2.24.2012

How to Pill a Goose

Pic: Unamused goose is unamused.
Vet day for Babs the goose, and after all the x-rays and shots were given, I was handed a bottle of pills to give her twice a day for a week. "Have you already given her today's pill?" I ask. "No" the vet tech replies, so I ask if it'd be okay to give her a pill right there in the office, since we already had her in a confined space (catching Babs earlier was no easy feat). "Sure, no problem!"

We take her to a back room. All the vet techs gather to watch. Now understand, I've given pills to geese before, but the staff had never seen such a thing. Easy-peasy, I'm thinking, and puff up a little with pride while getting Babs into position. Put goose on table. Lean arm & shoulder over her body, putting elbow on table to keep her steady under my armpit. With both hands tilt her head back, wedge open her beak, drop the pill in....

*gak!*
*shake*
*fling!*

...and the pill flies across the room.

Huh! Pick the pill (and my pride) up off the floor, and try again. And again. And again. Even with using my finger to push the pill down her throat, she'd snake her tongue around and manage to move the pill aside, then shake her head and fling the pill across the room. Wasn't until the fourth try that the pill finally stayed down. And to think, I get to do this twice a day for a week... yay, me!

One of the staff grinned and put a printout in my hand afterwards. The word "cat" was crossed out, with the word "goose" written in its stead. I present to you: How to Pill a Cat Goose.

[Note: this is a joke. Don't do any of these, okay?]

1. Pick up the goose and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of goose's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As goose opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow goose to close mouth and swallow.

2. Retrieve pill from floor and goose from under chair. Cradle goose in left arm and repeat process.

3. Retrieve goose from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.

4. Take a new pill from foil wrap. Cradle goose in left arm holding wings tightly. Force beak open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and goose from top of wardrobe. Call spouse in from garden.

6. Kneel on floor with goose wedged firmly between the knees. Ignore hissing emitted by goose. Get spouse to hold goose's head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub goose's throat vigorously.

7. Retrieve goose from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make a note to buy a new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines from hearth and set aside for gluing later.

8. Wrap goose in large towel and get spouse to lie on goose with it's head just visible from beneath spouse's armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force goose's mouth open with pencil and blow down straw.

9. Check label to make sure that pill is not harmful to humans. Drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply band-aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10. Retrieve goose from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Place goose in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with spoon, flick pill down throat with elastic band.

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put door back on hinges. Fetch whisky. Pour shot, drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for last tetanus shot. Apply whisky compress to disinfect. Throw t-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

12. Call the fire department to retrieve goose from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid goose. Take last pill from foil wrap.

13. Tie goose to leg of dining room table. Find heavy duty pruning gloves from garage. Force goose's mouth open with small trowel. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of lettuce. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 1/2 pint of water down throat to wash pill down.

14. Consume remainder of whisky. Get spouse to drive you to emergency room. Sit quietly while doctor stitches finger and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Stop by furniture store on the way home to order a new table.

15. Arrange for SPCA to collect the mutant goose from hell and ring local pet shop to see whether they have any hamsters.

BONUS: How to Pill a Dog

1. Wrap pill in bacon. Give to dog.



[original author unknown; if you know, will give credit]

2.14.2012

You wanna do this?

You do? Sure you do! But, just don't know where to start? For your viewing pleasure, I've made a new, permanent page called "Hey, I Wanna Do That!" and you can get to it directly from the page bar. You know, the page bar that lists "Home", "The Geese, "The Chickens"... yes, right up there. This new page lists entry-level books and web pages that we've found incredibly helpful in our initial efforts to get our little farm (farmette, hobby farm, micro farm) started. If you've run across a resource you think would be helpful as well - entry-level, intermediate or even expert-level - add it to the comments section on the "Hey, I Wanna Do That!" page so it can become a permanent part of the resources. Enjoy!

2.04.2012

First Goose Egg of the Season!

First goose egg we've nabbed before the dogs have, that is. It looks like the geese started laying a few days ago, but the nest areas were empty. Where were they laying? Not in the new nest boxes, but in the duck shelters while the ducks were away. That's my size 8 hand holding the goose egg.


This egg was found, surprise-surprise, in the modified goose shelter that they've rarely used since the thing was originally built three years ago. Spouse espied a goose settling into one of the compartments earlier this afternoon, and we kept our eye on it. Once the goose was off the nest, I knew it was a race between me and the dogs who as to who would discover & get to that egg first. I won this time, w00t! Dogs: 3, Humans: 1.

For a bit more perspective on size...



