On goose stories


Happy days in the back pasture: Mama, Daddy and baby geese

The grand goose experiment is over.

We found a great home for our mated pair, Mel and Yoli, on Friday.  Monday was the day their babies went to the butcher.

IMG_2750Geese, chicks and tiny turkey at the far right center

I am a little wistful about Mel and Yoli. As goslings, I loved their soulful eyes, their yellow-trimmed gray coats, how solicitous they were to the turkeys (same age, but much tinier), allowing them to climb onto their backs and under their wings to sleep.  They grew to be sweet full-grown geese, flying around the place when released from their pen, always up for a gambol, a stroll about the property with us.  Puberty happened in spring and we found out I didn’t have two ganders and a goose, we had two geese and a gander.  The non-bonded girl goose became the odd girl out, and the first in the freezer.

IMG_1233Nest-sitting Yoli and three-day-old Jeffrey

Mel and Yoli (named after Tom’s great uncle and aunt, a kooky couple) had a radical personality transplant when they became parents.  Jeffrey was their first-hatched gosling, brought out into the world by Ruby our turkey hen.  Ruby knew he was no turkey, so in the pen with his parents he went, little fluffball that he was.  I figured Mel would either attack him or accept him.  (Yoli was sitting 10 eggs, her parenting energies thus directed elsewhere.)  Mel of course accepted Jeffrey and the six goslings that followed him.

P1010483Baby Turkey and the geese, doing a little puddle work in the drivewayThis is as close as I could ever get to them.

Nine geese is a lot for any farm, especially one without a pond.  Of the seven goslings, one died fairly soon after hatching and one gosling got “spirited away,” just vanished one night (first time that ever happened here).

Like anything on this farm, any new undertaking has to be a joint venture.  Tom neither liked the live geese nor liked them as dinner, so…I can cross geese off the list of self-sustaining, easily-raised home poultry.  It’s a bit of a shame because they’re more flavorful and easier to care for than chickens; they graze constantly when the grass is green and otherwise are much more self-sufficient.  They don’t even need a shelter in our climate!  They just need some dry straw to nest in so their feet don’t freeze overnight.  I am really glad Yoli and Mel have the opportunity to raise more babies in the future.  I really thought they were adorable.

9 responses to “On goose stories

  1. I’ve always wondered about the utility of spousal veto power. Frankly, I’m siding with the geese at this point.

  2. I have been curious about Muscovy ducks. Have you tried those?

  3. Sad to see them go. I am bit confused what to do with ours. We sold the babies and made good money and now we are still stuck with some babies who grew to be big ones and the 3 originals. They look lovely on the green and I can’t get myself to eat any of them. Not sure why! I eat ducks : ).

    The problem I have with them is they sleep in the barn at night and their #2 is HUGE!!! a mess combined with the fact that papa goose is always hissing and chasing me around : (

    I see a question on Muscovy…I read they taste like veal!!!??? I am yet to slaughter our 9 …I will find out.

    How did you prepare the goose?

  4. Hmmm. I’d have heritage turkeys if I had the room. They roost and are pretty self-sufficient. I hated killing them, though. But they tasted great.

    The poop wasn’t so much fun.

    Good luck making your decisions.

  5. Jeffrey is sooooooo cute!

  6. If you’re up for a new poulrty experiment I can recommend muscovies. Cute, productive, easy keepers (but don’t like cold).

  7. Well, Ed, I try to ignore him but those extended sighs and sideways comments get to me. It would be easier if we both didn’t work at home because I could probably tune him out better 🙂

    Lyssa, I haven’t but obviously Hafiz. and ej have, below. We’ve done Pekin ducks who were SO noisy it wasn’t worth it, but…they fattened up really quickly. Nothing beats fried potatoes in duck fat.

    WF, I always roast the geese, as I am a fan of rendered fat (I slow-roast them and maybe 5x during the cooking scoop out the liquid fat and put it in a jar in the fridge for later use). This year I am going to make rillettes, too, a kind of potted meat you put on toast or crackers or what have you. Leg meat is good for that. But yeah, I do know what you mean about liking them and just not getting around to killing them. And: YES they’re messy!! And mean!

    Stef, yeah, we (who is *we* as I always mean *I*) raised and butchered our Thanksgiving bird last year and she was tiny (about 8-9 lbs) but amazing. And this year Thanksgiving Dinner (his actual name) is larger than both his parents so it should be a fun day. Indeed, though, they’re bigger birds so there’s bigger…waste. I love our turkeys though, and fortunately, so does Tom.

    Denise, isn’t he? Amazing little fluffball he was.

    ej, I take that under advisement. Tom says “no more water birds” but there might be wiggle room in there somewhere.

  8. Hi El – sounds like you butchered the turkey yourselves? Did you use any special equipment (scalder?) I’m fairly confident that we could handle butchering a chicken but a turkey is somewhat larger….just wondering. My husband is starting to say more and more often that he’d love to try to raise our own turkey….. (I say wait until we’ve tried butchering one of our hens in a year or so…but ya know…)

    Always love your posts!

  9. Hi Sparow,

    Yes, I butchered the turkey (and a goose and 3 ducks and 1 guinea, as well as about 40 chickens) myself, no help from Tom. The turkey was not terribly big (8-9 pounds dressed) but admittedly she was a lot bigger than a chicken. Special equipment: just the killing cone, which is a giant laundry detergent bottle with its bottom cut off and its neck slightly widened, screwed into a tree about 30″ off the ground. My experience is somewhat iffy with scalding. For the turkey, I didn’t scald at all, one because it was really freezing out and wet feathers weren’t something I wanted to deal with and two it was simply LOTS easier to dry-pluck her. Geese, ducks, too many feathers so you should scald; chickens, well, it depends; some have more feathers than others. IF you’re doing only one or two you can probably skip the scalding. You can get into a good rhythm by keeping one hand down on the skin and the other pulling the feathers out; no ripped skin this way.

    Chickens are still easier to raise than turkeys but I *love* my turkeys. Granted I only have 3. If the raccoon didn’t eat all my turkey eggs and I had 10 turkeys I would be singing a different tune I am sure.

    Good luck with butchering next year. It’s really not hard, just mentally so.

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