2005apr01. Actual ad in the Tucson Weekly (Mar 31-Apr 6 edition). No, it’s not an April Fool’s day joke. In my world, every day is April Fool’s day.
It is, however, begging to be pranked.
2005apr01. Flickr: A good photo of a cat. Tagged “funny,” but not actually funny. A nice photo. A photo of which I find most pleasing. Not your ordinary cat photo. A close-up of the cat, but not like so close you’re looking at internal organs.
2005apr05. So let’s say I have two bottles of pills, and I needed one set for the road, and one set for home. So I pour half of one in the other and vice-versa. So now each bottle has one-half the supply of two different pills. One pill is supposed to be taken two to four times daily, the other once or twice daily. One is small, the other is large. I have no idea which pill is which. Why don’t they show an image of the pill on the bottle? It’s a strange sort of disconnect.
2005apr05. Patenting a PBJ sammich. [via morning news]. Such thee bullshit (also: such a pretty URL, easy to remember). Anyone who’s gone camping has made one of these with a “pie iron,” and it’s tasted 100x better than that Uncrustables processed crap. Got to get me a set of those pie irons. ”As much as people love the traditional square design” ... huh. I had always thought the round one was the original. Well then. This changes my way of thinking forever.
They are excellent replacements for watch dogs for they will raise a thunderous racket in the event of prowlers. They are interesting birds to have on the farm and they become very affectionate and are one of the most friendly of all the home barnyard animals.
2005apr06. It’s midnight. The Javelinas are casing the joint. I don’t know what’s here that interests them so. A little bit of bird seed? Everything else is locked down. Well, at least it smells horrific here now.
2005apr06. The geese and ducks have arrived. The ducks are only staying the night, then the 4-H Club gets ‘em. Unfortunately one of the geese was sort of crammed upside-down in a corner of the mail package and may or may not have spraddle legs. Because it’s the runt of the group, it gets picked on the most, so we’ve been occasionally putting it in its own little heated area when the pack is active. No matter what I do to prevent them from getting their feet in the feed and water, they somehow manage it, but it’s mostly the ducks. It’s not that they’re clumsy, they just want the best angle of attack and that’s to have the food or water directly under them. I raised the waterer with some AOL mailers so they could only use their heads to get to the water, but now they’re using the corners of the mailers to jump into the water. Frickin’ AOL ... I tried building a feeder with an adjustable smaller food access “hole” but now I’m not sure the bigger geese can get their heads in it.
There’s one goose that is clearly the most inquisitive and best-fed of the lot, it follows you (or really, your head) as you move about above the pen whereas the other ones are mostly sleep-food-water-run around-repeat. Tonight they get a playpen because the pen I’ve constructed for them has walls that will be easily jumped after they grow another few inches. They’re all mostly little acrobats, if they find the opportunity.
These linked web sites may or may not be available in French.
DEAR CANADIAN FARMER THERE ARE OTHER ORGANIZATIONS OTHER THAN THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT OUT THERE DO YOU NEED ASSISTANCE I REPEAT DO YOU NEED SOMEONE TO HOLD YOUR HAND
2005apr07. The geese (two Toulouse, two Sebastopols) were hatched on Monday and shipped ”Priority” Mail to our local Post Office in a small box with breathing holes. “Have you heard my package?” The Toulouse we suspected of having spraddle legs was just a little slow coming out of the gate, since it apparently spent most of the journey upside-down with its beak jammed into the cardboard, poor little undetermined sex gosling. The three other geese and the temporary ducks (now with 4-H) would pick on it, but now it gives as good as it gets and it seems like everyone’s settled down. It looked up at me when I was talking to it today, there’s just one Toulouse left to cross this tiny milestone. They will all “talk” with us and follow fingers to “new” food and water when the set-up is changed. They’ve been moved from my baling gum-chewing wire double-box set-up to a playpen. The girlfriend informs me that all playpens are now called “playyards” and this el-cheapo model came with a CD jack and holding case to hook on the side. They are happy with the grass we’ve provided, but what they don’t know is that there’s about one square foot of grass left on this entire lot, the rest of it is dead. So if you want to mail a FedEx package full of grass, I’m your guy.
