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  • Writer's pictureKatheryn

No More Geese... For Now

It's quite on the homestead when I step outside this morning. No little peeps and beep beep beeps from yellow fluffed goslings. No "feed me now" honks from my demanding trio of geese. Silence. And for now, that's okay.

If you ask my husband which animals are my favorite on our homestead, he'll likely answer in a conspiratorial whisper, so as not to alarm any of our other furry and featherd friends, "geese."

It's true, I fell in love with geese the first time I held their gentle warm yellow down in my hands. With the curious beeps, experimental nibbles, and noticble intelligence, they stole my heart. So about 5 years ago I purchased my first geese, 10 Chinese White goslings.

Earlier this year, however, I made the tough decision to sell my last trio. I went back and forth for a while, not really wanting to sell such productive and integral members of our homestead, but finally firming up the decision to do just that. So, I wanted to go over why I decided to sell my geese and why the decision isn't permanent. A sort of "pros and cons to raising geese."

Why I said goodby:

  1. Geese are loud, especially a noisy breed like the Chinese White. Every time I would step out my front door I would be bombarded with noisy honking and wings flapping my direction, just to see if I had something tasty to throw their direction. The noise and persistence really grated on my patience and sense of calm.

  2. Breeding season aggression was getting out of hand. Aggression, especially from the gander is to be expected during breeding season. However, my kids were getting to the point where they didn't want to play outside because they were afraid to be chased down by our gander. One of the main reasons we live out in the country is so our kids can have a sense of freedom and play outside without fear.

  3. Eating too much grass in certain areas of the yard. And not just the grass, but fruit off our trees and grapes off our vines. I don't mind sharing wind fallen fruit with the animals, it helps to keep pests down, but the geese had learned to stretch their necks and jump to knock off both ripe and unripened fruit to the ground to greedily devour. They also trimmed the grass so short around the house, that it refused to grow, leading to an increase of fine sand and dust being tracked into the house. I really don't like sweeping more than once a day!

  4. They can be bullies to our other featherd friends. Our ducks are good sports about the geese, but from time to time, they would get a little too tousled and end up missing a few feathers and being a bit bruised.

Why it's not the end:

I plan on ordering more goslings next spring to raise on the homestead and here's why:

  1. Geese are great lawn mowers. I know, I just said they ate too much of my grass and fruit, but I only had to mow my front lawn (about 1/4 acre) twice each summer! While they did favor the grass closest to the house (because that's where I raised them as goslings) they also kept the rest of the lawn relatively orderly. Nothing as neat as those strait mower lines and perfectly even cut, but the grass stayed below my ankles. Completely worth not having to spend hours of my time mowing. As for the fruit, Chris has fenced off the orchard/food forest and declared only the dog and the ducks may enter.

  2. They always have an eye on the sky. My geese have always been the first to alert the rest of the flock to potential danger from birds of prey. Before owning geese, I thought they would sound a loud alarm when they sensed danger, but their warning for predators from the sky are a bit different. They go completly silent. They make their way to the closest bushline, become silent and still while keeping one eye up. This behavior alerts the rest of my flock (ducks) to do the same, following the goose's lead. Potentially saving my flock from hawks and eagles.

  3. Sound the alarm! With the exact opposite reaction to birds of prey, geese will be the first to honk incessantly at anything else the precive as a threat. Such threats may be bobcats, raccoons, or cars coming up the driveway.

  4. They pay for themselves after their first time laying eggs. My geese pay for not only their feed and upkeep, but also my ducks. I don't aim to make a profit or start a business of the backs of my animals but, I do expect them to pay for themselves in one way or another. The geese not only provide me with the upkeep of my lawn but every spring they hatch out between 12-16 goslings. The goslings are gone as soon as I post them for sale. The sale of the goslings goes toward purchasing feed for the entire flock for the year.

  5. Geese are simply beautiful. I love sitting outside with a cup of tea in the morning after chores and watching the geese meander through the yard, plucking a blade of grass here and tasting a weed there. There is just something regal and majestic about the way they move and interact with one another. I could sit and watch them for hours. They are intelligent and have such unique personalities, its gard not to love them. Geese bring a certain joy to homesteading that I just won't do without.

Why did I sell my geese if I'm just planning on getting more? I bought the wrong breed for our homestead needs. Chinese Whites, while a great breed, are known to be one of the most vocal breeds. They are the smallest of breeds making them more agile (and able to jump high enough to knock off all our grapes) and they have a high fertility rate. All great traits if you want a guard goose or are raising them for meat production. That's just now what I'm looking for, and the only reason I know that now, is because I tried geese out in the first place.

What I'm looking for in my geese isn't the same as 5 years ago. I don't need a loud gaurd goose, I need a quiet and calm lawn mower. I don't need a high fertility rate because I won't be raising them for meat. So what breed will we try next? I'm not 100% sure right now, but I have a few breeds in mind: pilgrams, embdens, and toulouse are at the top of my list right now. When I do decide, you'll be some of the first to know. I'll be sure to update you on how the breed I choose compares to my experiences with the White Chinese geese.

Until then, sweet homesteading,

Katheryn Williams

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