Monday, June 06, 2011

The Grey and the White of It

This graceful white Embden and handsome Greylag are a mated pair of geese at my soul sister Caroline's beautiful heritage farm in the Lanark Highlands, and they are raising a family together - the eggs will hatch out some time this week.

The tender regard of these two comely members of genus Anser  for each other is a splendid thing to see - they really are fetching creatures with their fine plumage, the bright orange color of the skin around their eyes, their beaks, legs and big webbed feet.

The geese and I are usually the best of friends.  When not nesting, they follow me around with their tail feathers waggling happily, talking a mile a minute and passing comment on everything they see.  With a large family due to arrive on the scene any moment now, the two birds are in a different frame of mind, irascible, prone to emotional outbursts and easily distracted from mundane pursuits.

One is taking a chance in visiting the barn where the goose's nest reposes or even in walking anywhere nearby.  The gander is fearless and a ferocious defender of his hearth, home, spouse and children-to-be.   He hisses and honks at interlopers, runs at them all fluffed up and looking twice his usual size - he bites, beats on unprotected arms and legs with his formidable wings flapping, and it hurts.  It's best to maintain a safe distance...

The Scots use geese as sentries at highland whiskey distilleries, and in the past I have often wondered how effective the great birds are as guardians, but I wonder no more..  Watch geese take great pleasure in doing their work, and they excel at it.

7 comments:

Valerie said...

Yes, geese are effective guardians. My MIL used them on the dairy farm when someone was sneaking in to steal from the fuel tank while they were at church.
The geese were more effective than Sammy the dog.

When they retired from farming, she made dh and I some lovely, hand plucked down pillows.

Cindy said...

My mother's love for geese knew no limits. She raised a gaggle herself once upon a time. Her love of them easily transfered to me as a child and remains to this day.

Mystic Meandering said...

"The two birds are irascible, prone to emotional outbursts and easily distracted from mundane pursuits." I love this description - I see my own reflection in it! I must have been a goose in a previous life :) And the geese don't even worry that that's the way they are - they just Be... C

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Such beauties
A reminder
of years in the past
when my little and I had some geese
They would surely chase you...

liliannattel said...

I've read that an angry gander can break a person's arm. Great pics!

Sky said...

I am laughing as I remember how one clamped his beak onto my pants catching the skin of my butt and rode along with (ON?) me as I walked back to my car from the lake one early summer day! Yikessss it hurt, and I am sure I had a purple reminder of the experience. I did nothing whatsoever to cause this huge fight he wanted to have - I just got up from a bench by the lake and headed to my car!

christinalfrutiger said...

It is amazing that these two completely different species of geese (or are they)...formed a mated bond with each other. Usually they don't, in the animal world. I wonder if the goslings will be some of each or a mix. Hope to see photos of them. Have this pair mated for life or is this their first romance together? :)