Internet, Meet Beardy and Little Momma
Updated: Jan 14, 2021
Our original four geese were Cass, Blue, Beardy and Little Momma. They were ironic names, since Cass (originally Mamma Cass) turned out to be male, and Little Mamma never managed to hatch a single egg. Beardy and Little Mamma paired off quickly, and - while we would never tell Cass or Blue - became our favorites.
They became our favorites because we can't help but root for the underdogs. Despite having take Blue as a mate (American Buff geese are monogamous for the large part) , it wasn't long before Cass and Beardy began to squabble. It wasn't bad, but Beardy always got the worst of it. Little Mamma was the only goose to lay eggs the first spring, but we had an issue with a coon and she was regularly off the nest trying to help fight it off and protect our new chicks, and out of the 22 eggs in the nest, not a one hatched.
The second year, things continued. Cass and Beardy fought more and it began to get ugly. Beardy was brought inside for healthcare a few times. Little Mamma was competing for nesting space with the chickens. To be fair, they both had their own individual spaces, but Mamma was always trying to take over the chicken coop and then being disturbed when she tried to nest. Again, 20+ eggs and not a single gosling. Cass and Blue, in the meantime, continued to not lay, but did adopt the four goslings we brought in that spring.
The third year we moved. We now had the ability to separate Beardy and Cass, which was a relief because Beardy had begun to look quite ragged. He walked in to things and seemed to have trouble walking. Now it was Little Mamma rushing to his defense, rather than the other way around and she walked ahead of him, honking quietly as he followed behind. Every time he heard a sound Beardy would begin to shriek, bringing Mamma to his side and once again keeping her off her nest. Against, a spring with no babies.
It was out first trip down to the pond with them that we realized Beardy had something terribly wrong. While none of the geese liked the stairs down to the water, Beardy was the first goose to actively fall down them. He seemed to have no idea there was a drop off at all, and while Little Mamma hopped her way down, he tumbled down, wing over tail feather, completely unable to catch himself. He also quickly became afraid of the water, because once in, he had difficulty finding his way out.
Over time however, as he stayed away from Cass and the others he regrew all his broken feathers and he began to grow more confident again. He got bigger - finally as big as Cass - and began to walk straight again. The stairs stopped being an issues, and slowly he and Mamma were reintegrated with the other geese. Piper was so happy to see them! He help his own when Cass tried to bully him again, and soon the fighting stopped. Whatever had been wrong was apparently better. He even began to love the water.
October 23rd, the weather was beautiful and Beardy, Little Mamma and the ducks decided they didn't feel like going into the shed. When I closed up, they were floating peacefully on the pond, under under the starts. One of the geese gave a quiet mutter and I closed the fence and went up to the house.
The next morning, Beardy was gone. There was no sign of a struggle, Little Mamma and the ducks were unscathed and no one seemed distressed - even Mamma. For a week we hoped he had someone how hopped the fence and we posted messages on the local message boards in case someone saw him. But there was nothing.
We continue to ask ourselves how this happened, but there are no answers. The ducks, and occasionally the other geese still stay outside most nights, and we haven't lost another animal. Even the chickens and guineas - who insist on escaping the fenced in area constantly, remain present for every headcount. We both remain crushed, and I'm a little teary as I write this.
So why bother? Why write such a sad story on such a happy platform?
Because he deserves it.
I initially got geese for chicken protection and food. It was Beardy, Cass, Blue and Little Mamma that taught me to love geese. They taught me about how intelligent and personable they can be and they made me laugh. Without them my life would be a little less rich. Beardy was our favorite and now Little Mamma will never have a chance to hatch an egg.
We miss ya Big Guy...