In spite of the rain and cold, it seems that spring is finally here. We have seven more baby geese. This is a picture of three of the seven babies with their mother. She is trying to coax them out of the nest.
Here they are working their way down the ramp. The mama worked real hard getting them out. Some of them fell off, which caused a great deal of consternation and one was stepped on while she was focusing on a different baby, but eventually, they all made it.
Four of them exploring the new, big, wide world. First matter of business--getting something to drink and then to eat. They were also introduced to Dad, who had been hanging around trying to help. He wasn't able to, until I let them out of the pen. He is ferocious! Yesterday and alpaca, full of curiosity, came too close and Dad flew at his head full force. The alpaca moved out of there.
Early this week I was out checking on the watering trough Picchu and Macchu use as their main water source and discovered the top of the water was covered with tiny eggs floating in what looked like an oily substance. When Mack and I looked at them more closely, we discovered they were tree frog eggs. Mack took out his loupe and we looked at them under magnification and saw the most amazing thing. The egg shells were transparent and you could see the number of cells inside each egg. Some had one cell, others two, but most had 4 or 8 cells. If you watched long enough you could even see the cells dividing. It was truly magical, and something rarely seen without a microscope. We looked at them every morning and then yesterday we looked and there were none. It had rained enough to overflow the watering trough and the little frog eggs appeared to be gone. We looked again this morning, but only pollen appeared on top of the water--the little frog eggs were nowhere to be seen. We assume they washed out of the trough and perished, but I suppose they could sink to the bottom of the trough and hatch down there. I suppose we will find out if some hatch in a few days. If not, well, hopefully mother tree frog will lay some more eggs.
Peafowl! Honestly, they are really weird. We have Cain and Merlot fastened up in a spacious pen--22 X 32 ft outside (about 15 feet high with perches at different heights so they can fly) and 10X12 foot inside (with heated perches and water during the winter). During the really cold snap in March an India Blue peahen from our neighbor's farm across the street showed up along with a cock and hung around for days. One evening the hen jumped into our pen and wouldn't leave. We dutifully went to the neighbors and told them where their hen was--so they could come get her! After a couple of weeks we found a note saying "Just keep her." So we did.
Yesterday morning our neighbors peacock and 5 peahens showed up and hung around all day. They sat on the roof of the pen, the roof of the chicken house and ran around the field and the yard. I was mortified lest they would decide to jump into the pen when we went in to close our birds inside the pen at night! (Remember poor Morgan and the great horned owl!) Instead the guest peahen ran out the door to join her brother and sisters. The last we saw of them they were running down the fencerow to the woods going very, very far from their home across the street.
This morning at 6:00 am I heard an awful loud mmeeeaaww sound that peacocks make. I jumped out of bed and started looking. I couldn't see a peacock anywhere around the pen or in the field or yard. The calls kept getting louder and louder MEEEEEAWWWWW, MEEEAAAAAWWW. Finally I spotted our neighbor's peacock on the gable of the garage roof. He called loudly for about an hour and then disappeared. I hope they all went home--but who knows. I certainly have no ability to think like a peafowl, but I do worry about them. The picture below is of Cain, who is a quiet bird and glad to have Merlot to himself. No fighting through the walls of the pen today!
LG the super protective, hissing, clicking gander has done his job. Princess hatched out 4 little goslings yesterday afternoon--two boys and two girls. They are cute as can be and she is very proud of them. The one you can see clearly is a little girl with a gray bill and eyes. The one Princess is grooming is a little boy with an orange bill and blue eyes. An advantage to Pilgrim geese is that one can determine the sex from the moment the gosling hatches. The other two goslings are under Princess. We got a good look at all of them this morning. She now has the hard work of getting them off the top of the two hay bales and down to the ground so she can feed and water them. She and LG also have to protect them from the cats and the most dangerous risk of all--cold, wet weather. To help her, we put food and water for them on the floor of the hay shed.
We have a lovely young goose which has established a nest with 9 beautiful white eggs on top of two hay bales in our hay shed. We also store our grain in the same shed. Princess (the goose on the hay bales--named after the Princess and the Pea) is very tame and I feed her every morning by hand. There is another lovely nest with no eggs in it on the floor of the hay shed. Why is no bird using it? Occasionally I find some chicken eggs in it, but it is big enough for and made by a goose. Yesterday, I was feeling around in the floor nest to see if there were any eggs when this dark, black headed heat seeking missile came shooting in aimed directly at me. It was LG, who likes me very much. He recognized me and shot under a wall and out without touching or scolding me. This morning I was in the shed fixing breakfasts for the various birds when Princess let out two loud honks. LG, in missile mode, was in the building in a flash. He dashed past me and attacked a female goose on the floor nest. He went after her head and literally was beating her to bits, when she gave up and shot under the wall. LG jumped up on the bale with Princess and asked to be fed. I fed them and slowly realized that Princess is LGs goose. No other goose is allowed in the shed--that is why there are no goose eggs in the beautiful big nest on the floor. The Canada goose below is LG, skulking around in front of the hay shed. The white gander is his buddy and helps him protect Princess.
While doing chores this morning, I noticed that the boys (our alpacas--Machu and Picchu) were staring at something. I suddenly realized that I left the gate into our yard open and they were contemplating escape. It would be from one confined space into another, but it would be different space! Yeah! I rushed over and closed the gate. A few minutes later I heard Libby barking and acting weird. I looked into the yard and there she was, trying to get the alpacas back into their field. She sat like a good girl when I asked her to.
The gate was open. Apparently, I didn't get it latched and the boys suffering from spring fever and very long locks tried a break. I didn't think they could hurt anything so we closed the gate and left them in the yard while we took the dogs for a walk. They (the alpacas) ran around for a few minutes, ate some fresh grass and then started exploring. When we got back, they were staring at reflections of themselves in the glass sliders of the sun room. They weren't happy! They could see two other alpacas in the windows- living in the house with us! How could we?
Spring is finally here! How do I know--the geese and ducks have started laying eggs! Oh boy! The first goose egg was in a hen's nest sitting on top of three little brown eggs. I took it and put it in the refrigerator (see above). She apparently didn't like it so she built a new nest. It is a massive construction that must have taken her a good deal of time. She went into the hay shed and pulled hay out of an unbroken hay bale. She took about a fourth of it for her nest. When I looked into it, I didn't see any egg, but there was one--the big white one on top of the pile above-hidden lovingly, I suppose in the hay. I stole it, too. The small white eggs in the picture above are duck eggs and the brown ones are chicken eggs.
Carrying the warm goose egg in my hand and thinking about all the egg in it made me start wondering why the term "goose egg" stood for "a bump on the head" or "nothing." After considerable research, the answer was not satisfactory. The term is used because a 0 on a scoreboard looks like an egg. In England, they say duck egg--to one up our British cousins we use the phrase "goose egg." And, I guess, a bump on the head must feel and/or look big. Hmmmm!
Before we all forget the deep snow we had a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would post this picture of deep drifts and the poor freezing geese. They are greeting me at the gate to the barnyard. The drift was up to my thigh. The bottom of the chicken house (building to the left) windows are at about chin level. During the cold snap the geese spent the night on the pond (we kept the aerator running to try to keep it from freezing) and water would freeze in their feathers. When they came up to the house their feathers would clink and rustle like glass chandeliers.
Enjoy the warm weather this weekend! We intend to!