My life with Gary started years ago as my daughters 4-H
project, much like our start in goats.
We purchased 4 goslings from the local feed store, along with chickens
and turkeys. The turkeys and chickens
are another story. This story is about
My friends and co-workers kept asking me to write down the stories that I'm always telling them about our adventures with Gary. I haven’t written much since college, so I’m
a little rusty. But here goes…..
It started with 4 goslings. They were eating machines. I had no idea how aggressive these cute, but
tall, birds could be when it came to feeding time. We took them to county fair that August. I don’t recall any ribbons, but we were new at
this fair thing and it was fine by us.
That fall our farm was visited by
creatures of the night. In a matter of
two to three days our flock of about 20 was reduced to 2 geese and 1
turkey. That first day I called the
Extension Office and they told me that we had weasels and that they would leave
when we had no birds left. They said I
should inform my neighbors about what was happening so that they could
prepare. “How do you prepare?” I
wondered. I called my nearest neighbor
and within 2 days of our demise, their flock was also devastated.
I think the only reason the 2 geese and
the turkey, named Lloyd, survived was because I had decided the 2nd
night of the attack that it was time to turn them loose and let them fend for
themselves. Somehow, they were able to
elude the weasels. Wish I had known that
sooner. I would have turned all of the
We really hadn’t named Gary yet.
He and his companion grew to be beautiful adults and were the rulers of our
farmyard. We just stayed out of their
way, fed them and provided a clean wading pool.
They were in charge, we were their servants.
Their first spring (mating season) my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know the
gender of our birds. I was watching their
behavior in the wading pool. We had a
male and a female that had survived! At
one point Gary saw me watching
them and he flew into a giant frenzy! Gary was absolutely not
impressed and he charged me. He flew at
me at an alarming speed and with an extremely angry attitude! I quickly retreated (and I don’t run often)! I was going to be creamed if I didn’t get out
of there! I decided to respect their
privacy and not do that again!
Gary in a "Bad Mood"
We were excited when they laid eggs in our
barn. We were going to have goslings
again! But we soon learned that we were
no longer in charge of the barn because of this. Sticks and buckets became our weapons of
defense. What a great example of
fatherhood and they hadn’t even hatched yet!
Once again our Irish luck (or lack
there of) prevailed and some creature of the night stole all of the eggs that
spring! But as sad as everyone was, we
settled into a routine of kidding, bottle feeding, milking and trying to keep
out of Gary’s
way. As the baby goats were born
something truly amazing happened. Gary decided that they
were his babies and all was well in his world again! But our world became a lot more
dangerous! We thought he was awesomely
scary about his eggs! Give him live kids
and he became the best first line of defense that we could have asked for! Our sticks got bigger and we had to get
really good at getting around him to get to the kids.
That summer our horse, Dice, did an
unspeakable thing. He killed Gary’s companion. Dice did not have a mean bone in his body,
but his stomach was another thing. One
day, at feeding time, he thought that the goose was going to eat his
grain. As she was walking by he stomped
on her. Needless to say Gary was truly devastated! After his real and appropriate mourning
fixation on the kids only increased. We
still had not named him yet, but that would happen soon.
I really never knew how smart birds are
until our life adventures with Gary.
It is dark in
the early mornings of winter. Most
mornings when I turn on the first light in the house I have to smile. I hear Gary outside announcing to everyone that I’m up.
He calls to me as I let the dogs out for their morning potty break. What really gets his attention is when he
hears me exit the house and the door shuts behind me. It is at this point that I hope that my
neighbors’ windows are closed! Now the
goats are all awake, getting up and coming outside, stretching as they walk
Gary rushes to meet me at the
gate. He squawks loudly at first but
then settles into the soft muffled sounds he makes, it’s like a conversation
with me. I assume he is telling me how
things went the night before. As we get
closer to the milk barn (where the grain is stored) it is obvious that
breakfast is foremost on his mind. His
anticipation grows and he follows me inside, just to be shooed out as I gather
the bucket of grain. He continues to
remind me that he is hungry! “Okay,” I
say, and I throw him some on the ground.
I continue with chores feeding hay and grain to the goats. Gary soon follows me, eating with the goats as we visit each pen.
I check waters. Gary is obviously shorter than most out at
the barn so his water is in a small bucket.
In the winter it freezes often. Gary watches me check
waters and will always remind me that his water is frozen and that he wants
fresh. He stands by the frozen bucket of
water and makes louder than ordinary sounds until I respond by getting him
water. He looks at me with his head
turned, his dark eye is serious. He is
truly an amazing creature when it comes to communicating with me!
We are in the
calm before the storm. We will start
kidding any day now. If this year is any
thing like the past, Gary will be on guard. I’ve watched Gary’s behavior when a
doe is in labor and he may actually be outside pacing the fence. I don’t know if it is not being allowed in
the barn or his fatherly instinct kicking in.
When we do allow him in the barn during labor he is happy to be lying
beside us or near the pen of the expectant doe.
I sense that he knows he’ll have babies to watch over soon. He actually does this every time a doe is in
labor. I wonder what he would have been
like with his own goslings.
word soon spreads and our friends, and their friends, want to come out and see
them. We love this part about our
goats! We love to see the faces of the
children when they get to run and jump with the kids. But first we have to explain to everyone
about “Gary!” We find sticks for everyone to carry. When the visitors arrive I’m out there
trying to pen him in to avoid bruises on legs or behinds. There is always laughter at this sight. Later in the season I’ll find stacks of
sticks out by the road from neighbors that have come over to see the babies.
I made the
mistake the other day of going out to the barn not dressed in my usual gray
coveralls. I was nearly eaten alive by Gary when he thought that
I didn’t belong in the kid pen. I know he’s
there and I know how he is, but I forgot that he is always on guard. The attack was on! And once again I heard laughter from my best
friend at the sight of that goose chasing me across the barnyard, my arms
flailing in the air! She had never seen
me move that fast!
continued…… How does Gary handle things when we go to shows without him?
Chapter 3 - Still in Draft