Friday, November 20, 2009

it's generally pretty good

When I woke up this morning it was pouring. I'm talking angry, hard, rain. The kind of downpour that does not allow for rain drops—just a wall of water. Hearing that at 4:45 AM, and knowing an entire farm is waiting for you to feed it, is not a comforting sound. I snuggled deeper inside the pile of quilts, pillows, and Siberian Huskies that make my bed. FIve. More. Minutes.

Then I remembered the goslings. Knowing they were in the corner of the coop under Saro listening to this screaming rain made me jump out of bed. I was excited to see them. I threw on my farm clothes, (which means layers of long-sleeved tee shirts, flannels, beat jeans and a heavy wool sweater pulled over my head for good measure). I stopped buying and wearing polar fleece a while ago. When you live with sheep it feels like a space suit.

I went out in the rain under cover of lantern light and checked on my new mother. As I entered the hen house, Cyrus rose up from his slumber, flapping his wings. Two years ago this would have made me nervous, but I know these animals better than my cousins. Toulouse ganders have an impressive wingspan, almost four feet. He hissed and honked like a worried dad. I turned on the coop light and went to check under Saro for the babies.

Now, this wasn't easy. I had to use the lid of the metal garbage can that holds the chicken feed as a shield from Cyrus. Then take my chances with Saro, trying to feel under her and get her to stand up so I could take a fresh count. I pulled off the highwire act and got a new score....FIVE! Now five of her eggs were beautiful, perfect, gray goslings. (Actually, more of a yellow/green but breathtaking to behold.) I picked up one and leaned my back against the wall of the coop. He was clean, soft, so new. He chirped and nuzzled his head into the wool of my sweater. I pulled him close to my heart and whispered him welcome. Yes, I understand that whispering to goslings in a rainstorm isn't exactly normal. But it was such a new part of the day, and such a new life, that talking loudly felt harsh and not saying anything felt wrong. So I whispered to him all Iknew so far.

I told him it's a pretty good world out there. Sometimes it hurts, but it's generally pretty good.

I hit up Tractor Supply on my lunch break. I had called in advance to make sure they still carried brooder supplies in November. (They did.) The clerk on the phone asked why I wanted a heat lamp and chick feeders and I explained I had five new goslings to bring up into this cold world. He said congratulations and told me to bring a box of cigars when I came to buy my stuff. I liked him instantly.

Now it's evening and I'm spending my Friday night being a stay-at-home grandmother. I have the five new kids in a cardboard box in the bathroom and they're currently chirping away under the glow of the heat lamp. Saro seemed fine with letting them go, she's still sitting on her last two eggs and hoping to hatch those as well. Part of me felt bad removing the goslings, but the reality of the situation took over. No new baby without insulating feathers as going to survive tomorrow night when the temperature dropped to 30 degrees. They'd have a good chance if they stayed under Saro, but all it would take to die would be simple separation in the dark. Goslings aren't meant to be raised in winter. This was a fluke. So to ensure every bird gets a fair shot at the world, I brought them inside and to take care of them the proven ways I already know. This small hatching is the first batch to be born at Cold Antler. We've had bunnies, yes, but never any poultry. I was really proud of my pair for pulling this off. Cyrus and Saro have not only fulfilled their purpose in the world—they just proved to me how good of a team they really are.


Blogger Elizabeth said...

Congratulations! I wish we were set up for geese. But I'm pushing our landlord already with 12 chickens, 5 meat rabbits and a golden retriever puppy not counting the 4 kids (people kids)! I'll just have to wait for the geese, muscovy ducks and milk cow and/ or goats. Thank you for sharing. The babies are beautiful.

November 20, 2009 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger Al said...


November 20, 2009 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger LindaSue said...

Oh that sounds so wonderful. There is nothing in this world better than new little ones. Be they human or animal. There is something so special about babies, you can love them whatever they are.

This is what makes all you are doing worth it, doesn't it?

Wish I could be there to see and enjoy. SE Ala is just a little too far away to drop in.

You take care and enjoy all you have. Linda

November 20, 2009 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger mySavioReigns said...


November 20, 2009 at 10:01 PM  
OpenID roseread said...

Congratulations! :) Those babies are so cute

November 20, 2009 at 10:31 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Waiting anxiously for the 6th and 7th. Hope all goes well.

November 20, 2009 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

My most heartfelt congratulations to you, Cyrus, and Saro!

November 20, 2009 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger Maggie May said...

I love reading this.

November 21, 2009 at 1:38 AM  
Blogger Lindsay said...

Just found your blog and I love it!

November 21, 2009 at 4:37 AM  
OpenID localnourishment said...

Mazel Tov, Grandma Goose!

November 21, 2009 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Connie said...

Congratulations, Grammaw!

November 21, 2009 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger Naomi said...

Thanks for the great picture. What a wonderful sound to go to sleep to.

November 21, 2009 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Patsy said...

Congrats on the grandgeese. Are you going to name them or let the new owners do that?

November 21, 2009 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger twistie said...

Could they BE any cuter??

November 21, 2009 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

i am confused. why would momma not be able to keep them warm in the shed where you have them? When they get cold they stay under her don't they?

November 21, 2009 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

Congratulations on the first poultry babies at Cold Antler! I hope the other two hatch soon. What a good grandma you are keeping them nice and warm in the house. Maybe you can bring mom and dad in too, but then no one would get any sleep.

November 21, 2009 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

SM: they would be fine for the first few weeks, but as they grew they would not fit under Saro, then, without any down they'd die in the below freezing temperatures of the December nights ahead. It may seem harsh, but this way is better. Geese are supposed to be raised in spring/summer. This fall nest is a fluke.

November 21, 2009 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

I'm impressed that you got them away from Saro; geese are formidable. The babies definitely would have died without intervention.

November 21, 2009 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger inletculpvagirl said...

Saro and Cyrus are my favorite characters- so exciting there will be more of them

November 22, 2009 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

One of our hens hatched out a clutch of chicks on New Year's Day. We moved them inside our unfinished house where the temperature hovers just above freezing. I thought for sure they would die but they didn't, and in five weeks we moved them to the henhouse with momma - outside temps around -20.
For sure I thought we'd lose some, but they survived, lord knows how. Next time, for my nerves, I'm NOT letting any broody hens sit in the middle of winter!

November 24, 2009 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Amy McPherson Sirk said...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog. I'm pleased to know that you whisper to goslings, which is kind of like saying "Good Morning" to the cats, something I do every day. Thanks for the great posts.

November 28, 2009 at 10:24 PM  

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