About this time last year, Louis and Mae Shelton had success in hatching a goose egg. They named the gosling “Henry,” not after me, but because they thought the name would fit.
He has grown up to be a fine specimen of his species, and last month they kindly gave him to us, thinking that perhaps he could become a consort for Gladys.
I brought him home in a dog crate, and gradually began introducing him to the barnyard flock. After three days he had acclimatized himself to the point that I could let him mix with the other fowl, but I have found that he is more human-oriented than goose-oriented. For reasons that I clearly can understand, he considers Gladys to be a non-person. For her part she ignores him as well.
When my Good Wife and I are working in the yard, Henry talks to us constantly. His mellifluous voice is in such contrast to Gladys’ loud and coarse honking, which is more like a junkyard dog’s barking. When we let the fowl out of the pen, Henry stays with us, chatting and at times eating greenery out of our hands. Gladys has no interest in human contact, except when one speaks of food or water being served.
I was concerned that Henry and Clarence the rooster might not get along well together, but we have experienced no problem in that area. Clarence is sufficiently busy with his bevy of hens, and he does not have time to make new friends of another species. The hens have learned that Henry will expect to be served his meals first, but the feed is abundant, and they eat off to themselves.
To date, I have seen no interaction between Gladys and Henry. She is a Cotton Patch goose, identical to the one on the U.S. postage stamp issued last year that featured Heritage Breed animals. I might appear to be critical of Gladys, but I give her full credit as an egg producer. This spring, she has begun her annual rite of laying eggs, thereby causing my Good Wife to return to her recipes for goose egg frittatas and cheesecake. Both are truly sumptuous.
When observing Gladys and Henry, one immediately realizes that he is more refined and cultured in his demeanor. His gentle honking to let us know he appreciates our presence is most touching and heart-warming. Although he does not care to be petted or held, he seeks human companionship as a rite of passage.
He does not understand why he cannot come inside, standing on the porch, gently tapping at the door. Once we go outside, he is completely happy. In my childhood, my father would allow my pet duck into the kitchen when he was having his breakfast, and I might add, before my mother came downstairs. I dare not undertake such behavior with Henry, but he seems content to know that his tapping will bring me outside for fun and games. As twilight approaches, he willingly follows me back to his enclosed pen.
In my many years of experience with fowl, I have found that geese are the most anthropomorphic of all fowl. In their own way, geese are more like cats and dogs than they are like other fowl, Gladys excepted. I also have found that ganders are more friendly and outgoing than geese. They also, like penguins, do their fair share in raising whatever goslings might come their way. Unlike roosters, they understand that they are the young ones’ co-progenitors.
Henry’s arrival has been the premier event in the barnyard this spring. He shows the great attention to detail that Louis and Mae put forth in rearing such a fine example of his breed.