My first hatched gosling, my beautiful Madam, found dead yesterday morning, her head under her wing. She had gone to sleep and just didn’t wake up. She had a distinctive shaped beak, a high-pitched squawk, and a terrible attitude.
Anyone who’s ever read my blog knows that I love birds. The large, white, feathered variety with a bad attitude, normally. But the truth is, I secretly love all birds. From the little birds that have massive arguments in the garden, to the geeses; alarmed blackbirds, to clever, arrogant magpies. Even the rooks and ravens have their place for me. I think of them as Tolkien’s Watchers.
So bearing in mind I hatched 19 fluffy goslings and kept them alive with only two terribly sad fatalities (and they are prone to getting into trouble, so this was some feat), I foolishly watched this film (below – 4 mins only).
So now I confer upon you that same honour. Because even if you don’t want to know this, and you’re not interested in this kinda thing, you should know about it. This should be part of what’s taught in Science at school. You don’t have to care about it. Just like my generation all have at least a vague understanding of climate change; the next should understand the stark realities of human waste and excess and that there might yet be something we can do about it.
Midway film says it all
The wider message of the film (the one that does affect you) shouldn’t escape you.
The more common knowledge it is, the more difference (to policy, laws, lobbying practices, influence) can be made by the people who care enough to shout about it. They don’t require you to care about it; just to know about it.
PS. Right at the end, a title fades in under ‘Midway’. It says ‘Message from the Gyre’. The link between that and my earlier disastrous post ‘Turning and turning in the widening gyre’ was too much to ignore. I like to see signs in my life.
It was always going to happen … was just a case of when. My mother has three of my 17 goslings on her land, and they live – awkwardly – with her hens. Not in the henhouse, but they have the same Fort Knox enclosure for when she isn’t there to police them.
One morning she went to visit them. She could see the hens crowded round something. They were fluffed up and shrieking. She said she’d never heard them like that.
As she got closer, she could see a goose in the ring. It was pecking at something, but she couldn’t see what.
As she rounded the corner of the enclosure, she realised what was going on. The goose had a hen held down under its substantial foot, and was pecking and jabbing at it.
It escaped with its life … this time. But there’ll be another. There always is.
The high pitched squawks from Madam start another two goslings shrieking and then they all kick off as I round the corner. They still run down the hill to the gate, but now they’re bigger, they don’t all crash into the fence at the bottom, though it’s a close call sometimes.
The three eldest greet me with their usual confident attention, grabbing at my earrings and pecking away at my laces. The younger crowd still hangs back, but their desperation to join in is almost palpable. There is a pecking order, y’know.
I drove them down to the river for the first time, because it was such a beautiful day and they splashed and played and washed … and swam under water … and flapped their wings in the water – 2 flaps and they were at the other side! And after about 15 minutes, as one goose they got up and made their ways back to their compound. I’ll never understand why geese do that. They play, then they’ve had enough. You’d think they’d want to spend more time on the water, but perhaps that bit of the yard isn’t their home. Right, I’ve had enough now, I want to go home.
Madam looking beautiful
This is the same gosling who stared at me from the corner of the black tub:
Gosling pictures, now they have settled into their home.
The world outside is terrifying, but once they’ve got used to my presence (it helps if you get down on their level), they relax very suddenly, pecking at my over trousers and the nearby new hay, chatting all the while.
If one shrieks a bit louder for some reason – someone pecked someone else – the geese start shrieking. They have been hanging around the trailer since the goslings arrived. I’m sure they know that the goslings are theirs.
They have antibiotics in their water because I was afraid they were starting with pneumonia – they were gulping a lot, but none are now showing any signs of that.
The pictures are terrible, but that’s because they’re taken in a trailer under a false roof. Not because I’m the world’s worst photographer. I just happen to be that too.
The trouble with writing about animals this year is the lack of photos. People want pictures! Talking about how the goslings poured out of the side trailer door onto the ground while the four geese attacked us (not the goslings, thank goodness) isn’t the same without the visual images.
I‘ve got them in my head. Small yellowish birds scurrying through the door and landing or bouncing two foot down, then rushing away; rescued and thrown back into the trailer, only to come scuttling out again. A goose wheeling and flapping and screeching, dancing round a disorientated gosling, getting hold of my waterproof chaps and not letting go. Utter chaos.
Nothing seems to be physically hurt, but it remains to be seen for now. There are a few illnesses they can get very quickly after being stressed. One or two of them are gulping a bit, so it’s off to the vet tomorrow for me – there’s an antibiotic powder we can put in their water.
The goslings were transported together in two open tubs, in as unstressful a way as possible. When we tipped them gently into the trailer we didn’t expect them to come rushing back out through the door. We’ve now put a curved rubber ‘wall’ at both ends of the trailer which protects them from the doorway, and also helps to prevent them accidentally suffocating one another in a corner. No corners is apparently safer.
I suspect they’re afraid of the dark, so we left them a torch on all night.
And no, no pictures. Certainly not while juggling goslings. It wouldn’t be fair. You wouldn’t want your picture taken and flashing lights in your eyes on the most terrifying night of your life.