Growing up, I was only familiar with the ubiquitous Canada Goose. They lounged on golf courses and the stubble of harvested corn fields, they chased unsuspecting children away from their nests with a surprising lack of fear for a wild animal. I really didn't think much about them at all.
Then I decided to get a few geese with my order of layer ducks from a hatchery. I like duck antics, I like duck eggs and meat, I figured I would like geese too.
But no. I LOVE geese.
Our geese are not imprinted on humans, which means they have the most sass of any farm animal I know. All spring while they are nesting and all summer while they are raising young they will bully ducks, chickens, dogs and humans. NO ONE may come near the flock and the precious goslings. They attempt to bully the cows and even the tractor if it comes too near. We call them the goose mafia.
They are largely self-sufficient too. Unlike ducks and chickens, geese are not omnivores, they are more like little avian cows, able to subsist on grass alone. They are not as good at eating hay as cows are and thus we feed them grain in the winter but all summer they hardly even touch grain, much preferring fresh pasture.
Even in cold northern Vermont, I don't have to worry about the geese in the winter. In all but the coldest, windiest conditions, the geese will happily sleep outdoors. They do have a built-in down coat after all. When it's -10F in the middle of January, there the geese will be, sitting on the snow with their feet tucked into their feathers and head tucked under their wing.
To top it off, they are DARN tasty. Cooked correctly, goose breast is like steak with a layer of crisp goose-y bacon on top and the legs are meltingly tender. Goose broth lends a unique flavor to soups and stews. Plus I am saving the down, which is well-deserving of its reputation for luxury! The only downside is the painstaking task of plucking...
The incredible, edible goose!