Good Grief, Ethel–Babies in January?

Our Chinese geese, Fred and Ethel, became parents today.  In the dead of winter.  What were they thinking?  When Ethel began to sit on a nest in mid December, we shook our heads in wonder.  Her dilligence was rewarded today with three gold and brown babies, with the possibility of more to come!

We had little faith she would have a successful outcome, and panic ensued when we heard the sounds of little peeps at feeding time (Fred and Ethel do not make little peeps — try loud honks and squawks).  We knew her time was near, and a cracked remnant of a shell was our first clue. Upon closer inspection, we saw one downy head poking out from under Ethel’s wing.  Now what?

Fred and Ethyl live in a converted calf warmer, which is used to revive baby calves suffering from the cold. It is constructed of plywood,  warmed with a heat lamp suspended from the ceiling, has an entrance door, a small hatchway at one end to supply food and water, and a ventilation slot that is covered for the winter to keep out the cold and snow.  It has no insulation, and an electrically heated bucket keeps drinking water from freezing.  It was the best goose housing  we could come up with on short notice, but that is another story.  It is no place to raise baby geese in January in Wyoming!

With a minimum of chaos, we gathered up the three babies and headed to the house.  Fred had to be restrained, but Ethyl graciously surrendered her offspring without biting me and clung to her nest where more eggs needed her attention.  The laundry room is now a nursery (again), and a wire rabbit cage is home to baby fowl (again).  And I am Mother Goose.

Photos to follow.


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