Monday, July 26, 2010


A few years ago we were incubating and hatching hundreds of goose eggs. We’ve closed that business and since then have been letting the geese hatch and raise their own goslings, letting nature take its course as they free range. Unfortunately the last two years they’ve hatched out several , but none have made it to adulthood.

This year only four were hatched due to the strange weather we had and snake problems, not to mention a tree falling on one of our beautiful Sebastopols instantly killing her and the large clutch of eggs she was sitting on.

While we were gone Sean managed to get two of the family groups penned separately. He decided to protect the goslings instead of letting their parents raise them on the loose. He penned their entire family with them to help create bonding  with the gaggle. The third group he didn’t get penned in time and we lost the gosling almost immediately.

This weekend we released the other three with their parents to explore the world. The three are nearly adult size now and have gotten their names. Hopefully they will be the subject of many stories to come. They are already older than any of the “free range” babies were when we lost them. They are fully feathered, and nearly grown.

Because the birds free range they practice free will. So who hatches and raises the gosling is not always necessarily the biological parent, as you will see from the descriptions below.

The first family group is Fairy(White Chinese/Sebastopol mix), Freckles, Spot, Pebbles and Popcorn (all of which are White Tufted Roman/Brown Chinese mix). You met them in the Elf story that is one of the first blogs I wrote.

Their baby looks to be a White Chinese/Brown Chinese mix. We are pretty certain he’s a gander but we could be wrong. This little darling is a little brat. It is bossy, noisy and a bit of a bully. He is always stirring up a storm of trouble. He is white with varying shades of gray and black splotches on him. The ones on his wing shoulders look much like storm clouds. His personality and markings have earned him the name Partly Cloudy or PC.

The second family is Magellan—you’ve heard lots about him over the years, he is a large white Embden gander, and Mama Sarah a Brown Chinese goose. They are raising two darling babies.

When I asked Mama Sarah what we should call her little gander she answered “Alllllllllfred!” So that’s what we named this grey and white baby. He's a good gosling and never gives us any trouble, unlike PC.

The third is our “special” child. That’s Miss Pugsley. As you can see from her photo at the left Miss Pugsley has a birth defect. . Her eyes are different from most goose eyes and her body shape is slightly different as well. She is a gentle loving soul, who just wants to be friends with everyone. She doesn’t run from us like the other two goslings do and trusts us to make sure she’s properly fed. She looks to be a Toulouse/Sebastopol cross . Pugsie’s name of course comes from her pug nose/bill. We think she’s cute.

Unfortunately geese are like most wild animals and tend to shun those who are different. PC in particular is always yammering at Pugsie and being ugly to her. Magellan and Mama Sarah are good parents and have been keeping all bullies away from her. I’m afraid it will take Magellan establishing Alpha with the Knot Heads (five Tufted Romans) before they will accept little Pugsie into the main flock. The Knot heads are snobs and we’ve had trouble with them before. They would not accept Hairlip Harry (the gosling with the broken bill) last year and we lost Harry as a result. Harry didn’t have a dominate male to protect him. Pugsie does, Magellan is VERY protective of her. Magellan and his brother Frodo are the biggest and oldest of the birds we have. If Fro will stand by his brother there won’t be a problem. Some of the other ganders have already started siding with Gel-Gel so hopefully it will work out.

I know little Pugsie has already won all our hearts. But then Sean has always called this place Rock ‘n Tree Ranch, home of the misfit birds. We’ve had birds in the past live to old age that ranged from Kreb, a runner duck with a badly formed spine to Blind Annie, a completely blind Pekin duck who had a seeing eye banty chicken hen. Then of course there have been the tongueless guinea hen, and Sloth, a one toed guinea hen who is still to this day hopping around the ranch on her single enormous one toe on one of her feet.

We’ll make sure that Pugsie always has food she can get in her deformed bill okay and plenty of water to drink. We’ve been observing and have noticed Magellan and Sarah are teaching her how to preen, and pull grass despite only having half a bill. She does a pretty good job of it too.

Pugsley may turn out to be a real beauty in the long run. Her adult feathers are starting to come in and have a curl on the end. If they should curl and go long like a true Sebastopol’s does that might shut Fairy’s crew up real fast. After all, that would mean she’s from their family geneticly.

So that's our newest family members, we've lost a few of the birds this year, so these babies are extra special to us.

Jan who hopes to write hundreds of stories about Pugsley and the other new additions in OK