wings and things

“I just don’t understand you!”

Ming and I had a couple of altercations today that were impossible to resolve. This is so frustrating and painful and yet it points to the fact that we all think and feel differently and trying to match someone else’s way of doing both is impossible.

So what on earth do you do with irreconcilable differences? How does a 20-year-old son understand a 55-year-old mother who is trying to understand a 78-year-old husband? The only way, I think, is to accept the different points of view about everything, to accept each other (despite these differences), and to develop a capacity for sympathy. Empathy would be better, of course, but if the other person just cannot fit their great big size 13 feet (Ming) into your shoes, then agreeing to disagree is your best option.

I have always loved the concept of difference but I have never had it thrust in my face as much as the last few years, with Anthony’s declining health and Ming’s growing up. Neither of them understand that, at the center of this dynamic (in terms of age alone), I struggle sometimes to give them both what they need or want. And neither of them even think, unless I remind them (rather vociferously sometimes), that I might actually want to be considered too.

Perhaps love doesn’t require understanding? I am not complaining here (well maybe a bit!), or posing a feminist argument (hell, no – most of the misunderstandings I’ve experienced have been with women); I am just observing that sometimes you just have to accept the fact that you will never agree with the other person.

But you can still hug them and keep your “you are wrong!” thoughts to yourself. Ask Godfrey the gander!



Bubble: I miss the emus.

Seli: So do I.

Woodroffe: So do I.

Angelina: So do I.

King: So do I.

Okami: So do I.

Pearly: So do I.

Malay: So do I.

Phoenix 1: So do I.

Ming: Well I DON’T!


He used to love me!

Godfrey, the gander, whose other name is now ‘the Godfather’ was, to begin with, our only goose, and he adored me. He was given to us as an adolescent.

Then we got little Pearl, who Godfrey cherished so much that as soon as Pearl was out of the brooder and free-ranging, Godfrey started to bite me, hiss at me and our relationship is still at a stalemate. Here is little Pearl when she was little!

Since then, our gang of poultry has grown and I was hoping they would all roam around freely during the day in a playful way, but the Godfather has them all organized into a kind of army! They all come to me for bread and lettuce but they do it sneakily because Godfrey disapproves so violently.

Pearl is the one on the far left.

I really miss Godfrey loving me – oh well!


Good old Godfrey

As mentioned before, we have a gander called Godfrey who is like the Godfather and looks after the rest of the gaggle. He is so overprotective of the younger geese that he often bites me, but I adore him. I love the way he has such a proud stance.

He first starting getting bitey with me when we got our first Sebastopol gosling, Pearl, and, not long after, our two Pilgrims, Ola and Seli, and then two more Sebastopols, Diamond and little Woodroffe.  When it came time to let these little ones out of their brooder near the Aga, and introduce them to Godfrey, it was fascinating to see him bend his substantial neck down and almost kiss them, making a soft, keening noise. He didn’t respond to the baby ducks or turkeys like this at all – just to the goslings – and from that day onward, they became his property. Except for the fact that he doesn’t like me coming near them, it’s rather lovely. Also, if my nieces or nephews visit, I have to watch him carefully as you can see from this picture taken when they were little.

The gaggle are almost his size now but he is still just as protective and sometimes becomes ferocious. The following is one of my favourite pictures of him. However, it is also the reason I am putting off going out to feed the gang – I am getting sick of him biting me and me having to kick out to defend myself. It ruins the late afternoon ambience somehow and it’s tricky because the rest of the gang surround me lovingly (well, greedily because I have food) while Godfrey tries to amputate both my legs at once.

I am going to try something new in a minute and just focus on him. Wish me luck!


Returning good for evil

Some time ago now, doudou, a fellow blogger ( sculpted me some birds, and they were brilliant – three emu chicks, one galah and a bluejay.

Now doudou is going to sculpt Tina Turner! In case you don’t know who Tina is, he is one of our roosters. Another thing you might not know is that Tina attacks me all the time (possibly because, until he grew up, I thought he was a girl). So, in good-for-evil mode, I have decided to allow Tina’s entrance into doudou’s hall of fame because I am hoping that giving Tina Turner a turn will endear him to me – ha!

The only problem is that Godfrey finds this very difficult because, as my only other attacker, he feels it should be him who is sculpted first but as I told him this morning, whilst extricating my ankle from his biting beak, Tina was here long before he arrived!

I do try to pat him with one hand and use my other hand to fend him off but it isn’t working very well so please, doudou, could  you sculpt Godfrey first? He is terribly jealous….


Glamorous geese

Sebastopol geese don’t look real; they look fairytaleish. Here are my latest photos of Woodroffe.

Woodroffe does a lot of swimming and preening.

Somehow the shoes don’t seem to go with the rest of the outfit, do they!

One of the most beautiful things about Woodroffe is that he has no idea how breathtakingly beautiful he is.

When I look at him, and he looks back at me, I feel a sense of absolute peace.


Imprinting 2: On the other hand ….

Despite my last post, there is something about this imprinting thing that niggles at my sense of right and wrong, or whatever you want to call it – animal morality? Dunno.

