Goose poo!

The geese are free to wander all around our drive area, and along the hedge.  Occasionally when I come out of the front door they’re waiting for me, but it seems fairly rare.  However I noticed today that there is quite a lot of goose poo in the area near the front step.  They’re clearly spending a lot of time camped out waiting for us.

I wish they’d poo somewhere else though…

Update – Geese

Our geese continue to thrive.  If by thriving you mean scaring everyone who comes to visit and maintaining a generally bad attitude!  To be fair they’ve calmed down quite a lot since earlier in the year.  There was a time when the goose was sitting so much we thought we were going to be blessed with some goslings, but fortunately she gave up before they hatched, otherwise we’d have had to find a new home for them.  Three is definitely enough!

Here are the three of them together, as you can see the goose (to the left) is being a little more sensible than the other two.

And here’s one of the ganders getting up close and personal:

Damned Fox

Yesterday was a very bad day.  It was early evening and I was feeding the animals.  Having just fed the pigs, and noted that we had another pair of lambs, I was heading back to the poultry orchard to feed the chickens and ducks, when I saw something odd by the fence.  I realised it was a dead chicken.  And then I realised there were several more.

I ran in, but it was obviously far too late.   They’d scattered and run, but been taken down one by one, all over the orchard.  we did once surprise a fox in the orchard half way through such a spree, so I did look around carefully.  No fox.  The ducks were fine, probably they’d retreated to the pong, and two hens survived.  Just two of twenty-one.  All the rest were lying pathetically, drenched by the rain.  Cold and unmoving.  One had clearly provided a meal, but all the rest were just as they’d been the instant they’d died.  It’s likely that the fox – for that is the only reasonable culprit – was planning to come back later to take the chickens somewhere where it could store them.

I collected up the cold corpses ready for disposal, and put the two remaining hens into the ark, and closed up their run.  It’s likely to provide them with decent shelter.

From the looks of things our electric fencing has been shorted somewhere on it’s length again, and the fox took the opportunity, during the day and probably not long after lunch.  We’re going to review the fencing situation before we get any more, and the two we have are going to be somewhat restricted in the meantime as well.

Very upsetting.

Goose control

As I’ve mentioned several times before the geese can be a bit of a handful.  They’ve bitten me a couple of times, and often I need a bucket to fend them off.  Or at least I did, until a friend of a friend passed on a tip for keeping them away.  What I now do is hold my hand out and up and make it look a little like a goose head shape.  It’s amazing the affect it has on them.  They still hiss, and honk, but they back off.  To them it’s a bit like a bigger goose has come and threatened them, and they’re clearly intimidated by it.  Since I’ve started doing that I’ve not even been close to being bitten.  Which is nice.

The goose is sitting again, so the ganders are extra noisy and aggressive, so having a way of keeping them back is extra handy.

Eggstacy!

We’ve had geese for several years, and ducks for same time period.  In all that time I’ve only ever managed to have a couple of duck eggs, and no goose eggs.  That all changed a few days ago.

First of all the ducks.  I’ve found where they are laying, and sneakily decided to leave an egg in place, so as not to dissuade them from continuing to use the spot I have harvested an egg every day or so.  The egg I’ve left is quite easy to spot, so I’m fairly certain I wont grab an old egg.

Now the geese.  I have written on occasion about their boundless aggression.  At this time of the year it’s even worse, and all because it’s laying time.  Therefore getting an egg from the goose was always going to be a challenge.  Of the three geese the ganders are the talkative ones, and the goose very rarely says much.  However, when I walked close to her while she was sitting on her eggs, she went ballistic.  Louder than the ganders combined, and it brought them flapping over with murder on their minds.

However, she’s not sitting, so they do wander a bit, and so I took the opportunity on Friday when they were about fifty feet away to go and investigate the egg.  Since I’d last looked she’d laid a couple more eggs, and I managed to grab one of those quickly.  I had to back away pretty smartish as the geese were almost on top of me, with murder in their eyes.

Still I had my prize, as well as a duck egg, and also, miracle of miracles, an egg from one of the ex-bats.  The first one from them in weeks!  So my lunch was decided.  Eggs!  Here they are in the pan:

It’s pretty obvious which is which as they correspond to the size of the birds!

The duck egg, as always, tasted like a stronger chicken egg, particularly nice.  The goose egg tasted exactly like the chicken egg, but the yolk was much thicker, as well as much much bigger!  Much eggcitement I must say.

I haven’t managed to get any other goose eggs since then, though have had a couple more duck eggs.  No more ex-bat chicken eggs, but the original four are giving me about three a day.

Coda:  The geese went mental about an hour ago.  I assumed it was someone visiting who’d become lost, but when I looked out there was no one around.  One of the geese seemed to be shouting at a crow sitting on the fence, and then I noticed the goose trying to marshal an egg, which had apparently been cracked open.  I think the crows, and probably the magpies, had repeated my trick and stolen a goose egg.  Maybe the goose will sit on them now.  Which may prevent me from getting another one!

