The milking, cleaning of the milking parlour and farmyard done, it was time to feed the animals and then bring the geese in from the pond outside the farmyard. Once the doors were shut, the farmyard was enclosed so no foxes or rustlers could get in and the geese would mill about quite happily with the chickens and turkeys that usually wandered about the place.
The ‘how’ of persuading a group of large birds to leave the middle of a big pond and go where you want them to is one of those slivers of knowledge which delights me. It’s something you’d want to remember for the rest of your life, because it’s sounds so useful and, you never know, you might need to do it one day. Need help getting your geese off the pond? No problem!
This is what we did – two plough lines (ropes for use in ploughing with horses) would be looped together to form one long rope. You can see them in a bundle carried by the stockman. The stockman took one end and I took the other and we’d separate until we stood on either side of the pond with the line stretched between us over the water. We walked along opposite sides of the pond with the plough line dragging over the surface of the water.
Geese seem to have a disliking for rope, so when it got close to them they moved away from it and, within a very short time, they had swum all the way to the end of the pond and were standing on the grassy bank.
From there, it was a very short walk to the door of the farmyard. In reverse, you just opened the farmyard door and they went out on their own.
In hindsight, these geese were remarkably mild-mannered birds and not at all like some of the geese I’ve met since. Some of these have been vicious creatures that you can’t go near without the protection of a long stick, geese that come at you en masse, their necks outstretched and beaks ready for a good pecking. I have no idea why the farm geese had such calm natures in comparison to other geese I’ve come across – I was never once hissed at or pecked – but I’m very glad they were so good-tempered.