On Sunday night we popped out to check the stock and found Domenique ( our goose) dead. I think this is the saddest thing that has happened on the plot so far . Geese are big and intelligent with distinct personalities. They also have a very strong pair bond, so Pierre hissed at me when we picked up her body. Becs and I went in and cried for a couple of hours and then tried to work out what had happened. She didn’t have a mark on her, but she had been eating a plant the day before that I had assumed was comfrey. On closer inspection we think it might have been fox glove , which could have poisoned her.
This very sad event left us with 2 problems. What to do with the mourning Pierre, and what to do with her huge dead body.
For now I wrapped her in a bag and put her whole in the chest frezzer and decided to deal with that problem shortly.
Pierre called for her with a very loud and forlorn honks all evening and then all night on Sunday. At 4am I put notes through to the neighbours apologising for the disturbance and then read up on what on earth to do. The literature says that some geese can mourn for 3 months!!!! We could’nt have him honking all night for 3 months so I vowed to try and find him a new girlfriend.
Luckily I had Monday off work anyway, so I set myself a mission of finding Pierre a friend before the end of the day. I was helped to stay motivated by the loud mournful honking, to be heard all day long.
Eventually I found a nice man in a local village who after hearing my tale of woe, agreed to sell me a goose from his adult flock of 7. I raced over there with a large dog crate in the back of the car and met his beautiful flock. He had a mix of girls, mostly white, but then in the back ground I saw a dark buff coloured bird, and requested her. She is a Chinese cross, so much lighter than Pierre in weight and very pretty.
The next challenge was to introduce them and see if my lonely gander could be rematched. By the time I got her home, it was dark. I released her in to a little area at the top of the paddock and walked down to usher the sad lump that Pierre had become, up towards her.
I began to shoo him up towards her, and because it was dark he hadn’t seen her yet. She made a gentle call, and he suddenly heard it and called back. After that he didn’t need any more encouragement and waddled his way to the top of the pasture cooing and replying until he located her. It was a touching moment as the pair waddled around together like old friends.
Straight away the mourning honks stopped. He still called out a bit later, so we put them away over night to be sure of no noise. This morning they are a little more shy of each other and not quite a ‘pair’ yet, but he is 100% happier and Im sure it won’t be long. We have called her Lucy Lui and are hoping they will have a long and happy life together.
A sad day but its all part of having a smallholding. I found his distress very stressful, as this wasn’t a problem we had anticipated. From what I have read, he may have been able to be re paired as he is still pretty young, things might be more difficult with an older pair.