...the ruler is showing the egg is about 5 inches long. There's an extra-large chicken egg to the left. Click on the pic for a larger view. The egg is probably a double-yolk, which is a cool thing for us humans, but not so good for the goose - if she were to try to hatch the egg, the two goslings would never come to term. No twins allowed in egg hatching, just not enough room. Another reason why we don't let our geese hatch their own, as the geese we obtained from a commercial breeder have consistently had genetic problems. Could be due to a bad brooder box, could be issues with their stock of geese. Regardless, it's probably for the best: letting domestic geese raise their own babies results in holeee terrors. The geese we've raised by hand tolerate us. Their babies would feast on our carcasses. 

2.02.2012

An Accidental Food Freegan

There's an organic grocer in town that daily gives away bags of free vegetable & fruit trimmings, first-come first-served, from a bin out back. Ostensibly, these trimmings are meant for composting. I started picking up one or two bags during the once-a-week trip into town for supplementing our chicken, duck & goose feed. The birds have many likes (lettuces of all kinds, Lacinto kale, watermelon rinds, etc.), and some dislikes (curly kale, some cabbages, carrot peels). I set aside for compost the things they won't eat or aren't good for them, like raw onions, or things that would require too much processing to make chewable, such as broccoli stalks. These free trimmings are well worth the effort to sort and are a boon to the animal feed budget, not to mention the compost pile. The fact the majority of the trimmings are organic is a huge plus as well.

Not from the compost bag, but were leftover
from a recent recipe: Organic Meyer Lemon rinds
being made into limoncello, a lemon liquore. 
Many times I've looked at a bag's contents and thought "dang, that looks good enough for human consumption". Then I started reading "An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace" by Tamar Adler. In one part of the book, she talks about using parts of the vegetables most folks throw away, such as broccoli and cauliflower leaves and stalks. Radish greens. Heck, the castoff parts of almost all vegetables. Her book, and a recent gift from the produce guy, is making me eye all of our "compost" produce a little differently.

The other day, the produce guy was taking a break out back where the compost bag bin is located. I pulled up to load the back of the car, and he offered to help lift the bag (bless him and gratefully accepted, sometimes a bag can weight over 50 lbs). He then says "hey, you like bananas, right?" He grabs a box of slightly overripe bananas off the dock and puts it into my arms, telling me how people won't buy bananas once they start getting dark spots. I thank him profusely - while silently wondering what bleep I was gonna do with all those bananas - and put the case in the car. I gave away as many bunches as I could to people I ran across during the remainder of errand running - strangers and friends alike - then came home and started researching what to do with the half case of bananas still remaining. Goodness knows I wasn't gonna cook them all in one evening, and although I subsequently discovered our chickens also like bananas, they weren't gonna put a dent in them very quickly either. Found out what many folks already know: bananas can be frozen with no ill effects. There's now five gallon-sized zip-bags of sliced and whole peeled bananas in the deep freeze. Some will go into breads, some into smoothies, and some will end up as chicken treats.

Some beneficiaries of the grocery store's largesse.
A second trip into town this week, and stopped by the store once more. Besides a goodly bunch of lettuce (and the ubiquitous onion and carrot peels), there were also tied bunches of daikon and red radish tops, recently divested of their roots. Once home, I carefully washed the tops and ate a leaf of each. The daikon greens were mild and crunchy. The red radish had a slightly spicy bite, but still tasty. I gave a bunch of both to the geese to try, and unfortunately for me, they chomped down with relish. Next time, the birds & I will split the radish greens - I can see using these in a fresh salad, or lightly sauteed with some poached eggs on top. There were also a couple of bunches of spearmint - some bunches had a few wilted stems, probably from the bottoms not touching water in the produce storage case. Washed, trimmed up the ends and placed into a cup of water to rehydrate (just like reviving wilted cut flowers). Once it's obvious which leaves are still good to use, I'm thinking about chopping and freezing in ice cube trays to later put into iced tea.

More goodies in the bag: celery bottoms & leaves, which have been washed, peeled & frozen for soup stock. HabaƱero peppers that were just starting to spot - threw them into the compost bin a little too quickly, have since found out that chickens can eat hot peppers with none of the problems we mammals have, and are reputed to be a vermifuge to boot. Cabbage leaves, also washed and will be sauteed for dinner tonight. Broccoli and cauliflower stalks, which I didn't process this time, but for sure next time. One of Ms. Adler's suggestions for stalks are peeling & boiling until tender then, processing in a food grinder. Use the results like a tapenade on bread or stir into soup.

Experimenting with food "castoffs" - either from the grocery store giveaway, or from re-examining my own habitual shopping & cooking - is exciting, and will be a continuing adventure. I do promise, however, to Spouse, friends and family members that I will not feed them "found food" without prior notification and consent. Scout's honor.

[Related: the other week watched an interesting documentary entitled "Dive! Living Off America's Waste". You can view it online at Netflix. Will also make you look at food differently.]