One evening earlier this week, while I was standing at the sink contemplating what I should prepare for supper, as my Good Wife was away, I beheld Gladys strolling by under the window. In amazement, I exclaimed, “Gladys!” The air conditioning being on, and the window being shut, she did not hear me, but before I could regain my composure, along came Henry, equally oblivious to my peering out the window.
I stopped the food preparation process at once and rushed outside. The two of them ambled along past me, I assumed to head back to the barnyard. They made a detour out towards the soybean field, causing me to worry how I would be able to lure them back. When I reached the gate to the barnyard, I heard something behind me, and they were both there. I opened the gate, and they leisurely sashayed by in front of me. Clearly, they had enjoyed the temporary change of scenery.
Determined to get to the bottom of this situation, I set out to examine the fencing, knowing that neither Gladys nor Henry had any interest in flying. Intelligent geese that they are, they had found the ideal hole behind a string of young walnut volunteers. They obviously thought it could serve as a future in-and-out passageway. Later that evening, when I called my Good Wife to tell her what had taken place, she remarked, “Gladys likes having a platonic partner in crime.” How right she is!
For his part, Henry definitely was the accomplice. When he slipped out by himself on a previous occasion several months ago, he came up on the deck, and began pecking at the door to enter. That time, although he did return to his own quarters, he made clear that he thought he belonged inside.
Having been hatched from an egg by Lewis and Mae Shelton, his orientation is human, rather than gallinaceous. When I am with him, he never stops talking, and he expects me to speak back to him. Geese are extremely social animals, and in Henry’s case, if humans are not available, Gladys will have to do. He is not a chicken lover, which Clarence, the rooster, knows to be the case. He and Henry each pretend the other does not exist.
In previous columns I have described Gladys’ lack of maternal knowhow, centering on her not understanding how to make a nest or sit on eggs. She might not be matriarchal, but she certainly is monarchical. She has a regal bearing that seems to be enhanced when she passes into forbidden territory.
Her former incessant honking has slowed to a more bearable pace and volume, and her aloofness gives the impression of true nobility. She sees herself as the “Alpha Female” of the barnyard, and Henry is willing to let her have that role unchallenged by him. When I am present, he does not even realize that she exists. Henry is truly anthropomorphic, regarding himself as another human in every respect. He probably wonders why I do not have feathers, or perhaps why he does.
I am attempting to merge Quack and Quack, the Khaki Campbell ducks, into the barnyard flock, but the chickens do not like them, hence they still have to be kept separated. Gladys and Henry have accepted them but the hens have not. The matter could be ameliorated if the chickens were from a gentler, more cultured, breed, such as Domineckers—I use the Northern Neck spelling for Dominiques, but Rhode Island Reds, although excellent layers, are unfriendly in interpersonal, or perhaps I should say, “interfowl?”, relations. In the meantime, Quack and Quack are by no means in a state of rebellion.
In the end, I do hope Gladys will not try to coerce Henry into unacceptable “fowl” play, for the status quo is likely as good as it is going to be.