Sunday, May 14, 2006

Goslings meet bad end

On Friday evening, while Ian and I attended a training session with our two-year-old Arabian gelding Cairo the two remaining puppies killed and ate one of our six grey Toulouse goslings. I was horrified to see them happily chewing up its dead body on the barn floor. They had never bothered them before, but I guess with age and playful (never malicious) curiosity what probably started as a fun chasing game was taken over by instinct. How do you tell puppies this is wrong? “No” just does not seem sufficient. An old farmer’s remedy is to tie the dead carcass around the offending dog’s neck and let it carry around the bird until it rots. Yuck! I was so angry I thought this would be a good punishment, but anger clouds reason and what I wanted to do was communicate that we can all live together here on the farm.

This morning we were too late to catch them kill two more of the six and neither Ian nor I can locate the remaining three. I looked in the tall grass, walked the pasture and some of the neighboring acreage but I could not find a carcass or hear a peep. We have eagles and other birds of prey in this area so they could surely be in the mix. Donna believes eagles carried off one or even two of the small dogs she owned years ago some years ago. Puppies beware!

I wept when I came back to the house because I wouldn’t knowingly bring something to live here for it to be murdered. I’m also at a loss for how to explain this to the puppies so they will change their behavior. Of course these two are still for sale and maybe will go soon. I wish the remaining three goslings would return but I suppose they see that idea as certain death. I thought if they were outside that if the puppies bothered them they could outrun them. Not true. Sad, very sad, I had even picked up a gosling yesterday to show Alexa and Gaby, daughters of longtime girlfriend Beth. All three came for their first visit to the farm Saturday. I may go out and call for the goslings again in case I can still find the remaining three alive.

Whether or not I find the others, Ian and I decided we’d ordered 10 new goslings and will build a secure pen that they can live in during the day should the puppies still be here when they arrive. I got what’s called Weeder Geese, and as the name implies they eat weeds but leave plants. Could be handy when I get the gardens planted.

The horses are fine. Cairo comes back from training on May 19. He is certainly calmer, although he has retained his spunky character. I look forward to seeing him integrate with our other three; Trouble, Nutmeg and Whisper.

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