Gandalf has continued to be so lonely.
We’ve tried mirrors both in and out of his house. But to no avail. He is fine when one of us is outside with him but otherwise a mournful goose wanders round the house looking through windows to see where he can see us.
He has decided that sitting on the front step outside the conservatory gives him the best view into the sitting room, and also through the house to the front door and kitchen, as well as seeing another goose reflected in the glass.
After another week of trying to work round his problems we could not bear to see his trouble any longer. On Saturday morning I took myself off to see a neighbour who keeps a small flock of gees, both Embden and Pilgrim. I explained our problem and Gandalf’s problem and asked whether we could possibly borrow a female goose for a couple of hours that afternoon to see if that would help him.
He agreed at once and after showing me round his small-holding kindly picked out a young female from his flock. I suggested that it be one which he could spare just in case they bonded. She, poor thing only has one full wing and a tiny stump on the other side. Last year she tried to fly down the valley and hit an electricity cable. It ripped through her wing and took it off. Luckily she survived and looks fine. You would not notice until she stands up and flaps when she looks a poor girl, waving one magnificent wing and a little, feathery stump. Still at least it means she will not be able to try flying off again. Some years ago when we had four geese they decided to follow a wild flock which were flying overhead to a nearby reservoir. Our geese only made it down the hill to a farmer’s fields some way away. Luckily it was very early in the morning so only a few cars witnessed me, in pyjamas and wellingtons (there had been no time to dress) doing my little goose girl act walking up the road herding four geese. Oh the embarrassment!
Anyway, back to the present: we walked down the lane together side by side, my neighbour with a large white goose in his arms. The cars driving up slowed down, looked hard, firstly puzzled, then fascinated! Goodness only knows what they thought we were going to do with the poor thing.
We put this female down in the orchard near Gandalf. She had been rather traumatized by her sudden departure from the flock but when she saw him it was love at first sight. They rushed together, twined necks, and that was it. You could hear the bluebirds singing in the trees and the violins playing!! They bonded instantly.
So we all stood and watched with foolish grins on our faces for a while: then we pulled ourselves together and discussed terms. We paid him for the goose and he remarked reflectively that Gandalf looked to be a much more well-set-up and fertile gander than his current one and perhaps come next spring we would be prepared to trade him some eggs for his incubator. He also very kindly offered to have both geese to stay with him whenever we wanted to go away.
Earlier he had said that I was definitely a chicken lady and ought to keep a flock. I mentioned that I had always had chickens from being a little girl but just at the moment we were without many animals because I at least want to travel and see more of my friends. He then also offered to board any chickens for us if we got some: he is such a kind young man and it is lovely to see them carrying on the country traditions. So many young couples move in, do up a farm or cottage, make it spick and span and suburban, and are not interested in growing vegetables or keeping animals. They have not spent much time on the farm-house but have built polytunnels, poultry runs, planted fruit trees and have a spectacular veggie garden. And he and his wife work full time. However, his father is Polish and they clearly carry on the Polish rural tradition. I frequently used to visit the old farmer’s wife who lived there with her sheep dog and we used to sit and talk about country matters together. So it is particularly nice for me to see the old place continuing like this: I know the old lady would be pleased too. I treasure a photo she gave me of herself aged ten years old delivering milk to the people who lived in our cottage 90 years ago. It shows her walking through the orchard with the fruit trees still young, and she is carrying the old fashioned milk pail.
Anyway, we thought our and Gandalf’s problems were over. They both went into the goose house without a murmur that night: safe and sound.
The next morning we let them out. All was well. Then followed me round to the food and water. I stood and watched them, checking out that both were fine with this new arrangement. They bathed, preened and ate and seemed very settled. Then I turned to go indoors. And TWO GEESE FOLLOWED ME!
(if you look carefully at this next photo you may be able to see her stumpy wing, it is on her right hand side, with a feather sticking up a little)
so two geese stand on the front step, companionably staring into the house to watch us as we go about our affairs.
They will only wash and eat when one of us goes out and stands with them. I give up!!
Only, it will be much, much more magnificent than this cartoon suggests!!!