2005apr08. I’m trying to decode peeptalk. Three peeps means, as far as I can figure out, “something is happening.” Four peeps means “something is really happening!” The sessions are not going well. Sometimes my replies get them in a very talkative state, and I’m not sure why. They will try to climb the waterer to get closer to me to either give hugs or peck my eyes out, smoosh up against the wall closest to me, etc. But then when I put my hand down there – even if it’s holding delicious grass – they will peck at it and “bite” it, though at this stage their beaks have the compression power of half of a clothespin. Then sometimes when I talk to them they’ll run around the crib, and flap their little one-inch wings (which eventually can grow up to a total of about five feet across). “Jesus, he’s talking again! Run around to distract him! Flap! Flap to escape!”
why is it that they don’t ship eggs? isn’t it best to have them imprint on the owner?
This a reference to an earlier discussion we had – I was under the impression that hatcheries don’t ship eggs. I just found out that they do. There are a few problems with that, at least with the average Joe who just wants a few geese/ducks.
1) It depends on the hatchery, but they usually won’t send less than about 12 eggs.
2) While the eggs are mailed, the temperature needs to be in the right range. So there’s an opportunity for failure.
3) You have to buy a incubator, monitor it, adjust it, etc, for an entire month.
4) Even if you’ve done all this, you’re not guaranteed that if you have n eggs, you’ll get n waterfowl – you may end up with zero hatched eggs, you may end up with twelve. Probably not the numerical range Joe is looking for – if you wanted three and got two, you get to do it all again with ~12 more eggs.
If you really want your waterfowl to imprint on you, you can arrange to visit a local hatchery and be there when your eggs hatch. Although imprinting means you get “human” waterfowl that think they’re also humans, it also means you’re the parents. If you’re raising them alone, and you have a job, you’ll have to take your geese/ducks with you to Krispy Kreme or wherever you work – not seeing “mom” is very stressful, and stress alone can kill waterfowl. And a goose sitting on top of your “in” box pecking at your “CRT” keyboard probably isn’t an option.
We didn’t do the imprint thing. They are comfortable with being held, once you get them up to your face/neck (they’re all about faces and voices at this point), but they still don’t get “hands.” Hands swooping down, hands trying to grab ‘em, or even pet/touch them. There’s a difference – they will nibble on your ear (~1/5th chomping power), but they will peck at the fingers (full chomping power). I’ve noticed that every day they’re getting stronger, and maybe within two weeks the pecks will go from being amusing to hurting. They’ll be okay with hands as they get bigger and start understanding our verbalizing (“no,” “ouch!,” “call an ambulance”).
In other developments, the ole’ mirror trick has them looking around the back of the mirror for the other goose – in time, they’ll learn that that is actually them, which apparently most other animals (other than the dolphin ... and maybe chimps? ... and us, especially in the Hollywood, California area) don’t get. They will also use it to peer around corners and such. Nancy Townsend’s theory on that is that since they’re on water they need to know the difference between a reflected hawk and an actual hawk. (see Doc’s hilarious interview with Nancy Townsend here: Duck Diapers).
2005apr09. Geese. Day six.
It’s very difficult to take photos of baby geese in low light levels as they zip about, pulling on your camera strap, pecking at the lens. For every fifty photos you get one like this. This is one of the two Sebastopols; one of the two Toulouses is in back. Or maybe it’s the other Sebastopol. It’s clearly waiting for a bus.
