Hatching Season!

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Villa Westwyk welcomes goslings!

Villa Westwyk’s Pilgrim Goose Fam.

It’s hard to get a photo of our little goose family all together, because clearly they are SUPER comfortable. Can you spot all seven goslings?

Currently we’re getting ready for an unseasonably cold front coming in. Honestly, Spring really has been a warm winter here in the PNW. But our snow pack is getting above average and that is good for the whole of Western Washington, where our covenstead is. So I’m glad the goslings are filling out and getting all the grass they can handle to stay warm. They also get supplemental feed and vitamin water to help mitigate for problems that can befall them in the early days of their life. Mama Eva and Papa Willie are doing great. Willie even made sure I knew he was still a protective dad when I went to freshen water and gosling feed this morning. It was all posturing, but have you seen the teeth on geese? Literally, Cobra Chickens. hehe.

On Friday the 13th, our lovely Pilgrim Goose successfully hatched seven goslings. She needed a little help with two of them, and we were there to help provide ICU care, which meant we needed to bring them inside and warm them up, hydrate them, and get them to the point of reintegration. Nature is amazing, and the two ICU patients were reunited with their siblings and parents in a day’s time. Eva was busy dealing with 5 other hatchlings and sitting still on the other eggs, so we were happy to do our part as bipedal assistants. Spoiler alert! 4 eggs were nonviable, and 4 goslings perished before completely hatching, which is par for the course. Only the strong survive in nature. Both of those things happen traditionally when you let Mother Nature lead the way. It’s a reason they have such large clutches of eggs. Eva sat on 15 eggs for 30 days! What a trooper! I buried the perished ones in our “forest” and the nonviable eggs went into the compost. Both will return to the land. I find that sentiment Magical. Being a part of this land is so much a part of my Magical practice of Midgardening Witchery.

Our impromptu ICU: a box with wood shavings and a heating pad on top.

This hatching is a huge accomplishment for our efforts at sustainability and self reliance. This month, we’ve only been the keepers of this land* for two years. (Wow, what a crazy two years!) Every creature, flora and fauna, here on little two-acre permaculture holding, is central to what we’re trying to accomplish here. The geese manage the pasture by being living lawn mowers (no gas or other power needed). We are slowly building safety infrastructure so their protected pasture is larger and larger. What they have is more than enough, but I’m all for giving them as best a life as I can.

When they keep the pasture trim, it’s easier to see invasive species, which was a problem when we first acquired this land* and in turn, lets native grasses and plants flourish. They are great guardians of the property, too. We know when predators or visitors are about. And are they cute as hatchlings. To see them flap their little wings and make their little peep is pure joy making. This Crone Life is more and more about finding joy, so they are certainly a part of it.

Here I will provide a content warning: If ethically raised meat is upsetting for you, please prepare yourself to continue, or maybe go back to the cute photos above.

Yes, some of these goslings will give back to this land* in a different way. They will feed our family. And honestly, eating meat is a personal choice, and one that my family has worked hard to do sustainably and ethically. I know how these animals are raised and they will be dispatched in the most honorable and pain-free way possible. But that dispatching is also for the health of the animals. Too many ganders is upsetting to the geese within the gaggle (I know some Witches out there that are nodding along…). Too many ganders would have the ducks upset, too, because there’s a good chance the ganders would try to mate with the ducks — and although it’s not harmful to them, the size difference could cause injury. And we already have 2 drakes for 9 ducks. Just barely the right ratio there. We also use every part of the harvest, creating not just meals, but bone broth, dog food (a post on that coming Thursday), and even Magical Goods (a post on that coming soon).

Living a permaculture lifestyle is all about diversity, harmony, and balance. This includes the animals on the property (including the humans!). One of the 12 principles of permaculture is: Use and Value Diversity. That’s why we have not just geese, but ducks and chickens, too. Eventually, I hope to provide not just to my neighbors who right now receive harvests from my land in barter, but perhaps the larger community. But permaculture is about using small, slow solutions. After two years we have 10 chickens, 11 ducks, and now 9, but soon to be 3 geese. Slow, incremental growth is healthy.

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. I hope you learned something here. If you did, please let me know in the comments. I honestly believe that applying the permaculture principles to every part of our lives helps mitigate for and prevent problems and allows for healthy living all the way around. And in the meantime, I get to spam the blog, Instagram, and Twitter with Gosling images and videos.

Papa Willie takes the Goslings For A Walk To Give Mama Eva a break.

*I would like to acknowledge that Villa Westwyk resides on the ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples, who have lived in the Salish Sea basin, throughout the San Juan Islands and the North Cascades watershed, from time immemorial. I hold the deepest respect and gratitude for our Indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways. I vow to live in harmony with and be a steward of this land and its waterways as they have.

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