Well, here's a bit more to that story about Ginger. Or, I should say, the other side of the story.
The neighbors were so upset about what their dog had done, they went and bought us a goose. Not what I had expected, since I hadn't expected anything at all. They had apologized, and I know that this is a part of life (not that I have to like it, mind you), and since the dog had broken it's chain, it was really an accident. A very, very unfortunate accident, but what's done is done. But while I was food shopping Sunday, Jeff called and told me that the neighbors had brought over an African brown, but he didn't know if he should take it. I don't know how to turn a gesture like that down, so I didn't. Plus, I have a very soft spot for geese, just like I told you. I asked him to accept the goose, keep it separate, and I would be home in a while to see what it looked like.
When I got home and there was no missing this guy--he was "singing" at the top of his lungs. He's not an African (people get them confused a lot), he's a brown Chinese. He has a black bill and a black knob on his head and he looks sort of like and sounds a lot like a dinosaur. He has a condition called slipped wing, so his "wrists" don't sit flush on his back, like they should, and his wing tips stick out a bit. I went over to meet him and say hello. As soon as I did, he stopped yelling. Never underestimate a goose, truly. They understand a lot more than people will give them credit for. They are VERY smart, and though they act on instinct much of the time, I have learned that they have the ability to reason and problem-solve in a limited scope. They also have the ability to learn and have fantastic memories. He was yelling because no one would talk to him. Once someone did, he stopped. We had a nice chat, he and I. I explained I was AlphaGoose, and I stroked him and looked him over a bit. He's in pretty good shape, despite the crazy wings. A bit dirty, and he looks like he hasn't been fed the best diet he could be, but there's nothing that can't be mended. As to the wings, if it's a dietary problem, it'll get straitened out a bit. If it's a bone issue, I'll just keep tucking them under. He was very good natured and let me and the kids touch him without flinching. He was eager to talk to the kids and he did not like to be by himself. The kids named him Arthur, which is a good name. I could tell he was looking for someone, though, so I let him out into the yard to see if Ferdi and Ginger might keep him company.
He seemed slightly comforted by Ferdi and Ginger, but he was still searching for someone. He would cry out and seem to listen to hear if anyone would answer. It was obvious that he had a mate, and I didn't have her. Did you know that geese are monogamous and mate for life? Not many people do. Chickens are not monogamous. Ducks are monogamous only for a season, but geese are forever. And, if one mate were to die, the other will mourn for a long period of time and may never take another mate again. Ferdi and Ginger are mates (another reason for me wanting so badly for Ginger to pull through), and are together all the time. Arthur wanted his mate, too.
I asked the neighbors where they had gotten him, and they didn't know, but they had the directions to the farm. Good enough. Yesterday, when I saw that he was still searching for her, and was still lonely (despite Ferdi and Ginger's company), I decided that I couldn't let him suffer. I'd have to find her. I made a bunch of phone calls, and found the farm he came from. In the afternoon, the farmer called me back and said, yes, he was the one the neighbors got the goose from, and yes, he had one other just like it. I had to be Arthur's mate. A little trip and $20 later, she was in the back of the car and Reid had named her Margaret.
She had been silent the whole trip. However, on pulling into the driveway, she heard Arthur's sad cry, and she went crazy. She started to honk back, and he would honk back to her honk. It was a goosey love story, it was just so touching. Honk, honk! Back and forth, back and forth. What a racket! Finally, though she was in a tizzy, I got her out of the carrier and she headed straight for him. Then it was typical goose love. No rushing toward each other, no flapping of wings, no bonking of heads. Geese are way too dignified for that crap. Nope, she walked near him, they honked at each other until they calmed down enough to see each other, and they both started to eat grass. That's love for you.
They fell into such a familiar rhythm of each other and so immediately, there's no doubt in my mind that they are mates. She follows him, they talk to each other while they eat. I am used to goose love now, having had Ferdi and Ginger all these months. Ferdi and Ginger speak the same language. They talk to each other, constantly, usually while eating. It seems Arthur spoke another language, and that's why he was lonely--no one could talk to him. Margaret speaks the same language, and it is clear to see the pairs while all four stand on the lawn (despite the physical differences, I mean).
So, now there are four. They are delightful to watch together. The Chinese are so different-looking than the Buffs, and yet they all look so nice together. This morning, because Ginger was feeling better, the four of them went on a walking tour of the yard. I looked out the front window, and there they were, in a line, Ferdi at the lead like a tour guide, walking clear around the house, like he was showing them around. It was hilarious. You just can't make this stuff up.
I have hopes that we will all live happily ever after. Ginger is looking better today (thankfully!), and Margaret and Arthur are as inseparable as Ferdi and Ginger. If you're wondering how the new geese are getting on with the "old", don't worry. Geese are fairly easy going about that sort of thing. They did have a bit of a nipping contest that first day, and yes, every once in a while, they will nip out at one another, but it seems Arthur is the top of the flock, and Ferdi and Ginger have learned to take the back seat. They are quick learners, and already, they are starting to move together as one flock. Quite an interesting flock, at that.