Barbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

Carving time out of one’s schedule each and every day for months to raise a baby bird is considered by some to be a complete waste of time. I disagree. In fact, I feel just the opposite. By failing to acknowledge the worth of that time spent supporting one small, seemingly insignificant life, we fail to see the inherent worth in all life. Whether it is big or small, complex or simple, all life is precious, right down to one little baby gosling, fresh from the egg. And as I discovered during my journey on the road to raising Little E.D. the Endurance Goose, there is a wealth of knowledge to be had just from the simple task of learning to see through the eyes of a goose.

And so it happened….

There she was… freshly hatched and alone. It was June 1, 2012, and Little E.D. the Endurance Goose was cold, frightened, and unable to get to her mom, who had abandoned her for the rest of the eggs in her nest. She was snuggled up in a corner of the chicken coop, under the watchful eyes of Fly By, the resident homicidal rooster who doesn’t take too kindly to strangers in his chicken coop. Rejected by her mom, easy prey for Fly By, Little E.D. was on her way out. What could I do? Cold, lonely, huddled in a corner, pushed out of the nest by a mama with too many eggs and not enough down to cover them all, little E.D., fresh out of the egg, looked like she could use a friend. Lost and alone, she was not going to make it through the night. Boy or girl? I don’t know, but she has to be one or the other, so it might as well be “girl” for now. How could I leave her there? I couldn’t. So I scooped her up, tucked her in my shirt, and headed for the house.

I carried her around with me like that for the first four days, taking her outside and letting her graze, then introducing her to her very own swimming bowl. She took to the water like a… well…  goose. Sleeping arrangements were a bit touchy. The pressing question was how to keep Little E.D. feeling safe and secure through the night and get some sleep too! Out of desperation and lack of sleep, I figured out that if I placed her in a fuzzy beanie and clipped it to the side of a box lined with Ma’s bed protectors for warmth, then placed that box next to me, she would sleep all night like she was tucked under her mama’s wing. On the fifth day, it was time to abandon the shirt tuck method of goose transport. Nothing like the warm, wet, squishy feeling of goose poop in your shirt to realize that the little one’s digestive system just kicked in and is functioning just fine. Little E.D. was going to make it!

While she was tiny, Little E.D. stayed in a box on my desk, next to my computer where I work. When she got too big for the box, she graduated to a large cage behind my desk when she is not outside chasing the chickens, swimming in the goose pond, catching bees, riding in the wheelbarrow, eating like there is no tomorrow, and most of all… growing.

A Learning Experience

Life is much simpler when seen through the eyes of a goose. I watch carefully, and am learning to understand goose talk. Yup, I’m definitely for the birds. Do you know that they instinctively eat what they need? Little E.D. will wander around, eating a little of this and a little of that. She doesn’t eat the same things all of the time, but mixes it up, evidently being led by some unseen force to the food that has the nutrients she requires. How much different is this concept than our conventional farming technique of feeding what WE think our animals need instead of allowing them to choose for themselves in a natural environment? And how did we humans lose this natural ability to choose food that is good for us? Did we ever have it to begin with?

I have learned through this experience that geese are very intelligent creatures that have complex social interactions. They are connected, routine oriented, and highly inquisitive. By observing the flock’s habits and mimicking the behaviors of individual geese in that flock when interacting with Little E.D., I hope that she will be able to integrate into the flock easier when the time comes. At least that’s the plan. But for now, it’s Little E.D. the Endurance Goose and me, buddies ‘til the end.

So, in answer to those who say that taking care of such a little life is a complete waste of time? Just remember… In the grand scheme of things, size is relative, compassion is not. If you cannot cherish the little things, then the big things will blow right by you.

©2012 Barbara H. Peterson

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9 Responses to “Through the Eyes of a Goose”

  1. Beverley says:

    God Bless you, wonderful story, you have a kind heart.

  2. Tyranny says:

    Thank you for sharing this story.

  3. Lou says:

    Barbara, I love your story. May I post it on my non-commercial blog ? It has a good viewership and might give you some more readers.
    Lou

  4. Lou says:

    Beautiful story Barbara. Thank you.

  5. Lisa says:

    Good for your Barbara! Great story! I love it! I also feel that if you are a person who consumes meat, you should at least once in your life, catch, kill, and prepare your food. That also can give you a different perspective on life, and how fragile it is and how we all need life to be alive.

  6. What a beautiful story! I was given three goslings when I had my very first farm as a ‘farm-warming gift.’ I thought I was a cat and dog person, but I became a goose person just as much. My return home to the farm each day was full of joyful greetings, wings up and lots of clear HURRAH, SHE’S HOME cheers. We now have about sixteen geese, and some of the goslings have been raised indoors, as needed, to be released to the group later on. We have never had any trouble with the older geese ‘taking them under their wing.’ In fact, they greet them and surround them and welcome them into the gaggle when we do.

  7. Wife and I have raised chickens (both laying hens and those meant for meat), turkeys (several breeds), emus (!), and the occasional, abandoned song bird. Having down-sized from a scale that proved both too burdensome and immensely unprofitable, we now maintain numbers of birds manageable by two people and, we hope self-sustaining through natural reproduction. As Barbara recounted, we too have learned much about these animals through observations and caring, and we have been taught more than just a thing or two!

    Most poignantly, I remember vividly feeling the tear-jerking, “hole-in-the-heart” kind of sadness & grief letting go into the world, on his own, a starling we raised from near birth to a competent fledgling. Friend and companion in so short a time, a delightful time indoors, Cree Cree stayed around for awhile outside, then flew off, probably joining one or other flock of starling yearlings that gathered on PG&E wires and posts before heading off somewhere for the winter.

    Our lessons also include those providing a certain come-uppance for reflexive human hubris! We had supplied a broody hen with a half dozen freshly layed eggs in a special pen within the larger area of the Chicken Palace surrounded by a Premier electric “fence”. The hen soon abandoned the eggs and clamored for release, with whose demand we complied. A couple weeks later, out from the Chicken Palace into its yard marched another hen with nine (!) chicks in tow! We hadn’t even known she had gathered to herself the eggs, much less sat upon them for several weeks! Where had she hidden?? The mom raised all nine (3 cocks, 6 hens) to maturity, all by herself, thank you, and all nine a year later stay together happily here on Soleil Farm. Lesson: Leave it to Mom!

  8. Abe says:

    It’s always good to take the time to observe nature, no matter how small. There’s always something to learn or experience.
    Thanks Barb for breaking up my day with a real story of life. It gives me a moment of pause…. Were not just fighting for humanity, but all life! No matter how big or small.

  9. Great story, Barbara. Everyone loves an animal tale like this one.