When we show our respect for the other living things, they respond with respect for us.----Arapaho Proverb

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


When we first moved to our 8 acre tract of land here in NE Pennsylvania, I was promised a small farm. We quickly got a little red shed, made an enclosure out of wire fencing, and purchased a dozen Hubbard's Golden Comet laying hens. They were excellent layers and I happily went into the egg business (small time). Ah, country life!! Now I was ready to continue building up my farm. After all, it was the incentive offered to me for moving here instead of the NJ shore! But from that point on, every effort I made to increase the livestock was met with extreme disapproval from my husband, Frank.

And then one fateful day whilst at the feed store getting supplies for my chickens, I heard some loud peeping coming from a large open crate. Peering inside, I saw the most delightful yellow balls of fluff and I fell in love. The proprietor said they were White Emden Geese, and I thought what a wonderful addition they would make to my 'farm'. Without thinking, I bought 4 of them, 2 males and 2 females, which were loaded into a large box and placed on the passenger seat in my car and we were off. It was about half way home that I began to break out in a cold sweat about what Frank's reaction would be. Let's suffice it to say he was less than tickled!

I raised my geese under a makeshift heat lamp in the basement until they were old enough to go outside. We put together some housing, set up feeders and waterers, and I settled back to enjoy my new family of geese.

Only the man at the feed store neglected to mention that these guys would get into every single kind of trouble that you can imagine! If I gave my attention to anything at all, they would have to investigate (and usually destroy it). Like the time I painstakingly planted a flat of flowers in large wine barrel planters along one side and the front of the house. I thought, at the time, that using these raised containers (placed up on cinder blocks for even more height) would be safe from their insatiable curiousity. Ha!!! In the time it took me to go inside and fill the watering can, those little buggers had eaten all my plants. As a matter of fact, I was just in time to see Werner (the head goose) eating the last of my celosia, and trying to look totally innocent, with one of the lovely blooms still sticking out the side of his beak!!!

And then there was the time they cornered the mailman on the back porch and my mother had to get him down! And the time they stood in the road and tried to stare down a huge school bus, making me run down our 200+ foot driveway to herd them back! Oh, the list goes on and on, but by now I suppose you are getting the gist of this.

Over the almost twenty years that we have been together now, I have alternately wanted to hug them and kill them! But the delight they have brought into my life far outweighs the mischief and destruction they have caused (most days anyway). They have had many young ones and their numbers have grown over time (much to Franks chagrin), and today there are 13 in all. Many others have succumbed to sickness, foxes, and being hit by a car (before we fenced in the driveway). Werner, the last of the original four, has become quite senile, and needs to be hand fed soft foods instead of the game and turkey feed he has eaten all his life.

With the fuss Frank raised over the geese and their history of causing trouble, I had to kind of give up on the sheep and cow (not to mention the horses), and that was pretty much that as far as the 'farm' thing went, and yet a marvelous thing started to occur! It seems the game and turkey feed and cracked corn have attracted every wild animal in the county to our back yard. And what fun it is to watch them all come by for a nosh!

Our regulars these days include countless woodchucks and squirrels, wild turkeys, raccoons, herds of deer, foxes, skunks, opossums, bunnies, rodents (there is a down side to everything after all, but they are really cute), and the occasional chipmunk. Add up all the beautiful species of birds that grace the numerous bird feeders, and we have ourselves a veritable wildlife sanctuary. There is hardly a minute, day or night, that somebody isn't out there eating away! And the very best part of it all? We just keep the feeders and waterers full and sit back and enjoy the greatest show on earth!!!!

Now isn't that a whole lot better than working my butt off day and night catering to a bunch of farm animals??? I have become most content with the tradeoff!!

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