Cats and Books

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Does My Bum Look Big In This Bucket?

Geese make noise – it's what they do. The trick is to know what the noises mean in the short lexicon of goose communications – hello, put the food down and step away, take another step towards me and I'll have you, touch my goslings and die, hey babe that was the best shag ever. When the geese come up with a new noise, you have to go see, just because...
A very muted hey babe with a hint of put the food down... got my attention. On the far side of the field I could see Chocky and Idris, hunkered down behind an old telegraph pole. As I got closer they were obviously having a cuddle, necks entwined, so I walked away having completely missed the point.
There were other jobs to do so I got on with that – another of those busy days where I was on my own. The sort of day where I don't want geese making funny noises, especially the sort that start to sound like trouble. Hey babe with a hint of put the food down gained a plaintive edge, so I looked again, up close this time because Chocky was clearly not happy about something, and Idris was acting a bit strange...
So, really up close, and Chocky was wearing a bucket. She had stuck her head under the handle on a standard black bucket and, instead of backing out, she had kept going, getting one wing hooked through. I just had to stare for a while, having a serious WTF moment.
Yes, Idris was acting strange – trying to work out how to get his woman out of her new kinky black underwear. I stared at them both, wondering the same thing.
Geese are not cute and fluffy, they are eight or more kilos of feathered psycho and capable of at least a meter of vertical flight if they really mean it. You don't just sidle up to them, say there, there, who's a nice goose, and slip a bucket off. Not without paramedics and an ambulance on standby. And I wasn't just dealing with one goose, there was also a hair-trigger irate gander to handle. Catching Chocky and getting the bucket off with two of us would be a dicey business, but all on my own...
There are times in life when you just have to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in. Then there are goose moments when it's best to go make a pot of tea and think about the problem very carefully. Maybe get your will up to date. Geese have significant non-verbal communication skills to express displeasure. They hit you with their wings, scratch with their claws, bite with a serrated beak that will cut through electrical cable given enough time and concentrated fury.
Think of a goose as being like a wasp. You swat at it, flap your hands, spin in little panicked circles – all that achieves is making the wasp angry and then it just keeps coming back. Now scale that up to a goose. And frankly, a rolled up newspaper is not going to cut it.
I defined my objectives – remove bucket with zero blood-loss and minimal bruising. The first thing to do was separate Idris and Chocky – an angry goose on her own was going to be dangerous enough without her hyper-aggressive boyfriend asserting his right to be the one removing the kinky black underwear.
I set up a basic corral with a narrow gap. The plan was to chase the geese in, close the gate down, watch Idris back out through the gap, and catch Chocky because the bucket made her too wide. Instead, the bucket wedged and Chocky just kept going, all the way through the bucket. I would have been too worried about injuring her to try that.
I had spent a lot of time planning how to catch Chocky, control her wings, stop her using her feet to claw me, and remove the bucket without hurting her. Sometimes good old fashion brute force really is the answer. Job done – and amazingly, zero blood-loss and minimal bruising.

Time for another pot of tea.