It niggles in the same way that the idea of putting poultry in nappies (see a previous post – many moons ago), niggled. I think it niggles because there is something false and coercive about adopting a baby gosling, duckling, or any infant bird, with the express purpose of imprinting; it seems too much like animal experimentation, almost circus-like.

I put my hand up as someone who was ‘guilty’ of being interested in this imprinting thing – yes. However, when  it soon became apparent that Zaruma (our first duckling), and Pearl (our first gosling), much preferred each other’s company to mine, I realized how silly I was being. After all, they still love me too!

I guess I have always had a strong aversion to coercion so, unless a goose wants to come up and give me a cuddle (a rather bizarre but lovely thing if it happens naturally), I don’t ‘go there’.

Even if I wanted to, guess who would soon stop me? My competitor – Godfrey! And, despite our differences, I have to concede that he is a much better gosling-cuddler than I will ever be because, last time I looked in the mirror, I was still a human. Go Godfrey!


Strategies for dealing with aggressive birds

Happy new year everyone. One of the first things on my list of things-to-do-in-2012 is to improve these strategies.

The loaf of bread strategy:

Okay, you already know about Godfrey, the Godfather of ganderdom. Now, don’t get me wrong; I adore Godfrey, but it’s unrequited, so now I honk back at him when I am trying to pat MY geese, not HIS geese, and today I slapped him in the head with a loaf of bread after he bit me on the bum again. This was quite effective except that Godfrey took the whole loaf of bread and ran away, with the gang following. So much for their loyalty. I will need to perfect this strategy before I patent it. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the gentleness of this picture; it was taken months ago, before Godfrey became the Godfather.

The leg-shaking strategy:

Tina Turner is the Araucana rooster who seemed like a hen to begin with. Okay, so I got that wrong. Well, Tina has recently developed an antipathy towards me which he demonstrates by flying at my legs and latching on with his substantial claws. This is very painful, especially if you are wearing shorts. Now it has been suggested to me that his behaviour might be an expression of adoration but don’t think so. Anyway, this is how to do the leg-shaking thing. You just walk slowly towards the rooster, lifting one leg at a time and shaking it. If the rooster tries to get behind you and trick you, just keep doing the leg-shaking. Sometimes this means that you will accidentally kick the rooster but if that happens don’t worry as the rooster will recover. Incidentally, this is also a great leg-toning exercise.

I’ve used the following photo of Tina on this blog before but I haven’t been able to take another one because it’s hard to take a photo while you are leg-shaking.

The screech strategy:

This one is very good for Willy wagtails who are nesting in washhouses on old farms. In a previous post I mentioned how difficult it is for me to do the washing whilst being dive-bombed by screeching Willy wagtails. So now what I do is I run, screeching loudly, into the washhouse and continue screeching until I have put the load of washing on. I’ve learned that I have to screech louder than they screech in order for the strategy to work. What happens is that they will vacate the washhouse for approximately two minutes, so obviously this strategy needs a bit of tweaking.

This photo is courtesy of Wikipedia

So there you have it: three very effective strategies for dealing with aggressive birds. I realise these strategies need refining, so any suggestions are welcome!


Feathers in the nostrils

In the middle of this picture you see Diamond on the left and Woodroffe on the right, two Sebastapol geese (the other two, Ola and Seli – named after my nieces, Olivia and Selina, are Pilgrim geese). At the time I couldn’t wait for Woody and Diamond to grow up because I’d seen pictures of how beautiful they would become as adults. See the Wikipedia link here:

Well, now that they are nearly fully grown, they are indeed beautiful, almost magical, in appearance. Here is Woody.

And here is Diamond.

They are almost impossible to tell apart now except that Woody has a little grey mark on the right side of his forehead and is much friendlier than Diamond. As you can see, Diamond has developed a bit of the Godfrey arrogance! In fact I suspect that Diamond may well be a male, and Woodroffe might be a female, but it is obviously too late to change their names because, when I call them, they respond to these names.

I kind of miss the cute, soft cuddliness of their littleness, but they still like to have their incredible feathers stroked! The only drawback is that these curly feathers sometimes float up into my nostrils which doesn’t help the hayfever I always suffer this time of year.

When I went to the chemist the other day, he asked me what was the main trigger and I said, “Sebastopol goose feathers.”

He looked at me strangely before handing me the tablets.



‘You’ve got to pick a pocket or two….’

The quote, in case you don’t remember or realise, is from Oliver – oh how I loved that movie!

Ever since we started accumulating a few (just a few!) birds I have gotten into the habit of always having bits of bread and lettuce in my back pockets and it didn’t take long for the gang to realise this. As a result, even after I have given them their morning treats, they pick and peck at my pockets relentlessy, so much so that most of my clothes are now full of holes.

This picture of Ola (Pilgrim goose on the left) and Zaruma (Muscovy duck) is the best I can do to show you what I’m talking about (as it’s difficult to take a picture of your own back pockets!) Ola is pecking at my trousers and Zaruma is heading towards my back pockets where Ola soon joins him.