My fields are wet. It’s winter, we are on heavy clay, so when we’ve had a lot of precipitation it takes a while for things to dry out. Swales would probably help, but that’s a topic for another day. When the fields are wet, the rule is to stay off them. Except that I am force to go for a brisk walk down to the bottom almost daily to send off the wretched Canada Geese (and who decided these things are Canadian anyway?)
I’ve never been crazy about these birds since I worked on a naval base where there was a nesting goose right near the door of the building I worked in (low traffic zone) – and every time I had to enter or leave, the mate that was off the nest would attack. Those birds are big, I’m telling you. Fearless military type that I was, I made sure to carry a broom with me going through that door.
Back to my fields – one of my kids suggested that I should be happy to have them because of the poop. And if that was all they were doing, that would be great. But they are grazers, these geese, and they eat grass, and their favourite is the greenest tenderest grass. Where I’ve had the broiler pens, or where I’ve spread composted bedding, they congregate in the “good” spots and their webbed feet and their sheer numbers do pug up the ground. Their constant grazing of patches of grass in a season when nothing is growing is doing some real damage.
So I shoo them off most days. It’s kind of a routine between us now. They see me coming through the gate and start honking. but not moving, waiting to see how far I’m going to come. I usually have to get within about 20 feet of the outliers before they’ll take off, and depending on the size of the group, the ones on the other side might decide to hold their position in case I stop there. I’m onto that. And I’m onto them flying over the hedge into my other field too.
Today was the first day I remembered to take a camera with me, and the group in the photos is small – about 50 birds. Most days I’m sending off about 100-150 and one day about a month ago, I counted more than 200. They don’t very far – Hay Guy’s field usually (sorry, bud). They live here year round now, probably due to lack of hunting and predation, and the number of corn fields around here. They are a nuisance in corn season too, and the air guns go off at any hour of the day or night. Bryce of Saanichton Farm has a right old time with them in his wheat and barley. Chasing them used to be easier when the dog was still with us, because it gave her great joy to go running at them, and she was far more effective than me with my pitchfork. But younger daughter might just have hit the best solution yet. If she gets sent down in my stead, she takes a big frisbee and wings it ahead of her into the group from a good 50 or more feet away. Works a charm.