Geese are NOT defenceless nor meek!
Geese are NOT defenceless or meek!
Often customers or visitors will look at the geese and remark how docile they appear to be.
Now, Sharon and I love our geese and they are the cutest things alive. BUT, let it not be said they are not dangerous. They can most certainly fend for themselves and they are vicious little buggers.
Contrary to popular belief a goose has more than one offensive weapon at its disposal and strangely, their beaks are not the primary weapon of choice. The elbow on the wing is “The Big Gun”. It is an enlarged bony outgrowth with a serious callous cover. This is incredibly effective in convincing any opponent of the validity of the goose’s viewpoint.
I have seen a Goose protect her goslings from a horrid Mongoose. The Goose was facing the Mongoose with raised wings, the goslings gathered behind and under her body. The Mongoose would dash in from about 1.5 meters away and try to grab a gosling. With un-erring accuracy, this Goose would smack the Mongoose on the head every single time. This happened 3 times and on attempt #3, the headache must have reached epic proportions. The Mongoose trotted away into the mountain, visibly shaken.
Another instance of extremely effective deployment of “The Big Gun” was when we were plucking – actually two instances. When handling the Geese we are extremely focused on gentle treatment, because of this the Geese are relatively docile and if one is not alert, they do catch you off-guard. One of our pluckers was the recipient of an elbow shot on the bridge of her nose – fortunately (or unfortunately) her glasses caught the brunt of the blow and it snapped in two. The other plucker really did not concentrate and when shifting the Goose to pluck under the wing, the roundhouse hook from the goose left her sans a front tooth! That was horrifying for all of us and we definitely handle the Geese with more respect here now at Ember Down.
The beak is not to be discounted though! A goose in full attack posture is enough to send most humans running for the hills. At up to 15kg and with wings extended they really are fearsome to see.
We often give group demonstrations here at the farm and a very popular event is the demonstration of humane plucking of the geese at Ember Down. On this particular day, Sharon was giving the talk (Matabiso is demonstrating the plucking) and I was holding another Goose. One holds a goose under one’s arm with your hand holding the feet and the other hand holding the neck. The neck attaches to the head which operates the beak with serrated edges – like a breadknife! I got a bit carried away and let go of the neck. Sharon was right next to me and collected this beautiful souvenir. I was NOT popular – in fact it was so sore, she had to excuse herself, go into the house and wipe away the tears!
Took me a while to get all my browney points back.