2005apr11. The goslings are outdoors today, but safely in their Babyjail™ with a chunk o’ chickenwire over the top in case they’re visited by a hawk. It’s their first time outside, and the peeping abruptly stopped when they got their first glob of sunlight ... then excited chattering. They seem more content outside, but unfortunately the temperature drops enough at night that they can only hang outside during the day. When adults, geese will cause significant dropoffs in the local insect population, but right now, they’re sort of mystified by ‘em. The Toulouse I’m beginning to feel are a few days behind the Sebastopols, or just more free ‘n’ easygoing. The alpha gosling (a Sebastopol) is fascinated by flies, to the point where it will climb over other geese repeatedly just to get a closer look at one that’s circling the babyjail. But if it happens to land somewhere within striking distance, it’s best to just stare at it and wait for it to take off again. Then, more intense deadly scrutiny.
2005apr12. The geese are starting to show dietary individuality. One Toulouse (the runt) doesn’t like clover sprouts. One Sebastopol doesn’t like romaine lettuce. They all enjoy pulling at my hair. Sometimes I’m sure they really like me, then I realize I’m just the guy bringing the food. I made something I like to call the “grass clamp.” It’s just a brick on top and a piece of wood on bottom – the grass goes in the middle. The problem with feeding geese things with your open hand is that they like to shake their heads back and forth wildly when they feed. I think this is a combination between having to rip grass out of the ground, and sloshing it about like they do with water. So when you hand-feed them, the beak goes in and then there’s a small explosion as food goes flying everywhere. If you pinch it between your fingers (as we do with the clover sprouts), they’ll rapidly rip chunks out which is very efficient and then proceed to your digits which is not. Thus, the clamp.
They still need towels underneath ‘em, can’t switch to newspaper just yet. They can walk on newspaper, but if they get agitated and start running, it’s slip-n-slide which is what causes spraddle legs.
After watching them bundle up together, I wondered if they ever shit on each other. The answer is yes.
2005apr12. One of the neighbors now has horses. So that’s nice, they come right up to the fence. Not nice: horse flies. A new feature this year. They’re tenacious little buggers. But wisely stationed between the horses and the house: the goose coop. Oh yeah. Grow up, my little ones. Grow up and protect us from insistent insects.
Some fanatics even drive shoeless to be in better touch with the accelerator.
Strange that they don’t have a separate gadget to literally “dial it in” if it’s so touchy. Some sort of ... dial ... thing that goes from 0% to 1% throttle, and reverts back to zero every time the car is turned off.
I have all the answers.
2005apr12. Goose Log, Day 9: Breakthrough. The geese will no longer peck at our fingers. Not for eating, not for just being in their face. And I was all up ins. “No? Don’t want? How about the pinky? It’s extra meaty ... ” All four of them refuse to snack on me. This makes me feel better about our Total Goose Future. Of course, if you visit, bring some extra limbs. I’ll be all like “oh god, save me from the intruders who I didn’t invite over for that potluck dinner via a ‘mass’ email.” After you set the casserole down, naturally.
It all happened at the same time – it wasn’t like one goose learned not to, and the rest were still doing it -- they must have had a little meeting while I was gone. Powerpoint.
Only go for eyes; proven weak point
Tomorrow: stapling chicken wire to porch for Temporary Pen III. Total redneck action. Totally up to code [FX: waves TEN DOLLARS under your sad-ass guvmint inspectin’ nose]. They don’t get to go into the coop and yard until they know how to fend for themselves from air aggressors. The main tree in the cooped-out yard actually has hosted what appeared to be the same hawk a few times, so this isn’t idle speculation. That’s one Jim Dandy tasting reason I love it out here -- there is actual nature all around me all the time, unless I’m in my vehicular conveyance, then I have to buckle them all into the passenger seat.
