Last summer I got a call from a woman asking if I would take three goslings that were just getting fully feathered. Someone had brought her three Canada goose eggs and she had given them to a kindergarten teacher who hatched them. The babies came home with her, but they were getting bigger, and she needed to get rid of them. They had no place for them to stay safe and they lived in town. The goslings were happy following her husband around the yard while he mowed. She just wanted to let them loose until they grew up and left.
What could I say? I really figured they would spend the rest of their lives on my farm, but it would be up to them. I put them in the chicken pen for the first night or so, just so my adult geese could see them before I turned them out. After about three days, they were completely out of the pen. I was surprised that my geese left them alone. In fact the goslings, barely feathered out and still with their baby voices, would chase my adult Embden geese.
They had no idea that they were geese. At first they didn’t even know what to do with the kiddie pool; they just kept going back to the bucket of water. They followed me and talked to me. I was constantly tripping over them. If I tried working on the fence, they would talk and pick at my clothes and occasionally nip through my clothes. When I tried to take pictures of the goat kids, they would nibble on my toes. It tickled and hurt at the same time. They grew so quickly and lost their little baby voices for the grown up honks. The longer they were with us, the more they began to act like geese. They started following my flock down into the pasture, and I finally got some relief from tripping over them.
They began flying up the hill as my heavy-bodied geese would walk. Their flights got higher and longer. Eventually, they started taking shaky laps around the property. Flying is definitely easier than landing. Once in a while they would have to stop the landing and go up for another circle to try again. Once one of them misjudged the landing and ended up in with the billy goats. I had to open the gate and let it back into the barnyard. One kind of tripped over the fence, but they finally got better at flying and landing.
Then one day, about a week after I started back to work, even before the students arrived, I came home to do chores and did not see my babies. They left. They didn’t even say good-bye. I hadn’t planned on getting attached to them, but how could I resist such sweet babies? I was broken-hearted and missed my babies.
Yesterday, Caleb asked me if the geese came back. I had no idea what he was talking about. This morning before I started gardening, I heard Stella start barking and then I heard geese, Canada geese. I ran outside and in the neighbor’s field there were three Canada geese. Two of them were close together and one was a short distance off. I immediately knew they were my babies. I called to them, “Babies.” The two answered and the third just kept looking in the field for good stuff to eat. I walked closer and kept talking to them. They didn’t come nibble my toes, but they didn’t fly off and they kept talking to me. My babies came to visit.
They hung out for just a couple of minutes after I went back in the house. I could hear as they took off and I saw as they flew off to the west. They are always welcome at my home. I am just so grateful they came to let me know they are doing okay.