Re Rustica

  (Squaw Valley, California)
love your food!
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Hear and See the Geese Explore

Some like to lead, others like to follow, everyone looks about and shares what they see!  What a great trip...

Some like to lead, others like to follow, everyone looks about and shares what they see! What a great trip...

Click here to hear the geese explore!

The geese explore to find new delicious things to eat, interesting animals to hiss and honk at, nice places to nap and to find us. Occassionally, they’ll show us their find!

Domesticated animals differ from wild animals in one key respect: domestic animals (usually) have no wanderlust. They do not take vacations. Wild animals will take vacations to explore new territory in case their current territory is rendered unusuable by disaster, to find new resources to exploit (expand their territory), to learn from other animals (even of other species) and for the pleasure of some exercise and play. The naturalist Enos Mills once took a vacation from his Rocky Mountain home only to discover upon reaching his destination that his neighbor bear had decided to vacation to the same spot! They looked at each other and recognized each other (the bear’s missing toe and particular coloration and Mr. Mill’s distinctive appearance were giveaways). The bear was friendly with Mr. Mills and they greeted each other and played, and then went their separate ways home.

Our geese don’t take vacations, but they do like to come out on their promenade. They’ll go this way and that, and always explore the same way: in a double file line, with every goose looking about them and describing (in honks, hisses and visual language) what they are seeing. Some like to lead, others like to follow, and their merry train makes its way through the flowers.

 
 

Dinosaur Eggs!


Dinosaur or goose? You decide.

Goose eggs are back! One of our younger visitors to the farm, upon seeing them, pronounced them to be “dinosaur eggs!”

We were pretty sure they were not dinosaur eggs, but goose eggs. We showed him our geese, and explained much evidence against his hypothesis, but in the end we were forced to acknowledge by this young scientist that we had not seen the geese lay those eggs, and they did look like dinosaur eggs.

This week, we’ll let you be the judge. Goose egg or dinosaur egg? Conduct your own experiment (on a skillet, in a baking dish, in your favorite bread, or in a pot) and let us know whether they taste like dinosaur or goose.


 
 

Watch Goose


Our head goose (with the biggest hat) does guard duty most often.

Our geese are so careful! When eating or sleeping, they will take turns watching each other. One at a time, they’ll stop eating or sleeping and stand guard. This watch goose is all attention, and loves to honk to tell everyone else what is about them. “It’s Aaron!” they’ll honk. “It’s Mary!” they’ll honk. “A squirrel is coming over!” “a coyote is trying to be sneaky!”

In the middle of the night they’ll occasionally sound “all’s clear!” to let everyone know it’s still ok to sleep. This is usually followed by the “be quiet! we’re trying to sleep” honk.

One of our geese really hates the chickens. She will growl every time she sees them. Occasionally, she’ll growl long enough to work herself up hopping mad! She’ll hop and growl, and honk and squeek, and then charge the hapless chickens to attack them. The chickens and geese think it is some kind of game, and the chickens largely ignore her because she’ll come to her senses at the last moment and not hurt the chickens.

We’re not sure what this fight is all about, but when she’s on guard, she will sound high alert every time the chickens are nearby. She doesn’t do much guard duty these days…


 
 

Geese Discover Music!

Our geese will knock their beaks against our ford, tapping off a rythm that is actually quite groovy.  They also like to bite on the tailpipe and the fenders to make a grinding sound.  Harmonizing like this occupies our geese for quite some time.  They used to like to tap on the roof of the chicken coop (especially when chickens were inside - then even better noises are made!), and on the wheel barrow, and on any other hard, noisy surface.  But the truck, they've discovered, is best.  One or two of them will honk out rythmically as the others tap and grind.  We're going to try to get an audio recording of it...

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Geese LOVE Collards

Quick! Catch her!  Our Head Goose almost makes her getaway with the collards!

What do the geese like almost as much as our specially mixed bird feed? Collards.

 

The geese love the flavor so much that, while they normally share EVERYTHING they find (except for the bird food we mix them), they refused to share the delicious collards.

A chase game quickly developed when our Head Goose’s sisters grew envious. Though there were enough collards to go around, they loved to chase the Head Goose! She eventually was pursuaded to share. Reluctantly.

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Big Hats for Important Geese

People like to ask, are the geese with bigger hats more important in the flock than those with little or no hats?  The answer is yes.

The Tufted Roman Geese we have sometimes have tufts, or "hats."  Those with tall hats are higher in the pecking order than those with smaller or no hats.  This may be because the geese think that those with big hats are bigger. 

Our head goose has a nice "ten gallon hat!" 

So, make sure you greet the geese with bigger hats first!  It's polite.

Coming Home to Roost

Chickens have a strong sense of home, and gain that sense of home by sleeping in the same place for a week or so.  Whenever we move our chickens to a new home (though we do try to avoid doing that), we keep them inside for a week or so to force them to sleep there consistently.  Then, when they are released and free to wander about, they’ll always come home to roost where we want them to. 

Why they do this is similar to why they take care of each other outside the coop in our infirmary.

We just adopted 7 new Rhode Island Reds, 1 rooster and 6 hens.  One of the hens has a broken leg and was to be fed to the cats when we spoke for her.  She'll lay lots of good eggs and serve the flock as well as any rooster by being an ideal companion in our infirmary.

The infirmary is a special coop we build that allows sick birds to both be physically isolated so they don't infect other birds and can't be harassed by them while allowing them the necessary social visitation to keep their stress level low.  We usually put at least two birds in the infirimary, even if only one requires it.  Our broken-legged hen (whose name is Tammy) will be a permanent resident.

But even when a bird spends even weeks in the infirmary, they don't forget where home is.  Tammy's home is one intended for visitors.  Sometimes even geese!

Geese are very attached to their homes, as well.  We all are. 

Geese dislike going home and must be taught from an early age how to return home.  We train ours by whistles and the voice command “go home.”  If the training is reinforced periodically by treats presented in their home, they will never have trouble returning to their coop.

Geese require a very well ventilated coop, and we provide ours a dog kennel with a poultry wire roof.  This reduces disease, and helps them regulate their temperature best.  For laying eggs, they prefer a doghouse within their kennel. 

Geese and chickens rarely get along, but when a chicken is sick, geese will care for the hapless bird...and chickens will comfort an ill or distressed goose.  We like to pride ourselves on the service of our roosters, but Tammy's service will be no less important to our flock.

The roosters are instrumental in teaching the hens where home is.  They lead them back and forth from home to the grazing areas daily, and call home any strays at night with their goodnight songs of "come home," "time for sleep," and "have good dreams, I love you!"  In the morning, the roosters who stay behind to guard the coop sing the song all day to remind hens where home is, and whenever a hen comes home for whatever reason during the day, she is warmly welcomed: she's been working hard and needs a comfortable home.

We all do.  And Tammy will help keep our birds comfortable when they occasionally have to spend the night away from their usual home.

 
 
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