Goose Bumps

We’ve kept geese for quite a few years. In the past we’ve reared them under their mothers but geese don’t always make the most diligent of mummies and it didn’t always work out very well. We’ve also had eggs incubated by friends and had the older goslings back to bring on. I don’t think we’ve ever incubated them ourselves though, or if we have it was so long ago I don’t remember it. We’ve hatched other poultry at home but goose eggs escape my increasingly patchy memory!

My mum bought a new gander a while back; Steve McGoose of the Great Christmas Dinner Escape. Steve has grown up into a massive, beautiful and filthy tempered bird – I can often hear mum out in the orchard begging for her life – well OK, shouting at him as he noisily attempts to attack her – but the intention was always to raise some goslings again. This year she borrowed an incubator from friends and set 9 eggs to hatch. We tried candling them a couple of times at the appropriate intervals, I was pretty certain they were growing nicely but goose eggs have very thick shells and it’s actually quite hard to see through them even using the very strong studio lights I use for product photography!

On Sunday night the first egg started pipping and by morning was showing cracks. When I got back from work on Monday evening, the first gosling was flopping around with spiky wet down in amongst the other eggs in the incubator and more eggs were showing signs of pipping. Over the past 48 hours 5 eggs have hatched out. We think the other 4 probably won’t although we’ll keep them in the incubator for a little longer just to be sure.

The famous Five however have now moved to a brooder box. Cuteness overload warning. I’ve been chittering about them in my Ravelry group and promised I take photos. I just “took a couple” now and when I uploaded them found I’d taken around 70 pictures…So I thought I’d edit them out and put some pics of the cheeky chap pies on here!

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Two have leg issues, one I think will come OK with a little physio and possibly splinting with soft handspun wool to get his/her legs under it. The smallest one unfortunately seems to have a deformed leg and we’ll have to see how it goes. It may be that as it gets bigger it might be kindest to put it down; geese are large and heavy birds and would not be able to hop around on one leg like my little lightweight one-legged blackbird friend in Anglesey. For now they’re looking out for each other.

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The biggest gosling – or gullies as they are known locally – is no shrinking violet. He’s a chip off the old block and is very bossy and has lots of attitude. Despite being around 24 hours old, Steve Junior is going to be a handful as he grows up it’s already clear!

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Geese imprint on the first thing they see which means mum and I are big geese to these guys. If they’re out of their box and we walk away they try to paddle after us. The ones without leg issues are surprisingly nifty on their feet already!

They aren’t camera-shy either!!

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They’re hungry little chubsters tackling the chopped grass I’ve given them, strands of my hair if I get too close and even a nice juicy finger. This is Steve Junior again by the way…

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After working out his beak isn’t yet big enough to savage my fingers he triumphantly climbed on top of my hand instead to claim the high ground – victory of another sort!

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They actually want to be warm and to snuggle and I need little persuasion to snuggle baby animals either so I did give them a group hug and they nestled under my chin.

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Steve II wondered if I’d fallen asleep, a quick nibble (pinch – yow!) on my eyelid reminded me I had work to do and I sat up ready to put them in their brood box again. I discovered that I had stowaways inside my handspun Blank Canvas sweater I was wearing under my coat. It turns out even baby geese appreciate Me Made May!

There are two and a half geese in there, one is heading for my armpit, one snuggling down inside the collar and the third tucking it’s head inside because by that stage there was no room in the inn and standing room only outside the venue.

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Baby animals are big time wasters – but in a nice way! They grow so fast though and I miss having babies around the place,  we don’t breed much anymore. I think I will be spending a bit of time in mum’s conservatory over the next week or so playing Mama Goose. Like this…

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