2005apr13. Miscellaneous geese news. The pen has been constructed, now they have around 8’ x 20’ to play in with a nice soft dirt floor which also provides them grit if they so choose; I’ve only seen one of them grittin’ it up. This sudden massive increase in size means a lot more running and practicing to fly, which is so hilarious and wonderful it just kills me. Flapping those little stub wings, feet slapping the ground. Sometimes they will do it if I start talking to them a lot, and invariably all of their flights end at the feeder and waterer. It’s some sort of instinctual thing – I guess momma goose yells at them if she thinks they haven’t eaten enough. I read somewhere that geese know how much to eat, and won’t eat any more, but if they’ve loaded up at the grass clamp and sat down elsewhere, I can tap the clamp 30 seconds later and they’ll come back for more. Puzzling. They also signal when they’re hungry by opening their mouth and move their head up and down ... this is a recent innovation. Every day something new. They also were sort of feeling a little threatened by the large space – if I walked out and turned the corner and disappeared, they would all start crying. Sometimes it lasted ten minutes, sometimes only a minute, sometimes not at all. Again with the brain teasers. Along those same lines, today I also discovered they have object impermanence – I was hooking some of their (now clean) towels up on the pen’s chickenwire to dry, and when I lifted it up between my face and the geese, they started crying again. Up-cry, down-silence, up-cry, down-silence, one-to-one correlation. Even though they could see my feet. But they still nibble at my shoes and toes, perhaps they’ll figure out that’s me tomorrow. Three inch play balls set down a good distance away also frighten the lot of them; found out later that’s something that should be saved for the 5th week or so. Next week: first water-based cleaning ritual.
2005apr14. Today I wore shorts in the presence of waterfowl for the first time. The geese took that as a sign that I was offering them a new leg-based hair snack. “NO!” Lots of “no” today. Beak-holding. They also aren’t crying as much today. I “hid” the sweeping panorama side of the pen by laying a door down, shortening the length of the pen a bit. I thought maybe the vast expanse was scaring them, they’ve been in small spaces since they showed up. No effect. Door leaves tonight.
Most of the grass is dead, and the stuff that they like is down to the last three or four tufts. We don’t have well-manicured lush grassy lawns here in the desert unless you’re some stupid suburban idiot. When I say “grass” I really mean a squat thing that sprouts in tufts. Well, it’s all dead now (though it holds its shape and the seeds have little barbs that get on your socks in great quantities and they prickle you and I could just PUNCH that grass), and the geese don’t like anything that’s currently blooming in this area. Spinach? They’re all berserk-o freaks about it.
So we’re getting sod. Geese are living it up hi-style.
They still don’t like being picked up, and they tolerate petting. It doesn’t make them trill like a good chunk of grass or napping.
2005apr14. Rusty accidentally found the key to unlock the door to the secret of Crystal Wedding Oats which I found some time ago sitting on a shelf at Big Lots. That’s the one of the top ten lamest things I’ve ever read. So where does the term “crystal” come in again?
2005apr14. Now a few hours later, they know not to harvest my leg hair, but two of them are still working on the “don’t bite the hem of my shorts, even if they are luscious green” protocol. I have a theory that they cry a lot more when they’re hungry and I’m leaving them. “DON’T FORGET TO STOP AT GRASS KING NOT LIKE LAST TIME OR RATHER NOT LIKE NOT LAST TIME EL STUPIDO”
Where I worked a year and a half ago, the farmer ordered chicks from a hatchery. It was winter. New Jersey. They were shipped from the Midwest. We picked them up from the post office. It is heart-rending to receive a box of 30 mostly dead chicks. Week peeps. Tossed around in the box. They had stayed in freezing transit too long. He ordered more. They arrived alive and then proceeded to die one by one over the next month. None survived. Brutal business. They were so cheap. Their lives were worth a few cents.
2005apr15. During spinach spazz attack yesterday, someone got off a good finger bite, it feels (still, today) sort of like smashing your thumbnail with a hammer. Might have to switch to gloves for the greens frenzy. I could just leave them on the ground, but would you eat food off the floor? I need to invent a new grass clamp that will slowly dispense product so they get good solid bites in without them flinging leaves across the pen, walking on them, pooping on them, rejecting them. VC’s are back in business, right? egrassclamp.com.
2005apr16. I wanted to make this available for tax day, as a way to soothe the stresses of the beleaguered tax base, but there was this thing. So I guess this one’s for all of you out there who “forgot” to fill out your government forms yesterday. And anyone else who wants to see four geese with their spastic eating tendencies.
