Sunday, September 4, 2011

Webbed feet in the Wheat

The irrigation risers into the wheat field were open this afternoon, making a very pleasant temporary wetland for geese and ducks.

Puddles of water and spilled wheat on a warm September afternoon are like heaven to these guys!

This handsome fellow is Einer (Enar), a blue Swedish duck who came to live with us about 3 weeks ago.  He is very sweet, enjoying treats fed to him by hand and also likes to be handled and petted.  Unfortunately, he is not so sweet to the dogs and chases them mercilessly, sneaking up behind them and yanking hair from the backs of their legs.  This is especially offensive to the dogs when they are sound asleep, but Einer seems to delight in making the dogs jump and run away.  I have tried locking him out of the yard, shutting all of the gates, but he always finds a way in, so Einer has to be locked in a large dog kennel in the barn, complete with plenty of feed and a pool of water, and only gets to come out when I can keep a close eye on him so he doesn't end up beheaded by one of the dogs as they reach the end of their patience with him.  He is miserable locked away, but until he learns to leave the dogs alone, it is for the best.
Einer's mate, Ulrika, was a black Swedish duck.  She was a beautiful little hen and had a puffy crest of feathers on the top of her head, like a small, silly hat.  She had begun laying eggs, so when she disappeared several days ago, I figured she had located a suitable nesting site.  She never chased the dogs, so I hadn't penned her up like Einer.  Sadly, on Friday, I found her lifeless little body on the front porch, behind a plant.  Not a mark was on her, not a feather out of place, so I am certain the dogs didn't take revenge for Einer's ill deeds, but really have no ideas as to what may have happened to her.  And I had begun entertaining hopes of a small flock of Swedish ducks living in the barnyard.  Now that Ulrika is gone, Einer seems to be a bit more interested in hanging out with the geese instead of chasing the dogs, but he won't regain his freedom until he decides to stay in the barnyard and leave the dogs in peace.

The geese came to live with us last spring.  They are both ganders, so won't be producing any eggs or goslings to add to the flock.  They are Chinese geese, a very loud, talkative breed.  While some geese can be aggressive, these two have always kept their distance and have not shown any aggression, except occasionally toward the sheep, who don't seem to be too upset by the threats.  I bought the geese in an attempt to help keep predators away from the chickens, but they instead bonded with the sheep and prefer to stay with them whenever possible.  Watching the geese run and fly behind the sheep when we move pastures is a pretty amusing sight.

Headed back toward the barn after a good time splashing, preening, and eating.  While they were at first quite resistant to being moved out into the wheat field, my webbed-footed friends enjoyed themselves immensely once they saw the delightful, and unexpected, puddles and feed.
Until next time, may all of your hesitations be replaced with delight.

1 comment:

Paula said...

Silly geese! I love these pictures and the story that goes along with them. Very fallish. I hope Enar (I know I didn't spell that right!) has learned to behave himself and regained his freedom. Sorry to hear about his young wife...