African geese


South Africa


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I have not had geese for several years until the beginning of this year, when I acquired a flock of 6 African geese from my neighbor, who had given up on small-farm life. Not that I blame him though- he had arguably the most ecclectic collection of animals in all of SA, and the demands of looking after them all were beginning to get to his 90-year-old bones.

Nonetheless, my African geese fitted right in; the very moment they arrived they demanded, and received, lunch, which must have appeared to them as a license to stake their claim. Their first act was to evict the chickens from their coop, who perhaps understandaby, took grave exception. However, chickens being what they are, conceded an ungracious defeat after a few days, which pleased the interlopers no end, since it established the pecking order to their great satisfaction.

The emus on the other hand, were not so easily intimidated, and neither was Sarah, the donkey queen. While Sarah successfully resisted the take-over of her barn, the emus banded together, and for the first ten days or so, launched surprise attacks on the geese, which the ducks seemed to enjoy tremendously. Whenever the geese found themselves under attack from the emus, they would appear as if by magic, and judging by intensity of their hissing clearly sided with the emus, because had they never hissed at the emus until the geese arrived, which must mean something.

Sarah, on the other hand, prefers to merely ignore the geese until they get to within ten feet or so from her barn door, which is when she will start braying and stamping her hooves, which brings the ducks waddling up from the river, which will bring the emus running. At first, the geese tried to stand their ground, but they soon realized that the enemy forces were too strong, and not to be defied with impunity. Although no actual harm has ever been done to them, the geese have now learned to keep their distance from the barn, but the same cannot be said for the fish ponds, that are now covered with chicken wire to protect the fish.

What did strike me as strange though, was that the little flock never showed any intention to return home, which was only a mile or so away. Their previous employee had never trimmed their flight feathers, and in fact, he made it a condition that I do not trim their wings either, if I wanted them. Moreover, the geese have not yet taken on the role of guard dogs- which is strange; my experience with geese has been that nothing can move without them being aware of it, but my little flock seems not to have heard of this convention. But notwithstanding this, I have come to enjoy their company, and especially when they join me for my daily late afternoon walk.

There is something impossibly dignified, and royal about geese no matter their breed, and mine are no exception. Even at their tender age of about 18 months, they exhibit a degree of dignity born from their self-proclaimed superiority that is difficult not to admire, and based on my latest experience with geese, I cannot recomend them highly enough as pets. They are easy to keep, they eat almost anything, and are in my opinion at least, the most intelligent and loyal of all the poultry birds. If you have the space to keep a few geese, you will have the most pleasing of pets- for as long as you live.