Romaine: The Movie. [22meg AVI file]
2005apr17. The geese took their first baths today (flickr: seven photos). Their personalities are starting to make themselves more evident. I just use whatever gender convention is “most” appropriate for their names – we won’t know their genders until they start laying eggs (female) or not (male, or female waiting a year or two as does happen occasionally).
Kiki: A Sebastopol. Kiki has more yellow going down her back from her neck than Casati, so I guess I’m screwed when the Sebastopols grow white feathers. The “alpha” goose. Brightest coat, most alert, most curious, first to make eye contact, tends to lead the group, most aggressive eater, first to signal hunger with special open mouth-nodding head motion, most obsessed with tiny flying insects, will comically force her way into the corner “sweet spot” when everyone else has picked snuggle positions and bedded down for a nap/the night, first to voluntarily go in the bath today without being bribed (later spinach was added to the ramp and in the water). Bath cut short by Lono’s bath freak-out.
Casati: The “beta” Sebastopol, although that title is under contention. Has been a little moody the last two days, it’s especially evident when eating. She’s the last to arrive at the table, somewhat lacking in eating spazziness, and the first to leave. Is starting to sit by herself more often. Does the neck-horizontally-outstretched-while-squawking thing the most, which seems to be a general “complaint” pose (a recent innovation or just more noticeable as their necks are getting longer and longer). Took the longest bath, probably would have gone longer if there wasn’t another general goose bath freak-out.
LC: The biggest Toulouse (gray/brown). Toulouses will get twice as big as Sebastopols, so the scales of justice will tip the other way when they’re full grown. May have been the “runt” during the travel from California since Lono was hidden in a corner; got pecked on the right side of the head a bit, and on the neck (missing hair in both places). Seems to be trying to ascend the pecking order by getting in Casati’s face usually once a day that I can see. We tried putting him in the water, as both Toulouses were a bit bath-shy ... did not like it. Jumped out. Tomorrow we’re hoping everyone else volunteers and LC feels the horrible, horrible peer pressure closing in. “Dude. We are totally clean. Wait ... what’s that smell? Smells like a dirty goose, dawg.”
Lono: The current runt, the one who traveled in the cardboard box from California upside-down jammed into a corner. Didn’t look like he was going to make it. Lots of hair loss around the legs, spent most of the first day lunging awkwardly from place to place like a frog because he couldn’t walk. Smallest of the four. Sometimes avoids food frenzies by eating the stuff that other geese have ripped and flung down to the ground or across the coop. Tried getting in the bath by jumping over the side instead of using the ramp, finally made it with a big splash that scared Kiki so they were both running around the tub for a bit until they shot out of the bath and landed in the dirt. I figured that’s it, Lono’s first and last bath, but later we put Lono back in the water, and he was very happy. We’re always rooting for Lono.
They’re also occasionally munching on fingers now after the two days of non-digit eating. I’ve read that this is typical -- you tell a goose not to do something, it will come back and do it a few more times then suddenly it never happens again. “I’ve chosen to not nibble on your flesh.” The times they decide to cry when they can’t see us still seems random. Again, I think it’s the hunger factor.
2005apr17. I don’t know why this is, but at night, “shhhhhhh” is way more effective with the geese than during the day. I’m surprised they know what it is at all, but I have a feeling I will be continually surprised by these feathery folks.
2005apr17. So there are 40 photos of geese bath-time today at Flickr. In the future I’ll be a lot more choosy about the photos, I just decided to push all of ‘em this time around. After consulting even more goose books, we’re taking a harder line with the wee ones. If you cuddle them too much, they sort of lose their fear/respect of you and become much more aggressive as adults. It’s a thin line between total imprinting and spaz-out attack geese. These geese are supposed to be especially mild, so we’re crossing our fingers. Casati has been proven time and time again to be the one that whines when no one is within visible range, we may have lost her already. I hope not. Lono I think is going to be one excellent adult, he was the first (and only) one to go all the way underwater. LC is surprisingly always the one that will eat the spine of the romaine when everyone else is just waiting for me to peddle out the next piece. ”I’ll take one for the team!” LC shouts.
