If you have been following this blog for a while, you will know I acquired some geese earlier this year, the idea being to let them loose in the orchard to keep the grass down and fertilise the apple trees – permaculture 101. Then one night, we had some wind…… and I mean nearly 100km/h gusts. The next morning, the geese were gone…. well, they were on the dam actually. and there were no sign whatsoever as to how they had escaped. It wasn’t until later on when an even stronger wind event actually rolled the goose tractor clear over the row of apple trees that I finally understood how they had escaped. The horror stories of how geese in large numbers can pollute a dam to destruction meant I had to take control back.
The orchard is now fenced, and with appropriate wing clipping, it should be reasonably easy to keep them from flying off to the dam. I’ve decapitated the goose tractor so that it should now stay firmly on the ground, and all I need are geese to put in said tractor….. once I have put it back together properly in its new configuration.
Today is the first day of Spring, but the animals around here haven’t waited…. Sid’s cows have calved, Matt’s sheep have dropped numerous lambs, and at least one of his sows has farrowed with two to go. Here, my geese have been laying. And I don’t want their goslings on the dam! So, I have made another egg incubator, exactly like the one we had in Cooran….. No need to reinvent the wheel as they say.
I’ve been keeping a very close eye on my geese’s habits, and discovered one nest recently, not realising another one was very close by. They are very good at camouflaging their clutches, after all, we don’t want them taken by crows and other predators. Two of the birds started sitting on the eggs, and it was time for action.
With some trepidation, I started planning to steal the eggs; geese can be fierce when defending their young I’m told, and I assumed the same would apply to eggs. Not knowing what to expect, I even had a chainsaw at the ready to make lots of noise, but in the end, all I had to do was approach forcefully, wave my arms about, and they both took off to the dam hissing very unhappily. Not so traumatic after all, at least for yours truly…
I put the 24 warm eggs in one of those insulated shopping bags to keep them at temperature, quickly got them back to the shed, and loaded all 24 of them in the incubator. They are big and heavy, and there is definitely no room left for more, especially as I have since found a third nest, and saw the fourth hen mate with the gander….. how many geese do I need..?? Even if only half the eggs hatch, I will have more than enough goslings to keep me occupied.
The photo at left shows how I prepared it all. There are four jars of warm water in the double walled polystyrene box, which introduce the moisture the eggs require, and thermal mass to stabilise the internal temperature, set at 37.5°C +/- 0.2°C. The eggs need to be regularly sprayed with water, so I decided to also keep the spray bottle in there so that the eggs won’t be shocked by being sprayed with cold water. It also further adds to the thermal mass.
I’ve worked out that the goslings should hatch right at the end of September, up to maybe three days afterwards.
I may have to destroy the eggs laid from here on, I might even try poaching a couple to see if they’re as nice as Muscovy eggs.
Earlier this week, I also bought four Wiltshire sheep to assist with the orchard maintenance – two ewes and two wethers. It’s all part of the experiment to avoid using fossil fuels to mow, and fertilisers to improve the apple crop. Time will tell if it works….