Friday, 17 May 2013

Goose bumps

In the middle of March I left you with news that the geese had laid their first egg. After that, they kept coming, one or two a day. Every now and again we pilfered a couple for culinary purposes - they make a very impressive boiled egg.
So the geese took to hiding them under the straw and for a couple of days we were fooled.

Nothing here...just a pile of straw.

But look what's underneath.
 
Things carried on like this for a while as we continued to pilfer and to surprise our friends with novelty eggs. It kept us vaguely amused during what were to be some of the worst days of the building works.


Anyway, at some point (and how we wish we'd noted it down), Mrs Goose decided to sit tight and begin the incubation process. She was more and more frequently joined by Mrs Goose 2 and sometimes by Mrs Goose 3 too. It was fascinating to watch them tend this communal nest.

I have no idea whether anything like this happens in the wild. I know it does with ostriches, but we've not got those ... yet.


The last time that all six geese were outside together

 

After a few days we did find the nest unoccupied for a while and I managed to count a whopping SIXTEEN eggs! And that was the last time I managed to get to the eggs, for since then they have been vigorously defended. Even if you get past the guards at the door, the girls just don't budge.
Strangely Mrs Goose 4 has never joined in with the whole broody idea. She bears a very subtly different colour leg ring, which I assumed to mean that she was from a different clutch, or born at a different time. But when I found her climbing on one of the girls, everything fell into place! Now she may well be a he, or just a very masculine she. Who knows?


All this has been unfolding over these last 2 months. The problem is, the incubation period for goose eggs is supposed to be 35 days max. Which is why we wish we'd noted when Mrs Goose started to sit. Instincts tell me that these eggs are not going to hatch and it is just a question of waiting for the geese to realise this and vacate the nest. Already a couple of the eggs have been eaten and seemed to be full of yolk. Or did the geese just know that these were the infertile ones??

For the moment, all thoughts of sixteen (or more) cute little goslings to munch my lawns until they grow into tasty little packages for Christmas have been put on hold.
Two sisters on the nest. One estranged boy on the right of the fence.
The old male in the foreground.
And then there's the transgender goose who may or may not be related to the others.
But were any of the eggs ever fertile?
Who needs Jeremy Kyle?!
"Now it's over to those all-important DNA tests".









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