[The geese] remind me of being very little. I used to go to Maine when I was a tot during the summer and our neighbors had 2 geese that would invade our yard everyday. My brother and I fed them bread constantly and after a while they would bang their beaks on the screen door of the house at 6am when they were let out of their pen and beg for food. My father always threatened to eat them if they didn’t stop waking him up and crapping all over the lawn, but thankfully, never went through it.
2005apr18. Geese research: The Coyote Roller™. Also available: Coyote Tilt-A-Whirl™, Coyote Zipper™, Coyote Kiddie Car And Truck Carousel With The Metal Steering Wheels And That Insistent Buzzing Noise Ehh Ehh Ehh EHH EHH EHH EHH Ehh Ehh Ehh™
2005apr18. Stymied by the rollers.
2005apr18. Fan mail.
FUCKING HELL ENOUGH WITH THE GODDAM GEESE ALREADY
You know, I was going to shift to a goose update once every three days, but now I’m going to talk about geese once every twenty minutes. In other news, I made a banana smoothie and something seems off, so if I die that’s why. Even if I’m in car accident. PS: Geese.
2005apr19. Now that it’s summer in Arizona, there are many insects. In the house. I don’t like most of them, but there’s one small bug that intrigues me. Most insects flitter about as if they have no idea where they’re going or orbit light bulbs. But this bug lands on something, then flies pretty much straight for awhile, then lands. Continues on, lands. Farther along, lands. This is a bug with a plan.
2005apr19. Goose Log, Day 16. Our friendly geesefolks got a long new bathing area today, one of those crappy plastic boxes you use to store stuff under your bed. It’s not long enough for Casati (who has joined the Totally Underwater Club) nor Lono, the only ones to bathe this morning – they really want to swim with their heads underwater in a continuous line, as we all do. I also rolled out the icky waterer and now they’re drinking water out of coffee cups. This allows them to dunk pretty much their whole head in, but what they’re going for when that happens is a brisk eye-cleaning. They couldn’t do this in the waterer, the trough was too shallow, and I shall not miss the slime-friendly waterer. Now I can just bring a pitcher out for a refill instead of washing out that monstrosity. All of the geese now have wingtips, which makes the entire wing look very Art Deco in shape, except for the part attached to the wing that waddles comically back and forth as it zooms toward/away from you. Their freak-out sessions are becoming more ... potent. In the early days, one of us would stand up suddenly (for example) and there would be chirping with the heads hung low for a little bit. Now when there’s some weird disturbance like Lono jumping out of the bath and landing upside-down (becoming more dirty than ever), everyone goes into Crazy Air Squadron mode: running around flapping wings, sometimes just holding them as high as possible, crashing into each other, circling the bath, angrily eating a bit of non-medicated starter crumble, then bringing it all together when all four of them end up at my feet, squawking. Yeah, Lono’s hilarious pratfall was my fault. Get real, geese.
Special thanks to everyone who said to ignore the negative comment from earlier. That stuff just rolls over me, it’s not like I’m saving a bunch of other writing and links in seekrit cache somewhere, this is what I am doing now, so this is what I write about.
2005apr19. A few “odds” “’n’” “ends” Kiki got in a quick bath this afternoon and finally joined the Completely Underwater Club. Turns out she’s also big fan of underwater swimming and wants some sort of lap pool installed. When it was time for her to exit, she tried to leave via one of the steeper walls, instead of using the gradual brick step. When the other birds have done this and failed, it’s clearly been a time for mass pandemonium. Kiki tried going over a few times, and, okay, it’s not happening? Time for more bathing. Five minutes later, she made it happen and somehow landed on both legs walking away, no problems.
Geese vocalizations are changing, there are additional chirps occurring in the last few days I’ve not heard in the past. In addition, two of them have a new louder chomping noise, and I don’t know what that means – if they’re getting stronger, or if the beak is physically changing. I’ve stopped hand-feeding them, while we’re on that whole “tuff love” and “keepin’ all fingers” trip.
