Spring can be a mean manipulator of expectations. Cold, bitter winds and freezing temperatures follow days of warm sunshine and balmy breezes. Still, wildflowers are returning out in the vineyard. The longer days have meant the return of “our” geese.
Last year we were surprised when two small gaggles of geese descended on the farm in the spring. There were two geese in one group, and four in the other, and they didn’t mingle. After a couple of weeks had gone by and the geese hadn’t moved on we began to wonder what was up. At that time we’d seen lots of wildlife on the property, including wild turkeys, deer, ground hogs, herons, and lots of birds. But the only Canadian geese we’d seen had been in the sky, or in the fields of nearby farms.
By the third week it was evident that one goose in each group was now sitting on a nest. The nests were down in the taller grasses close to the creek. Except for one gander, the other geese all left for parts of the day, but by late afternoon they would all be back by the creek keeping the mom-to-be company. Then one day we noticed that one of the geese
had left her nest, and a couple of days later the other one was gone too. But we didn’t see any babies. It took another week or so before we spotted two geese making their way up
from the creek followed by five little puffballs. The following week we saw the other group on another part of the creek, also with a small group of tiny goslings. It was great fun to see the babies grow, and about the time that they were beginning to sport their black heads and white chin bands they all left for good. We never saw them fly, but we did see bigger groups of geese with babies in neighboring fields, so we assume they had all just left for the proverbial greener pastures.
Last fall, as the giant chevrons flew overhead, we jested that we had seen “our” babies on their way south for the winter. Then one of our neighbors told us that we should expect those geese, and their babies, to return every spring from here on out. That’s ok, we thought. We have plenty of room, and besides, geese don’t eat grapes.
Now it’s spring and the geese have returned. This time our two gaggles number three and eleven. Oh, and this time we have a vineyard out front. Of course, the geese can’t get in there because there is electric fencing all around. Plus there is all that trellising now so there’s no way a bird as big as a goose could land without getting caught in the wires.
Right. Um, there are geese in the vineyard. But how did they get in? They had to be flying in! Wow, what a feat!
For days we peered out the windows looking for geese, trying to see how they might be accomplishing what we had come to call ‘longitudinal landings’. These clever geese would have to line up with the aisles and fly between the rows of trellising in order to land. Once in, they could wander around on the ground at will, but they’d still have to figure out how to take off. We were ready to admire another miracle of nature. If we could only catch them coming and going! Maybe we could even catch them on camera! It was clear they were getting in all the time, not only because we could see geese in the vineyard, but because we could see their tracks everywhere. But we never saw a single one take off or land in the vineyard.
Last week, as we were headed out for work, we saw two geese between the creek and the driveway. We slowed the car and watched them cross the road toward the vineyard. Then we stopped the car and watched as first one and then the other dipped their heads and slipped easily under the lowest wire of the electric fence.
Yep, we pretty much felt like idiots. Guess there won’t be any miracle longitudinal landings caught on camera at the famous Raccoon Creek Vineyard. Oh well, at least the geese don’t
eat grapevines. Of course, bud break hasn’t happened yet, which means that so far the geese are just munching on the grass in the aisles between the rows of grapes.
So far, none of the geese have made a stop to say goodbye on the way south, so they won’t be eating grapes in the fall.
So far, we are still looking forward to seeing more baby goslings.
So far, they don’t really make tooo much noise with their honking.
So far, we just won’t do the math on how many geese to expect next year….or the year after that….or the year after that. Oh my.