Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A True Love Story

A few years ago, we saw an advert in the local Smallholding Association newsletter for a pair of geese. I persuaded T that geese would be a useful addition to the menagerie as they would help keep the grass down, act as 'guard dogs' and hopefully produce goslings that we could sell on.

We fenced off an area of the meadow for them, and finding an old dismantled shed hidden in an overgrown part of the garden reconstructed it as safe night time accommodation for them. We added a baby bath picked up at a car boot sale for them to bathe in, and an old washing up bowl for drinking water. Thus prepared we went to pick them up.

Their names seemed obvious - they were Brecon Buff geese (a traditional Welsh breed), so the goose was immediately christened Buffy. And by logical extension, her partner became Angel.

Buffy and Angel lived together quite happily for a couple of months, roaming free in their part of the meadow by day and safely shut away from marauding foxes each night in their shed. They learned the daily routine very quickly and would quite happily amble off to bed each evening at dusk when they saw me coming down the path, ready to bolt the door behind them.

Things went on peacefully until all hell broke loose one day when the local hunt came charging through our plot. The garden was filled with baying hounds and chaos, the geese honking in alarm and the chickens squawking and flapping in terror. I panicked, being unable to find Tigger and worrying that she'd be set on by the pack. Luckily she appeared, shocked but unscathed, and the hounds tore off up the lane. Before I could remonstrate with the huntsmen, they had all followed the hounds and peace once again descended.

I've never been in favour of foxhunting so I was quite annoyed by this episode - and even more so the very next day, when I heard a great commotion from the geese. I went outside, where I could see Angel honking for all he was worth, but no sign of Buffy. Thinking that something must have startled her, and perhaps she'd flown over the fence and now couldn't get back to Angel I wandered down the hill. Buffy was nowhere to be seen. Then I heard a loud crack from under a gorse bush - and walking over to investigate, found myself face to face with a fox. The fox which had just snatched and killed Buffy - the crack had been her neck bones.

I was so sad - and I was furious. Furious with the fox (which now fled), furious with myself for not keeping the geese safe from harm, furious with the damned hunt for failing so dismally in its efforts, and furious that they had presumably chased this fox out of its normal territory and stranded it here, so that it was desperate enough to attack a fully grown goose out in the open in broad daylight.

Angel was bereft. It was heartbreaking to see how much he missed her.

Sadly we fixed the fences so that they were fox-proof. In penance we dug out a proper pond for Angel. And we spent time each day petting and playing with him - we even bought him some toys - but it was obvious that he was desperate for the company of another goose.

I began trying to find him a new companion. I scoured the ads in the Smallholder Association newsletter, looked out for adverts in the country store and the local newspaper, rang waterfowl breeders and chased up leads suggested by friends and neighbours. Nothing. It seemed no one had a Brecon Buff goose they wanted to part with. Finally, after several months I couldn't stand seeing Angel so lonely any more. In desperation I placed an ad in the Smallholders Association newsletter. It read: 'Recently widowed gander seeks young Brecon Buff goose for friendship, perhaps leading to romance. Please contact....'
Almost immediately we had a call from someone who luckily had a young Brecon Buff goose for rehoming, and even more luckily found our lonely hearts ad funny rather than insane.
We went to pick up the new goose, agreeing with her previous owners that if Angel rejected her, we could take her back. As geese tend to pair for life, we were worried that he may not take to her.
We needn't have been concerned. It was clearly love at first sight. As soon as Buffy #2 was released from her travelling box into the goose run, Angel ran across with wings protectively outstretched and stood between her and us. They bonded immediately, and Angel totally lost interest in playing with dull old humans. Who says there is only one true love for each of us? The new Buffy was now the centre of his world.
And a few years later, Buffy is still the centre of his world. Angel is the centre of hers. They eat together, swim together, sleep together. Angel still puts his wings around her protectively. And he guards Buffy fiercely from any perceived danger, be it an unfamiliar human, a jackdaw looking to raid their food, a chicken that oversteps the mark or even the dreaded wheelbarrow (which is clearly a menace to right-thinking geese everywhere, if Angel's outraged reaction to it is anything to go by). The lovers are inseparable. And right now, Buffy is sitting on a fine clutch of eggs, with Angel proudly guarding her. Hopefully in a few weeks we may hear the patter of tiny webbed feet...


Reya Mellicker said...

Wow, what a beautiful and touching story. Amazing that every word of it is true!

Looking forward to pics and anecdotes about the the gooselets when they arrive.

Congrats to Angel and Buffy, and to you, too. Bravo for love, BRAVO!

Will said...

Thankyou for posting that lovely story, it made me smile :-)

willow said...

What a lovely story, it brightened up my morning. Looking forward to the next installment!

Cottage Smallholder said...

Wonderful, heartwarming story. Beautifully written as ever. Thank you.

Pixiedust said...

What a lovely story. I'm so glad Angel found love again. Look forward to seeing pics of the babies. Have a lovely Beltane Moonroot. xxxx

solsticedreamer said...

a sad but wonderful story! cant wait to see any new babies!

Mary Beth said...

Oh! I can't wait to see the goslings. I'm so sorry about Buffy #1 but am very glad that Angel found a new Buffy to love.

We have two cardinals who have deigned to share our yard, and the male brings seed to his mate, putting some in her beak so it looks like they're kissing each other. It's so sweet.

Breezy said...

I enjoyed that story so much even though I have a distinctly unhappy relationship with geese. I'm afraid I would of named them Spike and Drusilla

Nana said...

What a wonderful story. I live in town, and while it's technically legal to own poultry, and I'd love to have chickens and geese (and maybe a peacock or too), I'm fairly sure my neighbors wouldn't be as enthusiastic. So, I get to enjoy my friends chickens, and stories like yours. Thanks!

aims said...

What a beautiful love story! I almost cried when the fox got the first Buffy.

It must be very wonderful to watch and probably warms your heart. Humans could take a big lesson from the animal world

indicaspecies said...

Beautiful write-up.:)

The Lehners in France said...

Aaaww, this story brought me to tears. I arrived via aims btw. We "were given" a pair of 2/3 year old geese (reluctantly) just before Christmas. I adore them and would not want to part with them. They are sociable, love to play and have a great sense of humour, from a scoucer that's fair praise. When I've been away for the day they greet me with a "fly along side." They are also better guard dogs than our dog. Debs x

wcgillian said...

Very well written and enjoyable as well. Just checking out the other 47 people that have mentioned "Northern Exposure" as an interest.

Nice to meet you!