Thursday, March 16, 2006

goose logistics

I have a problem.

A problem of logistics. A problem of logistics and geese.

As any of you who have been out to our farm recently can report, our geese, our dozen ‘weeder’ geese have been wintering and weeding in our front yard.

But winter is over and its time to move on and weed another place.

Time for the geese to march up on the hill, to goose step up the mountain, and right there, right next to the forest, to set up camp for the summer.

It’s time for the weeder geese to make their new home on top of our asparagus bed where they can, for the season, eat the weeds growing between the 1500 asparagus plants.

Eat weeds all summer long until they are fat and plump.

(Wenonah has announced, though, actually she has decreed, that the geese will not be reduced (or is that elevated?) to the centerpiece at a holiday meal. She has decreed that the geese (and turkeys) will not be eligible for mealdom. Instead, the geese and turkeys have achieved the legal status of 'pet'. And, as everyone knows, one does not eat ones pets).

But besides the pet status, we have another problem.

How do transport geese from here to there? How do you get a dozen willful geese to go on a march, to goose step out of the yard, down the drive, past the fields, the orchard, and then, up the hill, across another field and finally, through a gate and into our quarter acre asparagus patch.

When I think about herding geese a picture in my mind lights up.

It’s a narrow country road somewhere in the south of France. And there, coming down the road, lead by an old, somewhat overweight farmer, a French farmer. And at his feet, actually only occasionally at his feet, but mostly running back and forth are two eagerly energetic herding dogs, herding dogs busily herding a large flock of huge white geese.

I think I must have seen the picture in a magazine once.

The farmer is walking along with his staff in hand and contentedly following him, filling the road from hedgerow to hedgerow, are these geese.

The picture makes it seem as if that is what geese do.

Follow their farmer down the road. (yes, I can also see these geese happily plucking themselves before rubbing themselves down with butter and garlic before happily climbing into the wood cookstove to turn themselves into a mouth watering French goose dinner. But that’s another thought).

The real issue here is that in my experience geese do not cooperate when being moved from one location to another. (At least American geese don't, French geese, for all I know, might be a completely different story, but I doubt it).

In my experience, geese have no intention of cooperating with humans. They have their own set of values. We will call those values 'goose values'.

And goose values do not often intersect with human values.

And they definitely do not intersect when the issue is moving from a pasture and pond they have come to call home, to another location, no matter how delightful the new location might be.

A basic goose value is they are homebodies.

They don’t want to move. They like the familiar.

And so that picture, the one with the hundreds of geese happily following the short, overweight, wise French farmer (no doubt as he leads them on to location where he, the farmer, and his lovely wife are conspiring to turn the, (the geese, into pate de foie gras).

Maybe that French farmer has some really wise border collies in his employ but, in my experience, those geese are not going to cooperate if it means moving to a new location.

They will bark (is that what geese do?) and squawk and rebel. And resist and protest.

And they will refuse to take another step away from home.

And even if those collies run and nip at the uncooperative geese, its going to be an open issue as to whether, in the end, which value will win. The goose values of not leaving home or the human value of turning those large white geese into goose dinners.

So, let’s bring us back to my logistical problem.

Granted. I don’t have hundreds and hundreds of geese.

I only have ten.

However, I don’t have even one well trained border collie (my neighbor has one but its not of the trained variety).

And if I opened the fence around the yard and called my ten geese out of their home and directed them to goose-step up the hill I wouldn’t have very much luck.

THe geese wouldn’t budge.

They would stick out their necks and hiss and pretend like they’re going to bite (only I’m so much bigger than they are, their bite is only for those who show fear).

So, what am I going to do? How do I get them out of my front yard so I can plant some grass seed. How do I get them up the hill to the asparagus bed so they can eat the weeds (and be out of our way for the summer.

If I haven’t figure out a solution before Saturday, how about the people still around when we are scheduled to go on a hike. How about you helping me herd the geese up the hill.

Let’s see if we are half a good at it as that French farmers border collies are.

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