Casati isn’t whining nearly half as much now, so that may be good, and LC is still a dirty dawg. LC likes parking himself at the top of the ramp and drinking from the pool, but that’s about as far as his aquatic relationship will go.
2005apr20. Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy review. Apparently they’ve excised all of the humorous parts. Fascinating. Super extra bonus points for not understanding what the concept “improbability” (mentioned in the longer review w/spoilers, link at the bottom of the page) means in the book. Sounds like a perfect test case of too many cooks.
2005apr21. As is the general case around here, a mine explosive just went off in the distance. The geese had no reaction to it, I thought they might have found it a little strange. Maybe since they’re California geese, they’re used to strange little shakes from the ground. They’re now pretty much officially too big for the Babyjail™, so I’m tightening up the pen (while they’re inside it) to keep out predators. The battery-powered screwdriver doesn’t scare them either. And yet ... yet ... somehow when I leave Casati whines for a good five minutes, but when I come back and enter the pen, it’s all crazy chaos and running away. I think they like me, but I’m too big. Rarrrr.
2005apr22. Goose Log Day 19. Yesterday Lono was walking around with a limp. Geese have strange strides, so I wasn’t sure I was seeing anything unusual until he decided to run and flap his wing. One wing instead of two – he was compensating for the weak leg. Today, however, he’s tearing around the pen. I wasn’t sure until I called him over and came over flapping both those stubby little wings and I was certainly relieved. My girlfriend also indicates that he’s performing a strategic move to increase his food intake. In the beginning, we would just hold the food so all four of them could munch away. It became clear that this wasn’t a good method because Lono wasn’t getting enough of the food, wasn’t aggressive enough so he’d be eating whatever scraps fell to the ground. So we moved to the two-fist method, which sort of worked, but because Lono would race over to the second fist, everyone else knew what was going on. Now Lono apparently just pecks at the ground scraps for a little bit and then walks over to the second fist with a casual gait, and thus has a whole fist o’ greens all to himself.
2005apr23. A massive rainstorm just blew through here. High winds, sheets of rain, etc. The pen stayed one-half dry, not that that mattered to the geese – they all marched as far as they could into the rainy portion, stood practically on their tippy-toes, chests out, heads held high, facing directly into the wind. I don’t know what that was all about, a free bath, perhaps. Then they started snapping at the drops. Free drinking water.
2005apr24. Today I cleaned out the pen. Oh, that freaked them out. The big broom of scariness. In addition, I created another smaller shelter for them to “take cover” when it rains or the wind kicks up. Casati was chosen to represent the group for the ceremonial thank you, which was conducted by trying to bite my toes off. “No.” “No.” “No.” “No.” “No.” “No.” “NO.” “NO.” “NO.” “NO.” “NO.” “NO!” “NO!” “NO!” “NO!” “NOHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!” More briefing. [ 13 photos from today]
2005apr25. I was hoping it wouldn’t happen so soon, but I’m starting to hear the beginnings of raspy honking. It happens just at the beginning of their little communications, an abbreviated little hoarse-voice thing that you know is going to turn into a powerful honk in a couple of weeks. It’s coming from one of each breed, which means all four of them should be doing it pretty soon. Meanwhile, tons of tiny flying ants are storming the pen and the geese show little interest in eating them. It’s an occasional thing, if an insect happens to wander into their field of vision and they’re up for the challenge. Can I trade the honking for pure insect hatred?
2005apr26. Today’s bathtime was totally Keystone Cops. Kiki’s the first one in, Lono makes another clumsy attempt to get in just like last time, everyone freaks and runs around and Lono accidentally runs right over the tub wall and into the water, splashes around, runs out, more running, more flapping. This time they didn’t come squawking at me, which I took to be a sign of maturity about the whole thing, though one of the wet ones ran smack-dab into my leg. Because it’s chaos, see, and looking where one is going is secondary to the spazzing. After settling down, all four of them quietly entered the bath at almost the same time. This was LC’s first day in the water, so he took an extra long bath, or that might have been Lono; it’s getting harder to tell them apart, especially when they’re wet.
