Monday, June 27, 2011

gosling from another mother?

Our Toulouse Geese came to us via a craigslist ad. Every city has a farm/garden section in craigslist, and we check regularly for things we might need. We had heard that geese can provide amazing protection for livestock and property and decided to adopt this pair. Clover and Toulouse have turned out to be great farm guards: they sound out different noises for different circumstances, but we always know when a visitor is approaching or has come through the fence, as the geese make a very distinctive sound when people are here. And they chase the hawk away before they can get to our laying hens, let us know when a predator has entered the property..who knew that geese could distinguish between animals supposed to be here and those that are a threat? They can and do, and we are glad to have them. We have heard that geese can live up to 20 years..a funny thought to keep a pair of geese that long, but we are game!

The previous geese owners were not certain of the sexes, as they were still pretty young birds when they arrived at Sunnyside Farm. We kept the same names, and it turns out that we have a male and a female. And as a result we have goslings. Last year one hatched but did not survive, this year 4 hatched and we have 2 that are growing beautifully. We also slipped a duckling under the goose one night, as the mama duck was in her shelter for the night and the goose nest was still available.

Clover and Toulouse look very much like each other. Both are a lovely gray, and while his neck is a bit longer and she rides a little closer to the ground, at first glance they look a lot alike. Their goslings are a different story.


It is difficult to take pictures of the goslings. The geese never leave them, and there is always one parent at each end of where the 3 babies are..the grownup geese keep them surrounded at all times. You will likely have to enlarge this picture to look at details.

The smaller, light colored bird is a duck. Ignore that one. The other 2 are both goslings..one has dark feathers, beak and feet, the other is as light as it can be with yellow beak and feet. Both parents are gray with orange beak and feet..the male a bit brighter orange, but the colors are just a few shades different. We do not know yet how these goslings will mature: they are getting big but are still covered completely in baby fluff, there is not yet one true feather on either of them. And while they both look like geese, and are beautiful, they look nothing like each other, or their parents. DNA is a funny thing.

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