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A Goose Called Wilf

We’ve never kept a cockerel, but almost all of our Biddies are Silkies (a breed notorious for going broody) and therefore we regularly buy-in eggs to hatch. One summer we bought white Silkie eggs resulting in a brood of chicks in January the following year; and as is usual with Silkies, continue laying until they had a reasonable sized clutch of eggs (about 20 to 25 ) and then went broody.

The same weekend (very early March) I was at an auction and saw goose eggs for sale, so I bid for them, was successful and bought them. Rather than eat them all, I chanced setting two eggs under one of the broody pullets being mindful of the fact that she’d never sat eggs before. After a short inspection “Emma” was chosen, mainly because she was quite plump. Knowing that goose eggs take one week longer than bantam eggs to hatch she was judged to be the best of our maiden Biddies to stand losing a few ounces of fat during the long sit. Considering how large goose eggs are it was thought two (one under each wing ) would balance her nicely. Being white and fluffy she looked like a ship at sea with her wings resembling folded sails.

Every time she was lifted to cleanse herself, the eggs were sprayed with tepid water. But this was done just before she settled back down thus making sure they didn’t stand too long after spraying and minimizing the risk of them getting chilled. A goose would probably have gone into water to do her ablutions and got back on her nest in a more moist condition than the little Silkie so we were only helping nature along.

Well Emma sat the 28 days required to incubate the goose eggs and one gosling started chipping on time but after 24 hours it still had not been able to break out of its shell. Judging by the length of time it was taking we suspected the inner membrane had become too dry to enable it to break freeon its own; so with a sharp knife and a little help from his friends we brought our “Wilf” into the world. Unfortunately our other egg had been infertile but it had served its purpose of keeping the pullet evenly balanced on her nest. Compared to a newly hatched Silkie chick Wilf was BIG; no he was bigger than big he was HUGE.

Easter was early that year and the gosling actually hatched on Easter Sunday but mother and son were kept separate from the flock for a few days simply to let him find his feet and let her accustomize herself to being a new mother. Then we let the two of them out of the pen to run free range with the rest of the Biddies in the garden, bad move. Whether it was his colour (bright yellow), the fact he was so large or that he was a goose with webbed feet we will never know, but the Biddies went for him and continued attacking him at every opportunity. Emma spent most of her time defending her bairn from these attacks and if she hadn’t been so vigilant I think he would have ended up bald or dead.

When he was one month old we passed him on to someone who was going to give him away as a present to a lass living on a farm and we have never, ever tried to hatch goose eggs again (Although we did try runner ducks but thats another Backyard Biddy story).

Maggie Wailes