Resting lamb

I’ve tried several times to get a better shot of the Boreray cross sitting on her mum, and yesterday did manage to get a bit closer:

I had to lean through the hedge to get the shot, and I had the geese threatening me on one side which was a little worrying.  If I’d actually entered the orchard area the lamb would have jumped off before I got close enough to take a decent shot – I know as that’s what happened last time.

Lamb watch:  No new lambs – 8 so far, 6 ewe lambs and 2 ram lambs

Ex-bat egg watch:  Nada.  Zip.  However there was a duck egg yesterday which was lovely with my dinner.

Update

As the rain pours down outside, doing it’s best to turn all our fields into muddy swamps, I thought it best to stay under cover and write a general round up of where we are.

Geese – loving this weather.  Still being extra aggressive.  Alex thinks the goose may have laid an egg, but I have not yet seen it…

Hens – another ex-bat died, which leaves us with just the seventeen.  She’d been a little listless for a couple of days, though she was eating a little she wasn’t really getting into it.  I found her dead in their shed on Thursday morning.  The others however all seem fine.  No eggs off the ex-bats, but the original hens are averaging around two a day.  Which is nice.

Lambs – no more lambs since the last set of triplets, which were all girls.  So at this point we have 6 ewe lambs, and two ram lambs, for a total of 8.  We have suspicions that the Mule in with the Borerays isn’t pregnant.  She doesn’t look that heavy, and her udders certainly haven’t filled, though I’ve always found that to be an unreliable indicator.

Pigs – all is well with them at the moment.  Both sets of piglets have now been outside, and Bernard’s lot are starting to explore a little bit.  Soon they’ll be all over the place!

Extra agression

Our geese have recently become even more aggressive than usual.  They’ve tried to attack us several times, they try and attack the chickens and ducks even through the fence separating them, and if the sheep or goats get too close to the gate when the geese are there they attack them too.  Normally this isn’t much of a problem as we can handle them, however they’ve also started started attacking the early morning, by waking us up honking and squeaking before the sun has raised it’s weary light, or even the lazy sparrows have shaken themselves awake.  It’s very irritating, and this morning they went on for about 45 minutes.

As it happens it’s probably because our goose is likely to start laying soon, and all the extra hormones have wound the ganders up.  Traditionally geese start laying on Valentine’s day or so I learned from a more country wise friend over dinner last night  I’m hoping this year to be able to snag some of the eggs early.  I do like goose eggs.

Also, while our goose doesn’t seem overly eager to sit she does a bit, and I would rather she didn’t sit long enough to produce yet more geese.  Three are enough fun… so the best thing to do is take her eggs away.  I suspect however this will be a challenge.

Alpacas and lambs

The main reason we acquired the Alpacas was to provide protection for our new born lambs.  Alpacas have a reputation for being fox killers, or at least fox scarers, as indeed do llamas.  As far as we know this has worked out well.  We don’t believe we’ve ever lost a lamb to foxes, though one did just disappear a couple of years ago, so that might have been a fox.  Still, the alpacas seem to do their job well.

Often when the first lambs are born the alpacas will go and sit near the mother, and look like they’re keeping an eye out for her.  Sometimes this freaks the ewes out and a little chasing occurs until everyone agrees what appropriate distances are.  All seems well.

We had to leave the house very early this morning, so hadn’t fed the animals at their normal time.  This usually results in much bleating, quacking, clucking and very loud mooing when we return, which is often sustained until we get out there and feed them.  This morning there was a little of that, but also the sound of a happy alpaca.  It’s hard to describe really, sort of like a high pitched squeaky fast bleating sound.  I looked up to see that Algy had managed to mount one of the Suffolk ewes.  It soon became clear that it was in fact the mummy Suffolk, as her lamb was wandering around next to her bleating in confusion.  I did shout at Algy, I mean really, she has enough problems without him adding to them!  I dumped my stuff inside and went back out to do the actual feeding time, by which point the ewe had managed to shake Algy off, and they both came to food without any problems.  Perhaps all was forgiven, or maybe I’d misunderstood the whole situation…

Tracks in the snow

I’m ambivalent about snow. It’s nice when it falls, and it does make everything look prettier. It also brings a measure of silence into the world which can be very calming. On the other hand slush, and icy slush are often just around the corner.

One delight of snow is that it shows tracks clearly so that I can see how the animals roam. For example our dogs run all over the courtyard when we let them out, covering nearly every corner in ten minutes. Or the geese; over the course of the first couple of hours this morning they’d visited the front gate, trekked around where they normally lie a lot, and also visited the hay shed.

The sheep hadn’t moved around much, I think they take the whole of the day to explore the field, and if they know the grass isn’t great they might not visit part of a field for days. Or at least that’s my guess. This morning I was able to trek across some virgin snow during the feed, and as you can see from this photo I was trailed by three ewes, all hopeful for some extra food, and now starting to head back to one of the piles of feed I had left for them. The tracks wander back and forth as they trail behind me trying to work out how to get into the bucket, and get some measure of advantage over each other: