Guarding the Girls

We’ve had a rough few years here on the farm. With a major health crisis, job and child custody changes, crippling predation in the flock took back burner. We lost all but one duck and dozens of chickens to a hungry family of fox but just didn’t have the bandwidth to address the issue completely.

From time to time I would find a few minutes to walk the fence lines and fill holes the fox had dug. Once I saw it come in through the overflow pipe on the pond, though, I was seriously disheartened. I had no idea how to fix that issue without blocking up the pond.

Not knowing what else to do, I decided to just keep the remaining few birds and some replacement teenagers we had gotten locked in the coop and runs. We did this for several months until a series of drivers took out 3 fox along our road, and I felt confident enough to try letting the birds out again.

We do have three large roosters that should serve to protect their girls, but we had roosters before as well and they just got picked off first, trying to scare off the predators. I’ve been contemplating other means of flock protection as we begin the grow our numbers again.

Then a couple weeks ago I discovered a post on Craigslist for some Toulouse geese.

Guard geese were high on my list of things to try. Josh HATES wild geese with a passion though so I had to make sure I found birds that wouldn’t be aggressive towards us. This breed is known to be pretty chill with people but good flock protection, and the ad said they weren’t aggressive, just loud. It felt ordained!

I approached Josh, “I’ve been thinking a lot about ways to keep the birds safe. I found a breed of goose that is friendly with people but protective of its flock. Could you live with that?” He begrudgingly agreed that it was worth a try so I showed him the Craigslist ad.

We set off for Wilmington in a Sunday snowstorm to check them out, and it turned out to be quite a productive trip! The owners were a military family being transferred to Boston and were selling lots of farmstead stuff. We came home with the geese, an incubator, fiber posts to make low tunnels in the garden and 100ft of electronet fencing with the solar electrifier.

Me holding the gander. He is enormous!

Josh asked, “why do you want the electric fence, and the answer better not include sheep or goats.” For now we’ll use it to protect the meat birds we are raising this spring, but who knows what the future may bring! I’ve got my eye on some sheep to mow the grass…

The geese have been here a couple weeks now and are settling in with the chickens quite nicely.

Gander in front with his three ladies behind.

I was worried there might be some issues between the roosters and the gander, but haven’t seen any problems. The gander is about twice the size of the biggest rooster so that may have put a quash on any ideas the boys had about approaching him.

They are chatty!

The one issue I have to resolve is that the geese are really too big to comfortably use the chicken door so I’ve been opening a side door for them each morning and closing it in the evening. This is not an issue as long as I’m home but something I’ll need to resolve before summer vacations.

So, we’re happy with our new flock guardians and looking forward to a good year in 2023. It finally feels like our family is moving into a good, healthy and happy space again.

Eggs are available as last year’s teenagers are finally starting to lay consistently. We have a beautiful mix of colors from deep brown to light, blue, green and cream colored.

The tiny eggs are from the quail. These make for the most fun fried and hard-boiled eggs you’ll ever see!

I’ll leave you with a question- what shall we name our new protectors??? We need one boy name three girl names. Leave a comment with your suggestions!

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