More goslings on the way!

By catalyst

More exciting news on the Windsor Street Farm. Ethel the goose has proven our naysaying wrong and started sitting a clutch of her eggs. For the longest time, we suspected that her genetic line may have had the tendency towards broodiness bred out of it. Every time it seemed she might sit on some eggs, every time she got our hopes up, within a night and/or a day, she’d be off the nest again. But this time’s different. This time she’s on the next for a good solid month…we hope.

We’d gotten in the habit of blaming Fred the gander for Ethel’s reticence to go broody. When she was on the nest, he seemed lonely and anxious, eager to get her out of her bushy nest and out walking and skronking around the yard. We owe Fred an apology. We also need to restrain ourselves from anthropomorphizing the birds too much.

When Ethel first made her nest beneath a scraggily bush right under our bedroom window and started laying her eggs on the PVC pipe that drains the roof gutters, we thought it was the stupidest place she could be. Sure, she wakes us up sometimes, but we were more worried that she might crush the eggs against the plastic tubing, and it just seemed like an impractical place for a nest.

We’re partially to blame: we didn’t build Ethel or the ducks suitable nesting boxes before the laying season began in the spring. Which is one reason why we’re constantly finding duck eggs scattered around the yard – behind straw bails, in the mint plants, under piles of tree trimmings, deep inside the underbrush of dense rose bushes, etc.

So it also seems that we also owe Ethel an apology. With the surrounding vegetation grown in around the bush under which she made her nest, Ethel is perfectly camouflaged. While she sets her eggs, Fred keeps watch on the yard and makes sure nobody bothers his special lady friend. He’s a good sentry. But he does seem to get bored. Which is good, because a bored goose makes a lot less noise than a busy goose. I watched him the other morning: he stood next to the brooder where we’re raising a new flock of meat and laying hens, and just stared at the little cheepers inside. Just stood there. Staring. For a while. I like to think he was wondering about the things: what are they? Are those mine? What are they doing in there.

fred  cheepers

Fred’s honk has also changed. Every morning, he rouses Ethel from her nest to eat, drink and get some exercise. To do this, he sounds a very high pitched honk, an alarm in the same way a clock rings to wake you up in the morning – which is all too often the purpose it serves for us. After Fred’s sounded his come-and-get-it honk a few times, Ethel emerges from her nest and strolls the yard for 10 minutes or so before heading back to her duties.

We’re proud of Fred and Ethel for their early parenting skills. They make a great pair, and we’re eager to meet their new babies. But we’re not sure how well we can accommodate them. Our flock has grown, and six geese just won’t fit on our small urban homestead.

We’re looking for willing and responsible people interested in raising some geese of their own. That was the whole purpose of this fowl experiment from the beginning: to breed heritage fowl with American lineage and share them with the community to expand the populations. PLEASE contact us if you’re interested in joining us in our experiment. You can email me at And thanks!

This article was originally published on June 11, 2013.