I have to admit that since my second friend died this year, I have been rather manically rushing about trying to do things I really want to do.
Which, although I enjoy it, does not include blogging because my thinking goes like this: if I am struck down with a nasty disease hopefully I will at least be able to sit in bed and blog from my laptop, for a while at least. But while I can get about physically, rather than virtually, I need to accomplish things.
So what have I been doing since I was last here, both writing and reading your blogs.
I went to Newton’s House, he of the apple and gravity, saw The Tree, and had a wonderful day.
I went to Scarborough for a few days, wonderful days of sun, sea and fresh air.
I went to the best preserved Workhouse in the UK to learn more about our social history. Very good, but not heart warming!
I have been to Orkney to visit the ongoing archeological dig there and had some wonderful trips with rangers and warden, quite extraordinary and mind-blowing.
I have had countless days out with various members of the family and arranged two more today: my ex-daughter in law has a birthday this week, so we are going to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on her birthday so see an exhibition of wildlife inspired work by Tom Frost and then at the weekend when more of the family will be around we are going over to Cheshire to visit Quarry Bank Mill, which has been the location for a recent TV series here in the UK.
Unfortunately I did not manage to go on these last two visits as I was struck down with Shingles: my doctor thinks as a result of the exhaustion of looking after my friend this winter and spring.)
Then the other notable happening this summer was as follows:
In the middle of June one of our female geese went broody. She had hidden two eggs while I was away for a few days and husband had not noticed. Since we did not know how long she had been sitting we felt we could not throw away possible maturing embryos. A week later her sister became broody as well. We tried in vain to ‘break’ this second goose’s condition by taking her off the nest she had built and making her go back outside with the rest of the little flock. However, she just prowled round the house and garden, shouting with anger and grief and pecking at whatever windows she could get at. After 45 minutes we gave in as we could not bear to cause her such distress and let her return to her nest beside her sister. So we had semi-detached brooding going on.
We only have a few geese – three females and one gander – just for their eggs and as pets (they also make great ‘guarddogs’), but we really do not want or need any more. We immediately removed the couple of eggs this second goose had secreted and instead we raided the fridge and took out the oldest egg which was four weeks old, right from the coldest part of the fridge, at the very bottom, and gave this to this second broody goose to sit on. No way could this egg be viable in our opinion, so she could sit and we could be sure of NO MORE GEESE from her, at least.
A goose usually sits for about 28-34 days before the eggs hatch, depending on species. This old, cold, egg was from a Chinese goose and their eggs tend to need the longest incubation period, so we were expecting 35 days give or take one or two.
By day 40 both geese were still sitting tight but we were sure the eggs must have gone ‘off’ and it was time to throw them out and make the geese give up their vigils: I picked up the eggs, gently as I did not want an old, toxic egg exploding all over me, ready to take them out to the rubbish. The two eggs from under the first goose felt very light, and I gave them a tiny shake to see if the contents were liquid, which is what I would expect of a bad egg. And, sure enough, I heard the symptomatic swishing sound indicating that they had ‘gone off’.
Then I picked up the egg from under the second broody goose. It felt heavier than I expected and when I shook it I felt and heard nothing at all. I hovered and havered and finally thought, “Oh well, give it a couple more days just to be on the safe side” and I replaced it under its ‘mother’. So we had one broody sitting on an egg and one broody sitting on nothing.
Several times I opened the goose run to see both broody sisters sitting side by side, incubating the remaining egg. Neither would give up and go outside.
On day 45 I opened the goose run to let them out and what did I see? This tiny little head peeping out from under the second broody goose who had regained sole ownership of ‘her’ egg.
My first thoughts were, “Oh, how sweet. How thrilling. A baby around the place.”
My second made my blood run cold, “What if I had thrown the egg out, and a perfectly viable baby goose had died slowly in its egg, or had hatched in the warm weather to find no-one to look after it or feed it.”
But our story has a happy ending. A lovely, healthy young gosling did appear, 45 days after the mother began sitting. This must be some kind of record.
Both geese sat with the gosling that day but the new, inexperienced mother goose did not notice that her baby had fallen outside her nest during the early evening and could not climb back to sit underneath her. It became chilled during the evening and early night, and when I discovered the fact at 11.00 pm it was shivering and chilled. I put it in an incubator for the night expecting the worst, but it was lonely and cried. So I did what I have done before for very young or fragile baby chicks and ducks, put into practice what an old hand at poultry rearing told me many years ago: I slept with it sitting on my shoulder just where my neck meets the shoulder. The carotid artery runs up the neck here and makes for both a comforting pulse sound and also gives out heat. At this age no poult produces ‘poop’ so it is very clean.
Apart from making sure I did not squash it, which means one only sleeps very lightly, and answering its occasional questioning cheeps, we had an uneventful night. But I did notice that it sneezed frequently and every breath it took produced a crackling noise. Also one eye was half shut.
I feared that a cold was already developing which, at such a tender age, can kill a young bird extremely fast. So next morning I rang the vet very early and we went straight over first thing to have it checked out and given some antibiotic. S/he was 22 hours old when we came in for a consultation! All the veterinary nurses crowded round to cluck over the little thing, and with the female vet as well, there were four women being broody.
So for the first few weeks of its life the bird spent the night in an incubator by our bed under a lamp where it could see us and hear us, and it spent the days with its mother,with a lamp shining into the run to keep it warm, as now that it was hatched, the mother did not want it back under her wings for some reason. Its aunt insisted on staying right beside them, so in effect it had several mums.
The newest member of the flock (with me standing guard against buzzard attack).
So, I have been rather preoccupied recently.
This was six weeks ago, and we have had several ups and downs since, which I will post about, but you may be pleased to know that it is doing well:)