Geese: Preparing to set

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This year we are trying to naturally hatch and raise Pilgrim geese. Here on Lilac Hill, naturally reared goslings are easier than incubator hatched eggs; the goslings are protected from weather changes and predators and are taught to graze and herd by the adults in the flock.

For us, the trick is managing the flock from the laying to the setting stage.

Geese need to be relatively undisturbed as they lay and set their eggs. I need to find a space on the farm where the nests have good drainage, protection from the wind and some morning sun; where I have easy access to water to refill buckets and troughs; and where there is limited human and farm animal traffic for the time before, during and after setting.

This year's spot, in the field that adjoins the barn seems to be a good fit. The ewes and their lambs steer clear of the goose pen, the slope of the land helps drain the hoses and the proximity to the house is a predator deterrent. The one drawback to the location is the drifts of snow that blocked my access on very snowy days. Fortunately we rarely have 18' of snow in a 24 hour period so wading through deep snow with water buckets in hand should be a rare occurrence.