2005apr28. The geese still don’t get toes. I like to sit down and watch the geese; Casati likes to sit between my feet and nibble on my sandals and the various toes poking out of them. You can tell her ten thousand times not to nibble, you can clamp her beak shut, you can tap her head, speak sternly, nothing helps. I don’t know how they figured out not to bite fingers (for the most part), but toes are still 100% food. The exciting new food item on their list is any shirt I’m wearing – when I sit down, they’ll sneak around to the back of the chair and all four of them will eventually be tugging on my shirt, like they all want to be excused to use the bathroom. Don’t I wish.
Today the geese also enjoyed some peaches, eventually. I left out a chopped peach and everyone took a nibble then shook their heads like it was some kind of allergen. I kept putting a small bit up to Casati’s bill and eventually she tried it – followed by more head-shaking, more walking away. So I left for an hour, came back, and all the peach chunks were gone. I think they hid them somewhere. They also gave a complete pass to bread. I’m sure they’ll come around on that one someday.
The intensity of their spazzing continues to grow. When I take off the pen door they know I’m coming in, but they all gather in front to rasp/chirp, except when that big sandal comes straight for them – then they get scared out of their wits. This happens several times a day. I try to move slow, but invariably one of them will work itself into a corner that I’m slowly approaching so I have to alter my course a little bit, let them find the escape route, scream a little, etc. From what I understand it’s two or three more weeks of this then they’ll paste the voice and the face together with the big menacing thing shambling around the pen.
Will a goose take a crap then will another goose immediately plop down on top of it? Of course.
2005apr29. For roughly the first three weeks, being picked up entailed a massive goose freak-out. Which sucked, because we were putting them in the pen only during the day, so that meant moving them twice a day in and out of the Babyjail™. It got bad enough toward the end that we were wearing gloves to keep from being scratched. Once they were staying in the pen 24 hours a day, there was no reason to pick them up. But now they’re all fluffy and heavy so I couldn’t resist. They’re large enough that I can pick them up with one hand slid underneath them, between the legs (the dangerous opening is actually much higher up in the back). Strangely, if they’re pre-occupied with pulling on your shirt/pants or eating and they don’t notice you picking them up, they’ll just continue what they’re doing while their feet dangle. Which of course is amazing and hilarious. If they’re not doing anything and you’re lucky enough to pick them up, they’ll sit there for a little while, then start nibbling on your arm. But if they see you trying to pick them up – if they see your hand sneaking up on them -- they’ll walk/run away (even climbing over each other), squawking. I consider the former a fair trade – you get to yank my nutritious shirt, I get to pick you up. And they’re just crazysoft now with down. I can see actual nubs of what are clearly feathers on one of the Toulouses, though maybe some of the other weird stuff growing out of all of them is also feather-based. It’s incredible that the little stubs they had for wings back in the Spinach Squadron days now have three segments.
I don’t get the bath freak-outs, though, or actually I don’t get that when one freaks out, the rest have to join in. I had to corral them today with my arm to stop them, because they kept banging into each other during the free-form freak-out session. Now if I had done that and they weren’t freaking out, they would have ... freaked out. My arm is like a goose toggle switch.
2005apr29. A discussion of the work of Tang dynasty master craftsman Ma Daifeng. ”A well-dressed mechanical man who wore a hat and held a board, would appear from the open door to remind the drinkers to drink faster.”
2005apr30. I had a request ... I mean, many requests to film the aforementioned “salad shirt” movie segment. The geese were all too happy to comply – they started yanking as soon as I sat down. It sounds like the fabric is tearing, but it is not. The goose to the left who is mostly off-screen is also grazing on my belt, but that cannot be seen. Little monsters. The camera strap is visible in the frame because ... then ... you can see the gravitational vector. This was also requested. Numerous times. So grab some popcorn, sit down, relax, and enjoy ... Salad Shirt (10m ~30sec avi).