geese being too happy.

Back on the nest between the 2 ladies
So we left them be, checking them hourly till 'bed time' when I shepherded them home and Black Feather jumped back onto the nest hotly pursued by the gosling, though he had to make his peace first with his other Mum-Aunt, 'Smudge'. Since then they have been doing happy families. This morning it was chilly and windy and no-one came out to the orchard. They all stayed indoors sharing their time between sitting on eggs, standing guard and walking around. I supplied food and water for all ages indoors (little 2 inch high Tupperware for baby, builders bucket for grown ups!). There is still a possible confusion as to how this goes in terms of either female being willing to leave the eggs to go exploring with Junior, but we are a lot happier that he is being minded by the geese rather than us.

So that was the parenting skills tested on the day when Ireland went to the polls so that the Euro and Local candidates (plus a couple of by-elections) could test their democratic mandates, and today we had the NCT ( =MOT ) test on the Fiat and our Bee Keeper written test. The Fiat failed but only on the alignment of the off side headlight (dip beam aims too high), so I was a bit annoyed but also very happy and relieved that that was all. The Bee Keeper exam went well for both of us, with almost all the questions being ones we had seen before and practised on. We are both hoping for good scores, though we may only hear the results in pass/fail format. We have now heard that the practical 'exam' session is to be on Monday evening. It will be good to have that all over so quickly.

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