Meet Mother Goose (the hen) and Harry, Larry and Mo, her little Gosling children.
Lovely Hubby let them out of the Eglu for the first time yesterday, and sat on a log drinking his coffee in Chicken World to supervise the reaction of the other chickens to the newest babies on the farm as they mingled together.
He need not have worried, Mother Hen is a fantastically attentive Mum and she always protected her babies when the others got too close. The only birds she backed down to were the Hylines, my only idea about this is that probably as the oldest chickens in the flock she didn't see them as too much of a threat to her motherhood, they are secure in their position at the head of the pecking order so they were just curious and then left the goslings completely alone.
Harry Larry and Mo, and no we don't know if they are boys or girls yet. I hope they are all girls as I've been told Goose eggs are absolutely delicious and twice the size of hens eggs, but knowing our luck they will be boys, if so they will be still welcome here as guard geese and lawn mowers.
To be honest we don't know much about Geese, these are Chinese Grey Geese, but in our usual have a go fashion we are simply staying one page of the book ahead of their development and needs. We do know that in a couple of weeks they will be needing a bowl of water for them to paddle in and wash and waterproof their feathers, but at the moment they are all fluff, so they just need lots of drinking water.
They are brilliant lawn mowers and have a preference for all the weeds and clover that is lurking in the grass, we have to move the Eglu to a new position after half a day to give them access to more, hence LH's idea to get them used to mixing with the big birds. Although at the moment this can only be when we are home and the dogs are around as they would be very susceptible to predators, especially the overhead sort. We have Red Kites and other birds of prey around here.
You can see Mother Hen holding out her wings slightly here as LH approached to take the photo, this is what a hen does to protect her young from danger, in a frontal attack she stretches up her neck puffs out all the feathers and holds out her wings to make herself as big and as aggressive as possible. She looks very impressive when she does this.
Luckily she is a very big bird, bigger and heavier than all our other Hylines so she is coping well with looking after these large babies. It's lovely so see them all cuddled down for the night with the goslings cuddled under Mum, just their heads peeking out to see what is happening as we check them last thing.
When they start to sit down in a little cluster and fall asleep we know it's time to herd them back to the safety of the Eglu after an exciting half hour or so playing out with Mum, it also means Mum can relax again too and not have to be so alert.
It's so nice to have new, young life here on the farm again.