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Life on the Farm

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We’ll miss Gretchen, our gray cotton patch goose

By Dean Mullis
Dean Mullis
Dean Mullis writes from Laughing Owl Farm in Richfield.

Jenifer called me Monday morning and said she could not find Gretchen, our female gray cotton patch goose.

She then called back and said she found her under our tiller. She let Jenifer pick her up, which is unusual. Gretchen has always been very shy and skittish. Jenifer also said there was a pile of soft, downy feathers near her but she could not find any marks on her like she had been attacked by some predator.

I came home from work and found Gretchen dead under the tractor. I was sitting on the ground next to the tractor holding Gretchen trying to figure out why she died when Frick and Frack came up – our two male cotton patch geese. Those two are basically evil jerks. They are why cotton patch geese are an endangered species.

While they are patrolling the barn yard; they will come at you with wings spread and hissing. They attack feed buckets, water hoses and boots and are not scared of garden rakes, shovels, Republicans or Democrats.

But on Monday, they came over while I was sitting next to dead Gretchen and gave no hint of fending me off. Frick walked on her body and gently pecked it while Frack hung back. I think it was a weird-to-me goose funeral.

We originally had 10 cotton patch geese with the idea of helping to preserve the breed years ago. We got rid of 7 and kept Frick and Frack so Gretchen could choose a mate the following spring. Geese mate for life and Frick and Frack chose each other and Gretchen was out of the loop.

She always laid 6-8 eggs in the spring but they were not fertilized. She would sit on her nests to no avail. Three weeks ago, Levi said he watched a huge black snake try to eat one of her eggs in the barn but the snake had to give up. Goose eggs are big.

She would hang out with some of the chickens a bit, but I think she was lonely for the most part. We will miss her.

Dean Mullis writes from Laughing Owl Farm in Richfield; demullis@vnet.net.
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